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on the Statewatch website: 2016
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Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.


See Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: For daily news and document updates.

April 2016

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.4.16)

OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture: Greece: Ongoing crackdown on civil society providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers (pdf):

"The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing crackdown on civil society actors providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Greek islands, even including judicial harassment against several groups and NGOs acting to protect migrants' rights, of Team Humanity Denmark....

on February 21, 2016 a last minute amendment was made to a Law voted by the Greek Parliament, in violation of several provisions of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedures. The new provision assigns the supervision and coordination of services provided to migrants and asylum seekers to the Greek Army and Minister of Defence, in newly established army-run facilities. This provision has led to a coordinated effort to stop civil society activities in camps that are not run by the army, through extensive threats of arrest and prosecution]. Moreover, several journalists and NGOs, including the Hellenic Action for Human Rights “Pleiades”’, are often not allowed access to army-run facilities....

The Observatory strongly condemns this crackdown on civil society actors in Greece, calls on the Greek authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise NGOs and volunteers working in the country in the field of humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers or otherwise prevent them from carrying out their work and urges them to lift the ban on civil society activists and journalists to enter army-run camps."

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted (Statewatch) and NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control (Statewatch)

Is the EU-Turkey refugee and migration deal a treaty? (EU law Analysis, link):

"In the European Parliament, questions were asked about the legal nature of the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March, pursuant to which Greece has started to return asylum seekers to Turkey this week. Apparently, the EU’s procedure for negotiating and concluding treaties with third countries, laid down in in Art. 218 TFEU, has not been followed. The European Parliament wants to know whether the Council nonetheless considers the Statement to be a treaty, and, if not, whether Turkey has been informed about the non-binding nature. Importantly, for treaties “covering fields to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies” (asylum and immigration is such a field), the Council may only conclude a treaty with a third country after obtaining consent of the European Parliament (Art. 218(6)(a)(v) TFEU)......

That the institutional role of the EP has been neglected confirms the worrying trend that intergovernmental decision-making is taking over in the Union, and that national interests increasingly often prevail over the common values of the Union. This is bad for European democracy.>"

UK: Police anti-extremism unit monitoring senior Green party figures (Guardian, linkj):

"Division tasked with spying on alleged extremists has been tracking political activities of Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry

A secretive police unit tasked with spying on alleged extremists intent on committing serious crimes has been monitoring leading members of the Green party, the Guardian has learned.

Newly released documents show that the intelligence unit has been tracking the political activities of the MP Caroline Lucas and Sian Berry, the party’s candidate for London mayor.

Some of the monitoring took place as recently as last year and seemed to contradict a pledge from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, that the unit would only target serious criminals rather than peaceful protesters."

Fascism and the far right in Europe: country by country guide – part one (dream deferred, link)::

"Europe is witnessing a dangerous revival of fascist and racist populist parties and organisations. Over the next few weeks we are going to publish a series of articles analysing the scale of this threat.

We will focus on the countries where fascist and racist parties have made significant electoral and/or organisational breakthroughs. There are small fascist groups operating in several other countries, but with very small numbers and little impact. We intend to look separately at the situation in Russia at a later date and have not included it here."

Hillsborough families to sue police for 'abuse on industrial scale' (Guardian, link):

"Lawyers acting for hundreds of those affected by disaster launch action against South Yorkshire and West Midlands police

The families of Hillsborough victims are to launch a multimillion-pound high court claim against two police forces for “abuse on an industrial scale”.

Lawyers acting for hundreds of those affected by the disaster said they had launched proceedings against the South Yorkshire and West Midlands forces.

In a statement, solicitors firm Saunders Law said it was taking the high court action over the “cover-up and actions intended to wrongly blame the deceased and Liverpool Football Club supporters for the tragedy, for which there has still been no proper admission or apology”.

Pro-Nazi nostalgia flourishes under new Croatia government (euractiv, link):

“Nostalgia” for a pro-Nazi past, spurning of ethnic minorities and pressure on the press: Croatian activists say an alarming climate of intolerance is taking hold under a new conservative government.

Since the ruling coalition took power in the European Union country in January, critics say authorities have turned a blind eye – and even contributed to – concerns over a far-right right surge.

Last week, in response, angry Jewish, ethnic Serb and anti-fascist groups refused to attend a ceremony remembering tens of thousands who died at Jasenovac, the most notorious concentration camp under Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War II.

The boycott was a “brave and correct decision in the face of the wave of neo-fascist Ustasha nostalgia which is sweeping Croatia”, said Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish rights organisation".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.4.16)

European Commission:
Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos to the Committee on Federal and European Affairs of the Bavarian Parliament on 26 April (pdf)

"To paraphrase an old saying information is security. We will respond to the terrorist threat effectively when we make our information systems interconnected, interoperable, and searchable..."

The Commissioner argues for a "Single Search Interface" where: "all data is searchable with just one click" - this requires major changes to laws on the book where acess is limited or prescribed. And see: Statewatch Analysis: Commission proposals on migration and internal security databases: a new list of old “needs” (pdf)

"Both the EU and Turkey need each other, as equal partners. This is a balanced partnership, one where we aim for each side to deliver on its commitments, but without renouncing our principles or conditions."

Many would argue that the EU wanted a deal at any price - even if it means tearing up all human rights and asylum law adopted since 1945.

"We must remember an element of political context: while we are working on these issues, we are witnessing the worrying rise in left and right wing violent extremism."

In context "right wing violent extremism" is carried out by extreme nationalists, racists and fascists. While what is characterised as "left wing violent extremism" is anti-racist and anti-fascist responses to the former - which is a piece of perverse logic.

Council of Europe: Thorbjorn Jagland: Europe's human rights and security are at risk through populist nationalism (Press release, pdf) and Annual Report: State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law: A security imperative for Europe (pdf):

"“Europe is currently struggling with many serious challenges, including terrorism, migration andconflict. This is being successfully exploited by nationalists and populists in many places, and trustin national and European institutions is dwindling,” said the Secretary General.

“At the same time, we still see many important gaps in the laws and practices that our memberstates have in place, and basic human rights including free speech, freedom of assembly and theright to privacy are increasingly being restricted."

Greece: Antifascist Action for Greece (link)

"at a time wherethe refugee crisis, the austerity agenda, and the rise of racism and neo-fascism in Europe are reaching their peak, at a time when "civilised" Europe is asked to prove whether it has ever had a Renaissance or it never left the Dark Ages,we remain adamant to our ideals and founding statement, and mobilise in whatever way we can to continue our struggle, from our side of history....

If you agree with our aims and modus operandi, then join our struggle for a world where nobody feels it is necessary to tread on others in order to survive. A world emancipated from any source of fascism, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism."

USA: An Opening for Justice for CIA Torture (HRW, link):

"The United States government just opened the door a crack to justice for the torture of scores of men in CIA custody under its infamous detention and interrogation program. For the first time, the Justice Department didn’t effectively block a lawsuit by detainees held and tortured by the CIA by invoking, as it had done in previous similar lawsuits, the “state secrets privilege.”
us cover

The privilege requires a court to give great deference to a government claim that litigating a case would risk revealing state secrets that would jeopardize national security...."

Frontex 2.0: The European Union’s armed wing - Further reinforced and still untouchable (MIgreurop, link): "

By August 2016, the European institutions aim to replace Frontex by a new coast guards and border-guards agency which will further jeopardise the rights of migrants and refugees. This new mandate reinforces the serious concerns expressed by the FRONTEXIT campaign since its establishment: deter, control and keep away men, women and children deemed undesirable while they are exerting their right to leave any country and the right to seek asylum."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives (pdf)

"The 2012 Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime acknowledges that hate crime victims are particularly vulnerable and stresses their right to protection in accordance with their particular needs. EU Member States should strive to improve access to justice for such victims, both by supporting victims in reporting their experiences to the police and by improving the police and judiciary’s responses. This report aims to encourage such efforts."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.4.16)

Caritas-europa: Migrants and refugees have rights - Impact of EU policies on accessing protection (pdf):

"Caritas Europa seeks to contribute to appropriate humanitarian responses by providing evidence about the situations of migrants and asylum seekers, supported by
insight from Caritas’ staff and volunteers helping the people in need. It provides an in-depth analysis of the impact that current EU asylum and migration policies
are having on migrants in Europe....

Appropriate responses can only derive from recognising that migrants and asylum seekers are not a “flow” nor an “invasion”, but are women, men, and children,
whose human rights and needs are being jeopardised."

European experts to probe Polish police law (euobserver, link): "The Venice Commission is travelling to Poland again.

The commission, a body of experts on constitutional law from the human rights watchdog Council of Europe, will visit on Thursday and Friday (28 and 29 April) to gather information on a police law adopted on 15 January. The updated police law is known in Poland as the “act of surveillance”. "

European Parliament Analysis: The application of universal jurisdiction in the fight against impunity (pdf):

after twenty years of ‘fighting impunity’ for gross human rights violations through universal jurisdiction, the results are meagre at best and far from ‘universal’ in any meaningful sense. This study examines not only what went wrong and why, but also which role, if any, the European Union (EU) can play to improve the principle’s application amongst EU Member States and third countries."

European Parliament: Briefing: Regulation 604/2013 (Dublin Regulation) and asylum procedures in Europe (pdf) and Briefing: Virtual Currencies (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.4.16): Riot police out in Moria camp, refugee to be re-labeled as "displaced people"

UK: Sheffield: Hillsborough inquests jury says 96 victims were unlawfully killed - Jurors also rule Liverpool fans’ behaviour at 1989 FA Cup semi-final did not contribute to disaster as verdict vindicates families (Guardian, link):

"The 96 people who died at Hillsborough in 1989 were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence manslaughter, the jury at the new inquests into the disaster has determined.

The verdict represents a vindication for the bereaved families who have fought for 27 years against South Yorkshire police claims that misbehaving supporters caused the disaster, as well as against the 1991 verdict of accidental death.

The jury decided that the behaviour of Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough did not contribute to the dangerous situation that developed outside the football ground, rejecting a claim by South Yorkshire police which the families and survivors of the disaster have relentlessly denounced as a cover-up."

and Hillsborough disaster: Fans unlawfully killed (BBC News, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: Operational C-T cooperation & "Youth sector" and radicalisation

- Development of a structured approach for operational cooperation on countering terrorist threats (LIMITE doc no: 7796-16, pdf):

"Following the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015, the Council on 20 November 2015 in its conclusions on Counter-Terrorism (CT) called for COSI to liaise with competent Working Parties of the Council and with the Commission and EU agencies to ensure effective implementation of the operational measures agreed. In this context, COSI was asked by the Council to examine the possibility to develop a methodology for a structured and multilateral approach for operational cooperation on countering terrorist threats" [emphasis in original]. It seems extraordinary that the EU is still at the stage of "developing a methodology" for operational cooperation to counter terrorist attacks.

And see: Counter-terrorism: Proposals on information sharing and operational cooperation (Statewatch) including: The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator's report: Systematic feeding and consistent use of European and international Databases - information sharing in the counter-terrorism context (LIMITE doc no: 7726/16, pdf)

- Draft conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the role of [...] the youth sector in an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to preventing and combating [...] radicalisation leading to violent extremism of young people (LIMITE doc no: 7784-16, pdf):

"The process of identity development towards violent extremism can be influenced by many factors such as a multi-problem family background, peers, internet and social media and the position of groups of young people in society often confronted with discrimination, humiliation, exclusion, injustice and a lack of prospects, leading to feelings of frustration...

Young people must have awareness about democracy, equality, democratic principles, and respect for human dignity and human rights, as well as about media and information literacy...." [emphasis in original]

EU: Council of the European Union: PRUM data exchange::Decisions - overview of documents and procedures - overview of declarations - state of play of implementation of automated data exchange (doc no 5017-16, pdf)

EU: European Commission: Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market - Opportunities and Challenges for Europe (pdf) EDRI comments: :

Privatised law enforcement: "responsible behaviour of online platforms, inter alia to fight against illegal and harmful content and to ensure adequate protection of all and especially vulnerable ?platform users as well as of core societal values" (Page 6)

On Big Data: "Data is the fuel of the digital economy and platforms need to collect data as part of their service and in order to optimise consumers' online experience. Data also underpins marketplace efficiency and innovative uses of data can boost economic productivity. Its importance goes beyond purely economic purposes as the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data can save lives, improve education, and enhance government services. However, large-scale data collection also has the capacity to create new power asymmetries, and potentially reinforce disadvantages faced by low-income and underserved communities, or to unwittingly influence people's behaviour or choices? particularly in the context of purchasing a product or enlisting a service, but also in influencing other choices such as political or societal ones." (Page 11)

NETHERLANDS-TURKEY: Commission on Press freedom: “We are following the Dutch journalist case very closely” (New Europe, link)

"Almost two days after the Turkish State arrested Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist of Turkish decent, as she tweeted a very critical piece written for Dutch Metro daily, the European Commission answered to reporters in Brussels that kept pounding the Commission spokespersons for answers.

“More generally speaking, the EU has very clearly said that Turkey as a country must respect democratic standards which include freedom of press and that to the highest possible extent.” answered Maja Kocijancic, Foreign and Security Policy Spokesperson...Kocijancic avoided to tell more on the case...".

and see: Dutch journalist detained in Turkey slams house burglary as ‘intimidation’ (hurriyetdailynews.com, link): "A Dutch journalist of Turkish descent who was briefly detained by Turkish police after tweeting critical remarks about the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said her Amsterdam apartment has been broken into, denouncing what she described as “intimidation.”

“So there was a burglary in my Amsterdam home. I m impressed. intimidated. o wait... I M NOT,” Ebru Umar wrote on her Twitter account in English. In another Tweet, she suggested the break-in was “no coincidence.”

Police detained Umar on April 23 in the touristic resort town of Kusadasi in the Aegean province of Aydin, after she tweeted an extract from a recent piece she wrote for Dutch daily Metro, critical of Erdogan. Umar said she was hauled out of bed for the arrest." [emphasis added]

USA: Declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions

"United States government agencies have long conducted warrantless secret surveillance, collecting and searching through electronic data for intelligence purposes. However, a newly declassified opinion by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) bolsters concerns about the ways in which law enforcement agencies – such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – may also be sifting through information obtained without warrants.

These searches could have serious consequences for people charged with a crime in US courts."

EU: European Parliament: Liberal and democratic MEPs make last-minute attempt for more Europol powers

"The ALDE Group in the European Parliament has today tabled legislative amendments to the regulation on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) aimed at strengthening Europol's mandate and providing it with a genuine European investigation capacity. Given the transnational nature of the threats Europe is facing, especially in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, ALDE proposes concrete measures to give Europol a genuine investigation capacity:

- Europol's mandate: Europol has to provide a cross-border investigation capacity in preventing and combating terrorism and serious crime.

- Initiation of a criminal investigation: Europol needs a legal capacity to request the initiation of a criminal investigation.

- Information by Europol National Units: Europol National Units should facilitate cooperation among Member States and provide the basis for a European investigation capacity. National units should be obliged to share information."

EU: Draft Council conclusions on radicalisation and youth work

"The recent terrorist attacks in Belgium, France and Denmark, and similar atrocities in Europe in the past, as well as the rise in incidents of hate-crime, destabilising propaganda and violent xenophobia in Europe, show an urgent need for contributions from all sectors in society, including the youth sector, to fight radicalisation1, maintain social stability and a positive and safe environment for growing up and living in families, communities2 and the wider society in Europe."

See: Draft conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the role of [...] the youth sector in an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to preventing and combating [...] radicalisation leading to violent extremism of young people (7784/16, 20 April 2016, pdf)

EU: Counter-terrorism: proposals on information sharing and operational cooperation

"There are still major gaps in intelligence sharing regarding DAESH fighters that have returned to Europe in the wake of the Brussels and Paris attacks, the EU's anti-terrorism coordinator warned Thursday.

The report, presented by Gilles de Kerchove at an interior ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, comes after repeated calls by European Union leaders for greater cooperation in dealing with extremists that attempt to return from Syria and Iraq.

"There are still significant gaps in the information being fed to Europol," the report indicated, referring to data on so-called foreign terrorist fighters who travel abroad and are then at risk of returning to their countries of origin to carry out more attacks."

CYPRUS-EGYPT: The “love-struck” hijacker – a story of state repression garnished with social media gossip! (KISA, link): "In his letter, Mr Mustafa explained that he hijacked the plane to remind the international community that a dictatorship rules his country, that people are incarcerated without a fair trial and that his demand was the release of many women prisoners detained undemocratically by the regime. He also expressed his wish to receive international protection by the Cypriot authorities because in the event of his return to Egypt, he will not have a fair trial and he will be treated inhumanly.

(...)

Unfortunately, the way Cyprus has handled this case is not an isolated incident. The manner in which the Cypriot government recently conducted itself politically in the handling of the extradition of two Russian dissenters denotes its deliberate indifference to violations of human rights in the altar of political expediencies and the protection of its relationship with its “strategic” partners.""

The articles note that the Cypriot authorities have not permitted Mr Mustafa access to the asylum procedure, nor have they permitted him to access his lawyer or sent him for assessment by a psychologist, despite claims of his "psychological instability". Instead, an extradition order for him to be returned to Egypt was "signed between the two countries on the basis of their collaboration in the fields of energy, drilling and exploitation of hydrocarbons."

UK: Detective sacked over Mark Duggan gun enquiry (BBC News, link): "A detective has been sacked over his failed investigation into an associate of Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police sparked riots in August 2011.

The probe centred on Mr Duggan's associate, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who beat a man with a gun in east London.

Six days after the attack he gave the same gun to Mr Duggan, who was shot 15 minutes later by armed police.

The police watchdog found errors in how an officer, named only as DC Faulkner, conducted the initial investigation.

The officer was dismissed without notice."

The report by the IPCC: Alleged MPS failure to investigate an allegation of serious assault on 29 July 2011 (pdf)

UK: Hillsborough Jury Reaches Decisions On Deaths (Sky News, link): "The Hillsborough inquests jury has reached decisions on all questions related to the deaths of 96 football fans.

Jurors have crucially reached a decision on the one question they had not been able to agree on - whether the fans were unlawfully killed.

Last week they indicated they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, but the coroner said today he would accept a majority verdict.

The jury has indicated that at least seven of the nine members agree."

See also: Hillsborough jury can return majority decision on unlawful killing question (The Guardian, link)

UK: Anti-semitism: thought or deed? (IRR, link): "Significantly, but without much fanfare, an expanded definition of anti-Semitism entered the UK’s policy arena this April.

An article by Eric Pickles, former secretary of state for communities and local government, chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel and, since September 2015, UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, entitled ‘A definition of antisemitism’ introduced the government’s ‘Combating Anti-Semitism: a British best practice guide’ just before the announcement of a short Home Affairs Committee inquiry into anti-Semitism. And in it, anti-Semitism, traditionally defined simply as ‘hostility to or discrimination against Jews’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary) was replaced by an enormously long definition which not only includes attacks (physical or verbal) on Jewish people and community institutions but also ‘manifestations … target[ing] the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity’, such as: ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour; applying double standards by requiring behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation … drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis..."

See also: UK: New accusations of antisemitism thrown at the left are flimsy (OpenDemocracy, link): "Yet despite the almost comical paucity of supporting evidence, the notion that antisemitism is a growing problem on the Labour left is rapidly congealing into conventional wisdom. Labour rightists and pro-Israel activists have seized the opportunity afforded by the febrile atmosphere to prosecute petty vendettas, wage factional warfare and advance long-held political objectives. The smear campaign against Malia Bouattia, who was last week elected the first black Muslim woman president of the National Union of Students (NUS), must be understood in this context. She is the latest victim of this juggernaut."

European Parliament: In-depth analysis: The application of universal jurisdiction in the fight against impunity (pdf)

Study produced by the Parliament's Directorate-General for External Policies:

"Most international lawyers and liberal internationalists agree that universal jurisdiction exists, but everyone has a different understanding of what it means. Enormous amounts of time and resources have been expended over the last two decades by learned bodies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to ‘study and clarify’ the principle of universal jurisdiction. Even more resources have been expended to put it into practice. Yet to this day, less than two dozen trials have been conducted on the basis of universal jurisdiction, all but one in Western Europe. Thus after twenty years of ‘fighting impunity’ for gross human rights violations through universal jurisdiction, the results are meagre at best and far from ‘universal’ in any meaningful sense. This study examines not only what went wrong and why, but also which role, if any, the European Union (EU) can play to improve the principle’s application amongst EU Member States and third countries."

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (25.4.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.4.16)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Virtual currencies: Challenges following their introduction (pdf): "Virtual currencies began creating controversy soon after their launch. The nature of virtual currencies is difficult to apprehend, the underlying technology is complicated, their operations are conducted in a decentralised way, and they are almost unregulated. No-one can predict if a particular virtual currency may become a direct competitor for existing currencies in the distant future, or if it might just collapse overnight. What is certain, however, is the high level of volatility demonstrated by today’s market leader, Bitcoin."

UK: Immigration Bill: Lords Amendment 84: Immigration detention: time limit and judicial oversight (The Detention Forum, pdf): "Lords amendment 84 introduces automatic judicial oversight of immigration detention for the first time. Contrary to the title, it does not introduce a time limit, but would provide an important judicial safeguard to the Home Office's powers of detention. The amendment would require the Home Secretary to gain the permission of the First Tier Tribunal if she wanted to detain an individual for immigration purposes for longer than 28 days. The automatic judicial oversight would not apply in cases involving people who have either been given a criminal sentence of 12 months or longer or who face deportation."

Turkey widens crackdown on EU free speech (EUobserver, link): "Turkey has detained a Dutch journalist and issued complaints over German and Swedish projects to commemorate the Armenian genocide.

The actions come on top of calls for legal action against Dutch and German comedians, prompting awkward questions for EU leaders.

Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist of Turkish origin, was arrested while on holiday in Turkey on Saturday (23 April). She was later let go but forbidden to leave the country.

The arrest came after she wrote a story for Dutch daily Metro in which she compared Turkey’s effort to crack down on free speech in Europe to “NSB practices”, referring to the Dutch Nazi party in World War II, and in which she called Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “megalomaniac dictator.”

She also tweeted parts of her story, leading to her arrest in Turkey, where insulting the president is punishable by up to four years in prison."

EU: DNA databases keep growing

A document published in March by the Council of the EU contains statistics for DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data exchanged between Member States as part of the "Prüm" framework, set up in 2008.

The DNA database of every EU Member State increased in size over the course of 2015, except for Malta's.

See: Council of the European Union: statistics and reports on automated data exchange for 2015 (10 March 2016, 5129/16, pdf): "The General Secretariat provides herewith a compilation of statistics for 2015 concerning the automated exchange of DNA data, of dactyloscopic reference data [fingerprints] as well as of Vehicle Registration Data (VRD)."

AUSTRIA: Far right on the rise

"Austria's government was licking its wounds Monday after a historic debacle that saw the opposition anti-immigrant far-right triumph in a presidential ballot two years before the next scheduled general election.

According to preliminary results, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party (FPOe) came a clear first with 36 percent of the vote, while candidates from the two governing parties failed to even make it into a runoff on May 22.

The result means that for the first time since 1945, Austria will not have a president backed by either Chancellor Werner Faymann's Social Democrats (SPOe) or their centre-right coalition partners the People's Party (OeVP).

"This is the beginning of a new political era," FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache said after what constituted the best-ever result at federal level for the former party of the late Joerg Haider, calling it a "historic result"."

UK: The Police Have Used Tasers on Children Hundreds of Times (Vice, link): "On Thursday, the small but robust police-monitoring group Stop Watch released a report that makes concerning reading if you're the kind of bleeding-heart liberal who thinks it's bad for the police to electrocute minors.

The cornerstone of the report, a formal submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, was the responses to a series of FOI requests on the police use of Tasers against children. Tasers have been deployed – which could mean anything from drawn, aimed or fired – by the Metropolitan Police 185 times against children during the period Jan 2014-Nov 2015, and 16 of those times against children 14 years old or younger. Tasers were fired against children by the Met ten times, including once at a 13-year-old child. In the rest of England and Wales, 28 of the 43 forces that responded to the FOI request (excluding the Met), deployed Taser guns against minors more than 407 times, including 57 times against those 14 or under. Among these deployments, Tasers were fired 34 times.

As is often the case with FOI responses, the information provided is not complete – some forces found ways to avoid or delay replying. But at the very least, we know that 2014 and 2015 saw the police in England and Wales actually fire Tasers at children a minimum of 44 times."

See: StopWatch: UN Submission:The Policing of Children in England and Wales and International Human Rights Standards (link) and The Policing of Children in England and Wales and International Human Rights Standards - Submission to Committee on the Rights of the Child from StopWatch (pdf)

UK: Undercover policing: spycops north of the border

" A SALES engineer from Angus was in charge of a secret police squad being investigated by a public inquiry.

(...)

His biography said: “Seconded to a National Unit responsible for gathering, assessing and disseminating intelligence relating to domestic extremism, including animal rights, left and right wing extremists and environmental extremism. Attending force areas throughout the UK, I would work with covert assets to assist with the planning, preparation and implementation of any operational policing response to planned demonstrations where there was potential for extremist activity.”

In September 2003, his biography said he was promoted to detective sergeant with NPOIU and “coordinated the activities of five field officers who had liaison responsibilities across all police forces within the UK.”

He claimed to have been involved in policing at the G8 Summit at Gleaneagles in 2005 when undercover Met officers were working in Scotland. They included the most notorious, Mark Kennedy, who was attached to the NPOIU between 2003 and 2010 until being exposed."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.4.16)

Snowden sues Norway to avoid extradition during visit (The Local.no, link):

"Fugitive US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has filed a lawsuit against the Norwegian government seeking a guarantee he will not be extradited if he visits to accept an award, a literary rights group said on Thursday.

The Norwegian branch of the PEN Club has invited Snowden, who has been living in exile in Russia since 2013 after revealing widespread US foreign surveillance, to collect the Ossietzky prize for freedom of expression in November."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 21 April, Luxembourg: Final press release (pdf) and see: Asylum decision practices: The Council approved the following conclusions (pdf)

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (22.4.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.4.16): international law and EU policies of non-assistance at sea; an examination of what happens to those deported from Greece to Turkey; and news articles from across Europe.

EU: Killing by Omission (EJIL: Talk!, link): "On Monday, the Forensic Architecture team at Goldsmith College, London, published Death by Rescue. The report exposes a rather complex set of facts, but the basic argument is as simple as it is alarming.

Operation Triton, facilitated by Europe’s border security agency, Frontex, began on 1 November 2014 and is mandated to enforce Italy’s maritime border. Triton replaced an earlier and much wider Italian Navy operation, Mare Nostrum, which began in October 2013 and was mandated to save migrant lives beyond Italy’s territorial waters. When EU officials decided on the more limited scope of Triton, they knew their decision would result in the drowning of numerous migrants. As one Frontex official wryly noted, “the withdrawal of naval assets from the area, if not properly planned and announced well in advance, would likely result in a higher number of fatalities.” But the European Commission turned a blind eye – leading to a spike in migrant deaths, which the authors, Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani meticulously document.

From a legal perspective, this set of circumstances raises the question whether the migrants’ rights were violated, and if so, whether EU actors can be held legally accountable. In my view, the report exposes no illegal activity by European agents, either at the operational or at the policymaking level. Perhaps more troubling, the report raises the specter of unaccountable violence ingrained in the very structure of international law. If international law is somehow to blame for circumstances that made these utterly preventable deaths possible, then perhaps it is law itself that should be indicted."

An article examining the legal implications of the Death by Rescue reported released earlier this week. See: Summary of report: Death by Rescue - The lethal effects of the EU's policies of non-assistance at sea (pdf) and the full report (link).

Finnish court suspends Dublin returns to Hungary

"Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court recently ruled that returning an Afghan asylum seeker to Hungary was problematic because of the country’s asylum procedures.

The court declared that deporting asylum seekers via Serbia threatened the fundamental rights of people seeking international protection. As a result of the Court’s decision the Finnish Immigration Service has suspended asylum seeker returns to Hungary.

The Afghan asylum seeker had come to Finland by way of Hungary and Serbia. The Supreme Administrative Court deemed that there is a risk that the man would be deported from Hungary to Serbia and from there to Afghanistan without having any authorities assess his asylum application or his need for international protection. Hungary is the only EU country that considers Serbia to be safe for asylum seekers and returns them there.

The Court determined that there are major problems with Hungary’s asylum procedures. It pointed to large numbers of asylum applications, difficulties in providing legal guidance and other problems facing asylum seekers in Hungary. It said that these factors made it impossible to be clear if the man’s return to Serbia and other third countries would be stopped or deferred."

See: Finland suspends asylum seeker returns to Hungary following higher court ruling (YLE, link). Hungary is the second EU country to which asylum-seekers can no longer be returned from Finland. A previous court ruling saw returns to Greece suspended.

Press release: Readmissions from Greece to Turkey: What Happens After Readmission? (Mülteci Der, link): "Mülteci-Der lawyer went to the RC [Removal Centre] in Pehlivanköy-Kirklareli and demanded to meet with the returned detainees. Although the lawyer insisted on her request for 2 days, in the end her request was refused by Kirklareli Provincial Migration Management (PDMM) based on an order given to by the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) in Ankara. The lawyer was prevented from seeing the detainees and the law was violated on the ground that “the DGMM has a working group on readmitted people and until they finalize their work, returned people shall not be allowed to meet with lawyers or anybody else”. By preventing lawyers from meeting with detainees arbitrarily and without any legal basis, the administration violated the law and once again the rule of law was not respected."

Teaming up: four-country discussions on migration and refugees

Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Macedonia to Discuss Migrant Crisis (Novinite, link): "Interior and foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and Macedonia are to meet in Thessaloniki on Thursday and Friday to discuss possible measures to control the migrant inflow into Europe.

The meeting has been called by Greece's top diplomat, Nikos Kotzias.

(...)

Bulgaria and other Greek neighbors for their part fear the numbers of migrants trying to enter their territories will rise this spring and summer."

And: CZECH REPUBLIC: PM rejects permanent refugee redistribution mechanism (Prague Monitor, link): "Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told the Czech Chamber of Deputies yesterday he disagreed with the creation of a permanent mechanism redistributing refugees among EU countries and a transition of the powers relating to asylum to the European Commission.

These are efforts to federalise the asylum policy, Sobotka said.

(...)

Sobotka said he wanted to prepare a joint position of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) to the EC proposal.

"There is a big chance of our proceeding jointly," Sobotka said, adding that the Czech Republic would look for other allies, too, in support of its stand."

EU: Onwards to the "Security Union"

"The Commission is today setting out the way forward towards the achievement of an effective and genuine EU Security Union – building on the European Agenda on Security presented on 28 April 2015. Whilst responsibility for security lies primarily with Member States, transnational threats such as terrorism cannot be addressed effectively without a common European approach. The necessary tools, infrastructure and environment are being built at European level for national authorities to work effectively together to meet the shared challenge. But the full added value of a Security Union depends crucially on the use that is made of this framework, to close operational loopholes and plug information gaps. This requires a step change at the level of Member States and their law enforcement authorities, working closely with EU Agencies."

European Commission, Delivering on the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards and effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2016) 230 final, 20 April 2016, pdf)

EU: SMART BORDERS: Bulgaria Calls for Equal Access to EU’s Entry-Exit System for All Member States (Novinite, link): "Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova has called for equal access of all member states to the proposed Entry-Exit System of the EU to boost the efficiency of the fight against organized crime and terrorism.

“We all should be able to make full use of the new centralized system whis is being developed,” Bachvarova said at a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Thursday, according a statement from the ministry.

(...)

Bulgaria, which is not member of the EU’s free-travel Schengen area, currently cannot use in full the potential of key information systems of the bloc. At the same time, the country ensures security along one of the most important and vulnerable EU external borders amidst the current migration crisis, Bachvarova said."

See the new proposal for an Entry-Exit System, published on 6 April: European Commission, Proposal for a
REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data and refusal of entry data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States of the European Union and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes and amending Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 and Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011
(pdf) and Annexes 1 to 2 (pdf)

French 'Nuit Debout' protest movement shows no sign of losing steam (Deutsche Welle, link): " Deep into its third week, France's Nuit Debout - or "Up All Night" - defies easy stereotypes. The social movement that began March 31 to protest government-proposed labor reforms has morphed into a leaderless and hodgepodge citizens' movement aimed to occupy, to recreate and to offer a grassroots voice for at least one slice of the French population.

Some observers compare it to the May 1968 protests in France, when occupied universities, massive demonstrations and crippling strikes left a long-term mark on the country. Others to social movements like Occupy Wall Street in the United States or the Indignados uprising in Spain that gave rise to the leftist Podemos party.

Still others have poked fun at it. French cartoonist Xavier Gore, of "Le Monde" newspaper, depicted a bunch of penguins gathered with the tagline: "Let's meet here every night until we can figure out why."

How it will end is anybody's guess."

How fair are trials at the International Criminal Court? Three examples of concern (Fair Trials, link): "While acknowledging that ICC trials are conducted according to international recognized standards and the governing laws and regulations guarantee the rights of the accused, there are structural limitations. Seven years after the opening of the first trial different patterns have emerged which are of concern from a fair trial perspective. Three common examples:

1. Regulation 55

The ICC’s Regulations contain the controversial regulation 55 which allows the judges to recharacterize the facts presented by the parties to enable more focused trials. The provision has been used in various cases and at different stages of the proceedings to make law and facts better fit.

(...)

2. Long proceedings

While long trials are common at many international courts, the ICC in addition to the trial has developed an extensive pre-trial phase at the end of which the charges against a person are either confirmed or declined. This means that most suspects are in pre-trial detention for a year or longer before it is clear whether they will go on trial at all.

(...)

3. Inherent bias

The defense side and the accused are rarely at the center in international criminal trials. Instead, the focus is often on victims and the “fight against impunity” for heinous crimes. From such a perspective a conviction is seen as a victory of justice while an acquittal is considered a failure of the court."

EU: Europol joins UK appeal to report extremist and terrorist material online using red "stop" button (press release, pdf): "1 622 media content and social media accounts in 4 languages containing terrorist and violent extremist propaganda – hosted by 13 social media and online service providers - were processed for the purpose of referral by Europol.

Europol joined forces with the UK National Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) on a 36-hour operation to secure the removal of the material as quickly as possible. Several teams of Europol specialists, analysts, translators and counter-terrorism experts supported the British colleagues throughout the operation from the Agency's headquarters in The Hague.

The UK CTIRU had previously launched a national appeal for internet users to report harmful extremist and terrorist material when they see it online using the red "STOP" button. All last week, UK police and partners used their social media channels to urge people to report material they suspect is extremist or terrorist by clicking on a distinctive red "STOP" button that can be found on their websites. STOP stands for Stop Terrorists' and extremists' Online Presence."

For more information on Europol's plans for policing the internet, see: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to "content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (pdf)

UK: UN special rapporteur criticises government policies on return visit

"The UK government’s strategy to counter Islamist extremism is affecting the discussion of terrorism, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly has said.

Attempts to identify and counter Islamist extremism through the Prevent programme had “created unease and uncertainty around what can be legitimately discussed in public,” said Maina Kiai, at the end of a three-day visit to the UK in which he warned Britain must live up to its human rights commitments.

“I heard reports of teachers being reported for innocuous comments in class, for example,” Kiai said. “The spectre of Big Brother is so large, in fact, that I was informed that some families are afraid of discussing the negative effects of terrorism in their own homes, fearing their children would talk about it at school and have their intentions misconstrued.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.4.16)

EU: Childrens' rights: EU strengthens rights of children in criminal proceedings (Council of the EU press release, pdf):

"On 21 April 2016, the Council adopted the final text of a directive strengthening rights of children in criminal proceedings. The directive provides a number of procedural safeguards for children (i.e. individuals below 18) who are suspected or accused of having committed a criminal offence. The directive includes additional safeguards compared to those that already apply to suspected and accused adults.

A core provision of the directive relates to assistance from a lawyer. Member states should make sure that suspected or accused children are assisted by a lawyer, where necessary by providing legal aid, unless assistance by a lawyer is not proportionate in the light of the circumstances of the case. Other important provisions of the directive concern the provision of information on rights, the right to have an individual assessment, to a medical examination, and to audio-visual recording of questioning. It also provides special safeguards for children during deprivation of liberty, in particular during detention.

This final adoption of the directive follows a political agreement between the two legislators in December 2015 and the subsequent approval by the European Parliament on 9 March 2016. Once published in the EU Official Journal, member states will have three years to transpose the provisions into their national laws. Denmark, the UK and Ireland have opted out of this directive and will not be bound by it."

And: Full text of the Directive (pdf)

EU: Legal Analysis: Migrants in Greece are denied the rights to international protection and family unity. The visit to the camps in Idomeni and government-run camps, and a legal analysis of the situation we observed. (pdf) Prepared by ASGI, Italy.

"A delegation of eight participants in the course of the “Advanced training school for legal operators specialised in international protection” organised by ASGI in Rome alongside legal operators from the ADL Zavidovici association, the K-Pax cooperative, the Idea Prisma 82 cooperative and the Alternata cooperative travelled to Greece within the framework of the #overthefortress caravan organised by Melting Pot and the Ambasciata dei Diritti delle Marche to observe the legal conditions of migrants in the camp in Idomeni and the government-run camps in the vicinity. The monitoring was also carried out with the help of mediators from the caravan.

On 26 and 27 March, we visited the Idomeni camp and interviewed the foreign citizens who were there, as well as some international organisations."

Translation by Statewatch. The original version (in Italian) of the report "Idomeni, un'analisi giuridica sui diritti negati ai migranti" is available on the ASGI website.

Council of Europe condemns EU's refugee deal with Turkey (Guardian, link):

"Human rights body says agreement at worst breaks international law and progress on integrating refugees is ‘shamefully slow’...

The EU-Turkey agreement “at best strains and at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under European and international law”, states the report by the Dutch parliamentarian Tineke Strik. “Even on paper, it raises many serious questions of compatibility with basic norms on refugees’ and migrants’ rights. It has so far given every indication of being even more problematic in practice.”" [emphasis added]

And see the report by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons: The situation of refugees and migrants under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016 (pdf). Rapporteur: Ms Tineke STRIK, Netherlands, Socialist Group. And: Press release (link)

European Parliament: Study: Research for TRAN Committee – Self-piloted cars: The future of road transport? (pdf):

"The study provides an analysis of the development of automated vehicles inside and outside the EU, including both the technologies which are already on the market and those under testing and research. The EU is giving increasing attention to automated and connected vehicles as they could have huge impacts on road safety, travel behaviour and urban development. The study reports on state of the art key research projects and large scale testing in this area and discusses future pathways and potential impacts of increasing vehicle automation. It concludes with recommendations on aspects that should be considered when shaping policies to sustain the research and development, and bringing to market, of highly automated and connected vehicles."

UK spy agencies have collected bulk personal data since 1990s, files show (Guardian, link):

"Agencies privately concede that ‘intrusive’ practices can invade privacy and that data is gathered on people ‘unlikely to be of interest’...

The files show that GCHQ, the government’s electronic eavesdropping centre based in Cheltenham, was collecting and developing bulk data sets as early as 1998 under powers granted by section 94 of the 1984 Telecommunications Act. ...Another MI5 file notes that datasets “contain personal data about individuals, the majority of whom are unlikely to be of intelligence or security interest”." [emphasis added]

See Privacy International link with all the documents: Bulk Personal Datasets Challenge

and in the Intercept (link): "Elsewhere in the documents, eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and domestic intelligence agency MI5 admit that they have obtained the bulk datasets on several occasions dating back more than a decade – GCHQ beginning in 1998, and MI5 in 2005 – under Section 94 of the 1984 Telecommunications Act" [emphasis added]

Hillsborough inquests jury has reached decisions in all but one topic (Livepool Echo, link): "The jury in the Hillsborough inquests has reached decisions on all but one topic.

The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, was today adjourned until Monday after the jury asked for some guidance as they continued deliberations for a 10th day.

Court resumed just after 1.15pm when coroner Sir John Goldring responded to a note the jury had sent."

Europe’s rule-of-law crisis (New Europe, link):"Two EU members in particular, Hungary and Poland, are now jeopardizing hard-won European democratic norms – and thus undermining the very purpose of European integration."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 21 April, Luxembourg: "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf); "A" Points Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf); and: Background Note (pdf)

German court: anti-terror laws partially unconstitutional (DW, link) : See Court Press release: Constitutional Complaints Against the Investigative Powers of the Federal Criminal Police Office for Fighting International Terrorism Partially Successful (link) and Decision (link, German)

On 20 April, the German Constitutional Court declared in a landmark decision surveillance powers of the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt - BKA) and provisions for information exchange partly unconstitutional.

The powers at stake were introduced in 2008 in order to expand the mandate of the BKA in the field counterterrorism. It authorised among others bugging of homes, online searches of computers and covert interception of communication for the purpose of preempting terrorism. Before, only German state police forces had the mandate of crime prevention. Therefore, critics feared the emergence of a German FBI. Although the constitutional court did not scrap the new powers at all, the judges limited their scope and called for precise regulation, the protection of intimate information, better oversight and more transparency.

Moreover, the judges limit both domestic and international information exchange by the BKA and call for adequate data protection standards in foreign non-EU countries as a prerequisite for data transfers by the BKA. The BKA Act is now to be revised in summer 2018 but is it clear that the decision of the Court is also a message to the intelligence agencies and their information sharing with the NSA and other partners.

Refugee crisis: Statewatch: State of Play: Commission statistics (dated 18 April 2016): Hotspots, Returns, Pledges and Civil Protection

PEGIDA founder dragged before German court (euractiv, link): "Lutz Bachmann, one of the founders of the German xenophobic PEGIDA movement, was put on trial in Dresden yesterday (18 April). The prosecution accuses him of having repeatedly harassed refugees and migrants on social media and inciting hatred. EurActiv Germany reports."

France seeks to extend state of emergency until end of July - Measures brought in after Paris attacks should cover Euro 2016 championship and Tour de France, ministers say (Guardian, link): "The French government is seeking to extend the state of emergency that has been in place since November’s Paris attacks to cover the period of the Euro 2016 football championship and the Tour de France.

Manuel Valls, the prime minister, said Euro 2016, hosted by France from 10 June, was a security priority.

“Faced with an event this big ... which must take place in conditions of security and which at the same time should be a celebration.... we have to ensure security,” he told France Info radio. “The state of emergency cannot be permanent but for these big events ... we have decided to prolong it.” "

UK: Britain’s scientists must not be gagged (Guardian, link): "A ban on state-funded academics using their work to question government policy is to begin on 1 May. It’s either a cock-up or a conspiracy "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.4.16)

UK: House of Commons Briefing: Radicalisation in prisons in England and Wales (pdf):

"This Commons Library briefing describes how the Government is seeking to tackle extremism and, in particular, radicalisation in prisons. It examines

• The difference between faith and radicalisation
• Why people become radicalised
• What is happening within prisons
• How radicalisation is being countered in prisons and
• Whether the National Offender Management Service is doing enough."

UK: Supreme Court allows appeal against residence test for legal aid (Free Movement, GC, link): "The Supreme Court has allowed the appeal against the residence test for legal aid, overturning the Court of Appeal judgment in favour of the Home Office. The basis for the Supreme Court’s decision is that the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling at that time, did not have the legal power to introduce the residence test. A second issue was to be argued regarding whether the test was unjustifiably discriminatory and so in breach of common law and the Human Rights Act 1998 but the Court did not hear argument on that question."

Article 29 Working Party Delivers Its Opinion on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (Covington, link): Useful summary.

EU-LIBYA-MED: Council conclusions on Libya (pdf):

"The EU stands ready to offer security sector support in response to possible GNA requests. Should a Libyan request be forthcoming and following consultations with the Libyans, a possible civilian CSDP mission could support Libyan efforts inter alia through advice and capacity building in the fields of police and criminal justice including on counter-terrorism, border management, countering irregular migration and smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings, as part of broader Security Sector Reform support. This possible mission could draw upon the existing planning capacity of EUBAM Libya. In addition to the possible civilian mission, further consideration will also be given to support that can be provided through EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, by enhancing its capacity to disrupt the business model of human smugglers and trafficking networks and to contribute to broader security in support to the legitimate Libyan authorities, for example through potential capacity building for the Libyan Coastguard, and the implementation of international law."

EU set to upgrade naval mission in Mediterranean (FT, link): "Europe’s governments signalled they are ready to expand the role of an EU naval mission in the Mediterranean, as the bloc braces itself for an expected surge in the number of asylum seekers seeking to make the dangerous sea crossing from north Africa. The EU is under pressure to find solutions ahead of a likely influx this summer of people setting off for Europe from the coast of Libya and neighbouring countries."

and:
EU navies prepare to start work in Libyan waters (euobserver, link): "The EU is to make plans for posting security experts to Libya and for moving its naval operation into Libyan waters following initial talks with the country’s new government. "

EU/Greece: First Turkey Deportations Riddled With Abuse (HRW, link):

"The first round of European Union-sanctioned deportations of 66 people from the Greek island of Chios to Turkey on April 4, 2016 was rushed, chaotic, and violated the rights of those deported, Human Rights Watch said today. In Turkey, the detained deportees lost contact with family and friends held in Greece, and Turkish authorities have not allowed visits by rights groups or the United Nations.

“In the mad dash to start the deportations deal with Turkey, the European Union and Greece tossed rights to the wind, including for people who wanted to seek asylum,” said Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch associate director for program. “The abusive deportations expose the fundamental flaws in the EU’s expedited mass returns to a country that cannot be considered safe.”

EU: Full text of the PNR Directive as agreed

See: DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime (pdf)

EU: Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP): migration control to take more prominence in overseas missions

A paper produced by the European External Action Service in February 2016 provides an overview of current CFSP missions and sets out possibilities for their future development. Key issues are ensuring that missions take into account the requirements of EU migration and counter-terrorism policy, and the paper notes overall that: "there will likely be needs to intensify CFSP actions in support of Third States, either via projects implemented by civilian CSDP missions or through dedicated CFSP projects. This will also require additional staffing, skills and expertise in project management." Several hundred million euros are currently available for ongoing and future CSDP missions.

See: European External Action Service, CFSP budget orientations for 2016 and 2017 (doc. 6383/16, 22 February 2016, pdf) and COR 1 (pdf)

On migration, the paper notes:

"Migration is at the heart of the political debate in the EU and, for a few years now, is one of the strategic priorities of the external relations of the Union. The ongoing refugee crisis has put discussions on refugees and irregular migration on top of political agenda of the EU. The EU has not only set up a military CSDP operation EUNAVFOR MED Sophia, but also taken significant steps together with its neighbours and partners by creating a set of measures and action plans to jointly meet the challenges. Civilian CSDP missions in the concerned regions may need to be further reinforced with migration dimension and experts, as it was the case in 2015 of EUCAP Sahel Niger."

On "radical and terrorist organizations":

"Destabilization by radical and terrorist organizations is already partly addressed through notably CSDP missions assisting with capacity building in Mali and Niger. Pending the evolution of the fragile regional environment, additional experts and assets could possibly be requested to reinforce CSDP missions."

The paper is structured by the following headings: CFSP and CSDP in the changing global security environment; Future CSDP; Conclusions; Annex I - Current CSDP missions and mid-term forecast; Annex II - Possible non-proliferation and disarmament projects.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.4.16)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (18.4.16)

Information exchange for internal security: Council documents

Documents from recent discussions within the Council on how to improve information exchange amongst Europe's law enforcement authorities. The issue has come to the fore (again) following recent terrorist attacks and the movement of refugees towards and within Europe.

EU leaders 'killing migrants by neglect' after cutting Mediterranean rescue missions (The Independent, link): "EU policymakers are guilty of "killing by neglect" by cutting rescue missions in the Mediterranean - potentially costing the lives of more than 1,500 refugees, according to a report.

The Italy-led search and rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, ended in October 2014 and was replaced by Triton, which deployed fewer ships and prioritised deterring migrants over rescue operations, the report says.

Charities and UN officials warned the move could have a disastrous impact and lead to far more deaths at sea.

Documents unearthed by British universities showed the European border force Frontex pushed ahead with the change despite an internal assessment warning that if it was not properly planned it "would likely result in a higher number of fatalities"."

See: New evidence proves EU policymakers knew reduced search-and-rescue operation would cause mass migrant deaths (press release, pdf): "A new investigation accuses EU policymakers of “killing by neglect” after cutting rescue missions in the Mediterranean in full knowledge of the lethal consequences of their actions. Meeting transcripts and documents unearthed in a report from Goldsmiths, University of London and the University of York show that the EU border agency Frontex’s own internal assessment of replacing Mare Nostrum with Triton predicted increased deaths at sea, but the policy was introduced anyway.

Researchers found that a previously unreported 2014 Frontex internal assessment on “tackling migrant flows” stated:

“It has to be stressed that the withdrawal of naval assets from the area, if not properly planned and announced well in advance, would likely result in a higher number of fatalities.”

The researchers from the ESRC-funded ˜Precarious Trajectories” project argue that because the decision to retreat from state-led search and rescue operations was taken in full knowledge of the risk, EU policy makers and agencies carry a strong degree of responsibility for mass deaths at sea...."

And: Summary of report: Death by Rescue - The lethal effects of the EU's policies of non-assistance at sea (pdf)

The report will be launched on Monday 18 April at 6pm at The Mosaic Rooms, 226 Cromwell Road, SW5 0SW London. For details and to book a ticket click here.

EU: Council of the European Union: FREMP (Working Party on Fundamental Rights, Citizens' rights and Free movement of persons) Summary of discussions (EU doc no: 7551-16, pdf): Important update on EU joining ECHR: "Discussions on mutual trust will be resumed after the ECtHR hands down the judgement in the Avotins case, presumably by summer 2016. As regards CFSP, COM will not present anything until CJEU hands down decisions in two pending CFSP related cases."

EU: Eurostat: Record number of over 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2015 - Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis: top citizenships (pdf): "In 2015, 1 255 600 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number more than double that of the previous year.

The number of Syrians seeking international protection has doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year to reach 362 800, while the number of Afghans has almost quadrupled to 178 200 and that of Iraqis has multiplied by 7 to 121 500. They represent the three main citizenships of first time asylum applicants in the EU Member States in 2015, accounting for more than half of all first time applicants."

Council of Europe urges states to protect whistleblowers and journalists (link): A recommendation adopted on 13 April 2016 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) defined a series of guidelines to ensure the safety of journalists in the 47 member countries: See Recommendation (link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.4.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: New asylum policy, EU-Turkey resettlement and Visa Code

- Discussion paper on Commission Communication "Towards a reform of the Common European Asylum System and enhancing legal avenues to Europe" (LIMITE doc no: 7861-16, pdf): Discussion on Commission's new asylum paper.

- Draft Council Decision amending Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (LIMITE doc no: 7500-16, pdf) Resettlement issues -EU-Turkey plan

- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast) - mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 7714-16, pdf) Council deal on visa code, no humanitarian clause. Only benefits states agreeing readmission deals

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.4.16)

Another bad day for rights and privacy: European Parliament: Parliament backs EU directive on use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) (pdf): The text was approved by 461 votes to 179, with 9 abstentions.

"The new directive regulating the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in the EU for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime was approved by Parliament on Thursday. It will oblige airlines to hand national authorities passengers' data for all flights from third countries to the EU and vice versa."

The Press release is disingenuous: It says: "member states could also extend it to “intra-EU” ones (i.e. from an EU country to one or more other EU countries), provided that they notify the EU Commission" As Statewatch reported in December: Member States circulated a Note following the Justiice and Home affairs Council of 3-4 December 2015:

"Draft declaration by the Member States to the minutes of the Council

"Article 1a of the PNR Directive allows Member States that so wish to apply it to intra-EU flights on a voluntary basis, upon notice to the Commission to that end.

Considering the current security situation in Europe, *Member States declare that by the date of transposition provided for in Article 15 they will make full use of the possibility provided for by Article 1a under the conditions set by the Directive."

See: EU-PNR: European Parliament has "egg on its face"

EU-USA: PRIVACY SHIELD: EU Article 29 Working Party on data protection: Opinion 01/2016 on the EU – U.S. Privacy Shield draft adequacy decision (pdf) They rip the Privacy Shield to shreds.

"On 29 February 2016, the European Commission published a Communication, a draft adequacy decision and the annexed texts constituting a new framework for transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes: the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (hereinafter: Privacy Shield), which seeks to replace the previous U.S. Safe Harbour invalidated by the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter: CJEU) on 6 October 2015, in the Schrems case....

With regard to the applicable law, the WP29 highlights that if the Privacy Shield adequacy decision is adopted on the basis of Directive 95/46/EC, it needs to be consistent with the EU data protection legal framework, both in scope and terminology. The WP29 considers a review must be undertaken shortly after the entry into application of the General Data Protection Regulation, in order to ensure the higher level of data protection offered by the Regulation is followed in the adequacy decision and its annexes....

The WP29 also concludes that onward transfers of EU personal data are insufficiently framed, especially regarding their scope, the limitation of their purpose and the guarantees applying to transfers to Agents. As regards the access to Privacy Shield data by law enforcement, especially to foreseeability of the legislation is a concern, due to the extensive and complex nature of the U.S. law enforcement system at both Federal and state level, and the limited information included in the adequacy decision."

EU-USA: EU Article 29 Working Party on data protection: Working Document 01/2016 on the justification of interferences with the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection through surveillance measures when transferring personal data (European Essential Guarantees) (pdf)

"The four European Essential Guarantees that are described in this opinion are no unconditional Guarantees. Also when looking at their formulation, it should be clear that all four require a certain degree of interpretation.Should a third country allow for interferences that go beyond what should be regarded as strictly necessary in a democratic society...,

"The WP29 underlines that the Guarantees are based on the fundamental rights that apply to everyone, notwithstanding their nationality. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Guarantees are based on what is required by the law and not necessarily on what is the current practice in the EU Member States. The WP29 does not maintain a double standard and has therefore already called several times upon the Member States to ensure their surveillance legislation is in line with the jurisprudence of the CJEU and the ECtHR."

The WP has reservtions about the collection of mass data by US agencies and the so-called redress mechanism. Fuirther there are six eceptions allowing the bulk collection of data and on the re-use of data for other purposes or their transfer to third countries.

See also:
Sttatement of the Article 29 WP on the consequences of the Schrems judgment (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.4.16)

EU Cracks Down on Independent Volunteers in Greece (Megaphone Valkyrie, link):

"2016 began with a move to have all volunteers registered with the police. In a crisis where immigration law criminalises vital humanitarian work, this is a recipe for disaster. And it is not just about elbowing out the political activists; to ‘allow authorities time to organise the registration process’, entire flights chartered for volunteers have been cancelled. Even Clowns Without Borders were barred from the camps. The same thing is now happening in France, where independent volunteers are being barred from the camps at Dunkirk and Calais, reduced to watching months of work burned to the ground by authorities branding them ‘uncaring’ and ‘dangerous’.

There’s another glaring cause for concern on the Greek front: over half their police are Golden Dawn supporters. So, fifty-fifty chance you’re registering sensitive information with an armed fascist. That wasn’t an abstract danger to any of us: we had witnessed the racism and brutality. One night, we were so afraid of the police in our building, we slept in the car....

It was the beginning of a crackdown ordered from the highest levels. The Council of the European Union is preparing plans to equate humanitarian assistance with people trafficking, criminalising those saving lives at sea and caring for survivors on land. “We feel as if we are in the resistance in World War Two,” said Lara. “We were ‘randomly’ checked for papers and passports and told not to feed the hungry. Every move we make is being watched.”

See Statewatch coverage: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control and Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers

UK: GRUNWICKS: Covert police spied on strikers and their supporters in iconic dispute (Guardian, link):

"A police undercover unit obtained intelligence on the tactics of the strikers and their supporters in the seminal Grunwick dispute... One of these could be a dispute that centred on a photo-processing factory in north-west London called Grunwick. It was one of the most iconic industrial disputes since the Second World War.

Now evidence has emerged to show how the controversial Metropolitan police undercover unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), obtained inside information about the tactics and movements of the strikers and their supporters. Two former policemen have described the intelligence as being important at a time when the Met was struggling to police the dispute."

EU counts cost of US visa war (euobserver, link):

"Imposing visas on US visitors would harm transatlantic relations and cost billions of euros, the European Commission has said. “It would be a major disaster,” a former EU diplomat added.... It came following talks by EU officials in Strasbourg after a legal deadline expired on “non-reciprocity” - the fact that US nationals can go to any EU state without a permit, but people from five EU countries still need visas to enter the US.

The five countries are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Poland, and Romania".

See: Lack of visa reciprocity with the U.S., Canada and Brunei: European Commissions assesses state of play and discusses next steps (Press elease, pdf) and Communication: State of play and the possible ways forward as regards the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy (COM 221-16, pdf)

European Parliament: Last-minute amendments jeopardise PNR plenary vote (Parliament Magazine, link):

"Tabling of amendment by ALDE group could 'send the whole agreement back to the negotiating table'... Green home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht argued that "serious doubts" remain about the legality of the planned agreement.

He said, "The landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice in 2014 made clear that the general retention of data without grounds is not compatible with EU law. This has clear implications for passenger data exchange and retention systems.

"Against this background, it would be irresponsible to proceed gung-ho with a PNR exchange system that goes in this direction and the proposed system must be legally assessed.""

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.4.16)

EU: INTERNAL SECURITY AGENCIES ACCESS & INPUT INTO SIS: Council of the European Union: Observations of the Presidency on strengthening Information Exchange/Information Systems, especially SIS (LIMITE doc no: 7412-16, pdf)

"Enable direct inserts of alerts in the SIS for security services (possible national legal changes) Member states will ensure that security services have the possibility of entering alerts into the SIS without interference of judicial authorities. Amendments of legal or policy frameworks allowing security services to enter alerts will be made."

Includes: ANNEX: "Indicative criteria to be taken into consideration regarding exchange and sharing of information on individuals involved in travelling to and from jihadi areas of conflict Any transmission and sharing of information about the individuals referred to below is submitted to limitations and safeguards provided in national law." and

"Extend Europol’s access rights to SIS II (legal change): Europol must have the possibility to access alerts with regard to missing persons and on persons undesirable in or refused entry to the territory of a Member State."

 What’s at stake in the EU PNR debate? (papersplease.org, link): My analysis & some arguments for why the proposal should be rejected by Edward Hasbrouck:
"As we said in a submission cited with approval in a report last month by the UN Office Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the rights of migrants, "screening" and algorithmic travel control regimes are likely to result in systematic discrimination against asylum seekers and refugees: Their nationality or place of origin in a conflict zone may cause them to be deemed "risky" according to the profiling and "risk scoring" algorithms. There may be limited, inconsistent, or nonexistent records pertaining to migrants in irregular situations in the databases used for profiling and risk scoring, and screening algorithms may equate uncertainty with risk.

Controls on access to air travel throughout the EU on the basis of PNR profiling are thus likely to exclude many legitimate asylum seekers from travel by common carrier, forcing them to dangerous means of "irregular" and indirect transportation and compounding the EU migrant crisis. The PNR proposal is the European equivalent of Donald Trump's "proposal to build a wall on the USA-Mexico border, and would be just as disastrous."

And see: Passenger Name Records, data mining & data protection: the need for strong safeguards (CoE, link) by Douwe Korff, Emeritus Professor of International Law, London Metropolitan University Associate, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford with advice, comments and review by Marie Georges
Council of Europe Expert.

PORTUGAL- USA RENDITION: Ex-CIA agent loses extradition appeal in Portugal (New Europe, link):

"Portugal’s supreme court has rejected a former CIA operative’s appeal against extradition to Italy to serve a six-year sentence for her part in an “extraordinary rendition” programme.

Sabrina De Sousa’s only remaining recourse to avoid being sent to Italy would be to appeal to Portugal’s Constitutional Court, arguing her extradition order is unconstitutional. De Sousa was among 26 Americans convicted in absentia in the case, which also implicated Italy’s secret services and has proven embarrassing to successive Italian governments.

De Sousa, who was working in Italy under diplomatic cover, faces prison for her role in the 2003 kidnapping in Milan of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a terror suspect who was under surveillance by Italian law enforcement at the time."

EU What’s DiEM25, really? Reply to an open letter by Souvlis & Mazzolini (Open Democracy, link) by Yanis Varoufakis

"If our analysis is correct (and I sincerely hope we are… wrong), we are at a moment in history very much like 1930. Just after the crisis (1929) and in the ‘early’ stages of a slide toward an abyss comprising deflation, xenophobia, hyper-nationalism, competitive devaluations, jingoism etc. What was the duty of progressives in 1930? It was, I suggest, to reach across party affiliations and borders to create a pan-European movement of democrats (radicals, liberals, even progressive conservatives) in opposition to the forces of evil. I very much fear that this is our duty today too." [emphasis added]

EU: Trade Secrets Directive creates excessive secrecy and must be rejected (euractiv, link):

"The schemed Directive on “Trade Secrets Protection” is meant to repress industrial espionage, but applies to the whole of society legal remedies that should only apply to businesses, writes a broad coalition of journalists, lawyers, scientists, unions and associations."

European enforcers not sold on ‘privacy shield’ (politico, link): "Tech companies in last-minute lobbying push to fend off European attack on data pact"

and see: The Commission’s draft EU-US Privacy Shield adequacy decision: A Shield for Transatlantic Privacy or Nothing New under the Sun (EU law Analysis, link):

" A recently leaked document reveals that the Article 29 Working Party has difficulties in reaching an overall conclusion on the Commission’s draft adequacy decision and supports the view that Privacy Shield does not fully comply with the essential guarantees for the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US for intelligence activities.

Should the Commission nevertheless decide to proceed with the current draft, it is highly possible that the CJEU will be called in the future to judge the adequacy of Privacy Shield in a Schrems 2 line of cases."

FRANCE: The French protest that wants to redefine politics (EUobserver, link): "French police started to evacuate the place de la République in Paris Monday morning (11 April) after a protest movement that started there extended to over 60 towns and city over the weekend in a show of defiance to the government.

The "Nuit Debout" movement, which can be translated by "standing night", started on 31 March as protest against a labour market reform presented by the left-wing government.?? Based on the 2011 Indignados movement in Spain, the Nuit Debout is a made-up camp where people talk about the reform but also about politics and social policies in general in committees and a "popular assembly"."

And see: In pictures: 'Up All Night' protesters march on PM's home (France 24, link): "Hundreds of protesters taking part in the "Up All Night" (Nuit Debout) demonstrations were met with tear gas Saturday night as they tried to make their way to the residence of Prime Minister Manuel Valls. At least eight people were arrested."

How the former head of Blackwater set up operations in Austria and Bulgaria to try to build a private paramilitary airforce: Echo Papa Exposed: Inside Erik Prince’s Treacherous Drive to Build a Private Air Force (The Intercept, link): "One of the mechanics soon recognized Echo Papa from news photos — he was Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater. Several of the Airborne staff whispered among themselves, astonished that they had been working for America’s best-known mercenary. The secrecy and strange modification requests of the past four months began to make sense. In addition to surveillance and laser-targeting equipment, Airborne had outfitted the plane with bulletproof cockpit windows, an armored engine block, anti-explosive mesh for the fuel tank, and specialized wiring that could control rockets and bombs. The company also installed pods for mounting two high-powered 23 mm machine guns. By this point, the engineers and mechanics were concerned that they had broken several Austrian laws but were advised that everything would be fine as long as they all kept the secret."

Joint declaration of the prime ministers of Greece and Portugal - 11 April 2016 (pdf): Statement on three themes: 1. A European response to the refugee and migration crisis; 2. European Economic and Monetary Union; 3. Peace and stability in our broader region. On refugee and migration policy it says:

"We believe that the building of walls and fences, the unilateral and uncoordinated implementation of measures or the unwillingness to participate in commonly agreed actions, such as resettlement and relocation schemes, undermine European solidarity as well as the humane and effective management of migrant flows.

Europe must remain open to hosting people in need of international protection, by replacing dangerous, irregular migration routes with legal processes of resettlement of refugees from countries neighboring Syria and by accelerating the relocation processes of refugees already in Greece and Italy. At the same time, the EU must enhance efforts to establish readmission agreements with the countries of origin of economic immigrants."

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.4.16)

Roma on the margins: Housing rights denied (Amnesty, link): "In early 2012, the adoption by the Italian government of the National Strategy for Roma Inclusion (the National Strategy), had the potential to mark a turning point for many Romani families who, for years, had experienced forced evictions, segregation and discrimination in access to housing in Italy.

Promising to “overcome large-sized mono-ethnic settlements” and “increase access to a wide range of housing solutions”, the National Strategy brought hope to families and organizations which for years had been denouncing the widespread and systematic human rights violations experienced by Romani women, children and men.

However, as we celebrate International Roma Day on 8 April, it is painfully clear that, four years on, the promises engraved in the ink of the 2012 document have just simply become mirrors and smoke. Life for thousands of Roma in Italy remains as difficult as ever, as they continue to be faced with official neglect and prejudice."

UK: Drones to check planning applications (The Telegraph, link): "Drones are being used by councils in England to fly over the homes of people making planning applications, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

A Freedom of Information survey of hundreds of councils found that a dozen had admitted to using or hiring drones. Two councils – Epping Forest and Moray – said the drones could be used to check on planning applications.

Other councils had used them to check on conditions of council buildings, to survey dangerous structures and monitor on coastal erosion.

The revelation last night raised questions over privacy. The Liberal Democrats called for a code of practice to govern how councils use drones while the information watchdog said it was “concerned” by the news and said councils should consider whether drones were “necessary and proportionate”."

And see: Back from the battlefield: domestic drones in the UK

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (11.4.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.4.16)

MSF treats hundreds after Greek-FYROM border violence (MSF, link): "On 10 April, after the violent events at the border between Greece and FYROM, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical teams treated hundreds including around 40 people injured by rubber bullets. At least ten people have reported to MSF teams that they were beaten by FYROM police.

Two extra mobile medical teams were added to the normal activities in Idomeni camp to assist the growing number of people in the camp.

"Today, frustration and a growing feeling of anger are spread among the refugees who have been stranded in Idomeni for over one month. What we see is the inevitable result of thousands being trapped in Greece, a country unable to respond to the humanitarian and protection needs of those in search of safety in Europe,” stated Jose Hulsenbek, MSF’s Head of Mission in Greece. "What people need is to be treated with dignity, not violence or unpredictable border closures and more uncertainty. This absurd humanitarian crisis created by European states’ policies is becoming more unbearable by the day.” "

And see: Macedonian police teargas, pepper spray refugees at Greek border: Who supplied the "crowd control" equipment? (Statewatch News Online)

EU-AUSTRIA: How will the Austrian presidential elections influence EU's (migration) policy and TTIP? (VoteWatch Europe, pdf): "Austrians will vote for a new President on 24 April. The race is very tight, as the migration crisis is substantially impacting the national political landscape. A victory of a candidate from outside the current grand coalition would seriously undermine the government's policies. The nationalist anti-immigration and anti-EU FPÖ is on the rise and pushes hard to be part of the government."

UK: Press release and new report: Reprieve: Britain’s Kill List: Government must come clean

The government has been operating a covert 'Kill List' since at least 2001 in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, research reveals today, despite denials of such a policy.

A new report from human rights organization Reprieve suggests that the government established a Kill List in October 2001 of individuals who were subsequently targeted for assassination by UK and US forces. The list included not only alleged militants, but also people who the government suspected were involved in drug trafficking. According to an anonymous UK serviceman, the list soon extended to include others.

Report: Britain's Kill List: official dissembling in the development of a list of people we want to kill and the need for a full and transparent investigation (pdf)

EU: Long running debate on PNR enters final furlong (EU Today, link): "A long-awaited vote on the EU Passenger Name Records (PNR) legislation is likely to take place next week after months of delays.

The vote has been made possible after officials in the Council of Ministers were able to speed up work on the EU’s data protection legislation.

The proposed EU PNR directive would oblige airlines to hand EU countries their passengers’ data in order to help the authorities to fight terrorism and serious crime."

See: Putting the PNR pieces in place: more EU funding for mass surveillance (Statewatch News Online, March 2016): "The EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive is still yet to be formally approved by the European Parliament, but that has not prevented the European Commission and Member States from setting up the infrastructure required for the mass surveillance of air travel. The latest contribution to this effort is a project led by the Hungarian interior ministry that will investigate ways to make sure that different national systems "are able to communicate with each other," thus facilitating the cross-border exchange of the personal data given by travellers to airlines."

EU-US Privacy Shield in big trouble, may not pass muster, suggests German leak (Ars Technica, link): "Leaked extracts from an imminent assessment of the EU-US Privacy Shield replacement for Safe Harbour suggests that a key group of EU data protection authorities will not support it in its present form.

It is expected that the Article 29 Working Party will say that it is "not yet in a position to confirm that the current draft adequacy decision does, indeed, ensure a level of protection [in the US] that is essentially equivalent to that in the EU." Any transatlantic data transfer scheme that does not provide an "essentially equivalent" level of protection is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge in the EU courts."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-10.4.16)

Refugee crisis: Macedonian police teargas, pepper spray refugees at Greek border: Who supplied the "crowd control" equipment?

The EU and Turkey have struck a deal to trade refugees back and forth (video, link). Speaking the blunt truth.

The west's shadow war by Paul Rogers (Open Democracy, link): "The expanding use of special forces to combat ISIS risks repeating the abuse and failure of the campaign against al-Qaida... A new briefing from Oxford Research Group – UK Special Forces: Accountability in Shadow War (30 March 2016) – provides a summary of the overall picture.".

EU-TURKEY READMISSION AGREEMENT: EU Council of the European Union: Council Decision of 23 March 2016 establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation from 1 June 2016 (pdf)

This Decision brings forward the starting date on the main Agreement adopted in 2014: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation (pdf)

First journalist punished over photos under Spain’s gag law (The Local.es, link): "A Basque photographer has become the first journalist to be punished under Spain’s controversial “gag law” for posting images of a police raid on Twitter.."

EU considers restricting visa-free travel for Americans, Canadians - Commission will debate whether to retaliate for restrictions on European citizens.(politico, link): "The European Union may soon require visas from Americans and Canadians traveling to Europe — a move that would come in retaliation for restrictions imposed by the U.S. and Canada on some EU countries, according to officials.

The European Commission is planning to discuss the issue next week, ahead of an April 12 deadline the EU had imposed for the U.S. and Canada to lift restrictions on travelers from five EU countries. The EU has tried for two years to get the U.S. and Canada to ensure visa-free travel for all the bloc’s citizens, but has set no firm timeline on when a new reciprocal ban would take effect."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.4.16)

EU-USA: Council of the European Union: Outcome of proceedings of the EU - US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, 24-25 February 2016, Amsterdam (LIMITE doc no: 7188-16, pdf):

"The US warned of considerable security risks that should not be underestimated. It offered to take a more pro-active look at US-EU cooperation and mentioned the experience of vetting 25.000 resettled refugees to Canada against US databases. This also had a political aspect as it reassured the population that migrants were no risk."

and EU-USA Agreement data protection: "Hopefully, the Umbrella Agreement could be signed in June at the EU-US ministerial meeting and adopted in autumn. However, if an opinion by the ECJ was deemed necessary by the European Parliament, there would be a delay." [emphasis added]

Meijers Committe: Note on Mutual trust and Opinion 2/13 on accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf)

"In Opinion 2/13, one reason why the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found the European Union (EU)-European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) draft accession agreement to be incompatible with the EU Treaties was that it did not avert the risk that accession would undermine the principle of mutual trust in EU law. This principle of mutual trust holds that Member States may be required to presume that fundamental rights have been observed by the other Member States."

Dutch vote highlights EU's problem with voters, UK beware (Reuters, link): "The European Union's long-running problem with voters just got a little worse after the Dutch rejected an agreement on closer EU ties with Ukraine, highlighting the difficulties of further European integration.

Coming less than three months before a British referendum on whether to stay in the EU or leave after 43 years of semi-detached membership, the Dutch vote rang alarm bells in London and Brussels.

Less than a third of the electorate turned out for the consultative Dutch referendum, forced by a grassroots petition launched by eurosceptics. But it was enough to make the ballot valid and oblige Prime Minister Mark Rutte's government to take account of the result.

Jubilant eurosceptic Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders called it "the beginning of the end of the EU". His British counterpart, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, said: "Their 'No' to the EU was a tremendous victory for democracy.""

Statewatch Analysis: Commission proposals on migration and internal security databases: a new list of old "needs" (pdf) by Chris Jones

The Commission’s proposal to extend the fingerprinting of short-stay visa applicants to children from the ages of 6 and up is part of a list of possible “enhanced functionalities” (i.e. expanded uses) of the Visa Information System (VIS). These “functionalities” will be examined as part of a larger process of trying to beef up EU and national databases and information systems.

In a Communication entitled ‘Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security’ the Commission sets out its plans for more gathering, exchange and processing of personal data, particularly the data of non-EU nationals. The Commission’s long-term plans are extremely similar to those proposed recently by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (see further below).

The Communication opens by noting the scale of movement into and out of the Schengen area: its external borders were crossed more than 200 million times in 2015, by “more than 50 million non-EU nationals”. It moves on to conflate refugees with terrorism and to insist upon “the need to join up and strengthen the EU’s border management, migration and security cooperation frameworks and information tools in a comprehensive manner.”

And see: EU calls for the fingerprinting of 6-year-old children

Association Malienne des Expulsés: Statement on expulsions to Mali and EU migration policy (pdf): "Since the end of last year (2015), in Mali we are witnessing waves of expulsions, refoulements and repatriations of our migrants from Asia, Europe and even from the African continent. This recurring problem of refoulements, expulsions and repatriations of Malian migrants worsens on a daily basis and is becoming increasingly worrying. Thus, Malians are mainly expelled, refouled or repatriated from Saudi Arabia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, Libya, Spain and now also from Mauritania.

The fight against so-called illegal immigration represents a priority in the policy implemented by the European Union which presents this form of migration as a dangerous scourge which must be combated. This attitude by the European Union is constituted by focussing on the consequences without worrying about the root causes of the migration phenomenon. Thus, the reasons that push our fellow nationals to leave are well known, as they concern a lack of employment for young people, their difficult economic and professional conditions and, most of all, a lack of any prospects which affects their daily life.

The distinction or categorisation of migrants (between economic migrants and asylum seekers) by the EU is an incorrect reading of the situation which does not contribute to reducing the phenomenon of flows towards Europe."

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.8.16)

GREECE: Amnesty International: "Thousands of people" have been "arbitrarily detained" in detention centres (formerly "hotspots") on Lesvos and Chios

A new report from Amnesty International discusses the situation in Greece, following visits by the organisation to two detention centres (which used to be "hotspots"). It says that thousands of people have been arbitrarily detained pending removal (unless they manage apply for asylum) in the effort to implement the EU-Turkey deal.

Statistics: implementing the EU-Turkey deal: "boots on the ground"

Thousands of state officials from across Europe are supposed to be sent to Greece to help implement the EU-Turkey deal on refugees and migrants. This page gathers the statistics made available by the Commission on the process.

The numbers "pledged" are those offered by Member States, the requesting institution is the European Asylum Support Office or Frontex, as indicated.

6 April 2016: Member States remain either far less keen or far less able to provide interpreters, while the number of asylum officials requested for the operation has increased from 400 to 472. Amnesty International reported that during their visits on the 5 and 6 April, the VIAL detention centre in Moria had one asylum case worker.

EU-USA: Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Agreement: draft texts on review of the 2010 MLA Agreement

"The documentation comprises three sections:

I) An introduction to the EU-US MLA Agreement (ANNEX I);
II) An assessment of the key provisions of the Agreement (ANNEX II);
III) Recommendations for improving the practical functioning of the Agreement (ANNEX III).

The Presidency intends discussing this documentation at the COPEN [Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters] meeting on 13 April 2016. After passage through the appropriate bodies it is the intention of the Presidency that these documents will be agreed at the high level EU-US meeting in June."

See: Council of the European Union: Review of the 2010 EU-US MLA Agreement - Examination of draft texts (7403/16, pdf)

Also on EU-US cooperation: Council of the EU: Outcome of proceedings of the EU - US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, 24-25 February 2016, Amsterdam (7188/16, pdf): Notes of discussions on migration and mobility, visas, security (counter-terrorism and -extremism, border control, TFTP), cybercrime, drugs, wildlife trafficking, data protection, criminal law cooperation, cooperation in international organisations, preparation for the next meeting (Amsterdam, 1-2 June 2016), Slovakian Council Presidency priorities.

UK: Britain Is Making Millions Training Police In 21 Countries That Use The Death Penalty (BuzzFeed, link): "Britain’s College of Policing, the professional body for police training, has made millions of pounds in the last three years by training forces in countries that use the death penalty.

Among the countries where the college offers training in “leadership, forensics and intelligence” are Bahrain, China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Uganda. In all, 21 of the countries where the college operates training programmes have the death penalty. Yesterday Amnesty International revealed that executions worldwide are at a 25-year-high, with at least 158 people killed in 2015 in Saudi Arabia alone.

At least 25 of the countries in which the college operates have forces that have been accused by campaigners of human rights abuses and torture."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.4.16)

ITALY: The truth about the hotspot system – violations and illegality in Lampedusa (pdf):

"Over the last few weeks, dozens of people from Mali, Gambia, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria arrived in Palermo, as well as in Catania and other Sicilian cities, in possession of a deferred refusal of entry order which requires that they leave Italian territory from the border crossing in Rome’s Fiumicino [airport] within 7 days. They all come from Lampedusa, where they arrived after being intercepted at sea and taken onto the island.

These migrants have not been allowed to apply for international protection, although they had managed to contact UNHCR. They tell us that they were informed of the possibility of applying for asylum, without having any way to do so in practice.

Instead, they tell us they were forced to sign a form whose content they did not understand because they did not speak the language it was written in (while at the bottom of the order, absurdly, the phrase ‘the interested party refuses to sign’ is always present as these forms are prepared and pre-printed in bulk)...."

First signatories: Borderline Sicilia Onlus, Borderline-Europe, Centro salesiano Santa Chiara di Palermo, Circolo Arci Porco Rosso di Palermo, Ciss – Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud, Comitato Antirazzista Cobas (Palermo), Comitato NoMuos/NoSigonella, Forum Antirazzista di Palermo, La città Felice(Ct) – Le città vicine, L’Altro Diritto Sicilia, Laici Missionari Comboniani, Palermo Senza Frontiere, Rete Antirazzista Catanese

To sign up: forumantirazzistadipalermo@gmail.com

EU: Council of the European Union: ECRIS, EU "returns"document and Visa Code

- European Criminal Records Information System: Amendments in the ECRIS proposal on the basis of the “consolidated” text following the COPEN (ECRIS) meetings of 1 and 22 February and 1 - 2 March, 2016 (LIMITE doc no 7298-16, pdf):

“CONSOLIDATED” TEXT OF FRAMEWORK DECISION 2009/315/JHA AS IT WOULD BE AMENDED BY THE DRAFT ECRIS DIRECTIVE"

- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (LIMITE doc no: 7172-16, pdf):

The EU hopes third countries will accept this, many have not in the past: It is defined as:

"The document shall be valid for a single journey to the third country of return."

- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 6906-16, 18.3.16, pdf): "The text of the draft Regulation as amended and agreed by the Working Party appears in bold (new text or (…) when text has been deleted). The changes suggested by the Presidency, which have not yet been approved, are underlined." and LIMITE doc no: 7336-16 (29.3.16, 87 pages, pdf): "In addition, the recent suggestions introduced following the meeting of the JHA Counsellors on 21 March 2016 are highlighted."

EU calls for the fingerprinting of 6-year-old children

On Wednesday the European Commission set out its plans to expand EU and national databases "to allow effective management of migration and to contribute to internal security." One of the myriad ways this could be done is by "collecting fingerprints of children between the age of 6 and 12 years old" who enter the EU on short-stay visas.

See: page 9 of European Commission, Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security, COM(2016) 205 final, 6 April 2016

EU plans drone fleet to track migrants - Countries are divided over who would control the remotely piloted aircraft.(politico, link):

"Drones controlled by the EU will soon be flying across the continent under a European Commission plan to keep track of migrants arriving on Mediterranean shores.

The Commission says it needs its own fleet of remotely piloted aircraft systems to spot small refugee boats, as well as to enforce emissions standards and monitor ship safety elsewhere in Europe".

UK: Interpreting services within immigration removal centres (IRR News, link): "The lack of trained interpreters inside of immigration detention exacerbates fear, mistrust and depression and has contributed to a number of deaths."

Fair Trials welcomes CJEU judgement on European Arrest Warrant and detention conditions (link):

"On 5 April, in its decision in the Aranyosi and Caldararu cases (C-404/15 and C-659/15 PPU), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has confirmed that Member States are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of requested people when considering European Arrest Warrants ."

EU: Council of the European Union: Standard Operating Procedures implementing the mechanism for resettlement from Turkey to the EU as set out in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 7462-16, pdf). All sorts of additions and deletions.

EU: Europol and FBI (link):

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Europol, the European law enforcement agency, have signed in Washington a mutual agreement that will considerably intensify the common fight against foreign terrorist fighters. The agreement, signed by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Europol’s Deputy Director of Operations Wil van Gemert, enables the FBI to join Europol’s Focal Point Travellers".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.4.16)

‘Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile’: Towards a third phase of the Common European Asylum System? (link) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law. University of Essex:

" Overall, this is a very disappointing paper from the Commission. There are certainly abuses of the asylum system, but EU legislation already has many possibilities to address them, as regards fast-tracking decisions and appeals, reduced benefits and detention. There’s little evidence here of a balanced, rational and coherent response to the crisis. In fact, this looks rather more like panic.

Of course EU asylum law does not develop in a political vacuum. Member States had a key role agreeing these laws, and the main role implementing them and driving the reaction to the crisis. No criticism of the ‘EU response to the crisis’ should ignore what is ultimately driving that response: the neo-nationalist political parties which are in government in several Member States and form the main opposition in several more. But is endless concessions to these parties really the right strategy? They will always be able to outflank the political mainstream when it comes to anger, fear and ignorance. It’s always better to stand and fight for what you really believe in than to pretend to agree with your opponents’ fundamentally different views."

European Commission: Press releases: 6 April 2016:

- Stronger and Smarter Borders in the EU: Commission proposes to establish an Entry-Exit System (pdf)

- Smart Borders Package: Questions & Answers (pdf)

- Commission presents options for reforming the Common European Asylum System and developing safe and legal pathways to Europe (pdf)

- Commission launches discussion on future framework for stronger and smarter information systems for border management and internal security (pdf)

European Commission proposals for changing asylum system: Towards a reform of the Common European Asylum System and enhancing legal avenues to Europe (Full-text, pdf)

- Security: EU strengthens response to hybrid threats (pdf): "The European Commission and the High Representative adopted today a Joint Framework to counter hybrid threats and foster the resilience of the EU, its Member States and partner countries while increasing cooperation with NATO on countering these threats. In recent years, the EU and its Member States have been increasingly exposed to hybrid threats that comprise hostile actions designed to destabilise a region or a state." and see: Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats a European Union response (Commission and EEAS, pdf)::

"While definitions of hybrid threats vary and need to remain flexible to respond to their evolving nature, the concept aims to capture the mixture of coercive and subversive activity, conventional and unconventional methods (i.e. diplomatic, military, economic, technological), which can be used in a coordinated manner by state or non-state actors to achieve specific objectives while remaining below the threshold of formally declared warfare.... Massive disinformation campaigns, using social media to control the political narrative or to radicalise, recruit and direct proxy actors can be vehicles for hybrid threats."

EU: Council of the European Union: Blue Amber Ops, LEA Information Exchange Manual and Legal Aid

- Comments on the Blue Amber joint action days (LIMITE doc no: 15566-16, pdf):

"JADs are included in virtually every operational action plan in 2016. They still remain a controversial concept, mainly because of the lack of a clear definition and a corresponding approach (differentiating them from high-impact operations (HIOs), joint police operations (JPOs), operations launched as part of a joint investigation team (JIT), etc.). Furthermore, it is noted that many operations are falsely called JADs (e.g. operation LUXCAR, which was more akin to a joint police operation, i.e. a type of police operation that has been organised by each EU presidency for a number of years). This lack of a definition causes confusion and limits the value of the operations. We therefore suggest that a clear definition of joint action days be established."

- Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no: 6704-16, pdf): 391 pages.

- Legal Aid: Proposal for a Directive on provisional legal aid for suspects or accused persons deprived of liberty and legal aid in European arrest warrant proceedings = Follow-up of the fifth and sixth trilogues (18 February and 3 March 2016) (LIMITE doc no: 6904-16, pdf) and see:

- As above: Discussion on selected issues (LIMITE doc no: 7378-16, pdf):

"As Member States will remember, the European Parliament would like to enlarge the scope of the Directive by providing that legal aid should be granted in certain specific cases where investigative or other evidence-gathering measures are carried out under Directive 2014/14/EU on the European Investigation Order (see doc. 6904/16).

At the meeting on 16 March, a lot of Member States voiced concerns concerning these proposals of the European Parliament. The Presidency communicated these concerns to the rapporteur of the European Parliament. He indicated that the European Parliament wants to await the position of the Commission before possibly revising its own position in this matter."

European Commission proposals for changing asylum system: Towards a reform of the Common European Asylum System and enhancing legal avenues to Europe (pdf) To be announced today

Helping Refugees Together by Peter Sutherland (project-syndicate.org, link):

"This year is likely to be the most momentous for refugee protection and migration since the signing of the Geneva Convention in 1951. Depending on the choices we make, we will either help create more open societies, based on greater international cooperation, or we will abet authoritarian governments and their nationalist agendas. So we must treat this issue with exceptional urgency and seriousness of purpose. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.4.16)

Greece postpones return of next group of migrants until Friday, Turkish official says (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greece has postponed the return of the next group of migrants to Turkey under a deal with the European Union until Friday, a Turkish government official said on Tuesday, with no other deportees expected before then."

Greece’s New Asylum Legislation: What Will Change? (News That Moves, link):

"Appeals against a negative decision will be examined and processed with a final decision within 7 days by newly established Appeal Committees (see art. 60, page 44)

The appeals process is made on the basis of file examination without the presence of the applicant, and Appeals Committee decides whether the applicant will be interviewed or not. The seeker can still request to be interviewed two days before the appeal process starts (see art. 62, page 45)".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-4.4.16)

First "easy cases" arrive in Turkey after deportation from Greek islands begins

On the day the EU-Turkey deal comes into force, over 130 people have been deported from Greece. They arrived in the port of Dikili this morning after being deported from the islands of Lesvos and Chios on boats staffed by Frontex officers, Turkish officials and Greek riot police. Those on board were "mostly Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Moroccans who were already being deported to Turkey before the deal's creation," according to a report in The Guardian, but there were also apparently two Syrians on board, "including a woman who had volunteered to return." The BBC reports that Sri Lankan nationals were also deported.

Roundup of news stories from across the EU (4.4.16)

UK: British mobile phone users’ movements 'could be sold for profit’ (The Guardian, link): "British mobile phone users are one data breach away from having the routines of their daily lives revealed to criminals, privacy campaigners have said.

Mobile phone networks and wireless hotspot operators are collecting detailed information on customers’ movements that reveal intimate details of their lives, two separate investigations into mobile data retention have found.

Many people unwittingly sign up to be location-tracked 24/7, unaware that the highly sensitive data this generates is being used and sold on for profit. Campaigners say that if this information were stolen by hackers, criminals could use it to target children as they leave school or homes after occupants have gone out."

See: Cashing in on your mobile (Open Rights Group, link) and: Opt Me Out Of Location (link): "www.optmeoutoflocation.com has been set up to encourage the British public to call for their mobile and Wi-Fi service providers to make it explicit what they are asking their customers to opt into, thereby providing a clear choice to opt out."

Facebook: Electra (link): "Greece has not ratified the ECHR Protocol forbidding collective explulsions. Most countries participating in Frontex, though, HAVE. Our governments must be held accountable for this crime."

Comment: Steve Peers: "Every other EU country except the UK has ratified the Fourth Protocol. And surely Greece is covered by the ban on collective expulsion where there is a link to EU law (as there is in asylum cases), due to the EU Charter."

BORDER GUARD: European Parliament Study: The proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard: evolution or revolution in external border management? (pdf):

"The proposal significantly reinforces Frontex’s regulatory and operational tasks and provides the Agency with an additional supervisory role. The proposal does not amend the fundamental premise of operational cooperation at the external borders, reserving executive enforcement powers to the Member States. Nonetheless, the concept of shared responsibility in the absence of shared accountability increases existing fundamental rights concerns."

And see: Regulation on a European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Statewatch European Documentation Centre (SEMDOC) Full documentation of Commission, Council and EP documents.

Greece begins refugee deportations under EU plan (ekathimerini.com, link): "Under heavy security, authorities on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Chios deported 202 migrants and refugees on boats bound for Turkey – the first to be sent back as part of a controversial European Union plan to limit the amount of migration to Europe.

The operation that started at dawn, as migrants were escorted onto small ferries by officers from the EU border protection agency, Frontex, to nearby ports on the Turkish coast, under the program which has been strongly criticized by human rights groups.

"All of the migrants returned are from Pakistan except for two migrants from Syria who returned voluntarily," Giorgos Kyritsis, a spokesman for a government refugee crisis committee, told state TV....

""This is the first day of a very difficult time for refugee rights. Despite the serious legal gaps and lack of adequate protection in Turkey, the EU is forging ahead with a dangerous deal," Giorgos Kosmopoulos, head of Amnesty International in Greece, told the Associated Press from Lesvos.

"Turkey is not a safe third country for refugees. The EU and Greek authorities know this and have no excuse.""

EU should stop forced evictions of Roma in Italy (euobserver, link):

"Italian authorities have marooned men, women and children in a Roma-only camp next to Ciampino airport runway in Rome, and haven’t provided suitable alternative accommodation for these people even after the Rome Civil Court ruled the relocation discriminatory.

Forced evictions of hundreds of residents from the camps of Lungo Stura Lazio in Turin and Via Idro in Milan in the last year – again without providing adequate alternative housing – further underlines the prejudicial horror show that accommodation for Roma in Italy has become."

March 2016

POLAND: RENDITION: Polish CIA prisons probe to be prolonged again? (Radio Poland, link): "A Polish prosecutor's office has lodged a request with the Attorney General to extend a long-running investigation into whether a CIA prison was hosted on Polish soil from 2002 to 2003.

The deadline for the completion of the probe – already extended several times – is 11 April.

The investigation was launched in 2008 and Poland has been repeatedly criticised for dragging its heels on the matter.

A "black site" for suspected terrorists was allegedly created at a military facility in Stare Kiejkuty, northern Poland, following the launch of the so-called "War on Terror".

Besides the matter of whether Poland hosted such a site, the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Kraków is also investigating whether Polish authorities consented to torture being applied."

See also: CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured (The Guardian, link): "The CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to its foreign partners for torture, the Guardian can reveal.

A former US official who had seen some of the photographs described them as “very gruesome”.

The naked imagery of CIA captives raises new questions about the seeming willingness of the US to use what one medical and human rights expert called “sexual humiliation” in its post-9/11 captivity of terrorism suspects. Some human rights campaigners described the act of naked photography on unwilling detainees as a potential war crime." And: Inside CIA's secret prisons: Haunting images show 'blacksites', where prisoners have been held and tortured around the globe on American orders (Daily Mail, link)

UK: The human cost of Theresa May's student deportation programme (politics.co.uk, link): " It's been just over a week since the damning legal ruling on the Home Office's student deportation programme and the full details of the department's behaviour are starting to become clear.

The picture painted by those affected is one of a department out of control. It tried to remove parents from their children. It deported families. It sent multiple vans full of immigration officers to people's homes in dawn raids, before separating the husbands from the wives and sending them to detention centres. It sent immigration squads to higher education colleges to threaten students and pore over the most minute details, including individual attendance rates. It tarnished the reputation of a civil servant in her workplace. And it did all this with no evidence at all, except the hearsay testimony of one of its own officials.

(...) the case raises serious questions about the behaviour of Theresa May and the department she runs. This is a scandal on an extraordinary scale, with the Home Office using hearsay evidence to destroy the lives and reputations of tens of thousands of innocent people. Even with the legal ruling last week, many of them are still trying to put back the pieces."

And see: UK: Disaster for Theresa May as legal ruling brings student deportations to a halt (politics.co.uk, link) and: AWS Solicitors: press release: The judgment of Honourable Mr Justice McCloskey, President, in lead appeal on TOEIC/ETS scam (pdf): "There must be a Public/Parliamentary inquiry into the way the Home Secretary has dealt with this issue. Lessons must be learned from this disgraceful episode."

Turkey steps up preparations for receiving migrants returned from Greece

A camp for 5,000 people is reportedly being built in western Turkey as the country apparently prepares to receive 72,000 migrants to be returned from Greece on Monday 4 April as part of the EU-Turkey deal.

UK: Support the Stop35k campaign and stand up to a grossly unfair, illogical policy (Right to Remain, link): "From April 6th, any Tier 2 skilled worker who applies for ILR (indefinite leave to remain) must earn over £35,000. If they don’t, they will be forced to leave the UK – either voluntarily, or by being deported. A Tier 2 skilled worker is a non-EU person who must be qualified to university degree level. As things stand now, a Tier 2 skilled worker already has to satisfy a lot of conditions before entering the country. Their job had to be advertised to UK residents for a month, in order to establish that no UK worker is suitable, before the Tier 2 skilled worker can be considered for the role. This is called the Resident Labour Market Test, or RLMT. The job must pay over £20,800. If they lose their job they have 30 days to find another one or they must leave. They are forbidden from claiming housing benefits, JSA, family benefits, and many others. They must pay an NHS surcharge as well as the thousands of pounds for immigration fees. The company they work for must already pay thousands of pounds in order to hire the Tier 2 skilled worker, and this amount is set to increase. Only around 20,000 people per year are allowed to enter the UK using the Tier 2 General route, while Tier 2 ICT (intra-company transfers) and other routes are uncapped."

UK: Government to create even more armed policing units

Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels last month, the UK government has announced that it will create a number of new armed policing units in cities across the UK. This follows on from January announcements to recruit 600 new armed police to be deployed in London. The plans foresee a total of 1,000 new armed police being in place by spring 2018.

EU border guard: Council documents including "guidance for further work", new European Parliament study

Negotiations within the Council on the proposed European Border and Coast Guard, which would replace the Frontex agency, are progressing fast. Under current plans a draft text of the entire Regulation will be submitted to the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee on 6 April, "with a view to obtaining a mandate flexibe enough to open interinstitutional negotiations with the European Parliament." Other documents provided here show how the Council's position has taken shape.

Meanwhile a new European Parliament study "highlights some of the central challenges in the new EBCG [European Border and Coast Guard] framework and provides some recommendations on how these might be addressed."

Short Cuts (London Review of Books, link) by Frances Webber: "In October 2015, the government amended the ministerial code, removing all references to the obligation on ministers to comply with international law when carrying out their duties. This quiet change, which the government insists will make no difference in practice, echoes the Ministry of Justice’s 2014 proposal to make the European Convention on Human Rights ‘advisory only’. It seems that the government believes that compliance with international human rights agreements signed by the UK is optional. So we should not be surprised at the announcement on 7 March that UK troops are to join the Nato forces in the Aegean that are turning back refugees trying to reach Europe from Turkey, even though such actions were denounced by the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights as amounting to ‘collective expulsions’ and thus violations of EU and international human rights law. A week earlier, the Home Office had confirmed that the number of refugees accepted outside official resettlement programmes would be restricted and that overstaying students and foreign national offenders might not be allowed to make asylum claims – measures which would breach the 1951 Refugee Convention. It seems that the government, having decided that repealing human rights laws is fraught with political and legal difficulties, is instead simply ignoring them when they interfere with policy objectives."

And: an article which covers some similar topics: A duty to inform? The outsourcing of state surveillance responsibilities to the British public by Max Rowlands, Statewatch Journal, vol 23 no 2, August 2013

European Parliament study on military research: EU should get ready for war

A report commissioned by the European Parliament calls for the EU to make significant investment in new weapons and military systems in order to reverse decreases in military investment at national level and ensure that the EU has "strategic autonomy" in order to act as a "security provider".

The report: European Parliament Directorate-General for External Policies, The future of EU defence research, March 2016 (pdf)

Returns under "one-for-one" plan to start on 4 April as evidence emerges of forced returns from Turkey to Syria

The European Commission foresees returns from Greece to Turkey under the controversial "one-for-one" plan starting on Monday 4 April, if changes to Greek and Turkish legislation can be rushed through by then. The credibility of claims that Turkey is a safe third country has been challenged yet again, this time with evidence gathered by Amnesty International that refugees have been forcibly returned from Turkey to Syria. Yesterday, press reports claimed that the Turkish military were shooting dead people attempting to enter Turkey from Syria.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Belgium (Council of Europe, link): "The Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the report on its September/October 2013 visit to Belgium, together with the response of the Belgian authorities.

One of the objectives of the visit was to examine the situation of inmates in various Belgian prisons, including in psychiatric annexes. In this context, the Antwerp, Forest, Merksplas and Tournai Prisons were visited.

Despite the "Masterplan" for renovating and constructing new prisons, overcrowding was still a major problem at the time of the visit. In the establishments visited, many prisoners held in multiple-occupancy cells had only 3 m² of living space per person, or even less, with some having to sleep on mattresses on the floor.

Other shortcomings in terms of material conditions were also observed. Prisoners at Forest and Tournai Prisons did not have toilets in their cells and had to use a bucket at night. Further, most of the prisoners spent 21 hours a day in their cell because there were too few activities on offer in the prisons visited. The CPT recommends that the Belgian authorities provide at least 4 m² of living space for each prisoner, improve detention conditions, particularly at Forest and Tournai Prisons, and increase the number of activities and work opportunities available to prisoners.
"

Full report (French only): Rapport au Gouvernement de la Belgique relatif à la visite effectuée en Belgique par le Comité européen pour la prévention de la torture et des peines ou traitements inhumains ou dégradants (CPT) du 24 septembre au 4 octobre 2013 (pdf) and: Government response (pdf, also in French).

Turkey shoots dead Syrian refugees crossing the border as they flee civil war (Mirror, link): "Border forces in Turkey are shooting refugees dead as they cross over into the country fleeing civil war in Syria, it has been reported.

Guards have killed sixteen refugees including three children as they crossed into Turkey, the Times reports.

Monitoring organisation the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims border forces have shot dead the sixteen refugees over the past four months.

An officer in the British-backed Free Syrian Police and a Syrian smuggler, living in Turkey, claimed that the true number was higher.

The newspaper reports on February 6 a man and his child were killed in Ras alAin on the eastern stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.

Two refugees were shot dead at Guvveci on March 5 on the western border.

The Syrian smuggler told the newspaper that refugees still cross the border but will 'either be killed or captured'."

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31.3.16)

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across Europe (31.3.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31.3.16)

Even humane Sweden is getting tough on refugees (IRIN, link): "Back in November, it was like the end of innocence. Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson famously broke down in tears as Sweden, the European country that has accepted the most asylum seekers per capita in recent years, announced it was ending its open-door policy.

After being overwhelmed by the daily arrival of up to 10,000 asylum seekers, this was the first indication that the political sands had shifted. Shortly afterwards, temporary border checks were introduced on the Øresund Bridge, linking Copenhagen and Sweden’s third city, Malmo. The border controls extended into Denmark and the police later significantly reinforced border guard deployments in the south of the country.

The measures have significantly dented the number of new arrivals but the government is still preparing to pass a series of major amendments to Sweden’s Aliens Act that will reduce prospective asylum seekers’ access to full refugee status, permanent residency and family reunification.

While all these measures are being called ‘temporary’, they are Europe’s new normal and Sweden’s reputation as one of the few welcoming nations to refugees has taken a hit."

And see: profile: Sweden Immigration Detention (Global Detention Project, link)

EU: Refugee crisis: Arrivals rocket in Italy amid warnings Turkey deal could force migrants on more dangerous routes (The Independent, link): "The number of refugees arriving in Italy is rising sharply amid fears that a controversial deal struck with Turkey could force asylum seekers to take longer and more dangerous routes to Europe.

The Italian interior ministry has documented 16,075 migrants crossing to its shores so far this year, compared to just over 10,000 during the same period in 2015.

Most were rescued from smugglers’ boats off the Libyan coast and brought ashore in Sicily by the coast guard."

EU: European Parliament civil liberties committee report on migration and the situation in the Mediterranean

The report makes recommendations under a vast number of headings headings, including: solidarity, search and rescue, tackling human trafficking and crimina smuggling, relocation and resettlement, humanitarian admission and humanitarian visas, the Common European Asylm System (CEAS), the revision of the Dublin III Regulation, the Temporary Protection Directive, family unity and children, returns, a common EU list of "safe countries of origin", the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex and its proposed replacement - the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Schengen and external borders, hotspots, criminal law and migration, cooperation with third countries, funding to third countries, the involvement of civil society, demographic trends, legal labour migration and the Blue Card Directive.

See: REPORT on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (23.3.16, pdf). A plenary vote on the report is due to take place on 13 April.

Under the heading of civil society, the report "affirms that volunteer and civil-society initiatives dedicated to providing assistance to migrants should be promoted and, where appropriate, funded by the Commission and the Member States." However it makes no mention of recent moves in Greece to place NGOs and volunteer organisations under more stringent supervision. See: Registering of NGOs, details of their workers/volunteers and independent volunteers begins (Statewatch News Online, 2.3.16)

EU: Europol-Brazil cooperation agreement on the way

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has given the green light for the Council to approve a "strategic cooperation agreement" between Europol and Brazil, which would allow for the exchange of non-personal data between the EU's policing agency and the law enforcement authorities of the Latin American state. The Parliament only has a "consultation" role with regard to such agreeents - its opinion is non-binding.

See: LIBE committee: Report on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Strategic Cooperation between the Federative Republic of Brazil and Europol (pdf), due to go to a vote before all MEPs on 12 April.

And: the draft COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING DECISION approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Strategic Cooperation between the Federative Republic of Brazil and Europol (13980/15, pdf)

Europol was previously seeking an operational cooperation agreemnet, which would permit the exchange of personal and classified data. See: The spider's web: Europol goes global in the hunt for intelligence and analysis (Statewatch News Online, March 2013)

EU: Black people in Europe report widespread racism in anti-immigration context (ENAR, link): "Racist political discourse is predominantly framed in the context of anti-immigration and targets migrants that are both Black and Muslims. As a result Black migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Black Europeans are reportedly suffering an increase in violent hatred and discrimination across all areas of life.

Discrimination in employment is prevalent and barriers are erected at every stage to prevent black people from gaining employment that matches their skills and experience. In the United Kingdom, applicants with an African sounding surname need to send twice as many job applications as those with a White British sounding name to get an interview. Statistics across EU Member States show that people with an African origin have systematically higher unemployment rates than the national average, which is due in part to racial discrimination. In Finland, unemployment rates are more than three times higher for people of African origin (41.2%) compared to the national average (8.7%).

Black people are particularly exposed to police violence as well as racist violence and abuse from other members of the public. In Sweden, 17% of hate crimes targeted Black people in 2014 (1,075 in total). There is a lack of trust between Black communities and the police which arises from various methods used by the police such as racial profiling and lack of full investigation of racially motivated crimes. Some law enforcement personnel display clearly racist behaviours and the police forces in some Member States are described as institutionally racist."

See: Key findings (pdf) and the full report: Afrophobia in Europe: ENAR Shadow Report 2014-2015 (pdf)

UK: Prison overcrowding: HMP Oakwood to convert single cells into doubles to make room for 500 extra inmates (The Independent, link): "Inmates at the UK’s largest privately-run jail are to start sharing cells from this summer after the Government ordered it to make room for another 500 prisoners, in a move described by campaigners as a recipe for overcrowding and violence.

HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton, which is operated by the private company G4S, is to see its official operating capacity rise by almost a third from July. The increase will bring the number of prisoners held at the jail from 1,600 to 2,106."

And see: Prison capital: UK locks up more people than any other EU member state

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across Europe (30.3.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.3.16)

European policy is driving refugees to more dangerous routes across the Med (The Conversation, link): "It is estimated that in 2015, more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in search of safety and a better life. 3,770 are known to have died trying to make this journey during the same period. This so-called “migration crisis” is the largest humanitarian disaster to face Europe since the end of World War II.

That’s why we’ve been working to examine the conditions underpinning this recent migration across, and loss of life in, the Mediterranean.

Our first research brief, based on interviews with 600 people, including 500 refugees, shines a light on the reasons why so many risk everything on the dangerous sea crossing. It also offers an insight into why the EU response has been so ineffective."

This article is based on research undertaken as part of project Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis (MEDMIG) (link). More extensive findings are documented in the project's first report: Research Brief No. 1 March 2016 (pdf)

EU: Leaked: "non-papers" on migration, mobility and readmission with Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan

These documents give an indication of the EU's plans as regards migration from three key East African countries, all suffering conflict and poverty. Another document exists concerning Eritrea, where the UN has documented very serious human rights abuses. However, it is not yet available publically.

The reports: Commission-EEAS non-papers on enhancing migration, mobility and readmission with Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan (pdfs)

EU: Putting the PNR pieces in place: more EU funding for mass surveillance

The EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive is still yet to be formally approved by the European Parliament, but that has not prevented the European Commission and Member States from setting up the infrastructure required for the mass surveillance of air travel. The latest contribution to this effort is a project led by the Hungarian interior ministry that will investigate ways to make sure that different national systems "are able to communicate with each other," thus facilitating the cross-border exchange of the personal data given by travellers to airlines.

EU: Frontex: report on the functioning of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

A December 2015 report by Frontex on the functioning of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur) provides an overview of how the system functioned from 2011, when the system launched, until November 2015. Thousands of "events" have been recorded in the system over this period and the report highlights four "operational success stories", incuding two incidents in which the system contributed to saving lives at sea.

Greece: Number of migrants reaching Greece surges again (ekathimerini.com, link): "Hundreds of migrants and refugees have arrived on Greek islands after days of low numbers, despite a European Union-Turkey agreement under which new arrivals will be sent back to Turkey.

Figures released by the Greek government Wednesday showed 766 people reached the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios and Kos in the 24 hours until Wednesday morning. The number is a roughly a three-fold jump compared with arrivals in previous days, when weather conditions had been poorer."

The increase in numbers comes less than a day after the authorities were apparently "encouraged" by the reduced numbers of arrivals: Authorities ‘encouraged’ by decreased refugee flow (ekatherimini, link).

And see: Flows from Turkey to Greece on sharp decline, while logistic assistance from member states continues (New Europe, link): "Just 11 days after the EU – Turkey agreement, progress on returns of irregular migrants to Turkey has been made, as Turkey sent back 76 irregular migrants on Thursday and 71 on Friday, 25-26 March 2016 in respect, as the European Commission spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Natasha Bertaud announced in Brussels. In terms of arrivals, “the numbers are encouraging”, as “less than 1,000 people arrived last week. In detail, numbers of the arrivals are: 20 March: 1,667, 21 March: 600, 22 March: 260, 23 March: 0, 24 March: 161, 25 March: 78, 26 March: 73, 27 March: 232 and 28 March: 192."

UK: JEAN CHARLES DE MENEZES: European Court of Human Rights judgment

"In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Armani Da Silva v. the United Kingdom (application no. 5878/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, by 13 votes to four, that there had been: no violation of Article 2 (right to life – investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national mistakenly identified by the police as a suicide bomber. Ms Armani Da Silva, who is Mr de Menezes’ cousin, complained that the State had not fulfilled its duty to ensure the accountability of its agents for his death because the ensuing investigation had not led to the prosecution of any individual police officer."

See the press release (pdf) and the judgment: CASE OF ARMANI DA SILVA v. THE UNITED KINGDOM (Application no. 5878/08) in English (pdf) and French (pdf)

An overview of the judgment: Grand Chamber judgment in Jean Charles de Menezes case (Dought Street Chambers, link)

Background: UK-ECHR: INQUEST: European Court of Human Rights – family to challenge UK government failure to prosecute police officers: background briefing on the broader context of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes

Also: Jean Charles de Menezes ruling due in European court of human rights (Guardian, link): "A ruling on whether British police officers should have been charged for the fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at a London tube station in 2005 is to be delivered by the European court of human rights on Wednesday De Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell underground station on 22 July 2005, when he was mistakenly identified as a suicide bomber just two weeks after the 7 July London bombings in which 52 people died, and the day after the attempted attacks on 21 July, during a turbulent summer in the British capital."

Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (pdf) by Chris Jones:

The EU’s deal with Turkey on refugees and migrants has been presented by its proponents as a quick and effective way to deal with the ongoing arrival of people in Europe. Its opponents maintain it is morally bankrupt and contrary to international law. Yet the EU’s approach to migrants and refugees is not solely concerned with such high-profile actions, and a whole host of new projects have been launched or given a new lease of life in recent months.

One of these projects is a new unit set up within Europol, the Internet Referral Unit (IRU). Originally set up to remove “terrorist and violent extremist” material from the internet, it will now also deal with “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees”. The legal basis for the unit was established in secret “trilogue” meetings with the Parliament and the Commission, during negotiations on the new Europol Regulation

Greece-Macedonia border: Macedonia extends Border Emergency until end of year (MINA, link):

"The Macedonian Parliament on Monday voted to extend the state of emergency enforced in the areas on the southern and northern borders until 31 December 2016 as a result of the migrant crisis.

Speaking in Parliament, Defense Minister Zoran Jolevski said the motion on amending the decision approving an extension of the state of emergency came as a result of the growing number of migrants entering and passing through Macedonia.

The objective is to secure continuity of the execution of tasks by the army and security forces of the Interior Ministry in an attempt to guard and protect the state border."

5 deadlines to watch on the EU-Turkey migration deal - New threats emerge to the agreement to control migrant flows (Politico, link):

"Making the controversial EU-Turkey migration deal work was always going to be a huge logistical challenge. Now that the terror attacks in Brussels have stirred up fresh opposition, it’s a political one too....

If Greece does not change its laws and Turkey is still foot-dragging on granting full protection for non-Syrians, experts say, it will be another sign the deal is in trouble. EU officials say they hope that the message that migrants will be jailed and returned would be enough to significantly discourage new arrivals by the end of April." [emphasis added]

Are you Syrious reports that on Monday:

"One boat with 35 people landed in the north coast of Lesvos... . Chios volunteers report that one boat with 49 refugees arrived...

Official Greek Government figures show that there is a total number of 50.146 refugees in Greece today. 4.289 on the islands, 14.430 in Attica, 2.879 in central Greece and 28.548 in the northern Greece. Number of arrivals in 24h period until 07:30AM was: 90 on Lesvos, 64 on Samos and 78 on Chios."

And: "WEATHER REPORT Monday night +24h: WARNING: Waves up to 1.5 meters high expected of the coast of Kastelorizo and Leros, 1 meter high for south east Samos and even 2 meters in north east Kos. ATTENTION:: 0.5 meters high waves of the coast of Lesvos and Chios."

Italy reports upsurge in migrants crossing from Libya (euobserver, link):

"The Italian coastguard reported on Monday (28 March) it had rescued 1,482 migrants off the Libyan coast in two days, a new indication that the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Italy is on the rise.

Some analysts had feared that the EU's focus on shutting down the so-called Balkan route would force migrants to aim for other ways of getting into Europe.

Last week, the United Nations refugee agency said in 2016 almost 14,500 people had arrived in Italy via Libya, which was 42.5 percent more than in the same period last year."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-8.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

Lesvos, Greece: Eric Kempson: Faith in humanity restored!!!!! (YouTube, link)

"You have to watch this video of these amazing people who came to the aid of the refugee's facing a death march to Mytilene.

These are local people and tourists many of whom rented cars so that they could help.

Without this help the refugee's faced a death march with days of walking to Mytilene in the hot sun with children and infants

Brought tears to my eyes...Amazing!!!!"

EU judges could limit UK surveillance powers before referendum (Guardian, link):

"ECJ [European Court of Justice] to hold emergency hearing on snooper’s charter as its impact on UK law is likely to become part of in/out campaign.. An emergency hearing on the bulk interception of communications data has been scheduled for 12 April at the European court of justice (ECJ), whose rulings are binding on UK courts. Its final decision could have a decisive impact on the powers of GCHQ, the Cheltenham-based monitoring agency, and could come shortly before Britons decide whether to remain in or leave the EU on 23 June.

At issue is the effect of an influential earlier ECJ ruling, Digital Rights Ireland, which has already been used to overturn the government’s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Dripa) on the grounds that it is “inconsistent with European Union law”.

The challenge has been brought by two MPs, the Conservative David Davis and Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson. Davis is expected to attend the Luxembourg hearing."

UNHCR (29.3.16): 164,338 arrivals in 2016 in EU: 149.208 to Greece, 14,492 to Italy. 528 dead/missing in 2016.

Arrivals in Lesvos (UNHCR):

Wednesday, 23 March:  269
Thursday, 24 March:        83
Friday, 25 March:            177
Saturday, 26 March:           5
Sunday, 27 March          144
Monday, 28 March          161

It is reported that there was bad weather on these days - it is expected to improve early next week.

Austria: Report by Are You Syrious (link)

"Administrative Court of Austria has currently dealing with a lawsuit refugees filed against the state for their pushbacks. Right before the Balkan route was closed, hundreds of Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees were pushed back from Austria to Slovenia. These refugees who were pushed back claim in their lawsuit that they were held at the border zone without toilets or any supplies in horrendous conditions, as well as that there were no reasons given to them in regards to why they were pushed back to Slovenia. According to Leschanz, the refugees prime point in the lawsuit asks why they were treated differently than other refugees that passed through, even if they fled the same reasons as the other refugees who were allowed to cross on the 6th March. Indeed, when the West Balkan route's closure was announced, thousands could pass, some hundreds were pushed back by a seemingly random choice." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

Greece: ECHR complaint on Afghan minors in Greece communicated to Greek government: See: Electra (link)

"I have just been informed that the European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) decided to communicate the Afghan unaccompanied minors' application to the Greek Government and to officially grant them anonymity throughout the procedure.

As for the interim measures' request, the Court decided to count on the assurances of the Greek Government that once these applicants approach the national Asylum Service, they will IMMEDIATELY receive the apropriate protection, including guardianship and representation, access to the asylum procedure and care on reunification with family members abroad, the satisfaction of the children's needs concerning "accomodation with adult relatives. a foster family, accomodations with special infrastructures suitable for minors, protection against the danger of trafficking or abuse. The greek authorities also committed to the Court that "they will try to locate, as soon as possible, the members of the minors family, taking other protective measures (long list) and generally complying with the obligatins towards them, "according to the best inerest of the child".

The Court underlined that "if the assurances given are not complied with, besides the cooperation of the applicant minors, they can ask the Court for interim protection".

The communication of an application usually takes years. This one was communicated about 10 days after it was lodged.

It is now open for third party interventions
. Those NGOs wishing to intervene and provide amicus curiae, are invited to do so. There already has been expressed an interest for intervention by the French Union of Immigration Lawyers."

Refugee crisis: European Commission "State of Play" reports since September 2015 now here and updated to 21-22 March 2016. A summary of institutional failure.

UK-LIBYA: SAS deployed in Libya since start of year, says leaked memo - King Abdullah of Jordan indicates US was briefed about plans for Jordanian special forces to operate alongside British (Guardian, link):

"SAS forces have been deployed in Libya since the beginning of the year, according to a confidential briefing given to US congressional leaders by the king of Jordan.

A leaked memo indicates the US lawmakers were personally briefed by King Abdullah in January about plans for Jordan’s special forces to operate in the country alongside the British. According to the notes of the meeting in the week of 11 January, seen by the Guardian, King Abdullah confirmed his country’s own special forces “will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS” in Libya....

Intelligence agencies want to keep terrorist websites “open so they can use them to track extremists” and Google had told the Jordanian monarch “they have 500 people working on this”."

Lesvos, Greece: The Hope Centre, Elpis (link)

"Hi All,

...as you will all be aware/have read or heard via the many Facebook posts and the news in general, the whole situation has changed dramatically on Lesvos over the past week and is increasingly becoming worse all over, especially on the Greek mainland and on the borders. The situation is just heartbreaking and horrendous with so many people having to endure the most horrific conditions, as well as complete violation of their human rights, and with no one really knowing what is going to happen next.

What we do know is that people are still needing much support, and will be needing a lot more support, especially in the way of safe accommodation. And what we also believe is that this barbaric EU/Turkey agreement is not going to stop people attempting to reach Lesvos/Europe, but will just increase the danger risk to them. So as far as The Hope Centre goes, we are very much continuing to work hard and going ahead with developing the centre into an open hearted, safe and warm welcoming space to support those who will maybe be seeking asylum in Greece, or those who continue to arrive and are in need of support, in any way we are able to provide it. We are still very much needing more volunteers to work at The Hope Centre and the tasks are many and varied. The work is mainly repairs/renovation work, skilled and unskilled (though we prefer to call that 'creative') such as painting, plastering, building, carpentry, electrical, fencing, welding, and much garden landscape work/permaculture. If you are able to help in any way or know others who would be interested, that would be just wonderful....just turn up and you will be warmly welcomed with much gratitude

Thank you again so much for all your love and support

Much love and many Hugs to all, Cookie xxx - on behalf of The Hope Centre Elpis"

The Paradox of the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal (MPI, link):

"UNHCR, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Save the Children, among others, have all withdrawn services out of concern for the conditions and rights violations that will ensue. Without their support, the process loses both legitimacy and resources.

This, in turn, raises a more significant question about the evident ad hoc implementation of the EU-Turkey deal. Much of the process is being worked out on the ground by officials who are still unclear about the legal ramifications of their decisions. This may be deliberate: to increase the numbers returned, policymakers may have to feign a reality that does not currently exist, not just with regard to conditions in Turkey, but also with respect to offering arrivals a real and informed opportunity to make an asylum claim.

In doing so EU leaders would be making a calculated risk. It will take time for a case to reach either the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) or the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to find the processes unlawful. The scheme has already been declared "extraordinary" and "temporary," and individuals summarily returned are unlikely to have legal recourse."
[emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: Joint statement of EU Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs and representatives of EU institutions on the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March 2016 (Press release, 24.3.16):

"increase as a matter of urgency the systematic feeding, consistent use and interoperability of European and international databases in the fields of security, travel and migration by making full use of technological developments and including privacy safeguards from the outset. This is particularly relevant for reliable identity verification. The Commission will present in the coming weeks a communication on smart borders and interoperability.." [emphasis added]

Germany: neo-Nazis and the market in asylum reception (IRR, link): "The German government’s use of the largely unregulated private security sector in the reception and care of asylum seekers has led to neo-Nazis having unrestricted access to the very people they want to harm."

UN rights chief fears "collective expulsions" under EU-Turkey deal (TRF, link):

"The top United Nations human rights official voiced concern on Thursday that a deal to manage migrant flows struck by the European Union and Turkey could lead to "collective expulsions" of refugees in violation of international law" [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.3.16): Reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

Turkey ‘safe country’ sham revealed as dozens of Afghans forcibly returned hours after EU refugee deal (AI, link):

"Turkey’s forcible return of around 30 Afghan asylum seekers just hours after the European Union (EU)-Turkey refugee deal came into force shows that implementing the deal would risk refugees’ lives from the word go, Amnesty International said.

The organization has received credible information indicating that Turkey violated European and international law by forcibly returning the asylum-seekers, who fear attacks by the Taliban, to Kabul without granting them access to an asylum procedure.

H.R. said that he had been part of a group trying to reach Greece by boat. They were apprehended by the Turkish coastguard and then detained in the western coastal city of Izmir.

After five days in detention, he said he was physically forced to put his thumbprint on a document “agreeing” to a voluntary return to Afghanistan. He was not given a copy of the document. H.R. told Amnesty International by phone:

“We don’t want to go back because we are in danger in Afghanistan. If we go back, we will be killed by the Taliban.”"

Your Human Rights Being Destroyed! (Eric Kempson, Lesvos, video link): All corncerned about human rights and the rights of refugees should watch.

UK: Disaster for Theresa May as legal ruling brings student deportations to a halt (Politics.co.uk, link)

"The ruling could hardly be more damning. It found Theresa May deported thousands of students from Britain on the basis of unscientific hearsay evidence. The Home Office behaved like a tin-pot dictatorship: detaining innocent people, accusing them of made-up charges without providing anything to back it up, denying them their day in court and then deporting them.

Today's ruling could open the doors to the return of thousands of students to the UK, if – of course - they wish to come back to a country which has treated them so appallingly. And it brings to a shuddering halt Theresa May's mass deportation programme of students. It also raises serious questions about the legal and operational functions – as well as the basic morality – of the Home Office."

And see: AWS Solicitors: press release: The judgment of Honourable Mr Justice McCloskey, President, in lead appeal on TOEIC/ETS scam (pdf): "There must be a Public/Parliamentary inquiry into the way the Home Secretary has dealt with this issue. Lessons must be learned from this disgraceful episode."

Greece: PRESS RELEASE: LESVOS SOLIDARITY: PIPKA

"PIKPA is an open, self-organised refugee camp in Mytilene, Lesvos. We distribute food & clothes to the port, Kara Tepe, Moria & to other refugee groups"

A few hours after the EU agreed on the barbaric measures of the EU/Turkey deal, a massive movement of refugees from the island of Lesvos towards the mainland started. The refugees received no clear information about where they were heading or about their rights. It was apparent that the government did not and does not have a plan on how shelter and health care services can be provided in the new destinations.

At the same time, the mayor of Mytilene announced to a group of representatives of Lesvos Solidarity that the space of PIKPA has to be evacuated. This means that the vulnerable cases that the camp is giving shelter to (people with long term health conditions, disabilities, single parent families, elderly etc) will have to leave immediately so that the mayor can transform the space into a children'’s camp and a sports center. After the new measures he said, there will be no need for
solidarity shelter camps....

Pikpa Solidarity camp, which has been accused by the municipality for “illegal and irregular actions”, has been for three and a half years been a strong solidarity hub, known all around the world. We will not allow our solidarity struggle to get destroyed due to the horrific and inhumane measures that the EU has decided to apply."

And: PIPKA: "We have created information sheets in Arabic and Farsi: It states that if you are in need of international protection and would be at risk on return in your home country, that you should apply for asylum. It also says family reunification (all) and relocation (Arabic only) are options. It stresses the right to claim asylum and that we advise people to do so. Please share. Thanks"

Link to: Information Sheets

CoE: Commissioner for Human Rights: Commissioner publishes Memorandum on asylum and immigration in the UK (link):

"Yesterday the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights published a Memorandum addressed to the UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, in which he commends the UK’s efforts in providing resettlement to Syrian refugees. He also expresses a number of concerns regarding a trend of restrictive immigration policy and law which adversely affects the human rights of refugees and immigrants.

The Memorandum also highlights the plight of the 67 refugees and asylum seekers who have been in the UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus since 1998. The government is urged to resettle them to the UK thus putting an end to their extremely precarious legal and social situation." and Government reply (pdf)

Why the EU-Turkey Migrant Deal Is a Moral Disaster (link): by Bridget Anderson:

"It proposes a collective expulsion that debases the value of respect for human rights that Western Europe has prided itself on since the end of World War II, and that the narrative of the EU has been constructed around. This is compounded by swapping desperate human beings one for one, treating people as if they are commensurable and tradable, which is morally bankrupt. Each of those people on boats has their own history. It is desperation—not ignorance or foolhardiness—that pushes them to risk their lives. People who have no hope of getting resettled because they are the wrong nationality will continue to risk their lives because they have no alternatives....

Legally, Turkey cannot be considered a safe haven in the same way that European states are. Turkey has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees, which recognizes and defines the status of “refugee” and also sets out the responsibilities of states when people make such claims. However, Turkey stipulated a “geographical limitation,” claiming only those fleeing “events in Europe” can get full refugee status....

this new agreement between Turkey and the EU goes further than just undermining law. It undermines the very idea of safe haven that goes back centuries. This agreement involves rejecting people without listening to their asylum claims, including people coming from states that we know are riven with poverty and conflict, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Europe is deeply implicated in the violence that has produced the conditions people are now fleeing.".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

UNHCR: Daily report (21.3.16)

"UNHCR is concerned that the EU-Turkey deal is being prematurely implemented without required safeguards in place in Greece. At present, Greece does not have the systems on any of the islands for assessing asylum claims. Greece also does not have yet the proper conditions in place for people to decently and safely accommodate people pending their decision....

UNHCR will not participate in any way in procedures or processes of returning persons in need of international protection to Turkey

As a result of the 18 March agreement between the EU Council and Turkey, the Greek authorities began implementing new procedures. Over the weekend, for people registered prior to 20 March, Greek authorities provided additional ferry transport from the islands of Lesvos and Chios to the mainland. Refugees and migrants arriving to the Greek islands and registered as of 20 March are brought from the shores to the hotspots (on the islands where hotspots are established). Authorities in Athens confirmed hotspots are being converted into closed facilities and will be managed by the Hellenic Police.."

UNHCR redefines role in Greece as EU-Turkey deal comes into effect (UNHCR, pdf):

"UNHCR has till now been supporting the authorities in the so-called "hotspots" on the Greek islands, where refugees and migrants were received, assisted, and registered. Under the new provisions, these sites have now become detention facilities. Accordingly, and in line with our policy on opposing mandatory detention, we have suspended some of our activities at all closed centres on the islands. This includes provision of transport to and from these sites."

UN slams migrant 'detention facilities' in Greece (ekathimerini.com, link): "The UN refugee agency on Tuesday harshly criticized an EU-Turkey deal on curbing the influx of migrants to Greece, saying reception centers had become “detention facilities,” and suspended some activities in the country."

Secret EU plan to deport 80,000 Afghans: Revealed: Confidential EU discussion document proposes using aid summit as 'leverage' for removal of migrants to Afghanistan, as Brussels relies on chequebook diplomacy to curtail the crisis (Daily Telegraph, link):

"More than 80,000 Afghans will need to be deported from Europe “in the near future” under a secret EU plan, amid warnings of a new influx as parts of the country fall back under Taliban control.

The European Commission should threaten to reduce aid that provides 40 per cent of Afghanistan's GDP unless the "difficult" Kabul government agrees to the mass removal of tens of thousands of failed asylum migrants, a leaked document suggests. It admits the threat, if carried through, could result in the collapse of the fragile state....The EU has publicly embraced a strategy of chequebook diplomacy as it struggles to contain the biggest migrant crisis since 1945. "

See also: Afghanistan: EU shuts the door despite asylum recognition rates rising from 43% to 60%

And: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan - Country Fiche proposing possible leverages across Commission-EEAS policy areas to enhance returns and effectively implement readmission commitments (Doc no: 6738-16, 3 March 2016, pdf)

EU-USA: EPIC Intervenes in Privacy Case before European Court of Human Rights (link)

Today EPIC filed a brief in a case before the European Court of Human Rights. The case involves a challenge brought by 10 human rights organizations arguing that surveillance by British and U.S. intelligence organizations violated their fundamental rights. In its brief, EPIC explained that the NSA's "technological capacities" enable "wide scale surveillance" and that U.S. statutes do not restrict surveillance of non-U.S. persons abroad. "The NSA collects personal data from around the world and transfer that data without adequate legal protections." EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in federal and state cases that raise novel privacy issues. This is EPIC's first brief for the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. [emphasis added]

EU-Greece: Refugee deal between Turkey and EU sparks chaos on Greek islands - 'We are quite frankly alarmed at the speed at which this deal has been put into effect' (Independent, link):

"Confusion reigned on the Greek islands on 20 March as a controversial deal between the European Union and Turkey to deport refugees came into effect.

Aid organisations and volunteers on the islands on the frontline of the crisis said that there was no sign of the hundreds of extra police, migration officers and translators needed to enforce the arrangement. They warned that they had received no information from the Greek authorities and remained deeply concerned about the protections that would be granted under the new arrangement to those fleeing persecution and war." and

EU to start sending refugees back to Turkey within days after controversial deal 'approved' in Brussels Humanitarian organisations day the proposals violate international law (Independent, link):

"Human Rights Watch condemned the situation as a “new low” and said the proposed conditions put the “very principle of international protection for those fleeing war and persecution at stake”.

The plan has also been heavily criticised for singling out Syrian refugees, who make up roughly 40 per cent of arrivals in Europe, over Iraqis, Afghans and other groups needing protection."

Report from Are You Syrious (20.3.16)

"Refugees are rejecting the possibility of being sent back to Turkey, or to their countries of origin. Worrying information is coming from different camps about volunteers and small NGOs being asked to leave.... olunteers warn that military camps are not the solution."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.16): reactions to and consequences of the EU-Turkey deal

Relocation out, "one-for-one" in; Frontex calls for 1,500 more police officers in Greece

EC press release: Commission makes immediate proposal to implement EU-Turkey agreement: 54,000 places allocated for resettlement of Syrians from Turkey (pdf)

The title of the Commission's press release should say 54,000 places reallocated, as: "54,000 places which were foreseen for relocations will now be available for the purpose of resettling Syrians from Turkey to the EU," under the "one-for-one" scheme.

In September 2015 Member States agreed to relocate 160,000 people in need of international protection from Greece and Italy to other Member States, based on two Council Decisions, one for 40,000 people and one for 120,000 people.

Under that scheme as of 18 March, 97,725 "places" had been formally made available out of the 16,000. 937 people had been relocated (368 from Italy and 569 from Greece).

Under a Commission proposal published today, 54,000 of the "places" that were promised and never materialised will now be transferred to the "one-for-one" scheme.

Full story and more news: Refugee crisis daily update (21.3.16): criminal complaint against Spanish government; UNHCR opposes transformation of open site into detention facility in Greece; Austria to cut state aid to refugee charities.

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (21.3.16)

GREECE: UNHCR halts transportation of people to Moria hotspot, now being transformed into a "closed facility"

From the UNHCR in Greece: "Dear colleagues, please be informed that as of 20 March, UNHCR has discontinued its transport of refugees and migrants from the shores and ports to the Moria detention facility. The government's decision to transform the Moria hotspot that allowed for freedom of movement into a closed facility has led UNHCR to take this principled decision. The authorities are aware of UNHCR's decision and are responsible for the transport of people arriving on their territory. UNHCR will, however, together with partners and volunteers (& the ambulance service) transport individuals in need of urgent medical attention to the hospital. We will also continue to work alongside NGOs and volunteers on providing life-saving assistance on the shores and in the ports. Thank you for your continued support and cooperation in this difficult and rapidly-changing situation."

More: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.16): Greece struggles to meet EU-Turkey plan requirements; analysis of EU plans to "halt citizen-led response to the migration crisis"; further news and updates.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: As inquiry hearings on secrecy approach, campainers release new briefings

Police Spies Out of Lives have produced two new briefings on issues related to secrecy and openness a the Pitchford Inquiry, which is due to examien the undercover police work in England and Wales since 1968:

See also: some background on the time when the Met Police were happy to help spread public information about the work of spying on "subversives": BBC True Spies series: police happy to disclose information when it suits them (Special Branch Files Project, link)

UK Justice Policy Review: Volume 5 (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, link): "The fifth in an annual series by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, supported by The Hadley Trust, assessing year-on-year developments in criminal justice and social welfare across the UK.

Combining analysis of the main developments with key data on issues such as spending, staffing and the numbers going through the criminal justice system, UK Justice Policy Review offers an accessible overview of UK-wide developments.

This edition of UKJPR covers the final year of coalition government and the transition to the new Conservative administration.

It paints a picture of growing pressure on criminal justice agencies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as they struggled to cope with five years of austerity-driven cuts. Scotland is a partial exception, where increased expenditure funded stable or rising staff numbers in the police, prison and probation services.

Looking ahead, it points to the risk for a perfect storm of growing demand and shrinking budgets engulfing the UK's criminal justice institutions by the time of the next General Election.

A rising prison population – set to top 100,000 by 2020 – and inadequate legal aid funding are just two of the threats facing the delivery of justice across the UK."

Report: UK Justice Policy Review: Volume 5 (pdf)

Greece struggling to implement EU-Turkey deal

Greece Under Strain As Migrant Deal Takes Effect (Yahoo! News, link): "Authorities in Greece are struggling to put in place infrastructure to implement the deal signed by EU leaders and Turkey in Brussels to stem the flow of migrants.

(...) Speaking to Sky News, an official from the Greek government's crisis management office said the challenges were huge.

"If we had to do it today, we wouldn't be able to do it. There are things that have to be done before we are ready to implement a deal like this," Giorgos Kyritsis said.

"We are talking days in terms of the legal procedures. We have to make many legislation arrangements and then we have to make the infrastructure and that is a matter of weeks, not months.""

More: Greece struggles to launch EU-Turkey plan (EUobserver, link): "Would-be asylum seekers have continued to arrive on the Greek islands from Turkey as the EU promises to support Greece in its efforts to send them back.

About 875 of mostly Syrians and Iraqis arrived on four Greek Aegean islands over the weekend with Turkey stopping another 3,000." And see: EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece (Reuters, link) and Greece Struggles to Enforce Migrant Accord on First Day (The New York Times, link)

Further detail on the situation in Greece as it was in December 2015 can be found in a recent European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) report on Greece (link). The EESC undertook fact-finding missions to see how civil society and other organisations were responding to the situation of refugees and migrants in various locations in Greece, reaching a number of conclusions under the following headings:

The deal with Turkey (pdf), of course, is supposed to significantly diminish the number of people arriving in Greece. But apart from reducing the numbers of people arriving - thus reducing the level of need - it is not clear how, if at all, the actions outlined in the EU-Turkey plan will contribute to alleviating the problems outlined in the EESC report.

More: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.16): UNHCR ceasing transportation to Moria camp, converted into a closed detention centre; analysis of EU plans to "halt citizen-led response to the migration crisis"; further news and updates.

New Developments in Complicity of Torture Case against French IT Company (Rights as Usual, link): "On Tuesday 15 March, French newspaper Libération and radio station France Inter revealed the results of a large-scale inquiry they conducted on the activities of French IT company Amesys, a subsidiary of Bull. The company is being investigated for its activities in Libya, specifically for having sold a surveillance system called Système Eagle to the Libyan regime under Gaddafi. The surveillance equipment was used to track Libyan opponents who were subsequently arrested and tortured. It is allegedly still in use in Libya.

Journalists gained access to dozens of documents showing the scale of the operation, and these documents are now part of the investigative judges’ file against the company. The system worked by identifying key words in individuals’ emails. Words such as “corruption”, or anything vaguely critical of the regime written in an email could trigger a person’s increased surveillance and his or her arrest.

This is a significant development in an investigation which has been dragging on for years. To this day, the company is still not formally charged with anything and strongly denied the allegations in a press release published on its website."

Some background: French firm Amesys, criticised for selling to Gaddafi's Libya, offers customers "lawful or massive interception" of telecommunications (Statewatch News Online, December 2011) and Opening of a judicial inquiry targeting Amesys for complicity in acts of torture in Libya (FIDH, May 2012, link)

Reactions and consequences of EU-Turkey deal: Refugee crisis: latest news and documents (19-20.3.16)

Statewatch Analyses

- Italy: Mass discrimination based on nationality and human rights violations – Nigerian refugees and trafficking victims deported from Rome (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

Europe’s answer to the refugee crisis has so far been to intensify existing policies and practices, conveniently overlooking their role in the genesis of the problem and in demeaning the rule of law in its member states.

- EU/Italy Commission requires large scale abuse of migrants for relocation to proceed (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

On 15 December 2015, the Commission’s “Progress report on the implementation of hotspots in Italy” was sent to the European Parliament and the Council, calling for further progress to be made in the fields of hotspots, relocation, returns, border management and reception capacity. Lamenting the slow progress in implementing “European Union Law” to build a “Common European Asylum System” in mid-October, the Commission called on Italy to “operationalise all hotspots”, make “full use of the existing detention capacity” while reforming norms on detention and ensuring “swift” transfers to either “second-line reception facilities” or “detention centres”.

- Reinforcing the Fortress Commission’s priority actions for the refugee situation (pdf) by Zak Suffee:

The EU’s response to the refugee situation has included the deployment of warships, plans for mass refoulement and the possible introduction of “one-for-one” schemes, none of which were mentioned in the priority actions proposed by the European Commission in February 2016.

The priority actions, entitled the ‘State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration’ [1] aims to address the refugee situation by way of a number of priority actions which can be summarised under the following headings: 1) the future of Greece; 2) securing the EU; 3) hotspot management; 4) returns and readmissions; and 5) Management of financial resources in and outside the European Union.

- The final EU/Turkey refugee deal: a legal assessment (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers (University of Essex):

The EU and Turkey have now reached an agreement on refugee issues, which has aroused considerable legal and political controversy. To examine the arguments about the deal, I present here the main text with my legal assessment of each point annotated. This builds upon my comments (together with Emanuela Roman) first of all in general on the relevant points last month, and then secondly on the leaked draft text of the final deal earlier this week (I have reused here some of the latter analysis where relevant). The agreement should be read alongside the EU summit conclusions, as well as the Commission communication on the deal. It incorporates the March 7 EU/Turkey statement which addressed the same issues in less detail.

EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

"They waved, cheered and smiled, elated to have made it to Europe at dawn on Sunday in a packed blue rubber motor boat.... Twelve boats had arrived on the shoreline near the airport by 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), a police official said....

The returns to Turkey are due to begin on April 4, as would resettlement of Syrian refugees in Europe. Doubts remain about whether the deal is legal or workable. It was not clear what would happen to the tens of thousands of migrants and refugees already in Greece.

Authorities in Lesbos began removing refugees and migrants from the island on Saturday to make space for new arrivals. The island has a capacity to host 3,500 people at a place set up to register arrivals."

and: Refugee crisis: Boats arrive in Greece despite EU deal (aljazeera.com, link): "Five boats carrying Syrians arrive from Turkey hours after deal aiming to cut off refugee route to EU comes into force." and

Thousands protest against refugee policies in Vienna (The Local.at, link): "Vienna's inner city ring was blocked for hours as thousands of demonstrators came out to protest against Austria's new asylum seekers policy on Saturday."

also: Swedish lawyers condemn EU-Turkey migrants deal (The Local.se, link); "Swedish group Lawyers Without Borders has expressed concern over the legailty of the deal reached between the EU and Turkey designed to curb migration to the 28-member bloc... Louise Gunvén, lawyer and board member of Lawyers Without Borders told Swedish news agency, TT. Asylum law prohibits return to a country that is unsafe, where people risk being subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment or torture. "Our extensive experience of Turkey is that people risk being exposed to such treatment. Considerable failings exist in the Turkish legal system, as well as the risk of not getting a fair trial," Gunvén said.""

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on convergence in asylum decision practices - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 7255-16, pdf)

It is obvious that the EU is moving toward standard 'country of origin' reports that will be used in more Member States in order to ensure consistent decision-making. The important point is that the information should be transparent and accurate. It is worrying that there is no specific mention of making reports public, or of taking into account evidence supplied by human rights NGOs when drawing up the reports.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION TAKES CHARGE OF THE REFUGEE OPERATION IN GREECE: President Juncker appoints EU Coordinator to organise operational implementation in Greece (Press release, pdf):

"President Juncker has today appointed Maarten Verwey to act as the EU Coordinator to implement the EU-Turkey statement....

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "We agreed today that the Commission will appoint an EU Coordinator on the ground to make the plan operational. I have decided that this will be Maarten Verwey, the Director General of the Structural Reforms Support Service who already is in Greece helping on a daily basis with the management of the refugee crisis. He will organise the work and coordinate the dispatching of the 4,000 staff that will be needed from Greece, Member States, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and FRONTEX. We need case workers, interpreters, judges, return officers and security officers.""

Comment: Like in the euro crisis the EU takes over control of the Greece-Turkey operation.

Everyone who cares should watch this video: Another tragic day in Eftalou, Greece (Eric Kempson):

"This is an emotional account of what happens here on our beach almost every day, please share and let the world know the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding at the gates of Europe, these people need help and support. Just imagine if you faced this every day in your back yard!! We help where we can but it feels inadequate, more needs to be done for these people, there is only so much local volunteers can help. These people need shelter and help."

Report from Lesvos, Greece (Saturday):

"The new EU agreement is taking effect in a major way currently on Lesvos. At this moment and for the past hours all camps have started to be emptied by the bus loads. Evacuations will continue all night. Refugees are being made to buy a ticket and have been on this boat since 11 am. Cash is needed at the port to buy tickets for families now standing outside since this morning. No agencies handling this and they cannot enter the "mandatory boat " without paying. Go figure that. Some with no money for food once on the boat. It seems the plan is to have all camps emptied by tomorrow.

All Greek island camps are being evicted. Volunteers are bearing witness in the port, distributing quick lunch packs and warm clothes before the refugees board and keeping an eye on the situation. We are all in a state of deep shock at the immediacy and severity of the implementation. All we can do is stand by and watch. Keep them in your thoughts tonight, there is a hopelessness and fear settling in that I have not seen here before."

and from Pikpa centre, Lesvos (link)

"As a result of the EU-Turkey agreement, the evacuation of the two camps on Lesvos at Moria and Kara Tepe began today. Refugees are being transported to the port and removed from the island on a special ferry service to Kavala. The current situation is that as of tomorrow night (20/3); the entire population of refugees on the island will be expelled to mainland Greece. There is currently a lack of organisation and no clear information about their destination, future accommodation and the procedures to be followed in relation to applications for asylum, family reunification and relocation.

We are greatly concerned that all individuals will not have access to the right to claim asylum and that those who will claim asylum, as a result of the severe lack of legal advice and the speed with which claims will be decided, will not have their claims properly assessed. Decisions will be taken en masse, resulting in mass expulsions. The sudden movement of people means the organisational structures are not set up for such an influx of refugees, the inevitability of which can only be subhuman living conditions, as we have seen in Idomeni.

The aim is to convert Moria into a closed detention centre run by the army; where we have grave concerns about the conditions refugees will be held in. As a result the structures of solidarity are going to be excluded from helping refugees, monitoring abuses and advising people of their rights.

EU-Turkey deal: Greece empties islands from refugees & migrants, “hot spots” turn into “detention centers” (Keep talking Greece, link):

"Thousands of refugees and migrants are to be transported from the Greek islands ot mainland in new camps as the EU-Turkey deal goes in effect on midnight tomorrow, Sunday, March 20th 2016. The hot spots on the islands Lesvos, Chios, Samors, Leros and Kos in the eastern Aegean Sea will have to be empty so that they can be turned into “detention centers” for the new arrivals of refugees and migrants as of 21. March 2016, at oo:o1 o’ clock. the new arrivals will be not allowed to travel to the mainland, but stay in the camps until they will be returned to Turkey – or not....

According to media, travel agencies on these islands have been informed to issue no more ship tickets for refugees with Piraeus as destination. The hot spot in Moria, Lesvos, will operate as detention center and not more as center were refugees can stay"

See Statewatch coverage this week: Next operational steps in EU-Turkey cooperation in the field of migration (COM 166-16, pdf): "The return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey"

HOTSPOTS TO BE "ADAPTED" to "implement returns to Turkey" and to exclude "relocation" to EU states of those in need of international proteaction: Hotspots to be turned from registration and refferal for trhose in need of international protection and: "adapted – with the current focus on registration and screening before swift transfer to the mainland replaced by the objective of implementing returns to Turkey. For instance, the infrastructure in the hotspots would need to be reconfigured to accommodate the readmission and asylum offices."

And: the building of secure detention centres on the Greek islands: "Another important element would be a substantial increase in reception capacity in the islands. This could include separate facilities for irregular migrants and those undergoing the longer procedure of an asylum request, and would require sufficient detention capacity to be put in place for individuals who present a risk of absconding."

Is this what the EU-Turkey deal means: Friday 18 March 2016, the same day that the "deal" by the EU was done with Turkey, Channel Four carried this shocking video of a Turkish coastguard boat - openly - trying to sink a refugee motorised ribber dinghy: Shocking video appears to show the Turkish coastguard striking an inflatable dinghy carrying refugees and migrants in deep and dangerous waters (Facebook lvideo link) Shocking video appears to show the Turkish coastguard striking an inflatable dinghy carrying refugees and migrants in deep and dangerous waters. The officers are under instructions to get the boats to turn back.

"Migrant Report states that a Turkish coastguard crew has been caught on camera attacking a rubber boat with about 40 asylum seekers on board, including five women and 15 children. The incident happened at about 8 AM off the Greek island of Agathonisi. A Turkish Coast Guard Cutter started chasing the dinghy, which at this point was moving fast out of Turkish waters. Eventually the coast guard deployed their own RHIB with three men on board. The raft started zigzagging to avoid being intercepted. At this point, the coast guard officials started hitting the migrant boat apparently aiming to disable the engine. While this was taking place, the larger coastguard vessel started making a circle around the migrants’ boat creating a dangerous wave that is intended to flood the engine but could have also capsized the vessel. The chase, which lasted about 40 minutes, continued well into Greek waters with the Turkish coastguard pulling back when they were about half a nautical mile away from the shore of Agathonisi."

European Commission: President Juncker appoints EU Coordinator to organise operational implementation in Greece (Press release, pdf):

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "We agreed today that the Commission will appoint an EU Coordinator on the ground to make the plan operational. I have decided that this will be Maarten Verwey, the Director General of the Structural Reforms Support Service who already is in Greece helping on a daily basis with the management of the refugee crisis. He will organise the work and coordinate the dispatching of the 4,000 staff that will be needed from Greece, Member States, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and FRONTEX. We need case workers, interpreters, judges, return officers and security officers." [emphasis added]

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The hypocrisy of the EU knows no limits. This is the first official mention of the need for "judges" to ensure that asylum application appeals can be heard. It is not mentioned in any of the Commsion Communications or its reports on Greece and Italy over the past six months - it is not on any list of "needs". It is only officially recognised now - more than a year into the refugee crisis - alongside creting "returns officers" as well.

And there is still no mention of the crying need for the provision of lawyers and legal advice for refugees in Greece and Italy."

Greece: PLEIADES' PRESS RELEASE ON MILITARIZATION OF HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE TO REFUGEES (link):

"We strongly decry the militarization of the humanitarian response to incoming refugees and express our outmost concern on the detrimental semantics of democracy, of the threat that is implied by THE ARMY taking over on such a delicate humanitarian issue such as the reception of displaced populations fleeing war or internal conflict in the countries of origin, “exclusively managing”, from now on, according to the newly voted legislation, their housing, nutrition, transportation and medical support, as well as the activity of those volunteering in support of them."

Migration: Why the EU’s deal with Turkey is no solution to the “crisis” affecting Europe - Interview with Aurélie Ponthieu, MSF Humanitarian Adviser on Displacement, Brussels (MSF, link):

"The proposed deal with Turkey shows once again how European leaders have completely lost track of reality. If this cynical agreement is implemented, for each Syrian that risks his life at sea another Syrian will have the chance to reach Europe from Turkey. This crude calculation reduces people to mere numbers, denying them humane treatment and discarding their right to seek protection in Europe. These people are not numbers, but men, women, children and families. Around 88% of those using this route are coming from refugee producing countries, and more than half of them are women and children. They should be treated humanely and in full respect of their rights and dignity....

The EU-Turkey deal and the deployment of EU humanitarian aid to Greece will be no quick fix to the need people have to find safety and protection in Europe. It is time European governments start facing reality and provide a responsible, common, humane and dignified response to people’s unstoppable search for protection and a better life for themselves and for their children, by providing a safe passage for those in need in dignity"

UNHCR on EU-Turkey deal: Asylum safeguards must prevail in implementation (link):

"Today's agreement clarifies a number of elements. Importantly, it is explicit that any modalities of implementation of the agreement will respect international and European law. In UNHCR's understanding, in light of relevant jurisprudence, this means that people seeking international protection will have an individual interview on whether their claim can be assessed in Greece, and the right to appeal before any readmission to Turkey. This would also entail that once returned, people in need of international protection will be given the chance to seek and effectively access protection in Turkey. We now need to see how this will be worked out in practice, in keeping with the safeguards set out in the agreement – many of which at present are not in place.

How this plan is to be implemented is thus going to be crucial. Ultimately, the response must be about addressing the compelling needs of individuals fleeing war and persecution. Refugees need protection, not rejection....

people being returned to Turkey and needing international protection must have a fair and proper determination of their claims, and within a reasonable time. Assurances against refoulement, or forced return, must be in place. Reception and other arrangements need to be readied in Turkey before anyone is returned from Greece. People determined to be needing international protection need to be able to enjoy asylum, without discrimination, in accordance with accepted international standards, including effective access to work, health care, education for children, and, as necessary, social assistance." [emphasis aded]

EU-Turkey Summit: EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016 (pdf):

As from tomorrow, 20 March 2016 all refugees and migrant not lodging an asylum application successfuly will be returned to Turkey - but how will the EU ensure that Turkey does not carry out collective expulsion (refoulement) and how can it operate before Grece has agreed that Turkey is a safe country (which it is not) to return people to? There are special provisions for Syrians but refugees from other states will returned to the very countires they fled from.

"All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. This will take place in full accordance with EU and international law, thus excluding any kind of collective expulsion. All migrants will be protected in accordance with the relevant international standards and in respect of the principle of non-refoulement. It will be a temporary and extraordinary measure which is necessary to end the human suffering and restore public order. Migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed individually by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum Procedures Directive, in cooperation with UNHCR. Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey."

See: "Critics brand EU deal with Turkey on migrants 'a dark day for humanity (AOL News, link): "But the deal was described as "a dark day for humanity" by human rights group Amnesty International, whose UK director Kate Allen said: "It's absolutely shameful to see leaders seeking to abandon their legal obligations. Forcing refugees back into the hands of the very smugglers they just came from so they can have another go at exploiting them is obviously a madness. There's no way anyone should herald this as a solution."

The final EU/Turkey refugee deal: a legal assessment (EU Law Analysis, link) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law:

"It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the EU did not try to ensure beyond doubt that the deal was legal, by putting in place some sort of effective monitoring of Turkish commitments as regards the treatment of refugees and migrants, in particular asking Turkey to fully apply the Geneva Convention to all refugees as a condition of the deal. After all, the EU will now be meeting a significant proportion of the costs of housing refugees in that country. It is even more disturbing that some Member States want to arrange for expedited returns to Libya. Surely before too long, the CJEU will asked to interpret the definition of 'safe third country' in EU asylum law. That finding will be crucial in determining whether it really is legal to return people to Serbia, Turkey, Libya and possibly other countries besides. " [emphasis added]

and the following has been deleted from a leaked draft: ". Migrants having been returned to Turkey will be protected in accordance with the international standards concerning the treatment of refugees and respecting the principle of non-refoulement."

The EU's"day of shame": Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.3.16)

European Council 17-18 March 2016: Conclusions (pdf): This is not the text of the EU-Turkey deal, which is supposed to take the form of a "statement". However, much of the text concerns the issue of migration and cooperation with Turkey, and also hints at the possibility of military or other action within Libyan territory:

"In this context, the fight against smugglers everywhere and by all appropriate means remains key. The EU stands ready to support the Government of National Accord, as the sole legitimate government of Libya, including, at its request, to restore stability, fight terrorism and manage migration in the central Mediterranean."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor on the proposed European Border and Coast Guard Agency

Press release: Securing Europe’s Rights and Borders (pdf): "Migration and security are two complex matters for the EU and the proposal reflects this complexity. The EDPS regrets that, despite the pressing political agenda of the European Commission, he was not consulted at an earlier stage of the legislative process since this proposal has clear data protection implications. His recommendations address his main data protection concerns and can help make the proposal more robust to withstand legal scrutiny.

The EDPS recommends that the proposal’s two aims need to be approached separately since different areas of data protection law apply; a distinct assessment of the necessity and proportionality of proposed actions is essential. Clear compliance with data protection principles will make the proposed Regulation more robust and efficient.

The scale and scope of personal data collection must be clarified since the current proposal implies that the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency will turn into a personal data hub where massive amounts of personal information is to be processed for border management."

And full opinion: EDPS' recommendations on the proposed European Border and Coast Guard Regulation (pdf). For background and documentation see: SEMDOC: Regulation on a European Border and Coast Guard Agency

EU, Turkey reach deal to return asylum seekers: Sources (Middle East Eye, link): "EU and Turkish officials have agreed a deal that will see hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers returned to Turkey in exchange for accelerated accession to the EU after hours of crunch talks in Brussels on Friday.

Asylum seekers will begin being forcibly returned from Europe to Turkey from 20 March if EU member states agree to the terms of the deal, a spokesperson for European Council chief Donald Tusk told Sky News.

The deal has so far only been agreed by Tusk and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, an EU source told Danish journalist Per Thiemann, and must now be put to the union's 28 member states.

The precise terms of the deal have not yet been made public."

And: EU strikes deal with Turkey to send back refugees (The Guardian, link): "The EU has struck a deal with Turkey that would mean all refugees and migrants arriving in Europe from Sunday being sent back across the Aegean Sea.

The European council president, Donald Tusk, cleared key sticking points with the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, during talks on Friday morning. “The Turkey agreement has been approved,” Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, said on Twitter."

Background and more on the situation fo refugees in Europe: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.3.16)

FRANCE: La Cimade press release: With closed counters: foreigners kept at a distance by prefectures (pdf): "Foreigners are increasingly finding the doors shut when they try to apply for or renew their residence permits in the prefecture [office of the government envoy in charge of security, among other competences] offices: this is what La Cimade criticises in the report À guichets fermés [With closed counters], which was published today. Contravening the principle of equality before public services, access to the prefecture office results from successfully negotiating a course which is laden with obstacles. For foreigners, the difficulties which they encounter to undergo the necessary administrative procedures are as serious as the important restrictions which exist in the criteria for granting residence permits. An important concern involves the cuts in resources which simultaneously deteriorate working conditions for civil service employees and access to rights for its users, particularly those who are most vulnerable."

Full report: À guichets fermés (La Cimade, link)

EU-TURKEY DEAL: "On the edge of international law" - or against it?

As the EU and Turkey come closer to an agreement that aims to keep refugees and migrants out of Europe, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite has said that a proposed deal, on which EU heads of state and government agreed yesterday (Thursday 17 March), "is on the edge of international law.” Civil society organisations, meanwhile, say that the proposals under discussions, if agreed, would be illegal.

UNDERCOVER POLICING: Spycops inquiry: ‘If it’s in secret, it’s dead in the water’ (The Justice Gap, link): "As this is a public inquiry, it follows that the starting point must be open proceedings, with minimal restrictions, fully justified on a case by case basis. Those who were spied upon deserve answers. The Inquiry was ordered to help address the loss of public confidence in the police resulting from serious misconduct in undercover operations. If it appears to be a cover-up, the Inquiry will only increase the concerns it was called to address."

The article makes clear the need for openness and transparency a the forthcoming Pitchford Inquiry, at which the police are hoping to be allowed to maintain their practice of "neither confirming nor denying" the existence of particular information, and for secret hearings to take place. The Police Spies Out of Lives group are asking people to support calls for transparency: Public asking Police to come clean ahead of hearing next week (Police Spies Out of Lives, link): "People are showing their solidarity to those fighting to keep the public inquiry PUBLIC, and asking the police to COME CLEAN over abuses. To do this, they are sharing photos of themselves on social media.

This is response to the call out by Cardiff against Police Spies and is in the lead up to the Inquiry Preliminary hearing and demo next week."

And: a long piece from Australia: Helen Steel and John Dines: The spy who loved me (The Sydney Morning Herald, link)

USA: RENDITION AND TORTURE: The U.S. Government Is Still Fighting to Bury the Senate Torture Report (The Intercept, link): "Government lawyers on Thursday continued their fight to bury the Senate Torture Report, arguing before the D.C. District Court of Appeals that the 6,700-page text could not be released on procedural grounds.

When the 500-page executive summary of the report was released more than a year ago, it prompted international outcry and renewed calls for prosecution. The summary describes not only the CIA’s rape and torture of detainees, but also how the agency consistently misrepresented the brutality and effectiveness of the torture program."

And: Judges Consider Release of Full CIA Torture Report (US News, link). The report, in its censored form: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program (10MB, pdf)

EU-US: "Privacy Shield" under fire

"The next US administration can, if it so chooses, weaken an already patchy data sharing pact with the EU known as Privacy Shield.

The provisional agreement spells out how US companies can use the transferred data of EU nationals while respecting tough EU privacy laws.

But fears are mounting a US administration headed by firebrand Donald Trump may attempt to punch holes in an agreement whose legal basis is largely based on promises and letters signed by top US officials." See: Cracks emerge in EU US data 'shield' (EUobserver, link)

See also: Sending data to the US: how to safeguard your privacy (European Parliament, link); Privacy Shield negotiators on defensive ahead of member states’ review (EurActiv, link); European Data Protection Supervisor: speech at LIBE committee hearing: Towards an Opinion on the EU-US Privacy Shield (pdf): "a lasting solution must be capable of providing legal certainty. It must be capable of being credibly defended - and upheld! - in case of future scrutiny before the Court."

And: Privacy Shield deal must be sent back to negotiators, say digital rights groups (Ars Tecnica, link): "A group of leading digital rights organisations on both sides of the Atlantic has called for the Privacy Shield arrangement between the EU and US to be sent back to the negotiators. In a letter to senior EU officials, the group says that without "substantial reforms" to ensure protection for fundamental rights of individuals, the Privacy Shield will "put users at risk, undermine trust in the digital economy, and perpetuate the human rights violations that are already occurring as a result of surveillance programs and other activities.""

SLOVAKIA: Fico says 4-party government may be in place next week (EurActiv, link): "Slovakia’s ruling centre-left party Smer, and three small centrist and nationalist parties, have drafted a coalition agreement, and a new government could be installed by the middle of next week, Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday (17 March).

Fico’s party won the most votes in the 5 March election, but lost its overall majority, threatening instability before Bratislava takes over the rotating presidency of the crisis-ridden European Union in the second half of this year."

Background: Slovak far-right makes spectacular gains on fear of migrants (The Times of Israel, link): "A Slovak extreme right nationalist party made spectacular gains in weekend elections thanks to anti-migrant sentiment in the EU member state and Prime Minister Robert Fico’s decision to tap into it on the campaign trail, analysts say. "

UK: Mass stop and search by police doesn't reduce crime, says study (The Guardian, link): "The use of large “surge” stop-and-search operations by the police has no discernible effect in reducing crime, according to newly released Home Office research.

The study looks at the mass use of stop and search by London’s Metropolitan police to tackle knife crime in 2008/09, at a time when officers were carrying out one search every 20 seconds on average nationwide.

(...) The use of large-scale mass stop and search operations has been highly controversial not least because black people are still four times more likely to be stopped and searched on the streets by the police than white people."

Full report: Home Office: Do initiatives involving substantial increases in stop and search reduce crime? Assessing the impact of Operation BLUNT 2 (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Coherence and consistency between internal and external EU human rights policy - Presidency discussion paper (6256-16, pdf): "It has been concluded several times that the work to increase consistency and coherence deserves further attention. To follow-up on these discussions, it would be useful to explore more in depth the shared understanding of the issues at play and discuss whether these is a common and shared understanding of what is required to be able to consider the internal and external aspects to be ‘coherent’ and ‘consistent’. The importance of having a clear view on this, is that it enables identification of examples of incoherence and inconsistency and thereby the finding of effective solutions and approaches which take into account the interests of both internal and external realities."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.16)

EU-TURKEY: Draft Summit Statement: EU-Turkey Statement 18/3/2016: Draft 16/03/16 (pdf)

"Turkey furthermore agreed to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back
all irregular migrants intercepted in Turkish waters... All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands will be returned to Turkey...

Comment: The EU to end so-called "irregular migration" (by refugees and migrants) and deny sanctuary to those fleeing from war, persecution and poverty.

Migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum
Procedures Directive. Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey.... The costs will be covered by the EU....

The Members of the European Council welcome the Commission's intention to propose an amendment to the relocation decision of 22 September 2015 to allow for any resettlement commitment undertaken in the framework of this arrangement to be offset from non-allocated places under the decision. Should the number of returned exceed the numbers provided for by these arrangements, this mechanism will be subject to review."

Comment: The scheme for "relocation" in the EU has abjectly failed - to the shame of nearly all EU Member States..

The Members of the European Council welcome Turkey's commitment that migrants returned to Turkey will be protected in accordance with the international Standards concerning the treatment of refugees and respecting the principle of non-refoulement."
[emphasis added]

Comment: How is this going to be monitored and enforced?

European Parliament: MEPs propose a centralised EU system for asylum claims with national quotas (Press release, pdf):

"The failure to date of the EU asylum system to cope with ever-rising numbers of migrant arrivals calls for a radical overhaul of the so-called Dublin rules, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Wednesday. They propose establishing a central system for collecting and allocating asylum applications. The scheme, which could include a quota for each EU member state, would work on the basis of “hotspots” from which refugees would be distributed."

Draft report: On the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf)

Statewatch comment: Before adopting the "hotspots" approach the EP might be wise find out how they work, are refugees rights respected (ie: do they have the autimatic right to legal advice?), what is the effect of "natilonality screenng" and "profiling" for a start?

New Institute of Race Relations (IRR): report: Entitlement and belonging: social restructuring and multicultural Britain (pdf): "The government considers the Housing and Planning Bill 2015 and the Immigration Bill 2015, currently going through parliament, as flagship pieces of legislation. This paper examines the likely impact of the legislation on the inner-city communities of multicultural Britain, the implications of its enforcement and the wider questions thrown up about the future of the welfare state."

Round-up of news stories from across the EU (17.3.16)

ECJ: The Dublin III Regulation allows Member States to send an applicant for international protection to a safe third country, irrespective of whether it is the Member State responsible for processing the application or another Member State (ECJ press release, pdf)

EU: Capitalism and surveillance: European Data Protection Supervisor: Opening statement at the roundtable on data and competition hosted by l'Autorite de la Concurrence, Paris, 8 March 2016: "Our question is therefore this: with today’s internet based on surveillance, how can the EU enable alternative, non-privacy invasive business models to penetrate the market? How can the EU stop lagging behind in a sector where none of the top ten companies is European?"

EU: Data retention: Commission still refusing demands for new mass surveillance measures

Calls for a new EU data retention law have grown over the last few months, but the European Commission is still refusing the possibility of introducing new EU-wide telecoms surveillance measures and is standing by its September 2015 statement that "the decision of whether or not to introduce national data retention laws is a national decision".

After the European Court of Justice (ECJ) annulled the EU's Data Retention Directive in April 2014, some Member States annulled their national laws implementing the Directive; some kept theirs in place; and some passed new legislation (for example the UK, with its Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act).

EU: Meijers Committee: Note on a Proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism (pdf):

"The Meijers Committee would like to comment on the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism,1 partly in light of the proposals made in the Council's General Approach of 3rd of March 2016 and the European Parliament's LIBE Committee's draft report of 10th of March 2016. The Meijers Committee holds that the proposal is insufficiently substantiated, that it extends the scope of criminal law too far and compromises fundamental rights."

And see: Background: Directive on combating terrorism (SEMDOC, link)

EU: Council President Tusk: Tripartite Social Summit - Wednesday 16 March 2016 (Press release, pdf)

"In his opening statement, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, stressed the need to agree on well-adjusted measures and emphasised that : "I have no doubt that the successful integration of refugees into our labour markets is in our best interest. It is the only way to enable the newcomers to stand on their own feet. And it is the only way to turn the current wave of migration into an economic opportunity. But the integration of refugees must not be done on the back of the most vulnerable individuals of our own societies: the poor, the unemployed, the disadvantaged. Questions like "why do refugees get so much support from the government, while it seems to have given up on me?" are legitimate. We must not provide any breeding ground for such questions to arise. And this is where I very much count on the social partners. Their role in maintaining social cohesion in Europe is key".

Auditors slam EU migration response as ‘incoherent’ (euractiv, link): "The European Court of Auditors has published a damning report on the EU’s migration policy, condemning it as incoherent and lacking in strategy, just as Union leaders prepare to agree on a controversial deal with Turkey on Friday"

See: Special Report No 9/2016 (pdf): "We conclude our report by recommending that the Commission develop clear and measurable objectives to be implemented by a coherent set of EU funding instruments supported by effective monitoring and evaluation, and by an appropriate information system. Governance arrangements must be simpler and better coordinated."

Returning migrants to Turkey poses huge administrative test (FT Blog, link):

"Europe’s return plan violates Greek law. To address this, Greece must overhaul its asylum laws in a matter of days to enshrine Turkey as a “safe third country” to receive asylum seekers.

The next step is harder: clearing the backlog. There are around 8,000 migrants on Greek islands, such as Lesbos and Chios. Officials say they ideally need to be moved before the so-called “X Day” — as early as Friday — when the returns policy officially begins.

Yet Greek facilities are strained. Shelter is lacking on the mainland, where almost 40,000 migrants are already stranded. Mixing the groups — those who are trapped in Greece, awaiting relocation to Europe, and those who will be sent straight back to Turkey — could get ugly. "

See also: The final EU/Turkey refugee deal: a legal assessment (EU Law Analysis, link) and: Why Turkey is Not a “Safe Country” (pdf)

Report from Lesvos: 2 April 2016: Electra (FB, link)

"The new law has passed last night. Mass deportation of 750 by tomorrow. 148 detained Pakistanees in Moria (although they are PRE-21 May arrivals).

They thought they were waiting in detention to be transfered to Germany. When some realized they were going to be returned to Turkey, they tried to ask for asylum but were anounced "it is forbidden". Local lawyer had to threaten with reporters to achieve some "expressions for wish to request asylum" registered. The local Asylum Office (reportedly functioning with 2 officers for registrations of asylum claims) is already "booked until the end of May".

People in wheelchair, children and adults, many sleeping on blankets they put on the floor, are all within the population to be deported. The authorities don't announce WHO of these persons will be among the first 750. Noone has been specifically notified that they are "leaving tomorrow".

Lesvos is currently an island. Not only in geophysical terms. It is a space where the rule of law, where respect for fundamental rights does not apply. We call Europe to stop this crime before it is too late.
" [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.3.16)

Refugee crisis: Next operational steps in EU-Turkey cooperation in the field of migration (COM 166-16, pdf): "The return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey"

HOTSPOTS TO BE "ADAPTED" to "implement returns to Turkey" and to exclude "relocation" to EU states of those in need of international proteaction: Hotspots to be turned from registration and refferal for trhose in need of international protection and: "adapted – with the current focus on registration and screening before swift transfer to the mainland replaced by the objective of implementing returns to Turkey. For instance, the infrastructure in the hotspots would need to be reconfigured to accommodate the readmission and asylum offices."

And: the building of secure detention centres on the Greek islands: "Another important element would be a substantial increase in reception capacity in the islands. This could include separate facilities for irregular migrants and those undergoing the longer procedure of an asylum request, and would require sufficient detention capacity to be put in place for individuals who present a risk of absconding."

Finally the legality of the mass return of refugees and migrants from Greece to Turkey (p3-4) is uttelry dependent on the Commission's assertoin that legality is ensured: "Provided these safeguards are respected by Greece and Turkey, this scheme will be in accordance with European and international law" (see for example: Why Turkey is Not a “Safe Country” (pdf)

European Commission: New reports 16 March 2016 prior to the EU-Turkey Summit on 18-19 March:

Health warning the titles of the reports are quite misleading: eg: Annex 3: "First report on relocation and resettlement" is in fact a State of Play report on Greece. Helpful titles given below:

- Six Principles for further developing EU-Turkey Cooperation in tackling the Migration Crisis - Brussels, 16 March 2016 (Press release, pdf)

- First report on relocation and resettlement (COM 165-16, pdf)

- Next operational steps in EU-Turkey cooperation in the field of migration (COM 166-16, pdf): "The return of all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey"

- Annex 1: Relocations from Greece (pdf)

- Annex 2: Relocations from Italy (pdf)

- Annex 3: Greece – State of Play Report (pdf) includes:p3; Tranportation directly to: "detention facilities needs to be established", p9: Forced return programme to be implemented by the Hellenic police and p11 "timely pre-removal detention".Still no mention of the need to provide access to legal advice.

- Annex 4: Italy – State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 5: Chart on relocation process (pdf)

- Annex 6: Resettlement State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 7: Plans for Resettlement after 15 March 2016 (pdf)

- Relocations from Greece and Italy (pdf)

NB: "Relocation" means within EU of refugees in need of international protection

"Resettlement" means of refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and other states to EU Member States.

REFUGEES: PETITION: Sign up: STOP EU-TURKEY DEAL - SAFE PASSAGE NOW (European march for Refugee Rights, link): 52,444 already signed:

"Heads of EU Member States
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

On 27 February 2016, citizens in 32 countries and over 120 cities from Europe and the rest of the world raised their voices for refugee rights under the slogan #safepassage. We demanded legal and safe routes and high standards of reception and asylum. On 7 March 2016, EU leaders met with Turkey and designed a plan that should be agreed upon at the next European council meeting on 17-18 March. We call on European leaders ahead of this summit to live up to the European values of human dignity and human rights, to respect international law and above all, to bring us humane policies for a humane Europe."

GREECE: Rule of law in Greece buckles under institutionalised ill-treatment by law enforcement agents (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"The latest report on Greece by the Council of Europe anti-torture Committee (CPT), issued on 1 March, rang, once again, the alarm concerning decades-old, institutionalised, unlawful violence by law enforcement agents. In its press release CPT highlighted the need for Greece to fully acknowledge the phenomenon of police ill-treatment and to adopt a “comprehensive strategy and determined action” to address it.

The issue is compounded by the fact that this deeply ingrained violence is combined with institutionalised racism inside parts of the Greek law enforcement forces, thus targeting in particular migrants. In its 2015 report the Greek Racist Violence Recording Network noted that in 21 out of the 81 racist incidents that were recorded in 2014 the perpetrators were either only law enforcement officials or law enforcement officials along with other perpetrators. Out of these, 13 took place in public places, six in police stations or detention centres, and two in an abandoned private place."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.16)

Stop Your Backsliding, Europe (INYT, link) by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Refugees: Nils Muižnieks:

"Some union officials are portraying this deal as a good solution to the crisis. In reality, the automatic forced return that the deal allows is illegal and will be ineffective.

It is illegal because forced returns run contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the collective expulsions of aliens. They also violate the right to seek asylum that was established in 1948 by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and contravene guarantees established by the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, which recognizes that seeking asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules..."

German NGO slams Turkey’s ‘illegal’ refugee proposal (euractiv, link):

"As EU leaders struggle to agree on a final action plan with Turkey, Germany’s largest immigration NGO has published a legal opinion today (15 March) questioning the legality of the proposals...

PRO ASYL, a German organisation that champions the rights of immigrants, has published a legal opinion that claims the plan is illegal, as it is based on the claim that Turkey is a “safe third country”. The NGO’s chief, Günter Burkhardt, is in no doubt that, “Turkey is not a ‘safe third country’ within the definitions of EU and international refugee law.” ...

“If the EU makes this deal, then it will be violating its own laws and international laws,” Karl Kopp, speaker from Pro Asyl on European issues and on the board of the European Refugee Council (ECRE), told EurActiv.de. “That would be a disastrous signal to send.”"

UNHCR: Reports that this year there have been 153,158 arrivals in the EU: 143,205 in Greece and 9,495 in Italy. 448 dead/missing

And: "The Greek Ministry of Migration Policy announced on 13 March that 44,035 refugees were in Greece with 8,904 located on the islands and 35,131 people on the mainland. Of those, an approximate 12,000 people were located at Eidomeni, near the border crossing between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." (Daily Report, 15.3.16)

E-BORDERS: UK: House of Commons: Public Accounts Committee: e-Borders and successor programmes (pdf) and Committee page (links to evidence)

"On current projections the Home Office’s (the Department’s) e-Borders programme and its successors will cost over a billion pounds, be delivered 8 years late and not provide the benefits expected for transport carriers and passengers.... The Department was emphatic that our borders are secure. However, the Department needs to accept that its assertion that it checks 100% of passports is both imprecise and unrealistic due to the complexity of our border.."

See: E-borders will be eight years late and cost more than £1bn (The Register, link): !MPs have slammed officials' misplaced confidence in the Home Office’s "vital to national security” e-Borders project, which will eventually cost the taxpayer more than £1bn and arrive at least eight years late.

Greece: Macedonia-Greece: March of Hope - the aftermath

"Last night, a pregnant 27-year-old Afghan woman, her 17-year-old sister and their cousin drowned while attempting to cross the river between Greece and Macedonia near Idomen camp, where up to 12,000 refugees are staying in inhumane conditions, sleeping in flooded tents, hoping the border would miraculously reopen. Today, a big group of around 3,000 refugees from the camp attempted to make a collective crossing on the same spot where drownings took place. They have started marching from Idomeni camp to Suha Reka river in the morning, with many volunteers and journalists following them on what they called The March of Hope."

UK: Investigatory powers bill not up to the task (Letter to Guardian, link):

"The UK’s investigatory powers bill receives its second reading on Tuesday. At present the draft law fails to meet international standards for surveillance powers. It requires significant revisions to do so.

First, a law that gives public authorities generalised access to electronic communications contents compromises the essence of the fundamental right to privacy and may be illegal. The investigatory powers bill does this with its “bulk interception warrants” and “bulk equipment interference warrants”.

Second, international standards require that interception authorisations identify a specific target – a person or premises – for surveillance. The investigatory powers bill also fails this standard because it allows “targeted interception warrants” to apply to groups or persons, organisations, or premises.

Third, those who authorise interceptions should be able to verify a “reasonable suspicion” on the basis of a factual case. The investigatory powers bill does not mention “reasonable suspicion” – or even suspects – and there is no need to demonstrate criminal involvement or a threat to national security.

These are international standards found in judgments of the European court of justice and the European court of human rights, and in the recent opinion of the UN special rapporteur for the right to privacy. At present the bill fails to meet these standards – the law is unfit for purpose.

If the law is not fit for purpose, unnecessary and expensive litigation will follow, and further reform will be required. We urge members of the Commons and the Lords to ensure that the future investigatory powers legislation meets these international standards. Such a law could lead the world."

Germany: Frag den Staat (link): Ask Parliament! - How to free scientific reports in large numbers:

"On February 18th 2016 German Parliament (“Bundestag”) announced the release of thousands of previously non-public reports conducted by the Research Section of Parliament in reaction to our campaign FragDenBundestag! (“Ask Parliament!”)."

Greece: Refugees on Lesbos offered sanctuary thanks to Brit couple (Mirror, link):

"Rather than welcoming British tourists, Eric and Philippa Kempson have opened a hotel of hope to the hundreds of fleeing refugees... ...

Now, as Turkey and the EU agree their “one in, one out” policy in response to the migrant crisis, Philippa says: “I’m absolutely speechless about these latest measures – they’re farcical. Labels like ‘irregular migration’ are meaningless. "We need to remember these are human beings fleeing horrific circumstances.”

Hotel Elpis, on tranquil Eftalou Beach, gives desperate refugees shelter, somewhere to wash and a meal when they land on Lesbos. The 20-room hotel welcomed its first 110 residents two weeks ago."

EU-TURKEY SUMMIT: European Council (17-18 March 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5862-16, pdf)

"Following the decisions of the Heads of State or Government of 7 March, and in the context of the Joint Action Plan with Turkey and its possible expansion...

the use of all means to support the capacity of Greece for the return of irregular migrants to Turkey...

speeding up relocation from Greece, which includes conducting the necessary security checks; the number of applications now being larger than the number of offers, [as shown in the Commission report of 16 March], Member States should swiftly offer more places..."

GREECE-MACEDONIA: Hundreds of refugees hunt for new route into Europe as three drown on Greece-Macedonia border (The Independent, link): "Three refugees have drowned while attempting to cross a river from Greece into Macedonia, according to police, as refugees attempt to find a new route to cross into the country.

Macedonian police said the bodies of two men and a woman had been found in the Suva Reka river near the border town of Gevgelija on Monday morning, which had swelled due to heavy rain.

More than 1,000 refugees are reported to have left the Ideomeni camp in the north of Greece on Monday morning, walking for hours with their belongings in heavy rain before finally attempting to cross the fast-flowing water."

More on the same issue and other stories and documentation: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.16)

EU: Explainer: The European Law Protecting Over A Million Children In Court (RightsInfo, link): "On Wednesday, 9th March 2016, the EU Parliament in Strasbourg voted, in an overwhelming majority of 613 votes to 30 (with 56 abstentions), to pass a Directive on special safeguards for child suspects...."

The article highlights five key points relating to the Directive (which will not apply in the UK, Ireland or Denmark): 1. Providing children with a lawyer is now compulsory; 2. Questioning must be appropriate to the child’s age and mental capacity; 3. Parents must be allowed to assist their arrested children; 4. Cases involving children must be treated as a matter of urgency; 5. Children cannot be tried in their absence.

UK: Cops hacked the Police National Computer to unlawfully retain suspects' biometric data (The Register, link): "Police employees have been hacking the Police National Computer to unlawfully retain suspects' biometric data, it has emerged.

The manipulation of the national IT system has come in response to public demands to restrict the length of pre-charge bail, the Biometrics Commissioner has suggested.

In his 122-page annual report (PDF), the commissioner noted that it had become “not uncommon” for the police to release suspects in ongoing investigations without officially placing them on bail, as the forces “clearly feel under pressure” to meet the Home Office's guidance to bring charges within 28 days of an initial arrest."

See also: Britain’s biometrics commissioner in DNA warning (Planet Biometrics, link): "A report by Britain’s biometrics commissioner has revealed that the fingerprints and DNA of at least 45 terror suspects had to be destroyed after police errors.

The report by Alastair MacGregor QC, the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material , also revealed that the police now have DNA profiles of 7,800 terrorism suspects.

MacGregor has found that the number of individuals whose DNA profiles and fingerprints are being logged on the little-known database as a result of counter-terrorism investigations is growing quickly, having risen from 6,500 identified individuals in October 2013 to 7,800 last year."

Full report: Annual Report 2015: Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, Alastair Macgregor QC, December 2015 (pdf)

FRANCE:La Cimade press release: Fires in detention: the violence of detention must cease

Four voluntary fires were started in the last few days in the Mesnil-Amelot administrative detention centre (CRA, Centre de rétention administrative). Of the three which occurred in the no. 2 CRA, the most violent one spread out on Saturday afternoon, leading to injuries to at least four people; two fire engines and a helicopter were used to put it out. The two other fires occurred in the night between Sunday and Monday. In the no. 3 CRA, the fire started on Sunday evening.

The Mesnil-Amelot CRA is an administrative invention through which two centres are grouped within the same enclosure, with a delocalised court in an adjoining building. It is the largest CRA in France, which is strategically placed at the end of the runways of Roissy airport. All the violence of the detention and expulsion policy enacted by the State towards foreigners crystallises there.

EU: EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT: Warning over ECJ opinions that propose prioritising "mutual recognition" over human rights

Fair Trials joins with criminal justice experts on European Arrest Warrant (Fair Trials, link): "Experts in criminal justice from across the European Union have united in expressing their concerns regarding the protection of human rights in the fast-track extradition system; the European Arrest Warrant, as well as the poor and inhumane prison conditions in EU member states.

...if the court were to follow the opinion it would mean the human rights-based grounds for refusing European Arrest Warrants applied in national implementing laws, are incompatible with the EAW Framework Decision."

The letter: AG Bot's Opinion in Aranyosi and Caldararu - a Threat to Justice in Europe (pdf): "We believe that the Opinion of AG Bot should prompt a fundamental review of the Commission's approach. In outline, his conclusion is that "Article 1(3) ... must be interpreted in a way that it does not create a ground for non-execution of an Arrest Warrant ... on the basis of a risk of a violation in the requesting state of the human rights of the requested person". We recognise, of course, that this is not a legally-binding decision and that the Court will ultimately issue an opinion. However, we are writing now given the grave importance of the Court's ultimate response to the questions referred to it and the Advocate General's unexpected and deeply troubling advice to the Court.

The implications of this approach - according the principle of mutual recognition a higher legal status than protection for fundamental human rights - cannot be under-stated. If adopted by the Court, it would place the EU legal order out of line with overwhelming global consensus that there is an absolute and non-derogable right for a person not to be extradited to countries in which there is a real risk that they would be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. Despite AG Bat's arguments, international human rights standards allow for no " balancing" of this right against the interests of law-enforcement or judicial efficiency."

The opinions of Advocate-General Bot in the two cases in question are available on the CJEU website in various languages including French, German and Spanish. They are currently unavailable in English. See: Aranyosi and Caldararu (links).

1000s protest as Poland government battles court (News 24, link): "Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Warsaw on Saturday in the latest round of a constitutional row that has put the government on a collision course with the country's top court.

Warsaw city hall estimated that around 50 000 anti-government protesters rallied outside the constitutional court which is in dispute with the government over reforms which critics say undermine judicial independence.

The demonstration came as the government refused to publish a ruling by the constitutional court abolishing the new laws."

See: Polish government rejects watchdog's call to publish court ruling (Radio Poland, link): " A spokesman for Poland's Law and Justice government said on Saturday that the prime minister will not publish a key ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, despite being urged to do so by European Council watchdog the Venice Commission."

The Venice Commission report: European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission): Opinion on amendments to the act of 25 June 2016 on the constitutiona tribunal of Poland (pdf). Adopted at: 106th Plenary Session of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (Council of Europe, link)

FRANCE-UK: CALAIS: People protest, move on as situation worsens

Refugees target Cherbourg port as security tightens at Calais (The Telegraph, link): "Since the start of the year, there have been more than 400 attempts by migrants to sneak on to ships in Cherbourg bound for England or Ireland.

That is twice the number of attempts for the whole of 2015, according to the most senior state official in the region.

Many more may head there from Calais in the coming weeks as French authorities continue the demolition of half of the squalid Jungle, which is home to up to 7,000 migrants."

Refugees sew mouths shut in protest at Calais camp (NRT, link): "A number of refugees have sewn their lips shut in protest over the Calais “Jungle” camp’s closure, which began over a week ago in northern France.

NRT correspondent Halgurd Samad said French authorities are destroying the southern part of the camp where more than 1,500 refugees had settled.

The refugees taking part in a literal silent protest want to be resettled across the channel in England. They say they represent all of the refugees who were or are still living in the camp, and that they are waiting for a response from the British government."

Far-right activists 'impersonated police to attack refugees for money and mobile phones' in Calais (The Independent, link): "A group of far-right activists have reportedly admitted impersonating as police officers to attack and rob refugees in a series of attacks in Calais.

The five local men, aged between 19 and 14, were arrested on Wednesday and include the founder of an anti-immigration movement and protest organisers."

UK 'to give France €20 million extra' to stop migrants and refugees reaching England from Calais (The Independent, link): "David Cameron is to agree to give an extra €20 million (£15.4 million) to France for policing and dispersing migrants attempting to reach the UK from Calais, a minister has said.

In a radio interview before a Franco-British summit at Amiens in the Somme, the French Europe minister, Harlem Desir, said the extra funding came on top of previous British spending of €60 million (£47 million)."

More news and documentation:Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.16): Photos from Greece; evaluation of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO)

The Investigatory Powers Bill Is Unfit for Parliament (The Huffington Post, link): "here's a long history to state surveillance, going all the way back to Thomas Cromwell, of Wolf Hall fame. However, the levels of intrusion used to be extremely limited, simply because so much effort is needed to intercept and steam open letters, that it could only be done on people who were genuinely under suspicion. These days, with more of our lives being lived online, not only can we collect more information on more people than ever before, but it is far more intrusive. The contents of your phone probably reveal far more about you than any letters you write.

And so we should all be very concerned when the Home Office demands access to much more of our information. The problem isn't about people who are under suspicion of a crime; we can all agree that it is right to monitor such people, with appropriate safeguards. But it's different when it comes to keeping track of every website that we visit regardless of suspicion as proposed in the new Investigatory Powers Bill to be debated in Parliament this week."

For a detailed overview, see: House of Commons Library briefing paper: Investigatory Powers Bill (pdf). Background documentation: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: official documents (Statewatch Database)

And: "equipment interference" proposals bad for business: F-Secure warns British Government over its hacking intentions (F-Secure, link)

Belgium says Europeans not welcome if they don’t take on work (euronews, link): "In the heart of Europe, Belgium is home to more than a million immigrants out of a total population of 11 million.

Around 70% are from other EU member states, with large Italian, Dutch and French communities.

In recent years Belgian immigration policy towards Europeans has tightened, and more and more people are having their residency permits withdrawn, from eight in 2008 to more than 2000 in 2014. Between 2008 and last year more than 10,000 people were ordered to leave Belgium."

Background: March 2014: Even Barroso could soon be expelled from Brussels? (Sancho Panza, link)

And in the UK, similar developments: July 2014: Tougher benefits rules for EU migrants: New arrivals will lose payments after just three months under new Tory plans (The Independent, link) and Cameron cuts EU migrants’ unemployment and child benefits (EurActiv, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.3.16)

Statewatch Analysis: The EU Border Guard takes shape (52 pages, pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex:

"Back in December 2015, the Commission proposed the text of a Regulation creating a new EU Border Guard, which would replace the current Frontex agency. EU leaders have already asked for this law to be agreed by June. Most of the text of this proposal has already been agreed by the Council, although after that it will still have to be agreed with the European Parliament.

To aid those who are concerned about or interested in the development of this Agency, I have consolidated all of the parts agreed to date by the Council on the basis of Council documents 6359/1/16, 6884/16 and 6652/16. The state of play is set out in doc 6744/16."

Greece: Under Greece-Turkey protocol "migrants" to be returned "within 48 hours"
- 15 days mnimum providing applicant has the means to prepare appeal and the process is subject to judicial review

Minister confirms Turkish observers will be assigned to Greek refugee centers (ekathimerini.com, lnk):

"Alternate Minister for Citizens’ Protection Nikos Toskas on Saturday confirmed that Turkish officials will be posted to the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean to act as observers and oversee the relocation of migrants who are not eligible for protection from Greece back to Turkey.

Speaking on Skai TV amid media reports that Turkish officials would be allowed into refugee documentation centers, Toskas said that this is part of a protocol he signed with his Turkish counterpart during a Greek government mission to Izmir earlier in the week in order to speed up relocations.

“In this framework, it will be possible for Turkish observers to be admitted at Greek islands to speed up procedures so that migrants who are not eligible for protection are returned [to Turkey] within 48 hours,” Toskas said.

For the time being, he said, one Turkish observer will be assigned to the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos." [emphasis added]

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"This appears to confirm that within the new EU-NATO regime refugees will be brought ashore to "hotspot" centres in Greece. There they will subject to: "Identification, Registration, Profiling, and Referral" (pdf). "Referral" would mean "channeling" into those refugees who judged to be entitled to apply for "relocation" within the EU and those said not to be entitled to international protection. The process described does not seems to recognise that all refugees have the right to apply for asylum and that those judged not to be entitled to international protection have the right to legal representation and appeal against such a decision.

It is extremely difficult to see how peoples' rights can be respected in 48 hours. If refugees are to be "processed" in Greece then the full weight of EU law and rights apply. See CJEU judgment (pdf) which found that:

!As regards the fact that the time-limit for bringing an action is 15 days in the case of an accelerated procedure, whilst it is 1 month in the case of a decision adopted under the ordinary procedure, the important point, as the Advocate General has stated in point 63 of his Opinion, is that the period prescribed must be sufficient in practical terms to enable the applicant to prepare and bring an effective action....

"the reasons which led that authority to examine the merits of the application under such a procedure can in fact be subject to judicial review in the action which may be brought against the final decision rejecting the application – a matter which falls to be determined by the referring court.""

Majority of Spanish Congress against EU refugee deal signed by acting PM - This is the first time that the lower house has opposed a European agreement (El Pais, link):

"Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will go to the European Council on March 17 to defend a position that most of Spanish Congress radically rejects.

Except for his own Popular Party (PP), all other congressional groups – 227 deputies out of a total of 350 – feel that the European Union’s deal with Turkey to expel refugees is illegal....

This is the first time that a vast majority of Congress has rejected a deal subscribed to by the EU government. Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez said the European deal with Turkey was “immoral” and possibly even “illegal.”

“We have a week to change this agreement. The European Council of March 17 and 18 cannot approve this pact of shame,” he said."

UNHCR Daily Report, 11.3.16:

"Turkish Minister of EU Affairs, Volkan Bozkir, stated that the agreement, under which Turkish authorities are to readmit refugees and migrants from Greece does not apply to people who have already reached the Greek islands but to those who will arrive once the agreement begins to be implemented." [emphasis added]

Danish children’s rights activist fined for people trafficking (Guardian, link):

"Lisbeth Zornig says her fine for giving a lift to family of Syrians is ‘criminalising decency’ amid asylum clampdown in Denmark

A high-profile Danish campaigner for children’s rights was prosecuted on Friday under people trafficking laws, shining a spotlight once more on the country’s crackdown on asylum, as Scandinavian countries compete to make themselves unattractive destinations for refugees.

Lisbeth Zornig, the country’s former children’s ombudsman and a well-known author, was fined DKr22,500 (£2,328) – the maximum demanded by the prosecutor – by a court in Nykøbing Falster, southern Denmark, for allowing a family of Syrians to hitch a ride with her to Copenhagen.

Her husband was fined the same amount for taking the family into his home for coffee and biscuits, and then driving them to the railway station, where he bought them tickets to Sweden. “This was a political trail, using me and my husband to send a strong message: don’t try to help refugees,” Zornig said after the verdict. “I am very angry because the only thing we did was the decent thing, the same that hundreds of others did. They are criminalising decency.” Zornig has decided to appeal against the verdict."

EU: ECRE Memorandum to the European Council Meeting 17 – 18 March 2016: Time to Save the Right to Asylum (pdf):

"Ahead of the European Council Summit meeting of 17 and 18 March 2016, ECRE urges Heads of State or Government to assume political leadership and pave the way for a concerted EU response to what primarily continues to be a refugee crisis and not only a migratory phenomenon. Such a response must be based on the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility and respect for human rights. Current fragmented national approaches have added to the suffering of refugees and migrants."

And see: Letter sent to President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker and EU Heads of State or Government (link):

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: 10-11 March 2015: Final Press release, 10-11-3-16 (pdf)

Ex-MI5 boss: Private firms spy like us (Evening Standard, link): "Private firms are compiling detailed personal profiles of ordinary citizens using methods that are “just as intrusive” as those deployed by Britain’s intelligence agencies, the former head of MI5 has warned.

Baron Evans of Weardale said the companies were using “open source” material to learn “an awful lot about what you do on a daily basis and who you associate with” to an extent that “would be very surprising” to most of the public.

Lord Evans, who served as director general of the Security Service until 2013, added that the firms had “really effective and powerful investigative capabilities” but faced only limited legal controls that were much weaker than those applied to the intelligence agencies."

And see: Spying on a see through world: the "Open Source" intelligence industry, by Ben Hayes (Statewatch Journal, January-March 2010)

Prison capital: UK locks up more people than any other EU member state

The latest Council of Europe (CoE) prison statistics show that the UK imprisons more people than any other member of the European Union, with over 95,000 behind bars. Of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, only Russia (671,027 people) and Turkey (151,451) have more people in prison. Within the UK, Scotland has the highest rate of incarceration, and between 2005 and 2014 the country's prison population rate rose by over twice as much as in England and Wales.

Across the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, there has been a decline in overcrowding but it remains a serious problem. Europe's prisons "remain close to the top of their capacity, holding 1,600,324 people." The countries with the most overcrowded penal institutons in 2014 were Hungary, Belgium, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Albania, Spain, France, Slovenia, Portugal, Serbia and Italy. The most common crimes for which people are imprisoned are drug offences (17% of the total prison population) and theft (14%).

UN human rights chief to discuss "very serious concerns" over proposed EU-Turkey deal during Brussels trip

"The EU's draft arrangement with Turkey earlier this week raises a number of very serious concerns. We do not yet have full details of this draft, and I plan to discuss my concerns in full during my visit to Brussels early next week, before the two-day EU Summit which begins on 17 March. Among my concerns is the potential for collective and arbitrary expulsions, which are illegal. Border restrictions which do not permit determination of the circumstances of each individual violate international and European law.

I must also reiterate my profound concern about restrictive measures such as erecting fences; denying people access to individualised procedures; and arbitrarily denying entry to people of specific nationalities. I am in addition concerned about measures to seize belongings from people who may have already suffered greatly, and to restrict them from bringing in family members."

Full statement: Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the Human Rights Council's 31st session (10 March 2016, pdf) and see: UN rights chief calls on EU to adopt more ‘humane’ measures on migration (UN Human Rights, link)

More: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.3.16): joint NGO statement against border closures; non-assistance to migrants in distress; interview with International Organisation for Migration director.

EU wants to give police greater digital access (EUobserver, link): "The European Commission is set to propose expanding police access to sensitive digital data, including details of financial transactions made inside the EU and biometric data of asylum seekers.

The idea is laid out in an internal document, seen by this website, from EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

The paper, dated 4 March 2016, says the commission is mulling proposals to broaden the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program (TFTP), also known as the Swift agreement."

See: European Counter-Terrorism Coordiator: State of play on implementation of the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, the JHA Council Conclusions of 20 November 2015, and the Conclusions of the European Council of 18 December 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 6785-16, pdf)

EU: DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: The lobby-tomy 2: What was the lobbying about? (EDRi, link): "What do companies really think about privacy protection? Publicly everybody thinks privacy is important, but do they think the same thing behind closed doors? What were the hot issues during the lobby and did everybody treat privacy protection well?

(...)

Of all the (over 150 ) lobbying documents, unfortunately only three are clearly in favour of more data protection. Two of those are ours. The other one was sent by the European consumers association. That is a very low number.

We have qualified one third of the documents as unmistakably bad for data protection. This means that organisations in those cases want fewer obligations, and want to make more data processing possible and/or easier.

Of course, judging almost two hundred lobby documents on their substance is no exact science. It doesn’t get any more precise than “more” or “less” data protection. Still, a troubling image appears."

See also: Lobby-tomie (link) - the blog series in Dutch (Bits of Freedom, link)

FRANCE: A look at the latest French laws on intelligence collection (Electrospaces.net, link): "Over the last year, The French parliament passed new laws granting additional powers to intelligence services regarding interception of communications and data requests. This is part of a broader reform aimed at creating a legal framework for intelligence practices which were not formally authorized by law before 2015. In the press, it was said that these laws allowed sweeping new surveillance powers, legalizing highly intrusive methods without guarantees for individual freedom and privacy.

This article will focus on the provisions related to communications intelligence (COMINT), including targeted telephone tapping (lawful interception or LI), metadata collection and data requests to internet service providers (ISPs). Targeted interception of the content of internet communications is not regulated by these new laws, but only by older decrees which are still a bit unclear. The new laws are only about collection the metadata of internet communications."

EU: FRONTEX: Report on implementing the 2014 rules on surveillance of external sea borders

"The report comprises three parts.

The first, describing the amendments introduced to the governing procedural documents related to the Joint Operations, the Operational Plans.

The second part, a description of the procedures set forth by Frontex to implement the Regulation during sea operations and information on its application, including detailed information on compliance with Fundamental Rights, and any incidents which may have taken place.

In this second part, the report analyses the implementation of the Regulation by joint operations starting with the issue of disembarkation in third countries, followed by the procedures put in place to address the special needs of certain categories of persons and of persons in need of international protection. The report then assesses communication and cooperation channels.

The third part contains the assessment of the implementation of the Regulation during the first year and evaluates the need for further developing the measures adopted so far."

Operations covered by the report: EPN (European Patrols Network) Hermes 2014, EPN Triton 2014 (the successor to the Italian navy's Mare Nostrum operation), Poseidon Sea 2014, JO (Joint Operation) EPN Indalo 2014, JO EPN Hera 2014.

See: Annual Report on the implementation of EU Regulation 656/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing rules for the surveillance of the external sea borders (pdf). See: the text of the Regulation (pdf) and an analysis of the new rules at the time they were agreed: Steve Peers, New EU rules on maritime surveillance: will they stop the deaths and push-backs in the Mediterranean?, February 2014 (pdf)

UK: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology: new briefing paper on digital forensics and crime

"Digital forensic science is the process of obtaining, analysing and using digital evidence in investigations or criminal proceedings. Digital evidence ranges from images of child sexual exploitation to the location of a mobile phone. This note looks at how evidence is obtained, legislation and regulation, and efforts to address challenges faced by practitioners."

See: POSTNOTE: Digital Forensics and Crime (pdf)

EU Internet Forum against terrorist content and hate speech online: Document pool (EDRi, link): "Since last year, we have been reporting on the “EU Internet Forum” set up by the European Commission to fight terrorism and hate speech online. In reality, the IT-Forum gathers two initiatives: one run by the Home Affairs Directorate General of the European Commission, on “terrorism”; and one run by the Justice and Consumers Directorate General, on “hate speech” (sometimes illegal “hate speech”, sometimes non-specific “hate speech”).

Since the initial meetings of both initiatives took place behind closed doors and the meetings of the terrorism part still do, we have also been busy trying to get information on the nature of the discussions and participants involved. This document pool gives you an overview of the activities of the EU Internet Forum and a list of documents we received upon request from the European Commission."

Inspectors: Refugees held in “wholly unacceptable” conditions in freight shed (Free Movement, link): "An unannounced inspection of short term detention facilities for refugees and migrants crossing the Channel into the UK has revealed that hundreds, including many children, have been held in “wholly unacceptable” and insanitary conditions. Many were held in a disused freight shed and forced to sleep on concrete floors, with no food, drink or clothing provided.

The increase in numbers making the crossing to the UK in the summer of 2015 was found to have “overwhelmed” the Home Office and contractors but the emergency arrangements were still in place several months later, when the inspection took place. The increase in arrivals over the summer was predictable and the report questions why no adequate plans were put in place."

See the report: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Longport freight shed, Dover Seaport and Frontier House (pdf)

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (11.3.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news and documents (10.3.16)

Justice and Home Affairs Council adopts Conclusions on "migrant smuggling" and facilitating "illegal entry & transit"

- the "humanitarian exception" of helping refugees is seen as an "obstacle" to prosecutions - the term "refugee" is not mentioned once

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Has the threat to criminalise NGOs, volunteers and local people disappeared? On the contrary, it has moved formally onto the agenda for Eurojust to conclude that the "humanitarian exception" of helping refugees in need is an "obstacle" to the investigation and prosecution of "migrant smugglers".

At the same time, here and now, in Greece NGOs and volunteers are being required to register with the state-police and account to them for all their actions."

See: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council: 10-11 March 2015: Press release, 10-3-16 (pdf)

"B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf) and "A" Points Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf) and Background Note (pdf)

Border Guard Agency:

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - Provisions on return (LIMITE doc no:6884-16, pdf) and

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (LIMITE doc no: 6652, pdf)

- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - State of play (LIMITE doc no: 6744-16, pdf)

Counter-Terrorism:

- State of play on implementation of the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, the JHA Council Conclusions of 20 November 2015, and the Conclusions of the European Council of 18 December 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 6785-16, pdf)

- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism [First reading] - General approach (LIMITE doc no: 6655-16, pdf)

EU: New "Group of Personalities" (GoP) advance need for "military research" in EU following the "security research" initiative:

Report of the Group of Personalities on the Preparatory Action for CSDP-related research: EUROPEAN DEFENCE RESEARCH: The case for an EU-funded defence R&T programme (5 MB, pdf)

"Europe’s capacity to provide for its own security depends on our ability to continuously innovate to ensure technological leadership and be a credible partner to our allies. The recent dramatic falls in investment in R&T risk undermining our efforts to support the sector and our broader defence and security goals....

This work on research in defence is part of a broader policy goal to strengthen European defence cooperation. To that effect, the Commission will present an Action Plan on defence this year."

Members of the GoP: High-level group of personalities on defence research (pdf) Not an NGO/civil society in sight.

See: EU DEFENCE UNION: Yet another elite "Group of Personalities" set up: Bienkowska launches high-level defence research group (Statewatch database) and EU: Commission proposes military research programme (Statewatch database)

See: Statewatch publications: Security research initiative: Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes and Arming Big Brother: the EU's Security Research Programme by Ben Hayes

German Bundeswehr to gain combat drones (link):

"For the interim period, an Israeli model is to be leased; over the next ten years, European arms companies are to develop a competitive “Euro-drone”

The German Bundeswehr has now selected a model of combat drone for future use. It plans to lease “three to five” of the latest “TP” version (Block 2) of the Heron family of drones, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. The prime contractor for the leasing arrangement is the Airbus Group, which entered into a teaming agreement with the Israeli manufacturer on marketing in Europe."

EU-Funded migration management project launched in Belgrade (Frontex, link): " This regional support programme for the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey aims to establish a harmonized, effective and protection-sensitive migration management in line with EU standards"

Greece: Tsipras reacts to Tusk statement on closure of Balkan route for migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "“The Western Balkans route has come to an end due to unilateral actions by certain countries. EU has no future if it goes on like that,” Tsipras tweeted. “We expect D. Tusk, president of EU28 to focus efforts on implementing our common decisions and not encourage those who ignore them,” the Greek premier added.

Earlier, Tusk wrote on Twitter that “Irregular flows of migrants along Western Balkans route have come to an end. “Not a question of unilateral actions but common EU28 decision... I thank Western Balkan ountries for implementing part of EUs comprehensive strategy to deal with migration crisis,” Tusk added."

and: Tusk – Tsipras – Merkel: “War of Words” about the Closure of Balkan Route (Keep Talking Greece, link)

Comment: The EU Council President D Tusk seems to have forgotten that the draft Summit statement referred to closing the Balkan route but the final press statement did not. This is why it is right to speak of continuous unilateral action by European states.

And see: Austria wants Balkan route to stay closed (link): "Austria’s interior minister says the Balkan migrant route should remain closed permanently and that the “clock will not be turned back.”"

UK: IP BILL: Why are the intelligence agencies revealing their spying techniques? (Guardian, link) "Now that the security services are allowed to record us through our phones, privacy has become impossible – unless we renounce modern telecoms....And is it a good idea to take a chainsaw to your computer or incinerate your iPhone? Certainly, if you have something illegal to hide – although doing so will inevitably limit your ability to commit more crimes. For the rest of us, it all depends on whether we value our personal privacy more highly than the convenience of using modern communications – and whether we think the agencies are on our side." and Snooper's charter: wider police powers to hack phones and access web history (Guardian, link): "Latest version of investigatory powers bill will allow police to hack people’s computers and view browsing history."

See:
Equipment Interference: DRAFT Code of Practice [Spring] 2016 (pdf)

And Statewatch: Remote access to computers: Is it time to go back to the typewriter, carbon paper and Tippex? (March 2015) by Tony Bunyan and EU agrees rules for remote computer access by police forces (September 2009) by Tony Bunyan

European Parliament: MEPs demand details of the EU-Turkey deal and compliance with international law (Press release, pdf):

"MEPs demanded details on Wednesday of the deal struck by EU leaders with Turkey on the management of migrant and refugee flows, underlining that the international asylum rules must be respected. In a plenary debate with the Council and the Commission, most political group leaders insisted that EU accession negotiations with Turkey and talks on visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals travelling to the EU should not be linked to the refugee issue....

Note to editors: Visa exemption rule changes entail switching the country concerned from one annex to Regulation 539/01 to another (such changes are subject to co-decision by Parliament and the Council)."

Better lawmaking? Only if it is in the people’s interest (euractiv, link): "It is in the public interest to have a well-functioning legislative and regulatory body that is appropriate for the context. However, it raises many questions about the objectives being pursued, writes Reine-Claude Mader. Reine-Claude Mader is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Businesses complain about the so-called “gold-plating”, which they define as overregulation and excessive standards due to the transposition of legislation into national law by the member states. They believe that it raises their costs, whilst the European Commission believes that these additions interfere with European policy.

The concerns are such that 50 civil society organisations, including trade unions, environmental groups and the BEUC, have launched a monitoring network to ensure that private interests do not take precedence over the public interest. They point to the possible risks for the future of social, environmental and wage standards, consumer protection, financial regulation and public health."

Detention of asylum-seekers: the first CJEU judgment (EU Law Analysis, link):

One of the most controversial aspects of immigration and asylum law is the detention of migrants: people who have broken no criminal law (other than, possibly a criminal law about migration control) but who are detained during their asylum application, or pending their removal from the country. The EU has had rules on detention of irregular migrants for some time, in the Returns Directive (on the CJEU’s interpretation of those rules, see my journal article here). But it has only recently had rules on the detention of asylum-seekers, in the second-phase Directive on the reception conditions for asylum-seekers. (The UK and Ireland have opted out of both Directives).

Recently, in the JN judgment, the CJEU ruled for the first time on the interpretation of these new rules...

the EU’s refugee policies are obviously in a state of deep crisis. Rather than leave the issue entirely to populists at the EU or national level, it would be better for the EU ask a panel of respected international experts to recommend (quickly) how the EU, in the wider international context, should deal with the crisis. I would nominate (say) Mary Robinson, David Miliband, Madeline Albright and Carl Bildt for this task. In any event, we cannot go on as we are: the EU needs an asylum policy that is simultaneously fair, humane, realistic and coherent; but it is falling far short of that at the moment. "

UN: Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the proper management of assemblies (pdf)

See: UN experts provide a roadmap to avoid human rights violations during protests (link): "GENEVA – Two United Nations human rights experts presented today a new report to the UN Human Rights Council offering extensive recommendations to States and police forces around the world on how best to manage public gatherings." And: Factsheet: Recommendations on managing assemblies (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.3.16)

UNHCR Daily Report (9.3.16):

"In Izmir, Turkey, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras chaired the fourth Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoðlu. Transport, trade, tourism and the refugee issue were exceptionally added to the agenda. Tsipras and Davutoðlu signed the previously announced readmission agreement, according to which people who do not qualify for international protection in Greece will be returned to Turkey."

Comment: This would appear to mean that refugees will have to be brought ashore in Greece and due process undertaken to determine whether or not a person qualifies for international protection.

UNDERCOVER POLICING: Battle over secrecy at Pitchford Inquiry; campaigner confronts police spy who deceived her

As the Pitchford Inquiry into the practice of undercover police in England and Wales approaches, the police are hoping to have the possibility to submit secret evidence, and to continue to use the "neither confirm nor deny" response to crucial questions on their practices and activities.

On the other side of the globe, a campaigner has tracked down a former undercover officer, John Dines, who deceived her into a two-year relationship. Dines is now teaching police in Sydney, on a course that involves the topics "human rights" and "gender sensitivity". A New South Wales politician has stated that: "It is offensive in the extreme that John Dines can be involved in teaching these matters to police in this State."

What’s the Pitchford Hearing About? (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, link): "How much of the public inquiry into undercover policing will be held in secret? How much of the police’s information will be revealed?"

International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) Launch Report on Crowd Control Weapons (ICCL, link): "Over the past number of years, law enforcement and security forces have increasingly turned to the use of crowd-control weapons (CCWs) to respond to popular protests. Today, the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) release "Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control Weapons", a report documenting the health effects of these weapons. The report focuses on the dangers of so-called “less lethal weapons”, particularly when used to control or manage assemblies. It is unique in its format of linking medical literature and data on weapons’ health effects with case studies highlighting their human toll.

The report was launched at the United Nations in Geneva on the occasion of the presentation of a joint report on the proper management of assemblies, prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. The Special Rapporteurs’ report was presented to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council."

Full report: Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd-Control Weapons (pdf)

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (9.3.16)

Greece and Turkey intensify joint work on migrants (euobserver link): "Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras met his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Izmir on Tuesday and signed several agreements to pave the way for the EU-Turkey deal to work.

Tsipras told a joint news conference that the EU deal “sends a clear message to migrants coming from third countries, rather than countries at war ... that there is neither the political will nor the ability to cross to Europe”. [emphasis added]

Comment: This appears to mean that refugees from countries where there are ongoing conflicts - Syria, Irag and Afghanistan - will not be returend under these agreements.

Also: Europe finds no delight in Turkish deal - Planned deal with Turkey attacked from all sides (politico, link):

"German and EU leaders have portrayed the proposed arrangement as a major breakthrough; Europe’s best, possibly last, hope to bring the refugee crisis under control. But a broad spectrum of critics, from national and European MPs, to the UN’s refugee agency to Amnesty International, assailed the plan, arguing it would force the EU to abandon its core principles.

Clearly, Europe is willing to do anything, including compromising essential human rights and refugee law principles, to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe,” Aurelie Ponthieu, a top official at Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement." [emphasis added]

Opinion: Inching toward a Fortress Europe (DW, link): "Turkey is demanding an ever-higher price for its cooperation in fending off refugees. As long as they stop the influx, Europeans are prepared to accept any legal fig leaf held up by Ankara, says Barbara Wesel.

In Germany an asylum seeker has the right to an assessment of one's individual reasons for fleeing, and the EU is obliged to uphold the rules of the Geneva Convention. But none of that matters when the only goal is to bring the number of refugees down to zero. We are moving ever closer to the ideal of rightwing populists - a Fortress Europe.

Now that the EU has taken in a million refugees, it is willing to enter into an unsavory agreement with Turkey, putting its own future on the line, while raising the drawbridges at its borders. It is a pathetic spectacle in every respect."

EU: Enhancing and diluting the legal status of subsidiary protection beneficiaries under Union law – the CJEU judgment in Alo and Osso (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Is it in accordance with the Qualification Directive (QD) to restrict the freedom of movement within the host country of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection (a form of protection parallel to refugee status) in receipt of social security benefits? This question was addressed by the CJEU in its ruling of 1 March 2015 in the Alo and Osso case. The Court’s answer and its reasoning is equally interesting, groundbreaking and controversial as it, on the one hand, strengthens the impact of the Geneva Convention (the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees on the QD standards and the substantive content of subsidiary protection while it, on the other hand, creates uncertainty about the applicable non-discrimination standard in such cases."

EU: MEPs refuse to vote on PNR before Council strengthens data protection (euractiv, link): "A joint initiative of the conservative EPP and the ECR groups, the proposal to place the PNR on the agenda of the current plenary session was rejected by virtually all the other political families. They fear a vote on PNR may allow member states to abandon the personal data protection package they have promised as a counterweight to the new surveillance powers." and

MEPs at war over blocked PNR vote (Parliament Magazine, link): "Parliamentary groups accuse each other of playing 'dirty political games' after request to include PNR in plenary voting agenda denied."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.3.16)

EU-Turkey deal could see Syrian refugees back in war zones, says UN (Guardian, link):

"Refugees chief questions legality of agreement to send people back to Turkey without guarantees for their protection. A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees , questioned the legality of an outline deal struck by the EU and Turkey. “As a first reaction I am deeply concerned about any arrangement that would involve the blanket return of anyone from one country to another, without spelling out the refugee protection safeguards under international law,” he said on Tuesday....

Speaking to the European parliament in Strasbourg, Grandi said asylum seekers should only be returned to other states if there was a guarantee that that they would not then be sent back to the place they had fled."

EU-USA: U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism (CRS, pdf):

"Congressional decisions related to data privacy, intelligence-gathering, border controls, visa policy, and transport security may affect how future U.S.-EU counterterrorism cooperation evolves. EU officials have welcomed passage of the Judicial Redress Act (P.L. 114-126) to provide EU citizens with a limited right of judicial redress for privacy violations in a law enforcement context, but they have expressed unease with some provisions in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (passed as part of P.L. 114-113 in the wake of the Paris attacks and heightened U.S. concerns about European citizens fighting with terrorist groups abroad).

Given the European Parliament’s growing influence in many of these policy areas, Members of Congress may be able to help shape the Parliament’s views and responses through ongoing contacts and the existing Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD)."

UNHCR's reaction to Statement of the EU Heads of State and Government of Turkey, 7 March (lpdf):

"As for the statement released yesterday after the meeting between EU and Turkey, UNHCR is not a party to it nor privy to all the details and modalities of implementation.

On the face of what appears to have been agreed, we are, however, concerned about any arrangement that involves the blanket return of all individuals from one country to another without sufficiently spelt out refugee protection safeguards in keeping with international obligations.

An asylum-seeker should only be returned to a third state, if (a) responsibility for assessing the particular asylum application in substance is assumed by the third country; (b) the asylum-seeker will be protected from refoulement; (c) the individual will be able to seek and, if recognized, enjoy asylum in accordance with accepted international standards, and have full and effective access to education, work, health care and, as necessary, social assistance.

Legal safeguards would need to govern any mechanism under which responsibility would be transferred for assessing an asylum claim. Pre-departure screening would also need to be in place to identify heightened risk categories that may not be appropriate for return even if the above conditions are met.

Details of all these safeguards should be clarified before the next meeting of the EU Council on 17 March." [emphasis added]

EU-USA: While President Obama signs the Judicial Redress act, are the European Commission and the Parliament sharing the same Umbrella? (EASFJ, link):

"The European Commission is dealing with challenges on another EU-U.S. data sharing deal: the Parliament legal service and MEPs argued that the so-called Umbrella Agreement, which will be brought into being with the signature of the Judicial Redress Act, does not comply with EU law."

EU REFUGEE CRISIS: UNHCR: 7.3.16: 141,930 arrivals in the EU: 132,177 in Greece, 9.295 in Italy. 410 dead/missing. 48% from Sytria, 25% from Afghanistan and 15% from Iraq - 88% of arrivals.

EU-TURKEY: Is the EU-Turkey deal even legal? Probably not, but who cares anymore!: Berlin/Ankara migration pact — wrecking ball or silver bullet? (FT blog, link):

"Big legal doubts hang over this scheme. Rules on asylum are quite clear: all applications have to be properly considered, and an asylum seeker cannot be returned to a country that does not offer proper protection.

Returns to a country that is not a full member of the Geneva Convention, such as Turkey, would likely be illegal argue refugee groups.

Only Syrians have the right to claim some form of international protection in Turkey — and even that does not equate to full refugee status. But others — even those fleeing desperate circumstances in Iraq, Afghanistan or Eritrea — have no such luck.

The EU will try to get around this obstacle by declaring that Turkey is a safe third country, which — given the state of its asylum system — is highly debatable, and appears to contradict the bloc’s own rules. Despite its legal fragility, this proposal would only give the EU a legal basis to return Syrians to Turkey: it would not cover non-Syrian asylum seekers." [emphasis added]

EU-TURKEY SUMMIT: Statement of the EU Heads of State or Government: 07/03/2016 (pdf):

"Turkey confirmed its commitment in implementing the bilateral Greek-Turkish readmission agreement to accept the rapid return of all migrants not in need of international protection crossing from Turkey into Greece and to take back all irregular migrants apprehended on Turkish waters."

assistance to Greece in managing the external borders, including those with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and ensuring the proper functioning of hotspots, with 100% identification, registration and security checks, and the provision of sufficient reception capacities..

assist Greece in ensuring comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection, building on the Greece-Turkey readmission agreement and, from 1 June, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement;" [emphasis added]

Comment: The last two statements appear to mean that refugees will be brought ashore into Greece and not immediately returned without due process as some statements to the media have suggesred.

CoE: Commissioner for Human Rights: Human rights of refugee and migrant women and girls need to be better protected (link):

"For the first time since the beginning of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, women and children on the move outnumber adult men. While in 2015 about 70 % of the population on the move were men, women and children now make up nearly 60% of refugees and other migrants crossing into Europe. This also means that more women and children risk and lose their lives in the Mediterranean Sea and on the land routes to Europe. Of more than 360 persons who died in the Mediterranean in January 2016, one third were women and children."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.16)

Guardian as it happens reporting on theEU-Turkey: Summit (link)

"As if by magic, Tusk and his allies seek to end the European refugee crisis in two clean movements.

First: by rubber-stamping the closure of the Macedonian-Greek border, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed in the past year in their march northwards towards northern Europe. Second: by strong-arming Turkey into readmitting most if not all of the asylum-seekers who continue to land on the Greek islands in their thousands every day.

Tusk’s logic is straightforward. If the Macedonian border can be shut, then the crisis can be contained in Greece. And if refugees can be returned to Turkey, then the damage wrought on cash-strapped Greece will in turn become manageable. Even if Tusk’s plan has obvious moral implications – it risks undermining the 1951 refugee convention, which was one of the seminal human achievements of the post-Holocaust era – one can understand its practical appeal for European politicians.

But as has become familiar throughout this migration crisis, the logic of Europe’s leadership does not acknowledge the reality on the ground.

and: "Germany is the other key wrinkle in the summit agreement.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is resisting a push to declare the refugee route across the Balkans “closed”, endorsing the policy of border closures by Austria and Greece’s Balkan neighbours.

“For all countries, including Greece, closing anything is not an option,” Merkel said as she arrived at the summit.

Summit chairman Donald Tusk had proposed an EU endorsement of border closures on the route north from Greece, with a draft EU statement saying: “Irregular flows of migrants along the Western Balkans route are coming to an end; this route is now closed.”

Also: Merkel unhappy with draft statement on 'closed' Balkan route, reports say (ekathimerini.com, link): "

EU-TURKEY:
Meeting of the EU Heads of State or Government (Brussels, 7 March 2016) - Draft statement (6 March 2016, SN26/16, pdf):

"Action is required along the following lines:

a) provide an immediate and effective response to the very difficult humanitarian situation which is rapidly developing on the ground...
b) provide further assistance to Greece in managing the external borders, including those with fYROM and Albania, and ensuring the proper functioning of hotspots, with 100% identification, registration and security checks, and the provision of sufficient reception capacities...
c) assist Greece in ensuring comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection, building on the Greece-Turkey readmission agreement and, from 1 June, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement;
d) accelerate the implementation of relocation to alleviate the heavy burden that presently weighs
on Greece...
e) continue to cooperate closely with the non-EU countries of the Western Balkans and provide any necessary assistance...
f) implement the existing resettlement commitments and continue work on a credible voluntary humanitarian admission programme with Turkey...
g) take any necessary measures immediately in respect of any new routes opening up, and step up the fight against smugglers;
h) take forward, as a matter of priority, all the elements of the Commission roadmap on getting "back to Schengen", so as to end temporary internal border controls and re-establish the normal functioning of the Schengen area before the end of the year."

Afghanistan: EU shuts the door despite asylum recognition rates rising from 43% to 60%

EU policy on which refugees should be given international protection and relocation within the EU has changed numerous times since last year. In autumn 2015, the agreed policy was to recognise people coming from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea - based, then, on a 75% recognition rate in Eurostat statistics. This changed in practice in January to offering relocation to refugees from Syrai, Iraq and Afghanistan - countries where there are ongoing conflicts. Then in February, under pressure from Germany and Austria, Macedonia and Serbia only accepted refugees from Syria and Iraq - turning back those from Afghanistan. Yet EU institutions and Member States "are aware of the worsening security situation and threats to which people are exposed," as a leaked document from the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) reveals.

See: Joint Commission-EEAS non-paper on enhancing cooperation on migration, mobility and readmission with Afghanistan - Country Fiche proposing possible leverages across Commission-EEAS policy areas to enhance returns and effectively implement readmission commitments (Doc no: 6738-16, 3 March 2016, pdf)

EU: Refugee crisis: NATO Secretary General welcomes expansion of NATO deployment in the Aegean Sea (NATO, link): " NATO took swift decisions to deploy ships to the Aegean Sea to support our Allies Greece and Turkey, as well as the EU's border agency FRONTEX, in their efforts to tackle the migrant and refugee crisis. NATO ships are already collecting information and conducting monitoring in the Aegean Sea. Their activity will now be expanded to take place also in territorial waters."

Some critical comments: NATO Expands Aegean Sea Migrant Patrols Into Turkish and Greek Territorial Waters – Rescued Migrants to Be Automatically Returned to Turkey (Migrants at Sea, link)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.16)

EU: Proposed new counter-terrorism law: Joint NGO critique (pdf): "In this submission, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) analyse and offer recommendations on the European Commission’s December 2015 proposal for a Directive on Combating Terrorism and Replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on Combating Terrorism (“the proposed Directive”) in light of Member States’ obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law...

This submission seeks to specifically address:

EU: Council questioned over CIA rendition programme

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) has submitted a number of questions to the Council of the EU over its work in relation to the CIA rendition programme. The committee is seeking answers on, amongst other things:

The questions were tabled on 2 March. The Council is yet to respond.

See: Question for oral answer to the Council submitted by Claude Moraes, on behalf of the committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs: Follow-up to the resolution of Parliament of 11 February 2015 on the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA (2014/2997(RSP)) (pdf) and on the European Parliament website (link).

UK: Shortage of asylum seeker accommodation and "appalling" prejudice, says report (parliament.uk): "The Commons Home Affairs Committee says the red doors and wrist bands scandals leave major questions to be answered about the running of the COMPASS contract providing asylum support services. It says delivery of the contract has been mostly unsatisfactory to date, with these episodes highlighting flaws in accountability and oversight of the contracts, and a failure to ensure that the way asylum seekers are treated and housed meets basic standards.

The Committee also warns of an impending shortage of asylum seeker accommodation and a lack of fair and equal dispersal throughout the country."

The report: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: The work of the Immigration Directorates (Q3 2015) (pdf)

UK: Government report: The process for withdrawing from the European Union (pdf): "This document sets out the process that would follow a vote to leave the European Union, and the prospects for negotiations. Alternative models for the UK’s relationship with the EU after exit will be examined in a second document."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and lots of key documents: 3-4.3.16)

Council of the European Union: C-T Directive, Checks at borders, Border Guards and Vienna Declaration

- Counter Terrorism Directive: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism [First reading] - General approach (6655-16, pdf):

"The Council is invited to reach a general approach on the text, as set out in the Annex, which will constitute the basis for future negotiations with the European Parliament in the context of the ordinary legislative procedure. Changes compared to the Commission proposal are marked in bold."

- EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: State of play on implementation of the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, the JHA Council Conclusions of 20 November 2015, and the Conclusions of the European Council of 18 December 2015 (LIMITE doc no: 6450-16, pdf):

"information sharing still does not reflect the threat: while there are now five times more person entities in Europol's Focal Point Travellers database compared with last year, the analysis file still contains only 2,786 verified foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) entered by EU Member States.

The European Information System (EIS) contains only 1,473 FTF entered by Member States. This despite well-founded estimates that around 5,000 EU citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join DAESH and other extremist groups. It should also be noted that more than 90% of the contributions by Member States regarding verified FTFs in FP Travellers in 2015 originate from just 5 Member States."

- Checks at external borders: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders - General approach (6673-16, pdf):

"The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in underline."

- EU Border Guards: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (LIMITE doc no: 6746-16, dated 3 March 2016, pdf): "It is noted that the new (vis-à-vis doc. 6483/16) proposed changes are highlighted in bold, underline and strikethrough."

- EU Border Guards: As above 6483-16 (LIMITE doc, pdf):

"The most recent compromise suggestions reflecting the discussions so far on these provisions and the relevant contributions by delegations are highlighted in bold/underline/strikethrough; the compromise suggestions which had been submitted by the Presidency in previous discussions are marked with underline."

- EU Border Guards: As above: 6359-REV-1-16 (pdf):

"the Presidency believes that the compromise text included in the Annex and in 6283/16 and 6330/16 has a sufficient degree of support by delegations. It invites the Committee to confirm this with a view to preparing the upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament on this file."

- Declaration agreed by Croatia, Slovenia and Austria: Conference "Managing Migration Together", Vienna, 24 February 2016 (6481-16, pdf)

Are there no limits to irresponsble EU statements? Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting in Ankara with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu (pdf):: EU Council President Donald Tusk:

"To many in Europe the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece" [emphasis added]

EU: European Commission reports prior to 7 March EU-Turkey Summit:

- Progress report on the implementation of the hotspot approach in Greece (COM 141-16, pdf)

- EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan - Third implementation report (pdf)

- Back to Schengen - A Roadmap (pdf) and Annexes (pdf)

- Second Report on progress by Turkey in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap (pdf)

And see: Commission Timetable (pdf)

Also: RELOCATION (state of play as of 03 March 2016) (pdf)

Since September 2015 only 335 refugees from Italy have been relocated in the EU and only 322 from Greece. 160,000 relocation palces were asked for but only 17 Member States promised just 4,237 places to Greece and Italy.

It appears that the Commission is no longer presenting regular updates on its plans: see:State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (1.2.16, pdf).

EU closes on migrant deal with Turkey (FT,.link)

"The EU is close to a breakthrough deal with Ankara that would see all non-Syrian migrants reaching Greek islands returned to Turkey, marking a crucial step in the bloc’s hardening stance against the flow of people pouring into its territories.

After weeks of diplomatic pressure from Berlin and Brussels, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, privately signalled in negotiations on Thursday that Ankara will accept the systematic returns of non-Syrians and step up action against smugglers.....

Two diplomats familiar with the discussion on Thursday said Turkey also agreed to accept all migrants rescued in international waters by a Nato mission — a sensitive issue that had held-up progress on the operation. "

Or: Don’t expect big decisions from EU-Turkey summit, say diplomats (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE / No official decision is expected to be made during an EU-Turkey summit on Monday (7 March) dedicated to the refugee crisis, due to the upcoming German state elections, diplomats told...

Germany prefers that the EU-Turkey summit remains low-profile and that it doesn’t impact on the vote, EurActiv was told. Consequently the summit of EU leaders with Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu will be an informal meeting, where “no official decision is expected to be made” and no summit conclusions will be adopted."

Or: EU asking Turkey to take back migrants (euobserver, link): "In its effort to reduce the flow of migrants coming to Europe, the EU is now focusing on sending back economic migrants to Turkey.

"To many in Europe, the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece," European Council president Donald Tusk said on Thursday (3 March) in Ankara. "It would effectively break the busines model of the smugglers," he said"

Or: EU mulls 'large-scale' migrant deportation scheme (ekathimerini.com, link): ""We agree that the refugee flows still remain far too high," Tusk said after meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"To many in Europe, the most promising method seems to be a fast and large-scale mechanism to ship back irregular migrants arriving in Greece. It would effectively break the business model of the smugglers."

Tusk was careful to single out illegal economic migrants for possible deportation, not asylum-seekers. And he wasn't clear who would actually carry out the expulsions: Greece itself, EU border agency Frontex or even other organizations like NATO."

UNHCR: 6 steps towards solving the refugee situation in Europe (link):

"Ahead of a meeting of heads of state or government of the European Union (EU) with Turkey on 7 March in Brussels, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has today issued recommendations aimed at helping States solve the refugee situation in Europe.

"We are running out of time, and strong leadership and vision are urgently needed from European leaders to deal with what is, in our view, a situation that can still be managed if properly addressed," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. "This is as much a crisis of European solidarity as it is a refugee crisis. The collective failure to implement the measures agreed by EU Member States in the past has led to the current escalation in the crisis," he added.

And see: UNHCR: Stabilizing the situation of refugees and migrants in Europe: Proposals to the Meeting of EU Heads of State or Government and Turkey on 7 March 2016 (pdf)

EU-PNR: MEP vote on EU passenger record delayed (euobserver, link): "MEPs delayed a vote to adopt the EU passenger names record (PNR). The bill was set for adoption next week but left-wing parties opposed putting the the vote on the agenda. EU PNR will sweep up personal details of commercial airline passengers in an effort to fight terrorism and crime."

Greece: Electra Leda Koutra (Facebook, link) writes:

"The Ministry of Migration confirms and provides clarifications for the banning of reporters in hotspots anounced by the Ministry of Interior's Press Release, providing us also with the reasoning of such a decision - the employees have (allegedly) asked for that, because they have too much work
.
They go further expanding the banning, by informing us through the press that not only reporters, but also NGO representatives and researchers from universities will no longer be admitted.

This is a breach of art.10 ECHR, against groups of people able to document atrocities =usually falling within the ambit of the term "human rights defenders". Restriction in the exercise of rights should be prescribed by law and be proportionate to the aim pursued.

But these are wild times, so we are currently attempting to "regulate social behavior" through... press releases. Besides the fact that a ministry poses restrictions that another ministry subsequently clarifies, it is a 3rd ministry, that of National Defense, that has been declared by Law, for a week now, as responsible for the direction and coordination of hotspots.

The above is indicative of chaos reigning, but also of "military aesthetics" around the "management" of the humanitarian crisis in Greece. I wouldn't be surprised if the Min.of Defence, in exercise of its new duties, among which "the direction and coordination of other national authorities and NGOs dealing with the assistance of refugees in hotspots", imposed the ban."

See Statewatch: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

UK: Right To Remain's new Toolkit is on line: (link):

"The Right to Remain Toolkit is a unique guide to the UK immigration and asylum system, with actions you can take in support of your claim, or to help someone else.

The Toolkit is needed more than ever - the asylum and immigration system is increasingly complicated, and there are more legal and procedural barriers to establishing the legal right to remain and accessing justice than ever.

We have just launched the brand new edition of our Toolkit, made possible thanks to the amazing public support we received in our crowdfunding appeal: we raised more than £8000 in donations."

EU Council President: EU's Tusk defends use of barbed wire against refugees (worldbulletin.net, link):

"EU president Donald Tusk on Wednesday defended the use of barbed-wire fences against refugees, saying that securing the outer borders of Europe's passport-free Schengen area was a "pre-condition" to solving the refugee crisis.

"I'm convinced that... back to Schengen is a pre-condition for this European solution to the migration crisis," Tusk said in Slovenia as part of a multi-country tour ending in Turkey later this week.

Asked about barbed wire fences, Tusk said: "I'm afraid that sometimes you need tougher measures if you, we want really to apply Schengen. Sorry but this is the reality."

European Parliament: Report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings: Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Rapporteur: Caterina Chinnici (pdf)

EU-USA: NSA can still spy under new ‘Privacy Shield’ agreement with Europe (Yahoo News, link):

"The new Privacy Shield was published in full a few days ago, showing the principles that would govern the exchange of digital information between EU consumers and U.S. companies. However, the new agreement also has provisions that explain how and when the NSA can continue bulk data collection in the region."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.3.16)

Greece: Lesvos: Registering of NGOs, personal details of their workers/volunteers and independent volunteers begins

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "We stand by our view that this practice has no place in a democracy worthy of the name"

See:
NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control
Only in the Soviet Union and under the STASI in East Germany were NGOs expected to hand over lists and personal details of all their members/volunteers
-
"In particular there should be no attempts by public authorities to make NGOs effectively agencies working under their control.."
(Council of Europe)


Lesvos General Coordination meeting (25.2.16): "Mr. Yiannis Yiannelis, the Secretary General for the Aegean and Island Policy answered the questions of the audience on the registration process and on the forms that are now available in both Greek and English for individual volunteers and NGOs.

He thanked the NGOs and volunteers for their efforts in assisting in the humanitarian response, while stressing the necessity to complete the registration procedure, so work and staff of NGOs or volunteers are known to the authorities."
[emphasis added]

See: Statement on the registering of NGOs and volunteers: Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy Coordinating Committee (pdf)

"According to the Joint Decision of Minister of Interior Policy and Administrative Reconstruction and Minister of Marine and Island Policy (Government Gazette 114 / B/28-1-2016) a Coordination Committee has been established in order to register, coordinate and evaluate the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Voluntary Groups and independent volunteers who are active on Lesvos island.

The Committee has the following activities:

Registration, identification and accreditation of all NGOs and independent volunteers who are active on Lesvos Island in order to cope with the problems that have arisen by the refugee - migration flows.

Evaluation - accreditation of NGOs according to the submitted documents (legal documents, statutes e.t.c.).

Organization of NGOs /Volunteers’ work according to the demands of the refuge emigration flows. Only certified NGOs/Volunteers will be accepted to the Official List of Volunteers.

Classification of NGOs/Volunteers according to their type of actions, location of services provided.

Continual Coordination and inspection of NGOs and independent volunteers’ activities.

Provision of information to NGOs /Volunteers regarding their obligation to register and have their actions approved." [emphasis in original]

and the Registration forms: NGO: "Organisation Profile" form (pdf) and the volunteer "Personal Profile" form (pdf)

UK: Stephen Lawrence: former police officer avoids charges over alleged spying (The Guardian, link): "A former senior police officer has avoided disciplinary charges over an alleged plot to spy on the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Former commander Richard Walton retired in January from his post as the head of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command.

On Wednesday, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced that its two-year investigation had found that Walton and another retired officer, Bob Lambert, would have had a case to answer for misconduct if they had still been employed by the police."

See: IPCC publishes investigation report about meeting with undercover officer (IPCC, link) and the report: Ellison Review - Walton, Lambert, Black: An investigation into the circumstances surrounding a meeting between A/Detective Inspector Richard Walton and an undercover officer on 14 August 1998 (pdf). Previous IPCC report: IPCC independent investigation into complaints following "The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence" (pdf)

And: Richard Walton dodging questions and keeping his pension (Undercover Research Group, link)

European Commission: Humanitarian Aid for Greece: Proposal for a Council Regulation on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 115-16, pdf) and Press release: Commission proposes new Emergency Assistance instrument for faster crisis response within the EU (pdf):

"As the refugee crisis continues to put pressure on many European Member States, the Commission proposes a faster way for support to be provided to tackle wide-ranging humanitarian crises within the EU.

Today the European Commission has proposed an Emergency Assistance instrument to be used within the European Union to provide a faster, more targeted response to major crises, including helping Member States cope with large numbers of refugees."

European Commission: Returns to Turkey by Greece: The Commission is today able to confirm that Greece is in the process of returning 308 irregular migrants to Turkey (Press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today able to confirm that Greece is in the process of returning 308 irregular migrants to Turkey. The European Union is stepping up its efforts to ensure those who do not qualify for international protection in Europe will be quickly and effectively returned to their countries of origin or transit,,,,, Yesterday and today, the return of 308 irregular migrants, mainly of Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian origin, is taking place from Greece to Turkey. This sends a clear signal that those who do not qualify for international protection will be returned.." [emphasis added]

UNHCR Daily Report (1.3.16): There have been 132,791 arrivals this year: 123,246 to Greece, 9,087 to Italy. 410 dead/missing.

"The President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, President Gjorge Ivanov, said in a press release that, when Austria reaches the set limit of 37,500 asylum applications this year, the Balkan refugee route will have to close."

"According to media sources, on 29 February and 1 March, Turkey is to readmit a total of 308 people from Greece. They will be transferred to the border crossing of Kipoi in Evros, where they will be handed to the Turkish authorities"

"In Greece, a new hotspot with a capacity for 800 refugees is under construction in Park Tritsis, in the suburb of Athens."

"On 27 and 28 February, fire broke out at two former military camps in Giannitsa, northern Greece. One of the sites was intended to become a refugee centre. According to media reports, there is strong opposition to the creation of a refugee centre in the area. Police are investigating whether the fires were intentionally started, and if they were connected."

Turkey Blocks NATO Ships from Tackling Refugee-Smuggler Boats in Territorial Waters (Greek Reporter, link):

"Turkey blocked NATO ships from patrolling its territorial waters in order to intercept people-smuggler boats carrying refugees to the Greek islands....

The first diplomatic source commented that this problem was known from “the beginning” and further revealed that Turkey wants the German commander, Rear Admiral Jörg Klein, to travel to Ankara and outline the area where the NATO vessels will be deployed.

Furthermore, the same source pointed out that despite the assurances of Greek and German officials, Turkey appears to have little to no interest in receiving refugees rescued by NATO during the operations." [emphasis added]

Council of Europe: "A Europe-wide policy of door-slamming is not a solution"

"Thorbjørn Jagland: Migration – “A Europe-wide policy of door-slamming is not a solution.” Governments are using Europe’s refugee crisis to retreat from key human rights principles, according to Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

Speaking at the 1 March, 31st session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Jagland said: “Right now, in Europe, the very idea of human rights is coming under attack.”

He warned that the current “picking-and-choosing mentality towards the rules governments do and do not like is dangerous – because it’s contagious."

Greece: EU to muster 700 mln for refugees as UNHCR warns of ‘humanitarian crisis’ (ekathimerini.com, link)

"The College of Commissioners is expected to approve the release of 700 million euros over the next three years. Sources told Kathimerini that these are funds that will be diverted to NGOs rather than Greece, or any other state. Although the package is meant to be for use across the EU, it is expected that the vast majority will be used to alleviate problems in Greece....

“Europe is on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis,” UN refugee agency spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing. “The crowded conditions are leading to shortages of food, shelter, water and sanitation."

UN Chief: Border Limits Violate 'Human Decency' (INYT, link):

"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says border restrictions being imposed in Europe to stem the flow of migrants "are not in line with international law or with common human decency."

Ban made the comments Tuesday in Madrid after Greek police said up to 10,000 mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees were stuck at the country's Idomeni border crossing in deteriorating conditions....

Ban says he's concerned about the restrictions along land migration routes, adding that "every asylum seeker has the right to his or her application to be considered individually." [emphasis added]

Bring refugees from Greece yourself, Austria tells Merkel (The Local.at, link):

"With large numbers of refugees building up in Greece after Austria and western Balkan nations closed their borders, Vienna has put the ball in Germany's court.

Germany "should set up a daily quota and then bring these refugees directly from Greece, Turkey or Jordan," Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann told the Kurier newspaper on Wednesday.

"Austria cannot and must not become a distribution hub [for refugees]. There must be an end to that," Faymann went on.

He could not accept "that several thousands of people are waved through every day, on the other hand Germany informs us that today it will only allow 1,000 or 2,000 into the country.""

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.3.16)

Greece: Athens: Demo against NATO’s Aegean patrols (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A demonstration against the presence of a NATO mission in the Aegean Sea will be held Wednesday in front of Athens University in the city center. The rally is organized by left-wing groups and the Popular Unity party, against “imperialism, xenophobia and racism and to express solidarity with refugees.”

A German-led NATO mission is conducting operations in the Aegean in a bid to stem the flow of migrants into Greece from Turkey."

EU court backs refugees' free movement, in most cases (euobserver, link): "People granted international protection can freely live and move anywhere they want in a member state but may be ordered to reside at a specific address in limited cases. The European Court of Justice on Tuesday (3 March) ruled "a place-of-residence condition" can be imposed if the person is somehow unable to integrate. In practice, the restriction would apply in few cases. The residency restriction is narrow, can't be imposed on refugees, and can't be justified on the basis that the burden of social assistance should be distributed across the state."

See: CJEU: EU Court of Justice: The Court of Justice gives as a ruling on the relationship between the freedom of movement of beneficiaries of international protection and measures intended to facilitate their integration (Press release, pdf): "A place-of-residence condition may be imposed on beneficiaries of subsidiary protection if they face greater integration difficulties than other non-EU citizens who are legally resident in the Member State that has granted such protection,"

EU-USA: Restoring "trust" in transatlantic data flows

Restoring trust in transatlantic data flows through strong safeguards: European Commission presents EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (press release, pdf): "The European Commission today issued the legal texts that will put in place the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and a Communication summarising the actions taken over the last years to restore trust in transatlantic data flows since the 2013 surveillance revelations. In line with President Juncker's political guidelines, the Commission has (i) finalised the reform of EU Data protection rules, which apply to all companies providing services on the EU market, (ii) negotiated the EU-U.S. Umbrella Agreement ensuring high data protection standards for data transfers across the Atlantic for law enforcement purposes, and (iii) achieved a renewed sound framework for commercial data exchange: the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield."

Commission Communication: Transatlantic Data Flows: Restoring Trust through Strong Safeguards (COM(2016) 117 final, pdf)

UK: Police 'used sexualised violence against fracking protesters' (The Guardian, link): "Police at the Barton Moss anti-fracking camp near Manchester used “sexualised violence” to target female protesters, it is alleged.

Protesters told academics from York and Liverpool John Moores universities that officers groped and pressed their groins up against women as they cleared demonstrations against test drilling at the site.

They are now calling for a public inquiry to investigate the relationship between police and the fracking firm IGas, the proportionality of police tactics and the use of bail to restrict the right to protest."

The report: Keep moving! Report on the policing of the Barton Moss community protection camp, November 2013-April 2014 (pdf) and a summary: New report recommends public inquiry into policing of Barton Moss protest (Netpol, link)

UK: Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration criticises Home Office complaint handling (Free Movement, link): "The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Bolt, has published a new report which is highly critical of Home Office complaint handling. The findings echo those of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman from November 2015.

(...) In one example, an asylum claimant complained through their lawyer that a Home Office asylum interviewer had laughed when he had described being tortured. This complaint was recorded and a letter was sent to the complainant saying it would be investigated. The very same day the complaint was recorded as “unsubstantiated” and also recorded as closed. There was no evidence the complaint had been investigated."

See: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An Inspection of the Handling of Complaints and MPs' Correspondence, July-September 2015 (pdf) and: Government response (pdf)

UK: IMMIGRATION DETENTION: The new Chief Inspector calls for a time limit on detention – Harmondsworth inspection report (The Detention Forum, link): "The latest report by the Prison Watchdog published today reveals that the UK had let its largest immigration detention centre, Harmondsworth, deteriorate to an “unacceptable” level, with some parts “among the worst in the detention estate”, while continuing to incarcerate migrants without a time limit for an administrative purpose.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons found that 18 men had been held at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, over a year, including one man detained for a total of five years, amidst the increase level of vulnerability among the detained population with 50% of them stating that they were depressed or suicidal."

The report: HM Chief Inspector of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre - Harmondsworth Site (pdf)

UK: Freedom of Information changes scrapped (Reprieve, link): "The government has stepped back from proposals to amend the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, after the commission set up to examine FOI found that it is “working well.”

In its report, published today, the cross-party Commission on Freedom of Information found that there is “no evidence” in favour of changing the Act substantially. In some areas, the commission said, “the right of access should be increased.” In a written statement published today, the government said that it agreed with several of the commission’s key recommendations, and that it would “carefully consider” others."

See: Independent Commission on Freedom of Information: Report (pdf) and the government's written statement to Parliament: Open and transparent government (pdf): "The Commission makes 21 specific recommendations. It notes that whilst some of its recommendations require legislation, other improvements can be made without legislative change. The government’s views on some of the most salient recommendations are as follows.."

European Parliament Study: Female refugees and asylum seekers: the issue of integration (pdf):

"Upon request by the FEMM Committee, the study presents an overview of the most important issues faced by refugees and asylum seeking women in their host country regarding access to appropriate housing, including privacy and shelter in case of domestic violence, training and language courses, the labour market, and the health systems, including psychological support and trauma healing. A summary of international standards and of applicable European laws, as well as details on available funding from the European level are provided. International promising projects illustrate the way forward."

And: International Women’s Day: providing support for women refugees (Press release, pdf)

Also: Report: the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings (COM(2013)0822 – C7-0428/2013 – 2013/0408(COD)) Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Rapporteur: Caterina Chinnici (pdf)

EU/Balkans/Greece: Border Curbs Threaten Rights - Discriminatory Actions Causing Chaos, Crisis (HRW, link):

"The chaos and violence unfolding on the Greece-Macedonia border are a direct result of discriminatory border closures and Austria’s unilateral cap on asylum seekers. Thousands of asylum seekers and migrants are effectively trapped in Greece as a result of the border closures, and they face an ever-deepening humanitarian crisis.

“Trapping asylum seekers in Greece is an unconscionable and short-sighted non-solution that is causing suffering and violence” said Eva Cossé, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch. “It demonstrates once again the EU’s utter failure to respond collectively and compassionately to refugee flows.”

IOM: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Near 130,000; Deaths Reach 418 (link): Arrivals in the EU: 129,455, in Greece: 120,369 and Italy: 9,086 (1.3.16)

Greece: Council of Europe: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Greece (link):

"The CPT’s findings from the 2015 visit illustrate once again the widespread and deep-rooted problem of police ill-treatment in Greece and the report makes specific reference to the excessive use of force employed by the Delta motorcycle police unit in Athens. The CPT urges the authorities to fully acknowledge the phenomenon of police ill-treatment and calls for a comprehensive strategy and determined action to address it. The findings detailed in the report also demonstrate that the current system of investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials is characterised by a number of systemic failings by the police and judicial authorities. The result is that investigations often remain ineffective and the report is notably critical of the lack of action taken by prosecutorial authorities. Further, there has been no progress as regards the practical implementation of formal safeguards against ill-treatment, notably the rights of notification of custody, access to a lawyer and access to a doctor as from the very outset of deprivation of liberty.

In their response, the Greek authorities refer to their zero tolerance policy towards human rights violations. However, no concrete information is provided regarding the effectiveness of investigations into police ill-treatment allegations."

And see: Report to the Greek Government on the visit to Greece carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman for Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 14 to 23 April 2015 (pdf) and Greek government response (pdf)

Council of Europe: Human Rights: France:
Anti-racism commission concerned at rise of hate speech and violence motivated by intolerance (link):

"Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has endorsed a new report on France which reveals a rise in hate speech and racist violence.

“I commend the significant efforts made by the French authorities to combat racism and intolerance,” Jagland said on the publication today of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report.

“However, hate speech, which has become commonplace in the public sphere, remains a matter of concern. I call on political leaders in particular to refrain from making comments which stigmatise already vulnerable groups and fuel tensions in French society.”

The ECRI report reveals alarm at the rise of hate speech and the increase in racist, antisemitic and islamophobic violence."

See: ECRI REPORT ON FRANCE: (fifth monitoring cycle) (pdf)

MEPs question EU border guard proposal (euobserver, link): "Liberal and Green MEPs have criticised proposals that would allow EU border guards greater powers to intervene in member states, arguing that it would not be clear who was responsible for protecting rights. German Green MEP Ska Keller told the parliamentary committee reviewing the proposal on Monday (29 February) that it would give EU border agency Frontex “unprecedented levels” of power to intervene, without the necessary safeguards or public oversight.

“Who is the one in charge, who is responsible for example for fundamental rights violations? It is a problem when the competences of Frontex are mixed up with those of member states, when equipment is co-owned,” she said. Under the European Commission proposal, a beefed-up Frontex would be able to intervene in a member state – even against that country’s will – if the passport-free Schengen area was deemed to be at risk."

and see: European Parliaent press release: Migration: debate on Coast guard and external border checks(pdf)

February 2016

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.2.16)

Greece bans media scrutiny: Media not allowed into Greek migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities have suspended media access to all migrant registration and transit camps in the country, citing overcrowding in the facilities.

An immigration policy ministry announcement Monday said no permits would be issued for members of the media to visit mainland or island migrant facilities "until further notice."

This comes on top of MEP asks the Commission to clarify the legal position of NGOs and volunteers who give humanitarian assistance to refugees

Statement: by the NATO Secretary General on NATO support to assist with the refugee and migrant crisis (25.2.16, NATO link):

"NATO’s task is not to turn back the boats. We will provide critical information. To enable the Greek and Turkish coastguards, as well as Frontex, to do their job even more effectively....

Let me also address the issue of Search and Rescue. The obligation to help people in distress at sea is a general, universal responsibility. It applies to all vessels. Regardless of whether they are part of a NATO or national mission. If Allied vessels encounter people in distress at sea, they have to live up to their national responsibility to assist.

In case of rescue of persons coming via Turkey, they will be taken back to Turkey. In carrying out their tasks, our nations will abide by national and international law."

This statement begs the question: If the sea is calm and a refugee boat is clearly not "in distress" will they be "rescued" and returned en masse to Turkey by NATO?

See: Excellent article: The NATO pushbacks in the Aegean and international law (link) by Thomas Spijkerboer, Professor of Migration Law: "The most directly applicable case is the 2012 Hirsi Jamaa judgment, in which the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights passed judgment on the Italian pushbacks, which consisted of transferring migrants from vessels onto Italian navy vessels and returning to Libya without any procedure. The Court held that a state exercises de jure jurisdiction over vessels flying its flag, and therefore the migrants were under Italian jurisdiction. It added that Italy could not evade the exercise of jurisdiction by arguing that its activities constitute a search and rescue action – just like NATO is doing at present....

The conclusion has to be that the NATO actions are in violation of international law; and that the relevant parts of international law are binding on NATO states because they exercise jurisdiction over migrants. Returning migrants to Turkey as envisioned violates the prohibition of refoulement, also when it happens in the form of search and rescue." [emphasis added]

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: As ten-year torture inquiry ends, Council of Europe states give final responses on CIA ‘secret prisons’ (link):

"Pedro Agramunt, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has welcomed a third and final round of responses from the governments of Council of Europe member States to questions on their possible involvement in illegal CIA detentions in Europe or “rendition flights” through European airspace in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Seven states – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the UK – provided additional information to the inquiry, prior to its closure earlier this month by Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, information which is made public today. The inquiry was begun in 2005 by Mr Jagland’s predecessor, using powers under the European Convention on Human Rights, which explicitly prohibits torture."

Timeline: the Council of Europe's investigation into CIA secret prisons in Europe (link) and Third round of responses (Pdf) also: 2nd round responses by country (link) and 1st round responses (link)

Greek islands faced with a ‘creepy’ humanitarian crisis (euractiv, link): "The non-implementation of the decisions made at the latest EU summit has led the refugee crisis-hit Greek islands to an unprecedented situation.

[In Leros] “Due to the lack of large morgues on the island, many corpses [of immigrants] were placed in ice cream freezers,” the source stressed, adding:

“When in one week you have to manage a big number of corpses what are you doing? We are trying to handle the situation but we lack equipment […] the assistance from the European Civil Protection Mechanism is poor,” [a source] underlined."

N IRELAND: Belfast man seeks legal ruling to halt alleged MI5 approaches (Irish Tims, link):

"Christopher Catney claims he is being harassed by British security services. Christopher Catney has instructed his lawyer to explore seeking a High Court injunction amid claims he is being harassed by the security services....

.In a statement prepared as an initial stage in the legal process, Mr Catney claimed he has come under increased attention from MI5 and the PSNI. He alleged that officers called at his ex-partner’s home looking for him, and that unmarked cars followed his taxi.

The level of attention increased following an approach by MI5 agents while on holiday last November, according to his account. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27-28.2.16)

NATO Deploys in the Aegean (thepressproject.gr, link)

"The deployment of NATO forces in the Aegean begun today. The Canadian frigate HMCS-Fredericton is sailing close to the island of Lesvos, the German frigate Fgs-Bonn, which is also the tactical chief of the mission, is scheduled to sail to the Aegean....

Presently 11 vessels from the NATO naval force have been assigned for the patrolling of the Aegean as well as several which are acting for Greece.

The operational commander of the assignement is Admiral Mark E.Ferguson (JFC) of the US Navy. "

UK: Investigatory Powers Bill: Theresa May accused of rushing snoopers' charter into law to avoid scrutiny (Independent, link):

"Bill would give government unmatched rights to invade privacy. Theresa May has been accused of trying to rush through controversial new surveillance laws before the EU referendum campaign, after it emerged that a new “snoopers’ charter” will be introduced in the Commons this week.

The Home Secretary’s draft Bill – giving spy agencies sweeping powers to monitor people’s web history – was attacked in a series of parliamentary reports earlier this month, sparking calls for it to be entirely rewritten.

A joint committee of MPs and peers has claimed that Mrs May’s proposed overhaul of spying laws was “flawed” and set out 86 proposed changes. However, Mrs May will formally bring forward the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill on 1 March".

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 6326-16, pdf): Pages 4-27 set out the amended draft of the Council's negotiating position: "Changes compared to the previous version of the text are marked in bold underlined..."

And see: Background: Directive on combating terrorism (SEMDOC, link)

Report: German intelligence spied on EU foreign minister Ashton (DW, link):

"Allegations emerged in the German media that the BND spy agency targeted Catherine Ashton, the former EU Foreign Minister. The news comes in the aftermath of the NSA scandal and the BND's assistance to US intelligence.

According to a German media report released on Saturday, the country's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) spied on the British politician Catherine Ashton during her time as the European Union's top diplomat.

The BND, wrote the "Spiegel" news outlet, collected information on Ashton beginning in 2009 and for several years onward.

The Briton was the first ever High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a position now held by the Italian Federica Mogherini. This position also made her Vice President of the European Commission."

The Latest: UN chief criticizes Europe's border restrictions (Yahoo/AP, link):

"The United Nations secretary-general is expressing "great concern" at the growing number of border restrictions along the migrant trail through Europe.

Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says the U.N. chief is calling on all countries to keep their borders open and says he is "fully aware of the pressures felt by many European countries." Friday's statement notes in particular the new restrictions in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

Ban says the restrictions are "not in line" with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees because there is no determination of individuals' refugee status and protection needs".

Europe/migration: Five-country police agreement exacerbates crisis and puts vulnerable migrants at risk -- Zeid (UN, link):

"GENEVA (25 February 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concern at security measures adopted at a recent meeting of the heads of police of five European countries*, which are already having a negative impact on the human rights of refugees and migrants in southern and central Europe, and are compounding the already exceptionally difficult situation in Greece.

“In the wake of the adoption of these measures last week, the treatment of refugees and migrants moving through some of these countries already appears to have changed, with seriously negative implications for their human rights,” Zeid said. “Latest reports suggest chain deportations are now taking place all the way down the Balkan land route, which includes Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, towards Greece. In addition, hundreds of Afghans were reportedly stranded in abject conditions for over five days on the border between The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, and many other Afghans have been blocked from entering The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, apparently solely on the basis of their nationality.”

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.2.16)

MEP asks the Commission to clarify the legal position of NGOs and volunteers who give humanitarian assistance to refugees

Jean Lambert MEP (Green/EFA Group) has put down a written question to the European Commission concerning:
Legal clarity for NGOs and volunteers providing humanitarian assistance (pdf):

"Particularly over the past year, NGOs and volunteers have been providing crucial assistance to asylum seekers and refugees to fill a void in a coordinated humanitarian response from Member State Governments and the EU.... The Greek Government has responded by setting up a committee to register, classify and co-ordinate the NGOs operating on Lesvos.

Could the Commission clarify the intentions behind its push for the increased coordination of NGOs and volunteers working on the ground as concerns have been raised about the appropriateness of the information required?

Given that current EU law does not provide legal certainly for NGOs and volunteers providing humanitarian assistance to those seeking protection in the EU, will the Commission clarify the legal situation in its upcoming review of Directive 2002/90/EC defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence?"

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted and: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

Mediterranean Migrant, Refugee Arrivals in Europe Top 120,000 (IOM, link): 120.065 arrvials in 2016: 111.099 to Greece, 8,966 to Italy. 418 dead/missing.

Excellent article: The NATO pushbacks in the Aegean and international law (link) by Thomas Spijkerboer, Professor of Migration Law:

"On 23 February, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg stated in the European parliament: “When we rescue those people, what we agreed with Turkey at a ministerial level, we agreed that if those people came from Turkey then we can return them to Turkey.” Stoltenberg repeated this on 24 February. Is this compatible with international law?....

The conclusion has to be that the NATO actions are in violation of international law; and that the relevant parts of international law are binding on NATO states because they exercise jurisdiction over migrants. Returning migrants to Turkey as envisioned violates the prohibition of refoulement, also when it happens in the form of search and rescue." [emphasis added]

EU-USA: Why the Judicial Redress Act is worthless (papersplease.org, link): Edward Hasbrouck: "I've posted a detailed takedown of this law and why it should not be relied on as the basis for an adequacy finding, a new Safe Harbor or Privacy Shield, or the EU-US "umbrella agreement", Is the Judicial Redress Act really so historic? And will it actually “ensure that all EU citizens have the right to enforce data protection rights in U.S. courts”? Sadly, no.

Europeans should not be fooled by statements such as those from Commissioner Jourová or his counterparts in other EU institutions. As we know from our own experience in court as US citizens, there are almost no real-world cases in which the Judicial Redress Act will provide any actual protection or enforceable legal rights to citizens or residents of the EU, or anywhere else." [emphasis added]

Greece: 2 refugees hang themselves in central Athens to draw attention to their situation (dailysabah.com/europe, link): "Two refugee men hanged themselves from a tree in central Victoria Square in Athens, an informal staging point for refugees arriving from the Aegean Sea islands, where about 300 people were gathered Thursday. Police said the men, who were rushed to hospital, one unconscious, had tried to draw attention to their predicament."

Refugee crisis: latest news and documents from across Europe (25.2.16)

The Corporate Greed of Strangers (IRR, link): "John Grayson reveals the spread of corporate involvement in the provision of asylum housing in the UK and northern Europe, and how outsourcing and private companies are tarnishing northern Europe’s ‘welcome’ to refugees.

EU: Council of the European Union: Redrafted EU border guard proposal drops reference to rescue of refugees: see: European Border and Coast Guard: Re-draft (LIMITE doc no: 6319-16, pdf):

The new Article 14.5 says:

"The objectives of a joint operation or rapid border intervention may be achieved as part of a multipurpose operation which may involve coast guard functions including (the rescue of persons in) distress at sea (or other coast guard functions), cross border crime prevention including the fight against migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings, (drug trafficking control operations), and migration management including identification, registration, debriefing and return" [added in bold, deletions underline in brackets]

EU: European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 February 2016 (pdf). The Commissioner said:

"In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the whole system will completely break down."

He goes on to say, in apparent denial of the humanitarian crisis that existed in the Med and the EU for most of last year: "the pressing situation in our neighbourhood: the route along the Western Balkans. The situation is very critical. The possibility of a humanitarian crisis is very real and very near."

And he finishes by yet again urging EU Member States to meet their commitments so that the EU can: "return back to the normal situation as soon as possible" - when the EU has never been more divided.

"RESCUING" OR RETURNING REFUGEES? NATO overcomes Greek-Turkish tensions to agree Aegean mission (ekathimerini.com, link): "NATO allies have agreed to a plan for their ships in the Aegean Sea to help Turkey and Greece counter criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe, NATO's chief said on Thursday, overcoming territorial sensitivities between Greece and Turkey....

“Greek and Turkish forces will not operate in each other's territorial waters and airspace,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement...

Stoltenberg said other NATO vessels will be able to sail in the territorial waters of Greece and Turkey.... Germany hopes that unlike the EU's mission off the Italian coast, which brings rescued migrants to Europe's shores, NATO will return migrants to Turkey even if they are picked up in Greek waters, effectively sealing the border. “In case of rescue of persons coming via Turkey, they will be taken back to Turkey,” Stoltenberg said." [emphasis added]

EU-USA: "UMBRELLA AGREEMENT" TO EXCHANGE PERSONAL DATA: European Commission: The signature of the Judicial Redress Act by President Obama is a historic achievement in our efforts to restore trust in transatlantic data flows, paving the way to the signature of the EU-US Data Protection Umbrella Agreement (pdf): "

"The entry into force of the Judicial Redress Act will pave the way for the signature of the EU-U.S. Data Protection Umbrella Agreement. This agreement will guarantee a high level of protection of all personal data..."

The Commission is oblivious to contrary views: EU-USA Data protection: EPIC: 'Judicial Redress Act' Provides Little Redress

"The Judicial Redress Act of 2015, which amends the Privacy Act of 1974, has been passed by Congress and moved on to the President for signature. The Act fails to extend Privacy Act protections to non-US citizens, and as adopted coerces EU countries to transfer data to the US.." and

European Parliament Legal Service: Legal opinion: EU-US Umbrella agreement concerning the protection of personal data and cooperation between law enforcement authorities in the EU and US (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25 February 2015: Press release (pdf) "B" Points Agenda (for discussion,pdf):

Documents under discussion: EU BORDER GUARD AGENCY: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - State of play (LIMITE doc no: 6309-16, pdf) and see: Re-draft (LIMITE doc no: 6319-16, pdf)

Adopted version of Council doc no:6310-REV-1-16 (pdf) - previous doocument: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc on: 6310-16, pdf):

"It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal in the attached text are demonstrated in underline. The text in relation to a possible derogation regarding air borders is put between square brackets for further consideration...

The compromise text set out in the Annex was at the JHA Counsellors meeting acceptable to a sufficient majority of delegations, with the exception of the possible derogation from systematic checks at air borders. Article 7(2d) of the text provides for such a derogation for air borders for a maximum period of three years. Several delegations were of the view that there should be no derogation possible for air borders, and that in any case three years was too long a period. Several other delegations continued to favour this derogation. The Presidency invites Coreper/Council to examine this last outstanding question with a view to the adoption of a general approach on the proposal at the February 2016 JHA Council." [emphasis added]

See previous docunments: LIMITE doc no: 6181-16 (pdf) and LIMITE doc no: 5808-16 (pdf) also Commission Proposal (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.2.16)

European Court of Human Rights: The CIA’s abduction and extrajudicial transfer to Egypt of the imam Abu Omar infringed the applicants’ rights under the Convention (Press release, 23.2.16, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Nasr and Ghali v. Italy (application no. 44883/09) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:– with regard to Mr Nasr
:
- violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights,
- a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention,
- a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) read in conjunction with Articles 3, 5 and 8
– with regard to Ms Ghali:
- violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment),
- violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and
- violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) read in conjunction with Articles 3 and 8

The case concerned an instance of extrajudicial transfer (or “extraordinary rendition”), namely the abduction by CIA agents, with the cooperation of Italian officials, of the Egyptian imam Abu Omar, who had been granted political asylum in Italy, and his subsequent transfer to Egypt, where he was held in secret for several months."

See: Judgment (pdf)

European Court of Human Rights: Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (application no. 16483/12) (pdf):

"The following case has been referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (application no. 16483/12): which concerns the detention in a reception centre on Lampedusa and subsequently on ships moored in Palermo harbour, as well as the return to Tunisia, of clandestine migrants who had landed on the Italian coast in 2011 during the events linked to the “Arab Spring”......

In its Chamber judgment of 1 September 2015, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 §§ 1, 2 and 4 of the Convention, finding that the applicants had been deprived of their liberty without a sufficient legal basis, that they had not been duly informed of the reasons for the measure, and that they had been unable to challenge it."

Amnesty International: EU and member states must work to end unprecedented assault on human rights at home and abroad (link)

"The European Union (EU) must act now to prevent a wholesale assault on human rights and basic freedoms both within its borders and across the globe, said Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment on human rights around the world.

Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2015-2016 warns of an insidious and creeping global trend undermining human rights as European and world governments deliberately underfund or neglect institutions set up to protect them, break or ignore international law and target and attack activists, lawyers and others who work to defend people’s basic freedoms."

Nato to take migrants back to Turkey, if rescued (euobserver, link):

"Nato ships will take anybody they rescue in the Aegean Sea back to Turkey instead of Greece, the head of the military alliance has said.

“When we rescue those people, what we agreed with Turkey at a ministerial level, we agreed that if those people came from Turkey then we can return them to Turkey,” Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, told the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday (23 February)."

and see: The Latest: NATO: rescued migrants can be returned to Turkey (leaderherald.com, link): "NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey and its allies have agreed that "if the people were rescued by NATO, if they come from Turkey, we can return them to Turkey."

EUNAVFOR MED-Six Month Report: No Indication of Refugee Protection Plan for EU Operations within Libyan Territorial Waters and No Reports of Human Trafficking (Migrants at Sea, link):

"No Discussion of Refugee Protection Plan: First, the Report does not contain information regarding what the EU military force intends to do with migrants who are intercepted or rescued by EU vessels if and when EUNAVFOR MED patrols begin to operate within Libyan territorial waters....

No Reports of Human Trafficking: The second perhaps less significant piece of information that jumped out at me as I read the Report was the lack of any suggestion that EUNAVFOR MED patrols have discovered evidence of human trafficking. The Report makes multiple references to trafficking, but always in conjunction with human smuggling, eg, ‘smuggler and traffickers’ business model’, ‘smuggler and trficker vessels’. The use of the trafficking term seems to be a continuation of the use of imprecise terminology (and possible ongoing confusion over the differences between human trafficking and smuggling as well?). But the Report’s ‘Smugglers’ Business Model’ section [pp 6-8] is clearly only discussing acts of smuggling."

EU: BORDER DATABASE CHECKS: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc on: 6310-16, pdf):

"It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal in the attached text are demonstrated in underline. The text in relation to a possible derogation regarding air borders is put between square brackets for further consideration...

The compromise text set out in the Annex was at the JHA Counsellors meeting acceptable to a sufficient majority of delegations, with the exception of the possible derogation from systematic checks at air borders. Article 7(2d) of the text provides for such a derogation for air borders for a maximum period of three years. Several delegations were of the view that there should be no derogation possible for air borders, and that in any case three years was too long a period. Several other delegations continued to favour this derogation.

The Presidency invites Coreper/Council to examine this last outstanding question with a view to the adoption of a general approach on the proposal at the February 2016 JHA Council."

UNHCR Survey finds Afghan and Syrian refugees arriving to Greece are fleeing conflict and violence (link): "A UNHCR survey found that some 94% of Syrians arriving in Greece in January made the perilous journey by sea to escape conflict and violence in Syria. Similarly, 71% of the Afghans surveyed cited conflict and violence as the main reason they left their country." and EU, UN criticize Balkan police crackdown on Afghan migrants (ekathimerini.com, link): "The European Union and United Nations on Tuesday criticized new police restrictions imposed on those traveling along the main migrant route through the Balkans, where hundreds of Afghans have been blocked from crossing into Macedonia."

UNHCR: In 2016: 110,257 arrivals: 101.906 to Greece, 7,893 to Italy. 406 dead/missing. And UNHCR reports:

"According to media sources, Greek authorities are taking diplomatic action to persuade their counterparts in the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, to allow entry to people of Afghan nationality. Greek authorities state that 5,000 people are present at the border crossing and
3,000 people are being temporarily accommodated in Athens. Authorities fear that the limits imposed at the Austrian borders will trigger similar action
across other countries along the transit route."

See also: Refugee arrivals in Greece exceed 100,000 in less than two months (Guardian. link): "Figure was not reached until end of June last year, and rate of arrivals this year expected to climb further as weather improves."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.2.16)

USA: NSA Targets World Leaders for US Geopolitical Interests (Wikileaks, link)

"Today, 23 February 2016 at 00:00 GMT, WikiLeaks publishes highly classified documents showing that the NSA bugged meetings between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, between Israel prime minister Netanyahu and Italian prime minister Berlusconi, between key EU and Japanese trade ministers discussing their secret trade red-lines at WTO negotiations, as well as details of a private meeting between then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi.

The documents also reveal the content of the meetings from Ban Ki Moon's strategising with Merkel over climate change, to Netanyahu's begging Berlusconi to help him deal with Obama, to Sarkozy telling Berlusconi that the Italian banking system would soon "pop like a cork".

Some documents are classified TOP-SECRET / COMINT-GAMMA and are the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization."

See: WikiLeaks: US spied on Merkel, Ban Ki-moon (euobserver, link): "Whistleblower site WikiLeaks has published new evidence that the US spied on EU leaders in trade talks, climate talks, and on Israel. The five secret US documents published on Tuesday (23 February) indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA) tapped 13 phone lines between 2006 and 2011 linked to government officials and offices in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25 February 2015: Background Note (pdf):

"The Council will aim to reach a general approach on the proposed regulation to reinforce checks against relevant databases at external borders. This regulation seeks to improve security inside the EU by making the checks on EU citizens against all relevant databases (which are already possible) mandatory."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6181-16, pdf) and previous document: LIMITE no: 5808-16 (pdf) and Commission Proposal (pdf)

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Police to request secrecy for parts of undercover officers inquiry (The Guardian, link): "Police are to apply for sweeping legal orders to have large parts of a judge-led public inquiry into the controversial conduct of undercover officers held in private.

The Metropolitan police are arguing that significant portions of the inquiry must sit in secret in order to protect the undercover officers who have infiltrated hundreds of political groups since 1968."

See: Metropolitan Police: Submissions on restriction orders (pdf): "These are the submissions of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on the applicable legal principles for the making of restriction orders under section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005"

Austrian restrictions trigger domino effect across Balkan refugee route (EurActiv, link): "Afghan asylum seekers seeking to travel through the Balkans to northern Europe were barred from entering Macedonia yesterday (21 February), after Austria introduced a similar restriction, creating a domino effect along the so-called Balkan migrant route.

“We were warned this morning that Macedonian authorities would no longer let Afghans pass,” a Greek police official told AFP, adding that Macedonia justified its move by claiming that Serbia had made a similar decision.

The development came after Austria on Friday (19 February) introduced a daily limit on refugees entering and registering in the country, triggering EU fears of a domino effect along the so-called Balkan ‘migrant’ route.

Report from ECRE: Over 200 refugees, including SIA, rejected on the Slovenian border (ECRE, link): "In the early hours of Wednesday 17 February, 217 asylum seekers were returned from Slovenia, through Croatia and finally to Serbia. The group, as stated by UNHCR Serbia, includes a significant number of refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (SIA), were rejected on the Slovenian border after “failing” the nationality test."

And: Austria plans Western Balkan meeting on migrant caps (EUobserver, link): "Austria is asking Western Balkan nations and Bulgaria to meet to discuss the migrant crisis, ahead of a gathering of EU interior ministers in Brussels."

There are already agreements between the EU and Western Balkans countries on a common approach to the refugee crisis. The most recent update on implementing the agreements was issued by the European Commission on 10 February. See: Follow up to Western Balkans Leaders' Meeting - State of Play report (pdf)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.2.16)

EU: Europol launches European Migrant Smuggling Centre

"Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, will launch today Europol's new European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) in The Hague. The EMSC, as envisioned in the European Agenda on Migration in May 2015 and called for by the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in November 2015, will proactively support EU Member States in dismantling criminal networks involved in organised migrant smuggling. The Centre will focus on areas with high levels of criminal activity, and will build a better capability across the European Union to fight people smuggling networks. Ahead of the launch, Commissioner Avramopoulos said: "The fight against migrant smuggling is a key priority for the European Union in addressing the refugee crisis. In order to step up and coordinate efforts across Member States, the European Commission announced the creation of a European Migrant Smuggling Centre within Europol in its European Agenda on Migration. The launch of this Centre will reinforce cooperation with Member States, international organisations, national stakeholders and European agencies, with a responsibility to fight migrant smuggling." The EMSC will help implement the EU's Action Plan against migrant smuggling presented in May 2015. By the end of 2016, the Commission will present proposals to improve the existing EU legal framework to tackle migrant smuggling." Source: European Commission - Daily News 22/02/2016 (link)

And see: Europol launches the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (press release, pdf): "In March 2015 Europol launched the Joint Operational Team Mare (JOT MARE). JOT MARE, hosted at Europol’s headquarters, is a specialised team of experts whose aim is to combat people smuggling via the Mediterranean and their subsequent secondary movements to destination countries. The strengthening of JOT Mare, making it an essential part of the new EMSC, and the upgrading of all of Europol activities in this field, underpin the creation of the new European Migrant Smuggling Centre. It also builds on Europol’s work over the last ten years or more in combating organised migrant smuggling in Europe, during which almost 40,000 suspected smugglers have been identified and 1,551 cross-border investigations have been supported in 2015 alone."

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.2.16)

Press Release: Rights must not be abandoned in trade negotiations (EDRi, link): "Internet users are not being properly involved or even heard by trade negotiators. This has to change.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) has joined forces with an international coalition of experts, scholars, groups representing Internet users, consumers and businesses to make this change happen. We are calling for reform of trade negotiations in order to protect the Internet and digital rights at a global level.

Today, we issue the “Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet”. The Declaration makes six specific recommendations for States and Regions participating in global trade agreements. These include regular releases of draft proposals, meaningful public participation and engagement with the public, experts and organisations fighting for Internet users and consumers’ human rights and fundamental freedoms online."

See: Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet (pdf)

The twelfth round of negotiations on TTIP is taking place this week: TTIP – 12th round of talks, 22-26 February (European Commission, link).

And see: The zombie ISDS (TNI, link): "The analysis in this report shows that the proposed ICS [Investment Court System] does not put an end to ISDS. Quite the opposite, it would empower thousands of companies to circumvent national legal systems and sue governments in parallel tribunals if laws and regulations undercut their ability to make money. It would pave the way for billions in taxpayer money being paid out to big business. It could curtail desirable policymaking to protect people and the planet. And it threatens to lock EU member states forever into the injustices of the ISDS regime.

In a nutshell, the proposed ‘new’ ICS is ISDS back from the dead. It’s the zombie ISDS."

EU: European Parliament study: The interpretation of Article 51 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: the dilemma of stricter or broader application of the Charter to national measures (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions, considers the dilemma of a broad or narrow application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFR) to national measures. It considers the way the Court of Justice of the EU (CJ EU) has been interpreting fundamental rights inn relation to such measures before and after the Lisbon Treaty and the constitutionalisation of the Charter: currently the CJ EU applies a varied interpretation of the CFR, on the basis of a narrow approach to its applicability to Member States' measures implementing EU law. As a consequence, the Commission’s strict approach in relation to a selection of petitions received by the Committee on Petitions raising issues of alleged CFR violations seems justified in the light of the existing law and CJ EU jurisprudence. The analysis, after examining the considerations that militate in favour and against a narrow interpretation of the Charter and of its Article 51, concludes that a more courageous approach should be taken at EU level when examining national implementing measures of EU law raising fundamental rights issues, notably until these are not evenly and properly guaranteed across the EU."

EU court hearing on right to surf the internet anonymously

Is there a right to surf the Internet anonymously? Europe's top court is to rule on whether website operators such as Google or Facebook may record which information Internet users read, post or search on the web or whether citizens have a right to use the Internet anonymously. Thursday [25 February] the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) will hear the case of German pirate party politician and privacy activist Patrick Breyer who is suing the German government over logging all visits to government websites (Case C-582/14).

See: Pleas in law and main arguments (pdf)

SWEDEN: Sweden’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - Joint NGO submission for the UN Human Rights Committee’s review of Sweden during its 116th session, 7-31 March 2016 (pdf): "The situation for civil and political rights in Sweden is generally good in comparison with many other countries. There are, for example, oversight mechanisms to safeguard the freedom of opinion, assembly, speech and religion, as well as protection for due process and legal certainty. At the same time there are significant human rights concerns in Sweden, in particular in regard to the rights protection for minority populations and other vulnerable groups. This report aims at pointing the Committee’s attention to some of these concerns. The report does not claim to be exhaustive. As such, Civil Rights Defenders and the undersigned organizations (the signatory organizations) do not contend that the issues addressed below describe all human rights concerns under the Covenant in Sweden. The issues addressed in this report have been selected because these are areas where the signatory organizations possess specific expertise"

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (22.2.16)

Greece: NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control

- only in the Soviet Union and under the STASI in East Germany were NGOs expected to hand over lists and personal details of all their members/volunteers
-
"In particular there should be no attempts by public authorities to make NGOs effectively agencies working under their control.."
(Council of Europe)

The General Secretariat of Aegean and Island Coordinating Committee have finally produced two forms that all NGOs working on the Greek islands to help refugees will have to complete and register with the police in order to carry on their work. NGOs and volunteers have been helping arriving refugees for more than a year - when for most of the time the EU and international agencies were conspicuously absent.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"There is no better example of the crucial role of independent NGOs and volunteers than in the Greek islands over the last year and for long before that.

Now the Greek state at the behest of the EU is seeking to get all volunteers to "register" with the police and hand over lots of personal data including previous "activities" - they are being asked to spy on themselves. And NGOs are being asked register their organisations and hand over personal details of all their volunteers/members to the police.

Demands that NGOs hand over personal details of all their members to the state has no place in a democracy. The exceptional measures being taken in Greece may become the norm across the EU if not challenged now by NGOs and civil society."

The Registration forms: NGO: "Organisation Profile" form (pdf) and the volunteer "Personal Profile" form (pdf)

UK: Police to request secrecy for parts of undercover officers inquiry (Guardian, link):

"Met says significant portions of inquiry must sit in secret to protect officers who infiltrated hundreds of political groups... Police are to apply for sweeping legal orders to have large parts of a judge-led public inquiry into the controversial conduct of undercover officers held in private.

The Metropolitan police are arguing that significant portions of the inquiry must sit in secret in order to protect the undercover officers who have infiltrated hundreds of political groups since 1968."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-21.2.16)

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: Germany has no access to Privacy Shield documents - so presumably no EU Member State has either?: Council of the European Union: Renewed Framework for Transatlantic Transfers of Personal Data / EU-US Privacy Shield - Request by the German delegation for information from the Commission on the state of play (Doc no: 6031-16, pdf):

"In the view of the German delegation, the upcoming weeks should be used for a close dialogue between the Member States, the Commission, the Article 29 Working Party and the US Government in order to achieve a legal framework that meets the conditions set out by the European Court of Justice.

Therefore, Germany wishes to invite the Commission to report on the details of the agreement with the US side and to provide the relevant documents to the Council. This will enable the Member States to assess the outcomes of the agreement and to enter into a close dialogue with all parties involved".[emphasis added]

EU-USA Data protection: EPIC: 'Judicial Redress Act' Provides Little Redress

"The Judicial Redress Act of 2015, which amends the Privacy Act of 1974, has been passed by Congress and moved on to the President for signature. The Act fails to extend Privacy Act protections to non-US citizens, and as adopted coerces EU countries to transfer data to the US.."

UNHCR: With growing numbers of child deaths at sea, UN agencies call for enhancing safety for refugees and migrants (link):

"Joint UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM Press Release

GENEVA, 16 February 2016 – An average of two children have drowned every day since September 2015 as their families try to cross the eastern Mediterranean, and the number of child deaths is growing said IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF. The agencies are calling for enhancing the safety of those escaping conflict and despair.

Since last September, when the tragic death of toddler Aylan Kurdi captured the world's attention, more than 340 children, many of them babies and toddlers, have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean. The total number of children who have died may be even greater, the agencies say, their bodies lost at sea."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.2.16)

EUNAVFOR LIBYA: Wikileaks release six month report: EUNAVFOR MED Op SOPHIA - Six Monthly Report (Doc no: 5653-16, pdf)

The document states: "Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores."

EUNAVFOR MED is due to end on 27 July 2016 (one year after "Full Operational Capability" was reached), unless it is extended by a Council Decision. There is no state in Libya: the prospect of a "capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard" being put together before 27 July is thus pretty much non-existent. A Council Decision over the next few months to further extend the mission therefore seems highly likely.

The document notes that the EU could help train a Libyan navy and coastguard, which would "give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue." EUBAM Libya was of course supposed to train the country's border control authorities, but is not located in Tunisia due to its inability to operate in Libya. EUBAM Libya was recently extended and had its mandate extended: (link)

Nor does Wikileaks highlight the fact that intelligence-gathering in Libya is to be stepped-up in light of the planned transition to phases 2b and 3 of the military mission:

"The key to future phases will be the ability to fully understand S&T [smuggling and trafficking] networks ashore, including patterns of life, financing and where they might interact with other illegal and terrorist organisations. As well as a general need for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] assets, including UAVs [drones], HUMINT [human intelligence] will also be essential in achieving a better picture of the pattern of life. In this respect an increased intelligence support is required from the Member States."

European Council Summit: European Council Conclusions on migration (18 February 2016) (pdf)

Belgium: Bruges police to stop marking migrants with ink (expatica.com/be, link)::

"Bruges police have halted the practice of marking migrants with marker ink when they are detained in the Bruges area along the coast.

The move came after the far left PVDA party brought the practice to public knowledge. Bruges police, though, say that they didn't need the PVDA email to realise that using a marker on human skin wasn't such a good idea.

In future Bruges police will offer refugees a wristband very similar to the ones used by tourists on all-in package holidays."

And see: Belgium police mark refugees with indelible ink (PRESSTV, link)

Nato enters the migration control business (euobserver, link):

"The Nato operation announced on 11 February may perhaps serve this purpose, but raises the question of whether stemming the flow will, in effect, mean collective expulsions that deny the right to seek asylum.

Even as Nato ships steam into the Aegean Sea, the terms of reference of the operation remain clouded. Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, US airforce general Philip Breedlove, has said he has only now been tasked “to go back and define the mission.”...

Nato warships are not limited to Greek waters and would be able to return boat people to Turkey, itself a member of Nato, if Turkey allows it."

UNHCR: 4,611 people arrived on the Greek islands on 17 February which was a significant increase and represents the highest arrival rate since 9 January. UNHCR expects this trend to continue over the coming days, whilst similar weather conditions prevail" (18.2.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.2.16)

EU: DATABASE CHECKS AT BORDERS: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6181-16, pdf):

"The intention of the Presidency, in line with the aforementioned mandates from the Council and the European Council, is to confirm a general approach on the compromise text at the JHA Council on 25 February 2016. It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are demonstrated in underline and the latest changes following the Coreper meeting on 10 February are indicated in bold and underline."

See: Previous document: LIMITE no: 5808-16 (pdf) and Commission Proposal (pdf)

EU: COUNTER-TERRORISM: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no 5982-16, pdf) :

"On 8 February 2016, the Working Party on Substantive Criminal Law (DROIPEN) continued its examination of the revised text of the draft Directive. Articles 9, 11, 15 and 16 were withheld from this discussion to allow for more time for preparing a compromise text on these provisions. SI, RO and PT have a general scrutiny reservations. PL, SI, EE and CZ have a parliamentary scrutiny reservation."

UK: Joint enterprise law misinterpreted for 30 years, Supreme Court rules (BBC News, link):

"The law which has allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they did not inflict the fatal blow has been wrongly interpreted for more than 30 years, the Supreme Court has ruled. The joint enterprise law has been used to convict people in gang-related cases if defendants "could" have foreseen violent acts by their associates. However, judges ruled it was wrong to treat "foresight" as a sufficient test. Their decision could pave the way for hundreds of prisoners to seek appeals.

The ruling came after a panel of five Supreme Court judges considered the case of Ameen Jogee, who had been convicted under joint enterprise of the murder of former Leicestershire police officer Paul Fyfe in 2011."

See: Judgment (pdf) and: Supreme Court abolishes “wrong turn” Joint Enterprise law – Diarmaid Laffan (UK Human Rights Blog, link)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25 February 2016: Agenda highlights

"Following the European Council of 18-19 February, ministers will discuss the implementation of existing measures on migration and may also consider possible future action.

The Council will aim to reach a general approach on the proposed regulation to reinforce checks against relevant databases at external borders. This regulation to amend the Schengen borders code, was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. It seeks to improve security inside the EU by making the checks on EU citizens against all relevant databases (which are already possible) mandatory.

Ministers will also discuss the proposal for a European border and coast guard, presented by the Commission in December 2015. The proposed agency, bringing together resources from Frontex and EU member states, would monitor migratory flows, identify weak spots and respond in situations where an EU external border is at risk.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the possible application of article 26 of the Schengen borders code and related issues." [emphasis in original]

UK: Body found at immigration detention centre (Politics.uk, link):

"A detainee has been found dead at Colnebrook immigration detention centre, Politics.co.uk can confirm. While neither the centre nor the Home Office were able to provide information, Politics.co.uk has seen an email sent out to immigration centre staff saying that the death occurred today.

The detainee was found "unresponsive in his room". Politics.co.uk has the name of the detainee but is not reporting it yet until it knows the family has been notified. Troublingly, the death took place while the detainee was under "constant watch". This means the detainee should be under permanent supervision because they are considered at such a high risk of attempting suicide."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and important new Analysis, 17.2.16)

New Statewatch Analysis: “Europe must do more…” Hasn’t it done enough? 20 years of restrictive EU immigration policy have – inevitably - led us to the current situation (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico: A sweeping in-depth analysis:

"The greatest mistake would be to analyse the current situation and try to resolve it by following the same policy principles and approaches which produced it, as the EU is currently doing, by intensifying and militarising them. The current model has been based on restricting “illegal” or “irregular” immigration as absolute policy goals, by portraying the figure of the irregular and illegal migrant,...

a refusal to acknowledge the problems caused by immigration policy, suggest that the only means of tackling this issue with any positive prospects is to stabilise it and analyse its shortcomings and failures, with a view to scaling it down. This may be done by treating immigration policy, rather than the “illegal entry” of third-country nationals which may prove beneficial in the medium/long term, as a “risk factor” or “security threat” which is leading towards authoritarian state power, undermining important and long-established principles which the EU recognises as cornerstones of its project, even as it dismantles them."

New Greek law to include detention regime in "hotspots"

The Greek Government intends to introduce a new detention regime in the ‘hotspots’ as part of legislative reforms of the country’s first reception framework. The Greek Parliament aims to fast-track the adoption of the law before the end of this month.

Under the new framework, people entering a ‘Reception and Identification Centre’, such as those to be established on the Eastern Aegean islands, will be subject to freedom of movement restrictions within the premises of the centre for an initial period of 3 days.

Greece: Campaign for the Access to Asylum: Press release - Invitation to Press Conference: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5 pm at the Athens Bar Association hall (pdf):

"The organizations participating in the network group “Campaign for the Access to Asylum”, would like to express our deepest concern about the harrowing developments in the political and social context, which lead to the dismantling of the legal acquis concerning the refugee and human rights protection, both in Greece and Europe. Greece is about to implement policies in full and termless compliance with the european imperatives, subverting the up to date existing protection of refugees, as guaranteed by the International, European and National Law...

By sealing of Greek/Turkish border, which results to the refoulement of the refugees, the latter get excluded from their legally established right of protection.

By authorizing the involvement of the NATO forces, the refugee issue is being militarized. This revives distressing memories of the past, by stigmatizing the beneficiary of international protection as a potential enemy."

UNHCR Daily Report (17.2.16) How will NATO know which boats are "carrying migrants and not refugees"?

"The Greek Defence Minister mentioned in a media interview that NATO ships will send back all boats coming from Turkey carrying migrants and not refugees. He also reiterated that NATO operations will be taking place east of Greece and up to the Turkish shores.

However, during a meeting held on Monday (15 February) between NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, it was agreed that NATO’s presence in the Aegean Sea will not aim at pushing back refugees but rather at providing crucial information and supervising the fight against human smuggling. It is to be noted that five NATO vessels (from Germany, Greece, Italy, Canada and Turkey) are already patrolling the area."

European Parliament Study: Forced marriage from a gender perspective (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of the practice of forced marriage in the EU from a gender equality and women’s rights perspective. It analyses the definitions of forced marriage and puts forward a definition from a gender perspective. It also provides an overview of the relevant international/EU legislation, policies and deliberations, as well as national policies, civil law and criminal law (in the 12 Member State that criminalise forced marriage).

For those Member States that criminalise forced marriage, the study provides an assessment of the effectiveness and possible consequences of the implementation of the criminal legislation, including an analysis of data and case-law. The study includes a specific chapter focusing on forced marriage within Roma communities and five case-studies specifically focusing on Denmark, Germany, Spain, Slovakia and the UK. The study also puts forward recommendations for improving the response to forced marriage at EU and Member State level."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.2.16)

New Statewatch Analysis: Why Turkey is Not a “Safe Country” (pdf) and: Executive Summary (pdf) by Emanuela Roman, Theodore Baird, and Talia Radcliffe:

"This article critiques recent European plans to consider Turkey a ‘safe country’. Based on detailed evidence of developments in Turkey, we argue that Turkey does not fulfil the conditions for being either a ‘safe country of origin’ or a ‘safe third country’. We urge the Commission and Member States to seriously reconsider their designation of Turkey as a ‘safe country’."

EU: Court of Justice of the European Union: EU law allows an asylum seeker to be detained when the protection of national security or public order so requires (Press release, pdf): "The introduction of a fresh asylum application by a person who is subject to a return decision does not render that decision inoperative."

See: Judgment: full-text (pdf)

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Pass 84,000; Deaths Reach 410 (IOM, link):

"Greece - An estimated 78,333 migrants or refugees have crossed into Greece since the beginning of 2016. Of these 16,140 arrived in February and 62,193 arrived in January, according to IOM."

At 16.2.16: Arrivals in EU in 2016: 86,320. Arrivals in Greece: 78,333 and in Italy 5,967. 410 dead/,issing (IOM)

EU-USA: Commission’s ‘Umbrella Agreement’ with US under fire from MEPs (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission is facing challenges on another EU-US data sharing deal: the Parliament legal service and MEPs argued the so-called Umbrella Agreement doesn’t comply with EU law....

Parliament legal advisor Dominique Moore told LIBE MEPs yesterday that there is “clearly a gap between what EU law requires” and the data protection guarantees offered by the Umbrella Agreement....

The criticism from the Parliament comes as a last-ditch warning before the Commission could sign off on the new data sharing agreement for law enforcement."

See: European Parliament legal service: Legal opinion: EU-US Umbrella agreement concerning the protection of personal data and cooperation between law enforcement authorities in the EU and US (pdf)

EU: Human rights in Europe should not buckle under mass surveillance (OpenDemocracy, link by Nils Muižnieks): "European countries have made remarkable progress in the last decades to ensure individual freedoms and shield people from undue state interference. The European system of human rights protection is today among the most advanced in the world. However, there is little room for complacency: a number of cracks have appeared in this system and are widening.

One of the biggest comes from counter-terrorism measures considered or enacted across Europe, in particular those which increase mass surveillance. Many of these measures grant more intrusive powers to security services to snoop on our lives and centralise powers in the hands of the executive, thus circumventing judicial safeguards necessary in any democracy rooted in the rule of law."

EU: European Council, 18-19 February: Updated draft conclusions (dated 15 February 2016): dealing with 1. The United Kingdom and the European Union; 2. Migration; 3. Syria - Libya; 4. European Semester.

See: European Council (18-19 February 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5079-16, pdf)

Previous version: European Council (18-19 February 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5078-16, pdf)

EU-US data deal incompatible with EU law and fundamental rights - European Parliament legal service

This afternoon (15 February) MEPs in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee will discuss the proposed EU-US "Umbrella Agreement" on the protection of personal data exchanged for the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences. In a confidential opinion obtained by Statewatch, the Parliament's legal service has made clear that the proposed agreement is incompatible with EU law and fundamental rights.

See: European Parliament legal service: Legal opinion: EU-US Umbrella agreement concerning the protection of personal data and cooperation between law enforcement authorities in the EU and US (pdf)

UK: Israel boycott ban: Shunning Israeli goods to become criminal offence for public bodies and student unions (The Independent, link): "Local councils, public bodies and even some university student unions are to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies, as part of a controversial crackdown being announced by the Government.

Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”, ministers said."

This follows similar moves taken recently by the French government. See: France's criminalisation of Israel boycotts sparks free-speech debate (France 24, link) and Defying court ruling, French figures call for Israel boycott (Electronic Intifada, link)

EU: Visegrad Group: Anti-migrant force builds in Europe, hurting Merkel's quest (AP, link): "So where should the next impenetrable razor-wire border fence in Europe be built?

Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban thinks he knows the best place - on Macedonia's and Bulgaria's borders with Greece - smack along the main immigration route from the Middle East to Western Europe. He says it's necessary because "Greece can't defend Europe from the south" against the large numbers of refugees pouring in, mainly from Syria and Iraq."

More stories and updates: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.2.16)

UN rights expert urges the UK and Sweden to give good example to the world and implement the Assange ruling (UN Human Rights, link): "United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas today called on the Governments of the United Kingdom and Sweden to accept and implement without delay the findings and recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention* in the case of Julian Assange.

The UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order recalled that a just and sustainable international order requires that States respect, promote and fulfill their human rights treaty obligations and observe the recommendations of human rights treaty-bodies, working groups and rapporteurs."

See: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Opinion No. 54/2015 concerning Julian Assange (Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (pdf)

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (15.2.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13-14.2.16)

"RETURNS": EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC): No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC - Extracts concerning the establishment of the Frontex Return Office (LIMITE doc no: 6106-16, pdf)

The 'Returns' part of the borders guard proposal has been revised - it no longer provides for operations against a Member State's objections. But it still applies to third countries - ie Frontex will coordinate returns from Serbia etc so that people do not get any closer to the EU.

Council: DRAFT COMPROMISE for REGULATION on the European Border and Coast Guard: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Border and Coast Guard and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004, Regulation (EC) No 863/2007 and Council Decision 2005/267/EC (LIMITE doc no: 5848-16, pdf):

"Delegations will find in the Annex to this Note a series of Presidency draft compromise suggestions on the basis of the discussions that have taken place so far on the above proposal, as well as of the written contributions submitted by delegations.

The suggested compromise text is demonstrated in bold and underline. It is noted that compromise suggestions for Article 2 (which is put in square brackets) will be put forward at a later stage when the discussions on the relevant operative provisions will be advanced."

EU-GREECE: 50 "RECOMMENDATIONS": Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the serious deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation of the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (pdf) Final text: adopted by the Council at its 3445th meeting held on 12 February 2016.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.2.16)

EU: Council conclusions on the fight against the financing of terrorism (pdf): anti-money laundering measures, Financial Intelligence Units, information exchange and other issues. The Council also: "CALLS ON the Commission to explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds and to engage with the European Central Bank to consider appropriate measures regarding high denomination notes, in particular the EUR 500 note, taking into account the analysis conducted by Europol, and to report its findings to the Council no later than 1 May 2016"

See also: European Commission: Communication on an Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing (pdf). The Council's conclusions invite the Commission "to report to the Council on the progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan, starting in June and at least every six months thereafter."

EU-US: EDPS welcomes EU-US "Umbrella Agreement" and stresses need for effective safeguards (press release, pdf): "In his Opinion, published today, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) expressed his support for the EU-US Umbrella Agreement initiative. He recommended three essential improvements in the arrangement designed to set a global precedent for the sustainable sharing and transfer of personal data for law enforcement purposes, and to increase trust between the two strategic partners. He also encouraged other clarifications before the initialled Agreement is signed.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: "Globalisation means that governments are working harder than ever to combat crime which implies more structured sharing of relevant information. The EU-US Umbrella Agreement may set a new international standard. To succeed, we encourage the Parties to carefully consider significant recent developments. They will help to introduce an arrangement fully compatible with the EU constitutional principles, in particular the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights"."

See: Preliminary Opinion on the agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences (pdf)

EU: Europol-Frontex cooperation agreement: "The cooperation between the Parties aims at supporting the Member States of the European Union in preventing and combating cross-border criminal activities in the areas of crime referred to in Article 3, improve integrated border management and facilitate the operational cooperation of Member States' authorities at the external borders."

Article 3 says: "The cooperation as established in this Agreement shall... relate to relevant areas of crime within the mandate of both Parties at the date of entry into force of this Agreement in particular facilitation of illegal migration, trafficking in human beings, terrorism, and other cross-border criminal activities," as well as: "related criminal offences deemed as the criminal offences committed in order to procure the means of perpetrating the criminal acts referred to in paragraph 1, criminal offences committed in order to facilitate or carry out such acts, and criminal offences committed to ensure the impunity of such acts"

See: Agreement on Operational Cooperation between the European Police Office "EUROPOL") and the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union ("FRONTEX") (pdf)

EU: State-corporate cooperation: Public-private partnership on cybersecurity:

"The European Commission has announced that it will launch a public-private partnership (PPP) this year to bolster the continent’s cybersecurity industry, combining the expertise of the business world with government resources to make the transition to a digital EU economy safer and more secure.

Indeed, PPPs have emerged as a highly effective vehicle for tackling complex socioeconomic challenges and they hold perhaps the greatest promise in low- and middle-income countries, where governments are increasingly open to international collaborations with industry.

Yet, success is far from assured. For every PPP that makes progress, dozens more are fraught from the start. A new study provides valuable insights into some large-scale international PPPs conducted in recent years. European leaders could benefit from these learnings as they work to strengthen cybersecurity and deepen the impact of Europe’s extensive development work around the world."

See: A fresh look at public-private partnerships (EurActiv, link) and: European Commission: Public consultation on the public-private partnership on cybersecurity and possible accompanying measures (link). The consultation closes on 11 March 2016.

EU: Virtual markets — changing the dynamics of how drugs are bought and sold (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction press release, pdf): "How do online drug markets function? What technologies do they use? How do they relate to the traditional drug market? How can they be monitored and controlled? Today the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) unravels some of the complexities of these questions in a new report: The internet and drug markets"

And see: How The Dark Net Is Making Drug Purchases Safer By Eliminating Associated Violence And Improving Quality (Techdirt, link): "The new report comes from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is funded by the European Union, and, as usual, is accompanied by an official comment from the relevant EU commissioner. Unfortunately, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, trots out the usual unthinking reaction to drug sales that has made the long-running and totally futile "war on drugs" one of the most destructive and counterproductive policies ever devised"

Full report: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction: The internet and drugs markets (pdf)

UK: Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules GCHQ Hacking Lawful (Privacy International, link): "The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (“IPT”) today held that GCHQ hacking of computers, mobile devices and networks is lawful, wherever it occurs around the world. We are disappointed that the IPT has not upheld our complaint and we will be challenging its findings.

Our complaint is the first UK legal challenge to state-sponsored hacking, an exceptionally intrusive form of surveillance. We contended that GCHQ hacking operations were incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards. We further argued that GCHQ, which until these proceedings was hacking in secret, had no clear authority under UK law to deploy these capabilities."

See also: Tribunal rules computer hacking by GCHQ is not illegal (BBC News, link)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (12.2.16)

EU: Schengen: Greece still unhappy with new external border control demands

The Greek government continues to dispute the findings of a European Commission report that cites "serious deficiencies" in Greece's external border control and application of the Schengen legal framework ("Acquis").

Nevertheless, with Greece voting against and Cyprus and Bulgaria abstaining, the Council of the EU has now adopted a Decision that makes 50 demands on Greece and warns the country "not to jeopardise the functioning of the Schengen area."

Prison sentences for Heathrow 13 activists would threaten our right to protest (The Guardian, link): "Last month, 13 activists were tried in court for carrying out a peaceful protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport. They were found guilty of aggravated trespass, and await sentencing on 24 February.

We believe it would be unjust for these people to receive prison sentences for their actions.

Sending peaceful demonstrators to jail would represent a massive threat to our right to protest in the UK."

And see: What do the Heathrow 13 convictions tells us about future civil disobedience? (Netpol, link)

EU: European Commission: Right to a fair trial: New rules to guarantee presumption of innocence (press release, pdf): "Today, Ministers from the EU Member States have adopted new rules that will guarantee the presumption of innocence of anyone accused or suspected of a crime by the police or justice authorities. The Directive also ensures that everyone benefits from the right to be present at their trial."

And see: previous analysis: The new Directive on the presumption of innocence: protecting the ‘golden thread’ (EU Law Analysis, link): "In this context, an EU Directive restating the importance of the presumption of innocence is a welcome step. But does this instrument go far enough? Based on the analysis above, my answer would be no. There are three key reasons for this conclusion: first, standard setting has been built on assumptions rather than based on an empirical understanding of the operation of criminal justice systems and the reasons why current standards fail; second, the Directive does not consistently shore up the basic requirements of the ECHR and its case law despite the non-regression clause in Article 12; and third, the Directive fails to reference effectively previously agreed EU instruments to create a holistic framework for the protection of fundamental rights."

State surveillance: "going dark"? Maybe not

A new report based on discussions amongst "a diverse group of security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community" suggests that state surveillance is unlikely to be hampered by the rise in the use of encryption to the extent claimed by law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The report: Don't Panic. Making Progress on the "Going Dark" Debate (pdf)

UK police forces 'still abusing stop and search powers' (The Guardian, link): "Most of Britain’s police forces are still failing to obey rules to prevent abuse of their stop and search powers, according to the police regulator, raising the prospect that the government will legislate to force them to do so.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that one in seven stops may be unlawful, despite promises by police chiefs to reform."

And see: Concrete Proposal for Reform: Open Letter to Theresa May (StopWatch, link): "We welcome your decision to suspend thirteen forces from the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme as a result of the HMIC’s findings but this fails to go far enough. It is clear that the police cannot be expected to reform themselves and membership of a voluntary scheme has not driven the desired change. In April 2014 you promised that if these reforms failed, you would bring forth primary legislation. StopWatch therefore calls on the Home Office to introduce primarily legislation to reform stop and search once and for all."

Synthesis report: PEEL: Police legitimacy 2015: A national overview (pdf) and HMIC press release: Most police forces judged to be fair and ethical – but are let down by lack of progress on stop and search (pdf). Reports for each English and Welsh constabulary are available on the HMIC website: PEEL: Police legitimacy 2015 (link).

UK: House of Commons: Science and Technology Committee: The big data dilemma (pdf): "We do not share the Government’s view that current UK data protections can simply be left until the Data Protection Act will have to be revised to take account of the new EU Regulation. Some areas need to be addressed straightaway — introducing the Information Commissioner’s kitemark and introducing criminal penalties. And there remain concerns that big data techniques which ‘re-identify’ individuals from previously anonymised data may be outside the scope of the current UK legislation. The way the new EU Regulation is framed appears to leave it open for data to be potentially de-anonymised if “legitimate interests” or “public interest” considerations are invoked. It is particularly important therefore that the Government set out its anonymisation strategy for big data in its upcoming Digital Strategy, including a clear funding commitment, a plan to engage industry with the work of the UK Anonymisation Network and core anonymisation priorities."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (News and major developments, 11.2.16)

AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE: TURKEY-GREECE-GERMANY-NATO: NATO Defence Ministers agree NATO support to assist with the refugee and migrants crisis (NATO Press release, pdf):

"to stem the illegal trafficking and illegal migration in the Aegean" Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said...The Secretary General stressed that this mission is “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” but about contributing “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.”"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Has noone told him that the great majority of arrivals come over through smuggling not trafficking or that there is no such things as "illegal" migration? And to say that the operation is "not about stopping or pushing back boats" is economical with the truth"

and: NATO launches sea mission against migrant traffickers (Reuters, link): "Unlike the EU's maritime mission off the Italian coast, which brings rescued migrants to Europe's shores, NATO will return migrants to Turkey even if they are picked up in Greek waters."

MASS REFOULEMENT: Migrant crisis: Nato deploys Aegean people-smuggling patrols (BBC News, link):

"German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen said several Nato members had pledged warships and that any refugees rescued would be returned to Turkey, a fellow Nato ally....

"Nato ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece.. The announcement followed a request from Turkey, Germany and Greece at a defence ministers' meeting in Brussels.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said the mission would not be about "stopping or pushing back refugee boats". Nato, he said, will contribute "critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks"."

and: Defence Minister Kammenos on NATO's involvement in refugee crisis (ANAmpa, link):

"Kammenos noted that Greece in cooperation with Germany as well as other members of the NATO managed to reach an agreement that "will finally solve that migration issue."

"Greece has paid an extremely heavy price for the migration and in the midst of an economic crisis disproportianetly with the other state members of EU and NATO," stated Kammenos.

He also said that today's decision safeguards that NATO forces operating in the Aegean will ensure that the migrants to be arrested will directly return to Turkey.

The second very important fact is according to the Greek Defence Minister that "it is totally clear that in the forces that will participate in the NATO group, Turkey will only operate inside its territorial waters and airspace and Greece accordingly."
[emphasis added]

MASS TRANSFER OF ASYLUM-SEEKERS TO GREECE?: European Commission adopted the following: Recommendation of 10.2.2016 addressed to the Hellenic Republic on the urgent measures to be taken by Greece in view of the resumption of transfers under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf): This Recommendation could mean that asylum seekers - who should under Dublin have been first registered in Greece could be transferred back there by other EU Member States:

"(25) Regular reporting by Greece on the progress being made in implementing these actions, as well as other relevant elements including any forthcoming reports from UNCHR and other relevant organisations, should clarify the assessment of whether the conditions are such as to allow for Member States to resume individual transfers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation, bearing in mind that the volume of transfers and the categories of persons to be transferred should correspond to the specific progress made.

(26) Any resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece should also take into account that Greece still receives a large number of potential asylum seekers on a daily basis, and it should be avoided that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece.

(27) The responsibility for deciding on such resumption of transfers lies exclusively with Member States' authorities under the control of the courts, which may make preliminary references to the European Court of Justice on the interpretation of the Dublin Regulation."

And: "Many asylum-seekers are currently not provided with the necessary free legal aid to enable them to pursue an appeal against a first instance asylum decision, in accordance with the EU rules. The relevant provisions of Council Directive 2013/32/EU have not yet been transposed into national law or implemented." [emphasis added]

UK: Joint Select Committee: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: Report (pdf):

"Investigatory Powers: on the right track but significant changes needed.

In its report, published today, the Committee supports the intention behind the draft Bill, which is to bring together the numerous provisions in statute governing intrusive powers which already exist into one clear piece of legislation. But the Committee finds that important clarity is lacking in a number of areas."

Oral evidence (link) and Written Evidence (link)

USA: Judicial Redress Act 2015 (link): "The Senate Feb. 9 passes an amended version of the Judicial Redress Act which is a prerequisite for an umbrella U.S.-EU law enforcement agreement. Next Step: The amended bill must be reconciled with the pre-amendment version approved by the House in October 2015."

EU elites' failures lead to desperate plans to try and stop the arrival of refugees from Turkey, to put all the responsibility on Greece, Macedonia and Serbia and threaten to send refugees in the rest of the EU back to Greece:

Turkey dismisses EU plan to resettle refugees in return for sealing sea route (Guardian, link): "Ankara’s ambassador to EU describes plan to take in refugees from Turkey only if Aegean sea route is closed as unacceptable and infeasible."

and: Athens given deadline as EU looks to send more refugees back to Greece (Guardian, link): "EU authorities want to reintroduce Greece to ‘Dublin system’, which lets governments send asylum seekers back to the first country they arrived in."

Crisis-hit Europe on cusp of tragedy like World War One, warns Tusk (euractiv, link): "European Council President Donald Tusk has warned that Europe, reeling from the migration and the possibility of the UK quitting the bloc, is on the cusp of a tragedy like World War One."

Turkey and Greece seek NATO mission in Aegean, German official says (euractiv, link): "Turkey and Greece have agreed to ask for a NATO mission to monitor refugee flows in the Aegean Sea and combat people smugglers, a senior German government official said late yesterday (10 February)".

No migrant swap deal, says Turkey (euobserver, link):

"Turkey has rejected a Dutch-led migrant swap deal, as Balkan nations threaten border clampdowns to stem the inflows of people. The Netherlands, currently chairing the EU presidency, had proposed an annual resettlement of up 250,000 people from Turkey to member states in return for Ankara stopping people from crossing into Greece.

But Turkey's ambassador to the EU Selim Yenel told the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday (10 February) the proposal would never work. "Forget it. It's unacceptable. And it's not feasible," he said."

'The Europe we wished for' (euobserver, link):

"Fundamentally, however, the refugee crisis has been a test of European values, and whether the EU can live up to the human rights goals and principles it has been advocating. One pressing question that academics face now is whether it is still a legitimate subject of inquiry to study the nitty-gritty details of the EU’s human rights advocacy when the EU’s image as a champion of human rights has been so badly tarnished by the refugee crisis....

One might easily get the impression that the EU took a cynical approach towards Turkey by re-energising the EU accession process as part of the deal on the refugee crisis at the same time as Turkey was cracking down on media freedom, on the Kurdish minority in its south-east, and briefly detaining 27 academics protesting against its Kurdish policy."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.16)

Refugee crisis: European Commission "State of Play" reports: 10 February 2016

- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Progress on Priority Actions (Press release, pdf):

"In view of next week's European Council, the Commission is today reporting on the implementation of the priority actions under the European Agenda for Migration and highlighting key areas where immediate action is needed to restore control."

- Managing the Refugee Crisis: Commission reports on implementation of EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (pdf):

"First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "I...We will continue to work jointly with our Turkish partners to fully implement the joint action plan so we can deliver on the commitments taken to bring order into migratory flows.. "

- Implementing the Common European Asylum System: Commission acts on 9 infringement proceedings (Press release, pdf)

"The European Commission today decided to issue reasoned opinions against Member States in 9 infringement cases concerning their non-transposition of the Common European Asylum System. The decisions concern Germany (2 cases), Estonia, Slovenia (2 cases), Greece, France, Italy and Latvia."

- State of Play of Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration: COM 85-2016 (pdf)

Commission arguing today that Turkey is a 'safe third country' so Greece & other MS should send refugees back

"Safe third countries

The Asylum Procedures Directive provides Member States with the possibility not to examine the substance of an asylum claim where, due to a sufficient connection with a "safe third country", the applicant can instead seek protection there. Where the conditions are met, this provision allows Member States to close the asylum procedure and to return the asylum applicant to the safe third country in question. However, at this stage, not all Member States foresee the application of this possibility in their national laws, or they do so under restrictive conditions. All Member States are therefore encouraged to foresee in their national legislation the notion of safe third countries and to apply it when the conditions are met.

In this context, the Commission underlines that the concept of safe third country as defined in the Asylum Procedures Directive requires that the possibility exists to receive protection in accordance with the Geneva Convention, but does not require that the safe third country has ratified that Convention without geographical reservation. Moreover, as regards the question whether there is a connection with the third country in question, and whether it is therefore reasonable for the applicant to go to that country, it can also be taken into account whether the applicant has transited through the safe third country in question, or whether the third country is geographically close to the country of origin of the applicant."
[emphasis added]

- Commission: Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation as of 1 June 2016 (pdf) and ANNEX 1 (pdf)

- Annex 1: EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan - Implementation Report (pdf)

- Annex 2: Greece - State of Play Report (pdf)

- Annex 3 - Italy - State of Play (pdf)

- Annex 4: Relocation (pdf)

- Annex 5: Follow up to Western Balkans Leaders' Meeting - State of Play report (pdf)

- Annex 7: Pledges(pdf)

- Annex 8: Implementation of EU law - State of Play (pdf)

- Implementing the European Agenda on Migration: Commission reports on progress in Greece, Italy and the Western Balkans (Press Release, pdf)

CARRY ON AND IMPLEMENT THE DECISIONS: European Council: European Council (18-19 February 2016) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5078-16, pdf):

"All Members of the Schengen area should apply fully the Schengen Borders Code and refuse entry at external borders to third-country nationals who do not satisfy the entry conditions or who have not made an asylum application despite having had the opportunity to do so...

As far as the "European Border and Coast Guard" proposal is concerned, work should be accelerated with a view to reaching a political agreement under the Netherlands Presidency."

UK-EU: The draft UK/EU renegotiation deal: is it 'legally binding and irreversible'? (EU Law Analysis link) by Professor Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex:

"The draft deal on renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership has already caused great controversy: both from those (mostly in the UK) who think it does not go far enough, and those (mostly in the rest of the EU) who think it goes too far in revising EU law to satisfy the objections of one Member State. These issues are mainly substantive, and I have addressed some of them in an earlier post about the immigration aspects of the draft deal."

UK: The European Court of Justice has agreed to expedite the hearing of the Davis-Watson mass surveillance case:

"it is clear that national legislation that permits the retention of all electronic communications data and subsequent access to that data is liable to cause serious interference with the fundamental rights laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter (see judgment in Digital Rights Ireland and Others, C.293/12 and C.594/12, EU:C:2014:238, paragraph 37)....

Accordingly, it is appropriate to order that Case C.698/15 be determined pursuant to the expedited procedure."

See: CJEU Order (pdf)

Law Allows Detention of Asylum Seekers in Bulgaria (Detained, link): "These broad discretionary powers represent a serious risk factor for corruption. Regarding zones of movement, their introduction in a relatively small country like Bulgaria, which, unlike Germany, has a centralized model of government, and in which economic opportunities are concentrated in several big cities, appears unjustified, especially considering that the same bill aims at helping asylum seekers participate in the labour market by giving them the right to work after three months from the beginning of their asylum procedure.

European Parliament Study: The context and legal elements of a Proposal for a Regulation on the Administrative Procedure of the European Union's institutions, bodies, offices and agencies (pdf):

"The purpose of this Regulation is fostering compliance with the general principles of EU law, reducing the fragmentation of applicable rules, improving transparency and allowing for simplification of Union legislation by establishing a concise basic set of procedural provisions common to multiple policies."

See also: Better…Administrative making at EU level (when the European Parliament paves the way to an, almost reluctant, European Commission…) (EASFJ, link)

EU: Joint Communiqué - Charting the way ahead. An EU Founding Members’ initiative on strengthening Cohesion in the European Union (link): "Joint Communiqué: The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands met on 9 February 2016 in Rome. They declare... "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.16)

Where is the EU going?

Turkish PM in Brussels migration talks next week (euobserver, link):

"Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is set to meet leaders from a handful of EU states ahead of an EU summit in Brussels next week... A similar pre-summit meeting was held last December with Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden, Greece, France, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands at the Austrian permanent representation in Brussels...

Turkey is hoping to get visa restrictions on its nationals lifted in October. The EU wants to start returning people this summer who transited through Turkey to claim asylum in the EU but are not entitled to international protection.... Nato will discuss possible support for patrolling the Aegean, after the idea was raised by Germany and Turkey on Monday.... outstanding political issues remain, with some member states, particularly in the east, reluctant to accept Muslims" and

Turkey, Germany to involve NATO in monitoring Syrian refugee exodus (euractiv, link): "Turkey and Germany plan to seek help from NATO allies in monitoring Syrian refugees trying to get to Europe across the Aegean Sea, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday (8 February)." and:

National reluctance sinks EU's refugee relocation plan (euractiv, link): "European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker's flagship plan to stem Europe's migration crisis by redistributing refugees around the bloc risks crumbling, as EU states balk at sharing the burden, according to several diplomats and officials.... some countries are setting unacceptable conditions by refusing Muslims, black people or large families, with Eastern European states the worst for discriminating on religious or racial grounds." [emphasis added]

Council of Europe: Greek Journalist Brutally Attacked during Public Rally (link):

"Greek reporter, Demitrios Perros, working as a freelance journalist for the municipal radio ‘Athens 9,84FM’, was brutally attacked by unknown assailants, on 4 February 2016, while covering a protest rally organised by the public and private sector workers’ confederations, in Athens. According to media reports, the journalist was approached by persons unknown to him on Panepistimiou Street, in the centre of the capital, and asked whether he was a journalist. Following his positive answer, the men started hitting him with wooden planks on the head and the spine while the police stood by without taking any action to intervene. Demitrios Perros was left seriously injured to the head and face and was taken to the Red Cross hospital by colleagues."

and Press release from the European Federation of Journalists (pdf)

UK: Internet monitoring bill 'must do more to protect privacy' (BBC News, link):

"Plans to give firm legal backing to mass data collection and hacking by Britain's spies do not do enough to protect privacy, a watchdog has warned. The extent of the intelligence agencies' computer and internet spying operation has recently become clear.

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill is meant to put it on a firm legal footing. But the Intelligence and Security Committee says the bill lacks clarity and is a "missed opportunity"."

See: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: Report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (pdf)

And see: MI5 "Covert Technical Operations Specialists" job ad (link)

Israel got real-time leaks from EU security talks (euobserver, link):

"When EU ambassadors met in the Political and Security Committee (PSC) to discuss Middle East policy on 15 January, some of them didn't know there was in effect a 29th delegation in the room - Israel.

They were finalising a statement to be endorsed by EU foreign ministers a few days later. But Israeli diplomats appeared to be reading EU draft texts and amendments in real time.

Some EU sources said Israeli contacts sent text messages to them with requests to alter wording shortly after each new draft went round."

European Parliament study: Reception of female refugees and asylum seekers in the EU Case study Germany (pdf):

"Upon request by the FEMM Committee, the reception of female asylum seekers in Germany is examined. The research is provided for the delegation of FEMM Members to a refugee camp in Munich/Germany. It presents both the EU and the German legal framework concerning the reception of (female) refugees. Attention has been paid whether gender-sensitive asylum application procedures and reception conditions are provided in practice in Germany."

Women's Refugee Commission: No Safety for Refugee Women on the European Route (link):

" There is virtually no consideration of gender-based violence along the route to ensure safe environments, identify survivors and ensure that services are provided to them.

Protection risks for women, girls and other vulnerable groups are present at every stage of the European refugee migration; and at every point where risk could be mitigated, the opportunity to do so is squandered."

GERMANY-TURKEY: Angela Merkel visits Turkey in bid to galvanise refugee crisis response (Guardian, link):

"German chancellor vows to take refugees directly from Turkey into Europe and calls for Nato patrols in Aegean as she meets Recep Tayipp Erdogan. Angela Merkel has promised to take refugees directly from Turkey into Europe and called for Nato patrols in the Aegean on her second visit to Ankara in three months as she desperately tried to enlist Turkey’s help in easing the refugee crisis, the biggest threat to her power at home and the stability of the European Union....

The four-page record of a meeting between Erdogan and Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the presidents of the European commission and the European council, in the Turkish resort of Antalya in November, paints a picture of an EU prostrate before a Turkish leader who treats their offers, pleas, and arguments with derision."

Turkey and Germany agree on plan to ease refugee crisis (aljazeera.com, link): "Turkey and Germany have agreed on a set of measures to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis,... German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in the Turkish capital for talks on how to reduce the influx of refugees into Europe, said after discussions with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's prime minister...

Davutoglu said the two countries' security forces would increase efforts to thwart illegal migration and combat smuggling groups. The two leaders would also be trying to get NATO's involvement in the refugee issue, Davutoglu said. He said they would seek the use of NATO's observation capabilities at the border with Syria and in the Aegean Sea....

Turkey has since started to require Syrians arriving from developing countries to apply for visas, in an effort to exclude those who aim to continue on to Greece. Turkey has also agreed to grant work permits to Syrians as an incentive for them to stay in Turkey, and has announced plans to increase coastguards' capabilities and designate human smuggling as a form of organised crime - which would bring stiffer punishments." [emphasis added]

and see: Germany, Turkey want Nato help to police coast (euobserver, link): "Germany and Turkey are seeking Nato help to police the Turkish coast guard along the Aegen Sea to clamp down on people smugglers."

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Pass 76,000; Deaths Top 400 (IOM, link):

"IOM estimates that over 76,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by sea through the first six weeks of 2016. The daily average of nearly 2,000 arrivals is nearly ten times the daily average of a year ago.

Through 8 February, IOM has recorded 409 fatalities on Mediterranean routes: 319 of the dead or missing were on the Eastern Mediterranean route connecting Turkey to Greece and 90 on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy.

During the same period in 2015, only 69 migrants and refugees died or went missing in the whole Mediterranean."

News Digest (8.2.16)

CANADA: Every Step You Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security (link to pdf): "Contemporary consumer fitness wearables collect a broad range of data. The number of floors, or altitudinal changes, a person climbs a day is measured, levels and deepness of sleep, and heart rate activity are all captured by best-of-class consumer-level fitness trackers. And all of this data is of interest to the wearers of the devices, to companies interested in mining and selling collected fitness data, to insurance companies, to authorities and courts of law, and even potentially to criminals motivated to steal or access data retained by fitness companies.

Every Step You Fake explores what information is collected by the companies which develop and sell some of the most popular wearables in North America. Moreover, it explores whether there are differences between the information that is collected by the devices and what companies say they collect, and what they subsequently provide to consumers when compelled to disclose all the personal information that companies hold about residents of Canada."

Report by: Open Effect (link): "Open Effect is a Canadian not-for-profit that conducts research and advocacy focused on ensuring people’s personal data is treated securely and accountably. We use a mix of policy and technical analysis methods to explore how digital services use personal data. We build interactive advocacy tools to disseminate our work and empower individuals to learn about and exercise their rights online."

FYROM Raises Second Wire Fence on Border with Greece (Greek Reporter, link): "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is raising a second wire fence on its border with Greece, in the neutral zone between Idomeni and Gevgelija.

This is a measure along the European Union’s efforts for stricter control of the migrant inflow towards central and northern Europe.

On Saturday the FYROM army started cleaning the area and raising a second barbed wire fence parallel to the existing one on the neutral zone in the border crossing point between Idomeni and Gevgelija."

More news and documentation: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.16)

French parliament debates plan to enshrine emergency powers in constitution (France 24, link): "French lawmakers on Friday started debating constitutional changes that would see French nationals convicted of terror offences stripped of their citizenship and make it easier to put controversial emergency measures in place.

(...) The Socialist government now wants to write the measure – created during the Algerian war in 1955 – into France's cherished constitution, citing what it sees as a persistent threat from jihadist militants."

See also: Valls calls for "total, global and ruthless" war on terror (Statewatch News Online, January 2016) and: France: Disproportionate emergency measures leave hundreds traumatized (Amnesty, link): "Heavy-handed emergency measures, including late night house raids and assigned residence orders, have trampled on the rights of hundreds of men, women and children, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized, according to a new briefing released by Amnesty International today ahead of Friday’s French parliamentary debate on entrenching emergency measures in the constitution."

EU: PEGIDA: The far-right in the streets

Far-right protests organised by various branches of the PEGIDA movement took place in cities across Europe at the weekend. On 6 February in Prague, a centre that helps refugees was firebombed, "just hours after thousands of people staged a protest in the Czech capital against Muslims and immigration."

NORTHERN IRELAND: How much did British intelligence know about the IRA during the troubles? (The Conversation, link): "The Shankill bombing now joins a list of atrocities where the involvement of informers and agents is alleged. Also on that list are the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; the 1976 Kingsmill massacre; the activities of Freddie Scappaticci – alleged to be the army’s most high-ranking agent in the IRA and accused of involvement in up to 50 murders – and Brian Nelson, an army agent within the UDA responsible for passing on the names of IRA members who were subsequently murdered. Beyond these most high-profile cases are potentially hundreds of individuals who died as a result of state collusion with loyalist and republican paramilitary groups.

(...) On a daily basis it appears that protection, denial and obfuscation are often privileged over truth and justice. For victims and survivors – and a still fragile society – revelations such as those concerning the Shankill bomb reinforce hurt and trauma and undermine the gains of the peace process. If impunity is to be countered and truth and justice delivered, full political commitment to an open, transparent mechanism that is capable of shining a light into all areas of the past is a must."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.2.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: Directive on combatting terrorism:

- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5720-16, pdf): "Delegations are invited to examine the modified text of the proposed Directive, as set out in this document. Discussions at the next meeting on 8 February 2016 will focus on these drafting suggestions, including recitals." In part concern the two documents from Sweden and Italy below.

- As above:Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5467-16, pdf)

- As above: Swedish Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-1-16, pdf): Human rights clause and "An possibility to exempt one’s own citizens travelling home"

- As above: Italian Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-2-16, pdf): "Investigative tools" and "Exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences"

See also: Statewatch Briefing: Directive on combating terrorism

EU: DATABASE checks on people entering and leaving the EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 5753-16, pdf):

"Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders... The Presidency submits to the JHA Counsellors this new compromise, which it believes could accommodate most of the remaining concerns of the delegations and could constitute a basis for a compromise at Council level on this proposal. It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the previous compromise suggestions (including the deleted parts) are depicted in bold (and underline).

The Presidency believes that the only essential outstanding issue is whether the air borders (along with the land and sea borders) should be included in the scope of possible cases of targeted checks of persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law, in order to address a disproportionate impact on the traffic flow emanating from the systematic consultation of data bases for these persons. The Presidency is of the opinion that this issue should also be resolved in the prism of the need to find a balance between security priorities and the economic impact of the new measures on border controls that this draft Regulation is expected to bring about. "

Includes database checks, advance passenger information (API and/or PNR) and the checking of biometrics (facial images and fkngeprints), at least one biometric must be checked against the travel documents or identity card of the traveller.

The measure will not apply to the UK or Ireland.

EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION PROPOSAL - LATEST DRAFT: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (pdf) 44 Member State's positions.

"During previous discussions, a number of delegations underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations expressed their preference for linking the discussions on this proposal with the efforts which should lead to effective border controls and proper management of migratory flows and insisted on the voluntary nature of the proposed mechanism. Furthermore, several delegations were in favour of addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum ("Dublin IV")."

"The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BG, EL, FI and SI.BE, CZ, EE, ES, FR, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."

Desperate EU to Criminalize Humanitarian Assistance in Greece - Leaked Docs (Sputnik News, link)

"A European Commission report, detailing a plan to criminalize volunteers rescuing refugees from drowning, has been revealed by UK civil liberties group Statewatch. The EU is desperate and is therefore making bad decisions, the group’s director told Sputnik.

Statewatch, a London-based civil rights watchdog, has published a confidential report by the European Commission, which reveals the Council of Europe’s plans to pass a new law, criminalizing volunteers who rescue refugees, stranded off the coast of Greece, from drowning.

The new proposals would penalize NGO’s, local people and volunteers -- all providing humanitarian assistance to refugees arriving in the EU - and would remove their exemption from being considered people smugglers.

"The EU has failed, they’re desperate. They’re trying to take over operations [in Greece] to take control of everything," Tony Bunyan told Sputnik.

"I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have never seen anything like it. The EU is in a complete mess. They failed to respond quickly to what happened last spring. The volunteers and smaller NGOs have been helping refugees since the crisis began. Where was the EU then? They only tuned up in November [2015] and by that time already 700,000 people had landed in Greece.""

and see: Rescuing refugees from drowning will be ‘criminalized’ under new EU law – activists (RT, link): " A petition has been launched calling on EU leaders to scrap plans that would criminalize those who rescue migrants and refugees arriving on the Greek islands as part of a push to secure the border between Turkey and Greece. London-based civil liberties watchdog Statewatch has released the confidential Council of the EU report detailing the plan, which was outlined in talks between EU ministers in Amsterdam late last month."

The EU, Turkey and the Refugee Crisis: What could possibly go wrong? (EU Law Analysis, link)

" The key non-EU country in the EU’s ongoing refugee crisis is Turkey: the host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, and a transit country for many asylum-seekers. An increasing number of them have been making the journey from Turkey to the Greek islands, leading to a significant rise in the number of would-be asylum-seekers in the EU over the last year. Tragically, many have died making this crossing....

the Samsom Plan proposing the systematic return of all asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey in exchange for increased refugee resettlement in Europe, appears to be not only very difficult to implement (due to both legal and practical obstacles), but also based on the doubtful presumption that Turkey may be (soon) considered a safe third country for refugees and asylum-seekers.

Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the EU and Turkey did not agree to fully apply the Geneva Convention for Turkey, and that there are no mechanisms of accountability in place for the EU institutions to report either in general upon Turkey’s compliance with international human rights standards or in particular to explain exactly how the EU’s money is being spent."

See also: Common Understanding establishing a Governance and Conditionality Framework for the Refugee Facility for Turkey, the "Facility", Hereinafter referred to as "the Common Understanding" between EU Member States (hereinafter the "Member States") and The European Commission (hereinafter the "Commission") (pdf) There is no mention of ensuring human rights protection.

GREECE: Hot spot work intensifies as Greece agrees to recognize Turkey as ‘safe’ country (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Greek authorities agreed on Friday to recognize Turkey as a “safe third country,” which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not of origin, can be returned there. The decision was announced after a meeting in Athens between Greek Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and his French and German counterparts, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere... He added that Germany is sending 100 police officers and two coast guard vessels to Greece...

As of yesterday, 94 prefabricated structures had been delivered to the site in Chios and 87 on Leros. Construction work was under way on Samos, where an old army firing range is being converted. On Kos, riot police who had been sent to the island from Athens fired tear gas to deter some 100 locals who tried to force their way into a disused army camp that is being turned into a hot spot.

European Union sources told Kathimerini they are hopeful that at least three of the five centers will be ready in the next few days given that the army is now coordinating the work..."

Denmark confirms US sent rendition flight for Snowden (The Local.dk, link): "Denmark’s justice minister admitted on Friday that the US sent a rendition flight to Copenhagen Airport that was meant to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden and return him to the United States. "

UK: Victims and Villains: Migrant voices in the British media (pdf): "The report explores how migrant voices and experiences are framed in Britain’s migration debate, against the backdrop of a complex relationship between the media, political debate and public attitudes. Were the voices and experiences of migrants present in media reporting on migration issues in the months leading up to the 2015 General Election? And if migrants were able to have a voice, how were their experiences and perspectives represented and framed?"

See also: Moving Stories: International Review of How Media Cover Migration (Ethical Journalism Network, link)

Holding the EU together with the threat of disintegration (EurActiv, link): "The EU is entering a playing field in which it has little experience – European disintegration. EU interior ministers have openly threatened to expel Greece from the Schengen border-free zone and to seal the country off from the rest of Europe at the Macedonian (FYROM) border. While Greece faces the threat of a forced removal from a central European project, the UK is considering a free-will departure from the EU as a whole.

The threat to kick Greece out of Schengen and the UK referendum on EU membership may appear to have little in common. Yet they are both reflective of the EU’s struggle to keep together a club of twenty-eight member states in view of tremendous internal and external challenges. At its core, this struggle concerns the question of how to balance functional needs for more ‘Europe’ with the increasing desire of many European governments and citizens for less ‘Europe’."

Turkish PM warns of new wave of refugees from Syria (Hurriyet, link): "Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned of a new wave of Syrian refugees totaling as many as 80,000 after people began to move toward Turkey due to increased airstrikes in the country’s northwest.

“Some 10,000 new refugees are waiting at Turkey’s border [with Syria] due to the airstrikes in Aleppo. Some 60,000 to 70,000 people, who are in camps north of Aleppo, are moving toward Turkey,” said Davutoglu during a donor conference entitled “Supporting Syria and the region” at the QEII center in central London on Feb. 4.
"

And see: Avramopoulos: Detention and removal centres are also needed (EurActiv, link): "The hotspots are there to support the process of the first arrivals through registering, identifying and fingerprinting - to know whether people will have to be relocated, or whether they should do their asylum procedure in Greece or Italy, and then either be granted asylum or be returned. Of course, during that time, people have to stay somewhere. So it is normal that we need more reception places. Greece has committed to expanding its reception places by 50,000 following the Western Balkans leaders meeting on 25 October - but detention or removal centers are also needed for those who receive the decision to return, particularly if there is a risk of absconding and if they are not willing to return voluntarily."

See: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.2.16)

The British want to come to America — with wiretap orders and search warrants (The Washington Post, link): "If U.S. and British negotiators have their way, MI5, the British domestic security service, could one day go directly to American companies like Facebook or Google with a wiretap order for the online chats of British suspects in a counter­terrorism investigation.

The transatlantic allies have quietly begun negotiations this month on an agreement that would enable the British government to serve wiretap orders directly on U.S. communication firms for live intercepts in criminal and national security investigations involving its own citizens. Britian would also be able to serve orders to obtain stored data, such as emails.

The previously undisclosed talks are driven by what the two sides and tech firms say is an untenable situation in which foreign governments such as Britain cannot quickly obtain data for domestic probes because it happens to be held by companies in the United States. The two countries recently concluded a draft negotiating document, which will serve as the basis for the talks. The text has not been made public, but a copy was reviewed by The Washington Post."

German judges issue damming indictment of TTIP (New Internationalist, link): "A group of German judges have just dealt a serious blow to the European Commission’s desperate TTIP ‘compromise’. They’ve issued a damning indictment on the proposal for an ‘international investment court’, which the EU Commission hoped would get them out of the deep mess that the TTIP negotiations are in.

(...) A primary concern of the judges, and one shared by campaigners, is that ‘the creation of special courts for certain groups of litigants is the wrong way forward.’ Creating special legal privileges for big business and other investors (who can already afford more access to the law than ordinary people), is clearly the path to further inequality in our already deeply unequal society."

See: Opinion on the establishment of an investment tribunal in TTIP - the proposal from the European Commission on 16.09.2015 and 11.12.2015 (pdf)

UK-SWEDEN: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Julian Assange as arbitrary (UN Human Rights, link): "The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange. The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work."

See: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Opinion No. 54/2015 concerning Julian Assange (Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (pdf)

Analysis: Free at last? Detention, the European Arrest Warrant and Julian Assange (EU Law Analysis, link) and reaction: Julian Assange: UK to contest UN panel finding over ‘arbitrary detention’ – live updates (The Guardian, link)

VICE News Reveals the Terrorism Blacklist Secretly Wielding Power Over the Lives of Millions (VICE News, link): "An American Muslim civil rights leader praised by George W. Bush, an economist honored by the British Queen, and a prominent anti-extremism campaigner have all been secretly given a "terrorism" designation on a confidential database that banks use as a reference tool for blacklisting customers, a VICE News investigation can reveal.

The highly influential World-Check database has also listed major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of "terrorism"... The confidential service, part of an unregulated industry, claims that it is used by over 300 government and intelligence agencies, 49 of the 50 biggest banks, pre-employment vetting agencies and 9 of the top 10 global law firms. It provides "an early warning system for hidden risk" — and is used by banks, for example, to minimize their risk of complicity in terrorist financing or money laundering."

Four reasons to close down the police’s domestic extremism unit (Netpol, link): "Today is Domestic Extremist Awareness Day, an annual event launched by Netpol in 2014 to publicise how the label of ‘domestic extremist’ is increasingly applied by police to anyone involved in political dissent.

This year, we are calling for the closure of the National Domestic Extremism & Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU), the discredited police unit responsible for surveillance on protesters. We are also asking you to share why you think the NDEDIU should shut down.

Here are four reasons we think are important"

UK-EU: Why the EU emergency brake on migrant benefits is sexist (The Conversation, link): "We should heed warnings from the damage caused by changes already implemented before pressing ahead with economically unnecessary proposals that deepen child poverty and homelessness, and push women over a welfare cliff edge.

The emergency brake on in-work benefits creates a sexually asymmetric concept of free movement: women can only enjoy the rights supposedly afforded to all European citizens so long as their bodies do not betray them."

UK: Torture victims face two-year delays in UK asylum claims (The Guardian, link): "Torture victims who claim asylum in Britain are facing delays of more than two years before their cases are resolved, according to a report by the official immigration and borders watchdog.

The delays to torture survivors’ applications are caused by Home Office unwillingness to accept evidence supporting their claims from bodies other than Freedom from Torture and the Helen Bamber Foundation, the chief inspector of borders and immigration said."

Full report: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An Inspection of Asylum Casework, March-July 2015 (pdf) and: Home Office response (pdf)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (5.2.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.2.16)

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (1.2.16, pdf).

Little change but see: Hotspots: State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf): Biggest change of the week is the build up of hotspot staff and capacity in Greece (Italy unchanged): In Lesvos reception capacity up from 1,480 to 2,709 and Frontex officials up from 178 to 184. In Chios reception capacity up from 110 to 2,250 and Frontex from 93 to 99. In Samos reception capacity up from 250 to 650 and Frontex from 40 to 53. Leros Frontex up from 29 to 31 and on Kos capacity up from 0 to 290 and Frontex up from 41 to 54 officials.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Spain: Launch of book marks the tenth anniversary of the events leading to the '4F Case'

Today a book launch will mark a decade since the events that led to what is known as the '4F Case' (Caso 4F) took place, in which four people were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. Three of them were tortured by the police during their detention and one subsequently committed suicide.

On 4 February 2006, the Guardia Urbana (municipal police) arrived at a party in a squatted theatre in Barcelona. A flowerpot was thrown from a balcony, seriously injuring a police officer. The response from the authorities, unable to find the guilty party, was "to mount a case blaming innocent people who were not in the house and some not even in the vicinity."

Four people were subsequently sent to prison, one of whom, Patricia Heras, committed suicide in April 2011. Three of the four were tortured whilst in police custody, events which were subsequntly taken up in an Amnesty report. [2] The two police officers who served as key witnesses in the 4F case were subsequently found guilty, in a seperate case, of torture, false testimony and planting evidence. No-one has been punished for their part in the 4F case.

UN experts urge Cyprus to address migrant detention conditions, improve overall monitoring (UN News Centre, link):

Cyprus has seen many positive developments concerning the treatment of people in detention, but still faces several challenges, particularly regarding the independent monitoring of places of detention and the treatment of migrants, the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture said today after visiting the country.

Press release (link):

“We were very pleased to have visited Cyprus and take note of improvements. But the situation of those in immigration detention centres requires careful attention. It is so important to ensure that such detention is only resorted to when it is strictly necessary. The conditions of detention should reflect the fact that such places are not prisons and those detained are not prisoners,” said Malcolm Evans, the SPT Chair and head of the four-member delegation to Cyprus....

We are particularly concerned that the National Preventive Mechanism for torture prevention, which is a part of the Ombudsman's office, should be much better resourced financially and have its legal powers reviewed so that it can continue and expand its good work. It currently does not have the capacity to work as the Optional Protocol requires."

France: Abuses under State of Emergency - Halt Warrantless Search and House Arrest (HRW, link): "France has carried out abusive and discriminatory raids and house arrests against Muslims under its sweeping new state of emergency law. The measures have created economic hardship, stigmatized those targeted, and have traumatized children.."

Transparency in the EU: citizens' right controlled by the elite (journalismfund.eu, link): "Fifteen years with access rules and still no register over documents to look for. Not only citizens, also governments are kept in the dark by the Commission, a new study on EU transparency shows."

See: Transparency through tinted windows - On the conditional openness in the European Commission (pdf)

See also: Statewatch Observatory on Freedom of Information in the EU

EU watchdog says needs time to study data deal with United States (Reuters, link):

"An EU watchdog said on Wednesday it needed time to study a new EU-U.S. agreement on data transfers to determine whether the United States was committed to limiting intelligence surveillance of Europeans.

Negotiators from the European Union and the United States agreed the data pact on Tuesday. It will replace the Safe Harbour framework, which a top EU court ruled illegal last year amid concerns over mass U.S. government snooping.

"We want to receive the documents in order to assess whether this (newly agreed) EU-U.S. Privacy Shield can answer the privacy concerns raised," said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the WP29 grouping of data protection authorities."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.16)

EU: European Commission: Communication on an Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing (pdf) and see: Commission presents Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing (Press release, pdf):

"The Action Plan will focus on two main strands of action: Tracing terrorists through financial movements and preventing them from moving funds or other assets [and] Disrupting the sources of revenue used by terrorist organisations, by targeting their capacity to raise funds."

See also: EU to gold plate international anti-terrorism obligations with "urgent" new law (Statewatch database, link)

UK-EU: BREXIT: The draft renegotiation deal: EU immigration issues (EU Law Analysis, link) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex.

"ll three proposals are subject to the ‘ordinary legislative procedure’, meaning that they have to be agreed with the European Parliament. It is also possible that their legality would be challenged before the EU Court of Justice. I can’t appraise the political likelihood of the European Parliament approving the proposals, but I will offer some thoughts about possible challenges to their legality if they are agreed. ...

British voters will also be making an assessment not only of the rest of the renegotiation package, but also on the broader pros and cons of EU membership. These changes go nowhere near far enough for the EU’s strongest critics, but much too far for its biggest admirers. Time will soon tell whether the British public believes that they are a reasonable compromise."

The Elephant in the Room - Islam and the Crisis of Liberal Values in Europe (Foreign Affairs, link) By Alexander Betts

"Europe is still struggling to cope with a massive influx of refugees, with over a million asylum seekers arriving across the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly all of them are Muslims. This fact has shaped public and political opinion but has rarely been openly and honestly discussed. Can a Europe of 28 member states share responsibility for a smaller number of refugees than is currently in Lebanon alone? Of course it can. In fact, most European countries need the labor."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.16)

Greek military to oversee response to refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Tuesday heralded the creation of a central body to oversee and improve Greece’s response to the migration and refugee crisis and ensure the country safeguards its position in the Schengen passport-free area, noting that the new body will be led by a senior military official.

Greece’s military is to have the oversight of the “Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration” until the Migration Ministry and the Hellenic Police gain the necessary know-how and experience to tackle the problem independently, Kammenos indicated at Tuesday’s press conference....

The center, which is to be operational by February 15, is to be based at the Defense Ministry headquarters and coordinate with the Hellenic Police, Coast Guard, Migration Ministry and nongovernmental organizations working with migrants and refugees.

The aim is to increase the efficiency of transferring migrants from the islands to the mainland, to improve the provision of food as well as medical and healthcare to migrants, and to monitor the creation of five screening centers, or hot spots, for migrants on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros....

The screening and relocation centers are to operate in a similar way to the central body, under a local military official who is to coordinate with police and coast guard officers."

EU: European Commission: Commission adopts Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and proposes recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management (Press release, pdf)

"The recommendations seek to ensure that Greece applies all Schengen rules related to management of external border correctly and effectively. Recommendations are made in a number of areas such as the improvement of the registration procedures, including ensuring a sufficient number of staff and fingerprint scanners for registration and verification of migrants and their travel documents against SIS, Interpol and national databases. Greece should provide the necessary facilities for accommodation during the registration process and launch return procedures for irregular migrants who are not seeking asylum and who are not in need of international protection. Border surveillance should be improved, including the establishment of a risk analysis system and increased training of border guards.

Improvements should also be made to infrastructure and equipment at the border crossing points. In order to ensure compliance with these recommendations, the Commission may, in addition, recommend that Greece takes certain specific measures under Article 19a of the Schengen Borders Code, given the serious deficiencies noted in the Schengen Evaluation Report."

See also: Eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area: 1 May - 10 December 2015 (pdf)

UK-EU: BREXIT: The draft renegotiation deal: A genuine red card? Tusk’s proposal and national parliaments (EU Law Analysis, link):

"The Draft Decision of the Heads of State or Government, ‘A New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union’, unveiled by Donald Tusk on February 2 2016 offers the first concrete vision of the changes to enhance the role of national parliaments under the UK’s renegotiation efforts. This note provides an analysis of the suggested changes by contrasting them with the mechanisms currently in force under the Lisbon Treaty."

And see: The UK-EU package (link)

UK: Right to rent comes into force today (Garden Court Chambers, link): "The Government’s “right to rent” scheme requiring landlords to conduct “papers, please” checks on the immigration status of tenants comes into force today, 1 February 2016. It is hard to think of a worse example of a disproportionate policy, classically defined as a hammer being used to crack a nut."

Interview: Safe Harbour 2.0 will lose again, argues Max Schrems - "Silicon Valley doesn’t rule world. Respect laws in each country," says privacy campaigner (ars technica, link):

"Over the weekend, negotiators from the European Union's executive body and the US Federal Trade Commission worked frantically to thrash out a deal to allow transatlantic data transfers to take place. But the so-called Safe Harbour 2.0 is far from a done deal.

So how did we get here? Two men are essentially responsible: Edward Snowden and Max Schrems."

and see: The Privacy Shield: The deal on EU/US Safe Harbour data that wasn’t there (mcgarrsolicitors.ie, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.2.16)

Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunisians in 2011: Commission’s plans for readmission agreements and summary returns contravene the ECHR (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

This judgment outlaws much of what is being planned and implemented in the context of the EU's migration plans and especially the so-called "hotspot" approach.

The court's decision that the deportation of Tunisians amounted to a violation of Art. 4 of the 4th protocol to the ECHR and has important repercussions on the Commission's plans because readmission agreements circumvent the need for individual examination of the positions of people from certain nationalities.

What the judgment has described as a "collective refoulement" lacking the necessary safeguards is the process which is being introduced in hotspots whereby nationality appears to be the key management principle for dealing with migrants.

Further, the idea appears to be that if an agreement is in place with a non-EU state there is no need for further formalities concerning nationals of a given country.

The recent deal between Italy and Gambia mentioned in the Italian hotspots Progress report is an example of this, and it states that operative protocols are preferable to either treaties or readmission agreements in relation to the principle of "effectiveness", which shows that there is increasing intolerance of any formal limits or regulatory frameworks to mass deportations.

Another bad day for privacy: Exclusive: New European, U.S. data transfer pact imminent - sources (Rueters, link):

"European and U.S. negotiators are on the brink of clinching a new transatlantic data transfer pact which should prevent EU regulators from restricting data transfers by firms, two people familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.

The European Union and the United States have been racing to replace the previous data transfer framework called Safe Harbour. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck it down last year over concerns about U.S. mass surveillance, leaving thousands of companies in legal limbo.

While the new pact would still need political approval the two sides should finalize the framework on Tuesday, the sources said, a day before European data protection authorities end a two-day meeting in Brussels."

UK: Police refuse to release report into 'destroyed files' on Green peer (The Guardian, link): ""Police have refused to release the confidential report of an investigation into allegations that they improperly destroyed documents compiled on a Green party peer.

The allegations have been made by a police whistleblower who said officers destroyed documents recording the political activities of Lady Jones to prevent her obtaining them in what he called a “highly irregular” cover-up.

Sgt David Williams wrote to Jenny Jones outlining the allegations, in a letter that was disclosed in the Guardian in January. The peer asked the Metropolitan police to give her a copy of the report on the outcome of the investigation.""

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (1.2.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.2.16)

NORWAY: Disarming the police: "Norway has announced that the armament of its police officers, which began in 2014, will cease "as soon as possible" after it was no longer deemed necessary.

A raised terror threat level saw officers ordered to carry firearms at all times in November 2014, but the measure was described as temporary.

Norway’s police force has traditionally been trained in the use of weapons in an emergency situation, but firearms were previously locked away in patrol vehicles rather than being carried by officers."

See: Norway to disarm its police force after officers ordered to carry guns for just one year (The Independent, link)

UNDERCOVER POLICING: Interview, public meeting and new play

Interview: ‘We wanted to make the police accountable’ (The Justice Gap, link): "In 2011, Kate Wilson was one of eight women who sued the Metropolitan Police after the women discovered that they had been deceived into long-term relationships with undercover police officers. At the High Court earlier this month, the police withdrew their defence in respect of Wilson’s claims for deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence. Despite that apparent victory, the women’s struggle for state accountability continues."

London, 26 February 2016: Public meeting: Big Brother – Who’s Watching You? Mark Jenner meeting (COPS, link): "The Special Demonstration Squad’s Mark Jenner was deployed using the name Mark Cassidy.

The Undercover Research Group’s extensive profile of Jenner shows the range of issues he spied on – anti-racist campaigns, trade unions, Irish republicanism and Hackney community campaigns. He chaired meetings, wrote articles and instigated action.

Why was he there?"

Useful timeline to accompany new play in Nottingham about the undercover policing scandal: A timeline of lies and deceit (Nottingham Playhouse, link): "This February, our world premiere production of Any Means Necessary opens, inspired by real-life events. Kefi Chadwick was inspired to write the play after reading news stories about the exposure of an undercover police officer living amongst activists in Nottingham back in 2012...

The revelations in this case date as far back as 1968, affecting many people, and having ramifications across the justice system. Familiarise yourself with the facts behind this national scandal with our timeline of key events below. You don’t need to know all of this information to enjoy Any Means Necessary, but it’s a fascinating insight into the impact of this story."

UK: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues (pdf): "Previous attempts to legislate in this area have met with criticisms over the lack of consultation with communications service providers (CSPs) on matters of technical feasibility and cost. In our inquiry we have focused on technological aspects of the draft Bill in order to identify the main technological issues involved and how these might affect the communications businesses that will have to collect data and cooperate with the security authorities.

We have not addressed the need or otherwise for the communications monitoring provisions or whether they are proportionate to the threats they are intended to deal with. We anticipate that these matters will be covered by the Joint Committee established to scrutinise the draft Bill as a whole."

And see: UK: Draft Investigatory Powers Bill: official documents (Statewatch Database)

U.S. and Europe Fail to Meet Deadline for Data Transfer Deal (The New York Times, link): "American and European officials failed on Sunday to reach an agreement over how digital data — including financial information and social media posts — could be transferred between the two regions.

Despite last-minute talks, the two sides remained far apart on specific details required to approve a comprehensive deal. Without an agreement, companies that regularly move data, including tech giants like Google and nontech companies like General Electric, could find themselves in murky legal waters."

UK: Call for time limit on detention of immigrants as report urges "urgent reform" (Herald Scotland, link): " Campaigners have called on the Government to impose a time limit on the detention of immigrants after a highly critical review found that too many were being locked up.

Former prisons ombudsman Stephen Shaw also raised concerns about breaches of human rights laws in cases that suggested "problems with attitude and cynicism" on the part of staff.

There were some 3,000 people being detained - a mixture of asylum seekers, ex-offenders and those who had been deemed not to have a legal right to remain in the UK - while the number of people detained "at one time or another during the year" exceeds 30,000, Mr Shaw said."

Full report: Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons - A report to the Home Office by Stephen Shaw (pdf)

And see: Response to Shaw review: UK must end 'unacceptable' use of indefinite immigration detention (Amnesty, link)

January 2016

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - and in Greece: NGOS and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted

The Council of the European Union is preparing plans to equate the concept of migrant "smuggling" with migrant "trafficking" and potentially criminalise or marginalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who for months have been welcoming and helping refugees and migrants arriving in the EU.

See: The
Draft Council conclusions on migrant smuggling (LIMITE doc no 5481-rev-2-15, pdf)

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments:

"'This document fails to acknowledge the crucial role played by Greek islanders and volunteers in rescuing and caring for migrants who cross the Mediterranean in unsafe vessels. The EU should amend its anti-smuggling laws as soon as possible to confirm that no-one giving such vital humanitarian assistance should ever be penalised for it'.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who "register" with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to "register" to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.

Civil society, volunteers and all those throughout the EU who are seeking to help refugees as they arrive having fled from war, persecution and poverty should unite to oppose the Council's plans. Criminalising NGOs and volunteers working to help refugees has no place in a democracy worthy of the name."

LESVOS, GREECE: On the ground in Lesvos NGOs and volunteer groups - who have been working to help refugees from this time last year - are facing increasing hostility from reactionary local forces on the island and in some instances from large IGOs seeking to take over their role of helping refugees on the landing beaches and giving immediate help and aid. Yesterday the following messages were posted on Facebook from a local group:

"The medical station at Eftalou has been attacked for the third time (post Philippa Kempson 30 January 2016). Will the people who did this be punished? Or just those offering humanitarian help on the beaches?" and a second post: "Last night the medical tent in Eftalou was attacked for the third time this week but this time they finished the job and burnt it to the ground!!!!!! and see: Decency And Respect! 30/01/2016 (Eric Kempson. link): On the Hope Centre, the attack.and the EU's shameful role.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.1.16)

HUNGARY CASE IN CJEU AGAINST THE RELOCATION OF REFUGEES IN THE EU MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Case before the Court of Justice Case C-647/15 (Hungary v Council of the European Union) (LIMITE doc no 5490-15, pdf): "By application lodged with the Court on 3 December 2015 and notified to the Council on 8 December 2015, Hungary brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union an action for annulment of Council Decision (EU) 2015/1601 of 22 September 2015 establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece."

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex coments:

'Some of Hungary's legal arguments can only be described as chutzpah. One argument Is that relocation of asylum-seekers is disproportionate for Hungary. But the EU Decision - at Hungary's own request - neither moves asylum-seekers to Hungary nor takes them away from that country. Secondly, Hungary complains that the text was amended after the European Parliament voted. But these were mainly amendments to take account of Hungary's own demands.

Finally, Hungary - having built fences against refugees, and criminalised and expelled them - criticizes the EU for breaching the UN (Geneva) Convention on Refugees. This is surely the most hypocritical legal argument in the EU's history.'

Denmark wants to watch everything you do online (The Local.dk, link)

"The Danish telecommunications industry has expressed concerns over the Justice Ministry’s plan to reintroduce so-called internet session logging, the registration of residents’ online activity....

Denmark scrapped the practice in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal, but the ministry not only plans to bring back session logging, it will go even further than before"

Berlin leads plan to ferry migrants from Greece into Turkey (The Times, link):

"Every migrant entering Greece across the Aegean Sea would be returned to Turkey under plans being drawn up by European countries. In exchange, the EU would accept up to 250,000 documented asylum seekers each year from Turkish camps.

If the German-led resettlement programme can be agreed, ferries would begin returning to Turkey all migrants, including refugees, from the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios and Kos. A coalition of countries supporting the plans — including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden..." in return for accepting 200,000 Syrians direct from camps in Turkey.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In desperation 12 EU Member States are considering a plan to simply send back all the refugees arriving in Greece. According to the UNHCR 78% of those who have arrived this year are from Syria (48%), Afghanistan (21%) and Iraq (9%). The EU recognises that refugees from these three countries, where there are ongoing conflicts, should be considered in need of international protection and "relocation" within the EU. All refugees, under international law, have the right to ask for asylum - such a plan would constitute mass refoulement.

POLAND: New surveillance law a major blow to human rights (Amnesty International, link): "This document contains Amnesty International analsyis of and response to a new law governing surveillance powers by police and other agencies in Poland, which will seriously undermine the right to privacy in the country. The law, which could come into force in a matter of days, was approved after a fast-track process, which brought only minor changes to the draft law, despite strenuous opposition from civil society groups and other experts."

See also: EU: Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis (The Conversation, link): "Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo recently found herself summoned to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend her government over accusations that its commitment to democratic values is on the slide.

This was an unprecedented meeting. The parliament had called a debate under the auspices of a law introduced in March 2014, giving it the right to question a national government if it thinks a systemic threat to democracy is about to take place in a European country."

And: The EU favors politics over law in Poland clash (Politico, link)

EU: POLICE AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION: Creation of a European Forensic Area by 2020

In December 2011 a set of Council conclusions "on the vision of for European Forensic Science 2020 including the creation of a European Forensic Science Area" (pdf) was agreed, and the Council and Commission are now seeking to ensure their implementation:

"As a first step in the stocktaking exercise, a questionnaire was drafted that was sent out to Member States in June 2015 to assess (i) the current status of implementation of the 2011 Council conclusions by Member States, (ii) what remains needed to achieve a European Forensic Science Area by 2020, and (iii) whether the 2011 objectives remain valid, 5 years after their adoption, or whether new/updated ones are needed. 24 Member States responded to the questionnaire. This paper contains an overview of the answers provided."

See: NOTE from Presidency to: Law Enforcement Working Party: Creation of a European Forensic Area by 2020 - analysis of replies to questionnaire (15051/15, 15 December 2015, pdf)

The issue of a European Forensic Science Area was on the agenda of the January 2016 informal Justice and Home Affairs ministers' meeting.

The EU has funded dozens of research projects related to improving forensic science tools and techniques - for example LASIE (LArge Scale Information Exploitation of Forensic Data), 3D-FORENSICS (Mobile high-resolution 3D-Scanner and 3D data analysis for forensic evidence), EVIDENCE (European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence) and EUROFORGEN-NOE (EUROPEAN FORENSIC GENETICS Network of Excellence), amongst others.

Some background: EU: European Forensic Science Area (Statewatch News Online, September 2011)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (29.1.16)

Migrant Arrivals in Europe in 2016 Top 55,000, Over 200 Deaths (IOM, link): "IOM estimates that 55,528 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to enter Europe during the first 28 days of 2016 – a rate of nearly 2,000 per day. The daily average is nearly equivalent to the total numbers for the month of January as recently as two years ago.

During the same period IOM has recorded some 244 deaths at sea, as well as at least a dozen more deaths of migrants and refugees who died either after reaching Europe or traveling to a launch point in Turkey. By comparison, total deaths on Mediterranean Sea routes were 12 in 2014 and 82 last year."

The UNHCR provides similar figures. on 29 January the agency records a total of 54,518 arrivals by sea since 1 January 2016, and 236 dead or missing in the same period. See: Refugees/Migrants Emergency Response - Mediterranean (UNCHR, link)

See also: Timmermans blunders on migrant figures (EUobserver, link)

More stories, statistics and documentation: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.16)

UK: An open discussion about counter-radicalisation measures in schools should be welcomed (IRR, link): "A paper, Prevent and the Children’s Rights Convention, published today by the Institute of Race Relations supports the NUT’s call for a more rational debate on the Prevent duty in schools.

In order to encourage an informed and rational debate on the new duty placed on schools to prevent children being drawn in to terrorism, the IRR has tested the duty against key articles in the United Nations Children’s Rights Convention (COROC).

Our analysis is based on around fifteen cases of concern already reported in the media or to professional bodies. These cases raise issues under COROC, Articles 2, 8, 30 (non-discrimination), Articles 3, 19 (best interests of the child, protection of welfare, protection from physical or mental violence), Articles 13-15 (freedom of thought, expression and association), Article 29 (right to education), Articles 5, 18 (parental and community rights)."

See: Prevent and the Children Right's Convention (link to pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: Ten police officers disciplined over PSNI probe into Michael Hampson disappearance and death (Belfast Telegraph, link): " Ten police officers are set to be disciplined after failings were founding in the way they investigated a man's disappearance and suspicious death.

Michael Gerard Hampson (53) from Londonderry was reported missing on December 7, 2007. His body was found on the shore of Lough Neagh near Toomebridge just over a month later.

Although a post mortem was inconclusive, the pathologist concluded that there “must be considerable suspicions surrounding the death”."

The article notes: "Eight officers have since been disciplined, only two of whom received sanctions at the level recommended by the Police Ombudsman. Those officers received Superintendent’s Written Warnings. The sanctions recommended against the remaining six were downgraded by the PSNI."

See: Police Ombudsman: Police actions in relation to the disappearance and death of Mr Michael Gerard Hampson (pdf)

EU: TiSA: European Parliament ready to defend digital rights? (EDRi, link): "On 18 January 2016, the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) adopted a non-legislative report, that will be subject to a vote by the whole Parliament on 3 February 2015.

Similar to TTIP, harsh criticism has been expressed on the nature and content of the TiSA negotiations. While the INTA committee remained silent about certain points of concern for digital rights, such as access to open source code, INTA’s report on TiSA complies with EDRi’s position on TiSA."

See: European Parliament Committee on International Trade: REPORT containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) (2015/2233(INI)) (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.1.16)

EU: Frontex: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community Joint Report: 2015 (pdf):

"Reducing irregular migration through an efficient asylum and visa system is likely to be difficult to implement in the case of West Africa. This is suggested by the current visa rejection rates and the profiles of rejected visa applicants and irregular migrants detected in the Mediterranean."

European Parliament Study: Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants (pdf):

"With renewed efforts to counter people smuggling in the context of an unprecedented influx of migrants and refugees into the EU, it assesses existing EU legislation in the area – the 2002 Facilitators’ Package – and how it deals with those providing humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants. The study maps EU legislation against the international legal framework and explores the effects – both direct and indirect – of the law and policy practice in selected Member States. It finds significant inconsistencies, divergences and grey areas, such that humanitarian actors are often deterred from providing assistance. The study calls for a review of the legislative framework, greater legal certainty and improved data collection on the effects of the legislation." [emphasis added]

"There is widespread confusion among civil society practitioners around how the Facilitation Directive is implemented in their Member State, which can lead to misinformation and ‘erring on the side of caution’, thereby compromising migrants’ access to vital services. This is especially true in the context of the current migration crisis, where everyday citizens are obliged to volunteer vital services in the absence of sufficient state provision."

See: Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (pdf): See Article 1.

Sweden may expel up to 80,000 failed asylum-seekers (BBC News, link): "The authorities in Sweden are making plans to expel as many as 80,000 failed asylum-seekers, the interior minister has been quoted as saying. Anders Ygeman said charter aircraft would be used to deport the migrants but it would take several years. Some 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015, the highest per capita number in Europe."

European Parliament: Trade secrets: EP/Council deal backed by Legal Affairs Committee (Press release, pdf):

"A provisional deal on new rules to help firms win legal redress against theft or misuse of their trade secrets was endorsed by the Legal Affairs Committee on
Thursday. The deal, struck by Parliament and Council negotiators in December, now needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole as well as the Council of Ministers."

Council of Europe: Combating international terrorism while protecting Council of Europe standards and values (pdf):

"The fight against terrorism must be reinforced while ensuring respect for human rights, the rule of law and the common values upheld by the Council of Europe. It should be underlined that combating terrorism and protecting Council of Europe standards and values are not contradictory but complementary.

Parliaments and governments of member States are therefore called upon to ensure the necessity and proportionality of measures taken in their fight against terrorism."

And see Report page (link)

IRELAND: Independence of Data Protection Commissioner questioned (Irish Times, link):

"Digital Rights Ireland confirms legal papers to be served on Government in coming days. The High Court is to be asked to make a referral to the EU’s highest court for a ruling on whether Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner is truly independent under EU law.

Legal papers will be served on the State and the Attorney General in the coming days claiming the State has acted in breach of EU law by failing to ensure the regulator exercises its role independently.

The action is being taken by the privacy advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland (DRI), which took a successful case to the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 overturning the entire regime under which the telephone and internet data of over 500 million European citizens were retained for up to two years. "

Greece targeted by Commission - Schengen suspension process started : European Commission: Commission discusses draft Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece (pdf)

Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The draft Schengen evaluation report on Greece looks at the management of the external border during an evaluation visit of Member States and Commission experts in Greece in November. The report shows that there are serious deficiencies in the management of the external border in Greece. We know that in the meantime Greece has started undertaking efforts towards rectifying and complying with the Schengen rules. Substantial improvements are needed to ensure the proper reception, registration, relocation or return of migrants in order to bring Schengen functioning back to normal, without internal border controls...."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is seeking to make a scapegoat out of Greece when nearly all the other Schengen Member States have failed to act on pledges for aid funds, pursued legally dubious reception procedures, registration, relocation or return of migrants - and the Commission has failed to act" See: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing: Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed:

EU: Human Rights Watch: European Union: Refugee Response Falls Short: Migration, Security Crisis Challenge Divided Union on Rights (link):

"The European Union struggled to develop an effective and principled response to the 1 million asylum seekers and migrants who reached Europe by sea during 2015, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2016. Human Rights Watch highlights developments in 10 EU member states and union-wide developments on migration and asylum, discrimination and intolerance, and counterterrorism, a major concern during the year in light of horrific attacks in Paris.

“The disjointed beggar-thy-neighbor responses of EU governments to 1 million arrivals this year has turned a manageable challenge into a full-blown political crisis,” said Benjamin Ward, deputy Europe and Central Asia division director at Human Rights Watch. “Asylum seekers and migrants in Greece and along the Western Balkans route have paid the price of a divided EU.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.16)

EU: Commission: Schengen suspension could be extended, 60% of migrants should be sent back (euractiv, link)

"The European Commission today (26 January) said it could agree to a suspension of border-free travel in the Schengen zone of up to two years, and that nearly two thirds of migrants entering the EU in December were not eligible for asylum because they did not come from conflict zones."

Statewatch comments: if this policy of allowing asylum only for those fleeing conflict zones (ie: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan) it would be a big change in the EU policy decided in September 2015 which set Syria, Iraq and Eritrea as the states qualifying for "relocation" (ie: in need of international protection). This formula was based on Eurostat 75% recognition rates. The policy of only relocating in the EU refugees from conflict zones has beeen pioneered by Macedonia and Serbia.

and: 60% of refugees are economic migrants: Dutch EU commissioner (dutchnews.nl, link):

"More than half the asylum seekers coming to Europe are not fleeing from war and northern Africans in particular are leaving their home countries for economic reasons, the Netherlands’ European Commissioner has told Nos. Frans Timmermans, who is the commission’s first vice president, told the broadcaster in an interview: ‘More than half of the people now coming to Europe come from countries where you can assume they have no reason whatsoever to ask for refugee status. More than half, 60%.’....

In the main they are people from Morocco and Tunisia who want to travel to Europe via Turkey, Nos quoted him as saying. Timmermans bases his claim on the latest figures from European border agency Frontex which have not yet been officially published."

EU: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the Press Conference after the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Home Affairs (pdf)

"Important decisions were taken in September last year, and promises to implement were made, in line with European values of solidarity and responsibility.
But months later, we find ourselves with more internal border controls, questionable legislative decisions towards asylum seekers or refugees, less solidarity, less responsibility and more individual and uncoordinated decisions.....

What we need is the full implementation of the agreed measures
:
- We need fully operational hotspots – all of them.
- We need to properly register everyone.
- We need to go full-speed ahead with relocation.
- We need more reception capacities in Greece and along the Western Balkans route.
- We need to return people that have no right to stay.
- We need to strengthen the control and management of our external borders"
[emphasis added].

See below for the latest Commission statistics showing little change or failure on most fronts.

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

Latest Commission figures, published 25.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation small increase. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid pledges compete standstill.

EU: Europol report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State terrorist attacks Review held by experts from Member States and Europol on 29 November and 1 December 2015 (pdf):

"There is no concrete evidence that terrorist travellers systematically use the flow of refugees to enter Europe unnoticed. A real and imminent danger, however, is the possibility of elements of the (Sunni Muslim) Syrian refugee diaspora becoming vulnerable to radicalisation once in Europe and being specifically targeted by Islamic extremist recruiters....

There is no evidence however of IS-financing networks in existence. Despite third party reporting suggesting the use of anonymous currencies like Bitcoin by terrorists to finance their activities, this has not been confirmed by law enforcement..." [emphasis added]

UK: These are the questions the Hillsborough jury has to answer (Liverpool Echo, link): "The jurors will consider whether the 96 were unlawfully killed... Coroner Sir John Goldring began his summing up of the case this morning and told the seven women and three men who make up the jury that they would be given a general questionnaire, with 14 sections, to complete."

How a Small Company in Switzerland Is Fighting a Surveillance Law — And Winning (The Intercept, link): "As of November, 14 countries had passed new laws bequeathing more power to intelligence agencies to spy...."

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION AGREEMENT: Senate Panel Reschedules Vote on Judicial Redress Act (22.1.16, link):

"The Senate Judiciary Committee announced today they would vote on the Judicial Redress Act next Thursday, three days before American and European negotiators reach a crucial deadline in their bid to strike a new data-transfer pact. The bill is seen as crucial to negotiators’ ability to reach that deal.

The committee was set to consider the measure, H.R. 1428, yesterday, but opted to delay that vote at the request of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The committee will now vote on it during their next executive business meeting. If negotiators from the U.S. and the European Union do not reach a new pact by Jan. 31, European authorities may begin prosecuting companies for transferring data."

EU: Joint Statement following the High-Level Political Dialogue between the EU and Turkey (pdf)

"Turkey and the EU believe that there is a need to exert huge effort to address the refugee crisis and irregular migration. They discussed the implementation of the Joint Action Plan which was activated at the 29 November EU-Turkey Summit. Measures by Turkey to further improve the socio-economic situation of Syrians under temporary protection, such as the adoption of legislation on granting them legal access to the labor market, were welcomed. Turkey exerts outstanding efforts so far to accommodate the more than two and a half million Syrians currently in Turkey. The need to achieve further results in stemming the influx of irregular migrants and in fighting criminal smuggling networks was underlined. Turkey and the EU agreed to step up their cooperation to reinforce the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and acknowledged the importance of maintaining a system of coordinated reporting on migration and refugee flows."

More documentation, news and analysis: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (25.1.16)

UNDERCOVER POLICING: Pressure Intensifies on Inquiry to Include Scotland (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, link): "The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing is still limbering up and defining its terms, so it’s unclear how trustworthy it will be. One of the major sticking points is that it is limited to deeds done by officers of English and Welsh forces whilst in England and Wales.

The 13 known officers – less than 10% of the true total – worked in 17 other countries. Most of them worked in Scotland. When we say “worked”, we mean doing what the Metropolitan Police themselves describe as being 'a violation of human rights, an abuse of police power… abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.'

If this is what we know already, we can be sure there is more to come. To underline that point, the officer newly exposed last week, Carlo Neri, was also active in Scotland."

See also: Profile: New Scottish police chief Phil Gormley linked to #spycops scandal (Undercover Research Group, link)

HUNGARY: States of emergency: Hungarian government seeks new powers: list of 30 measures

The Hungarian government is preparing new emergency powers through changes to the country's consititution that could be adopted with a two-thirds parliamentary majority made up of ruling party Fidesz and the far-right party Jobbik. An opposition party has translated into English a list of some 30 powers that the government would acquire through its proposed changes.

EU: Moving On: One Year Alarmphone (pdf, 7MB)

"Everything is possible, everything can be transformed by strong social movements! Through our Alarm Phone project and during this incredible year of successful struggles for the freedom of movement, we learned this lesson once again.

(...)

The different contributions in this brochure reflect on many remarkable experiences made by Alarm Phone members in the project’s first year of existence. Most of its articles were composed by working groups or individual members of our transnational network and are
thus reflective of the decentralised character of the Alarm Phone and its collaborative approach. We have grown into a network of more than 100 activists who belong to various groups, have multiple backgrounds, and live in cities all over Europe, northern Africa and elsewhere."

See: more documentation, news and analysis: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.1.16)

UK: RACISM, POLICING AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Dangerous associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, link): "This study examines the processes of criminalisation that contribute to unequal outcomes for young Black, Asian and Minority ethnic people. It has been written by Patrick Williams and Becky Clarke of Manchester Metropolitan University.

The research draws on a survey of nearly 250 serving prisoners convicted under joint enterprise provisions. It tracks the complex process of criminalisaiton through which black and minority ethnic people are unfairly identified by the police as members of dangerous gangs."

The key findings cover the following:

1. Establishing foresight: Making associations to support JE prosecutions
2. The ‘gang’ as a racialised signifier of association
3. Challenging associations: A disconnect between racialised gangs and serious violence

See: Key findings (pdf) and the full report: Dangerous associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism (pdf)

EU: New European police centre to fight terrorism (The Local, link): " A new European counter-terrorism centre opening this month will improve information-sharing among national police forces whose performance is under scrutiny after the jihadist attacks in Paris in November, the director of Europol has told AFP.

"It establishes for the first time in Europe a dedicated operation centre," Britain's Rob Wainwright said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland."

The centre will be officially launched at the informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Amsterdam today and tomorrow (25 and 26 January), where national ministers will again discuss how to increase the sharing of information and intelligence on counter-terrorism amongst national law enforcement authorities.

More information on the new body: The European Counter-Terrorism Centre: proposed powers and information systems (Statewatch News Online, December 2015) and: Europol's press release: Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre strengthens the EU’s response to terror (pdf)

Statewatch Observatory on the refugee crisis: in the Med and inside the EU: 9 December 2015 – 24 January 2016 (pdf)

New official documents and decisions by EU institutions: Council of the European Union, European Commission, Agencies and European Parliament plus Commentaries and critiques and Daily News Digests (in chronological order)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.1.16)

Arrivals this year in the Med: UNHCR (23.1.16): So far this year 36,528 refugees have arrived. 35,455 in Greece (of which 26,617 have arrived in Lesvos) and : 1,073 in Italy. and 149 dead/missing..

EU: Refugee crisis: UNHCR: Report highlights ongoing issues

The
UNHCR Winter Operations Cell report (pdf) contains an up-to-date round-up on changing policies, practices and crises including 1) Filtering by intended destination country 2) "Bottlenecks" are created as Greece and Macedonia on let refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan cross the border to go north 3) The Mayor of Kos has set strict conditions before agreeing to the location of a "hotspot" on the island.

EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, Amsterdam, 25-26 January 2015

- Programme (pdf)

- Discussion Paper European Border and Coast Guard (pdf)

"Border control is necessary to prevent illegal immigration and crossing of the borders by persons who pose a threat to the public order or security of MS or the Schengen area."

The paper puts on the table key issues in the creation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: a) the power of the Agency to carry out "vulnerability assessments" and require a Member State to undertake improvements - this Decision would be binding and b) "The right to intervene in case of a situation at the external border requiring urgent action".

- Discussion Paper on counter terrorism (pdf) Asks what steps are needed to increase information sharing between agencies and EU Member States and whether the "local approach" is one way forward?

- Discussion Paper on tackling cybercrime (pdf)
-
Discussion Paper on the European Forensic Science Area 2020 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.1.16)

FRANCE: Prime Minister calls for "total, global and ruthless" war on terror

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that the war on terrorism must be "total, global and ruthless," and that the French state of emergency should last "as long as the threat is there".

UK: For fsck's SAKKE: GCHQ-built phone voice encryption has massive backdoor – researcher (BBC News, link): "The UK government's official voice encryption protocol, around which it is hoping to build an ecosystem of products, has a massive backdoor that would enable the security services to intercept and listen to all past and present calls, a researcher has discovered.

Dr Steven Murdoch of University College London has posted an extensive blog post digging into the MIKEY-SAKKE spec in which he concludes that it has been specifically designed to "allow undetectable and unauditable mass surveillance."

He notes that in the "vast majority of cases" the protocol would be "actively harmful for security.""

See: Dr Murdoch's blog post: Insecure by design: protocols for encrypted phone calls (Bentham's Gaze, link): "The MIKEY-SAKKE protocol is being promoted by the UK government as a better way to secure phone calls. The reality is that MIKEY-SAKKE is designed to offer minimal security while allowing undetectable mass surveillance, through the introduction a backdoor based around mandatory key-escrow. This weakness has implications which go further than just the security of phone calls."

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: KILLER ROBOTS: 40 countries are working on killer robots and there’s no law to say how we use them (The Next Web, link): "Artificial intelligence experts have come together at the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss the future – or lack of – for autonomous killer robots.

Despite calls for a ban made by people like Tesla’s Elon Musk last year, Sir Roger Carr, the chairman of British weapons manufacturer BAE, said that 40 countries are currently working on this tech, including the United States."

Video: What If: Robots Go to War? (World Economic Forum, link): "Remarkable advances in artificial intelligence may soon have implications for the future of warfare. What if autonomous weapon systems replace both soldiers and generals?

Join an in-depth discussion that explores the possible, plausible and probable impacts of artificial intelligence on defence systems."

UK: Tracked by MI5 to PC World: How judges and Theresa May deemed London minicab driver ‘very highly probably’ an Al Qaeda courier (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link): "A London minicab driver who arrived in Britain from Afghanistan as an unaccompanied minor 12 years ago is now highly likely to be an Islamist extremist and a threat to national security, judges have ruled.

The 27 year old, known only as M2, had his British citizenship stripped by Theresa May in 2014 after being tracked by MI5 but re-entered the UK just months later. He is currently living in a west London flat under special bail conditions.

He had appealed the Home Secretary’s decision but judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) have now ruled that under the civil burden of proof, it is “very highly probable that [he] is an Islamist extremist” who has “engaged in terrorist related activities” by acting as a courier for an “important” al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan."

See: Special Immigration Appeals Commission judgment: Appeal No SC/124/2014 between: M2 and The Secretary of State for the Home Department (pdf)

The Dublin Regulation: Is the End Nigh? Where should unaccompanied children apply for asylum? (EU Law Analysis, link): "Two recent developments have raised controversy as regards the EU’s Dublin III Regulation, the set of rules which determines in which Member State asylum-seekers must make their asylum application. First of all, a British judgment yesterday stated that the UK was responsible for the asylum claims by unaccompanied children in France (in particular the Calais ‘Jungle’), who have a family member in the UK. Secondly, a press report indicated that the Commission is planning to propose a fundamental overhaul of the Dublin rules in the near future. Both developments have alarmed some commentators, but thrilled others. I will examine the legal and political context of each of them in turn. "

The British court case regarding Calais: Syrian teenagers in Calais win UK asylum ruling (BBC News, link) and: Four Syrian refugees must be brought from Calais camp to Britain, judges rule (The Guardian, link)

Changes to the Dublin rules: How the EU plans to overhaul ‘Dublin regulation’ on asylum claims (Financial Times, link) and: UK lobbies against plan to scrap EU's Dublin regulations (The Guardian, link)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.1.16)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: EU Institutions making steady progress (press release, pdf): "The EU institutions and bodies are making steady progress implementing data protection rules. This is the conclusion of the report published yesterday by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on his latest stocktaking exercise.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: "As the EU’s independent supervisory authority, it is the EDPS’ role to keep EU institutions on track in fulfilling their data protection obligations. The institutions themselves are accountable for applying the rules and integrating data protection principles in their daily work. I am pleased that the results of our Survey confirm that they increasingly do.”"

See: EDPS report: Survey 2015: Measuring compliance with data protection rules in EU institutions (pdf)

EU: Article 29 Working Party on data protection: updated opinion on applicable law in light of Google Spain ("right to be forgotten") judgment

"In its judgement in Google Spain the Court of Justice of the European Union ('CJEU') found that the processing of personal data in question by the search engine operated by Google Inc., a US-based controller, was 'inextricably linked to', and therefore was carried out 'in the context of the activities' of Google's establishment in Spain, considering that the advertising and commercial activities of the Spanish subsidiary constituted the 'means of rendering the search engine economically profitable'. On these grounds, the CJEU concluded that Spanish law applied to the processing in question.

The implications of the judgement are broader than merely determining applicable law in relation to the operation of the Google search engine in Spain."

The opinion notes that the Google Spain judgment "confirms the broad territorial reach of Article 4(1)(a) of Directive 95/46/EC," raises the question of whether "companies having a designated 'EU headquarters'... need only to comply with one national law within the EU or also with the laws of other EU Member States in which they may also have a 'relevant' establishment," and that the judgment "does not by any means exclude the possibility of controllers having no establishment of any sort within the EU being subject to EU data protection requirements."

See: Update of Opinion 8/2010 on applicable law in light of the CJEU judgement in Google Spain (pdf)

Background: DATA SURVEILLANCE: EU court backs 'right to be forgotten': Google must amend results on request (Statewatch News Online, May 2014) and Article 29 Working Party: Opinion 8/2010 on applicable law (December 2010, pdf)

ECHR: Defamation claims against Patrick de Carolis and France 3 were upheld in breach of their right to freedom of expression (press release, pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of de Carolis and France Televisions v. France (application no. 29313/10) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an accusation of defamation brought by Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal on account of a documentary on the France 3 television channel concerning complaints lodged by families of the victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks."

See: Judgment (French, pdf)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across Europe (22.1.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (news and documents, 21.1.16)

EU Netherlands Council Presidency: Dutch Presidency debate: "counter growing scepticism with visible results, refugee crisis top priority (pdf):

""We must achieve concrete results and make sure they are visible to counter growing scepticism throughout Europe. (..) Keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal in Europe. A deal is a deal", said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the kick-off debate of the Dutch Presidency in Strasbourg on Wednesday."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte may want to tell the authorities in the Netherlands that "keeping promises and sticking to agreements should be the new normal". The country still has to make available nearly 6,000 places for the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy. So far the Netherlands has made 100 places available and has relocated 50 people: See: Member State relocation pledges (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (news and documents, 20.1.16)

Statewatch Briefing: Directive on combating terrorism
[Proposed Directive on combating terrorism to bring EU law into line with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 2178]:

In early December 2015, shortly after terrorist attacks on cafés and nightclubs in Paris, the Commission published its proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism. This will replace the EU's 2002 Framework Decision on combating terrorism (2002/475/JHA), which was amended in 2008 (by Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA). The EU is already a signatory to a Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on combating terrorism, but is obliged to introduce its own criminal law provisions in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (September 2014). The Commission's proposals also include further measures.

Background, Critiques and Statewatch coverage. Including official documents

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Statistics: September 2015 ongoing

Latest Commission figures, published 19.1.16. Very little has changed: relocation is at a standstill. Frontex staff for hotspots (minor shifts), aid budgets and "trust funds", and civil protection requirements.

Bulgaria: Pushbacks, Abuse at Borders - Halt Summary Returns, Beatings, Robbery of Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Bulgarian law enforcement officials summarily return asylum seekers and migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings and subjecting them to violence.

In research in six countries between October and December 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq who described 59 incidents of summary returns from Bulgaria to Turkey between March and November. Twenty-six people said they had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. All but one said they were stripped of their possessions, in some cases at gunpoint by people they described as Bulgarian law enforcement officials, then pushed back across the border to Turkey."

What Happens to the Data Collected On Us While We Sleep (Motherboard, link):

"With the quantified self trend in vogue and wearables escalating, an alarming amount of users’ biometric data is being generated and collected, and there’s next to no oversight preventing it from winding up in the hands of data brokers and advertisers getting rich off your personal information.

We already know that the major data brokers like Acxiom and Experian collect thousands of pieces of information on nearly every US consumer to paint a detailed personality picture, by tracking the websites we visit and the things we search for and buy. These companies often know sensitive things like our sexual preference or what illnesses we have."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.16)

MSF: Obstacle Course to Europe: A policy-made humanitarian crisis at EU borders (pdf)

"The report spells out that Europe cannot continue to count on the deadly sea crossing, fences and poor reception conditions to act as a ‘filter of deterrence’. The current narrative and policies cannot hold. As instability continues to rage across Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the EU and European governments must shift their current policies and provide a humane and humanitarianresponse to refugees and migrants desperately seeking its protection and assistance."

EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION MEASURE: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (LIMITE doc no: 5312-15, 18.1.16, pdf) Includes 47 Member State positions:

"The present note sets out the outcome of the discussions on the abovementioned proposal at the Asylum Working Party meeting on 7 December 2015 as well as at previous meetings of Friends of Presidency (Asylum) and JHA Counsellors.

The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BE, BG, EE, EL, LV, FI, FR, PT and SI. CZ, ES, FR, HU, LT, PL, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."

European Parliament: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf). The rapporteurs will be taking amendment suggestions until 27 January. It is due for adoption in the LIBE Committee in March. and then during the Plenary vote in April.

UK: Terrorism Act incompatible with human rights, court rules in David Miranda case (Guardian, link):

"Appeal court says detention of Miranda was lawful but clause under which he was held is incompatible with European human rights convention.

A key clause in the Terrorism Act 2000 is incompatible with the European convention on human rights, the master of the rolls, Lord Dyson, has declared as part of a court of appeal judgment. His judgment came in the case of a man detained at Heathrow airport for carrying files related to information obtained by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Dyson’s decision will force government ministers to re-examine the act, which has now been found to be inconsistent with European law. Dyson said that the powers contained in schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (2000) were flawed. Schedule 7 of the Act allows travellers to be questioned in order to find out whether they appear to be terrorists. They have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they may be detained for up to nine hours. “The stop power, if used in respect of journalistic information or material is incompatible with article 10 [freedom of expression] of the [European convention on human rights] because it is not ‘prescribed by law’,” the master of the rolls said."

Press release: Summary: The Queen on the application of David Miranda -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department (pdf) and Judgment: full-text (pdf)

European Parliament: Draft Report on The situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration (pdf). The rapporteurs will be taking amendment suggestions until 27 January. It is due for adoption in the LIBE Committee in March. and then during the Plenary vote in April.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICE: Another spycop exposed: Carlo Neri confirmed as an undercover (Undercover Researxh, link):

"Today we can reveal that Carlo Neri, who was active in the Socialist Party between 2001 and 2005, was in reality an undercover police officer in London, mostly likely deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad.

We have been working on this case since last summer, after people who knew him came to us with their suspicions. Following a long and sometimes winding investigation we were able to identify his real name, and to locate documentation that had his occupation down as police officer at the time he was undercover."

See also: The Fifteen Questions we work with (link)

FRANCE: Encryption backdoors by law? France says 'non' (ZDnet, link):

"A proposed amendment to France's Digital Republic Bill, suggesting mandatory hardware backdoors to bypass encryption, has been rejected by the government... The French government has rejected a proposed bill that would have required hardware makers to design products that give authorities access to stored data, even if it is encrypted.

The draft bill, proposed by a right-leaning politician in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, would have required all tech companies to insert backdoors into devices, on the grounds that encryption should not impede a police investigation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.1.16)

UK: Exclusive: See Shocking Footage of British Police Officers Attacking Peaceful Protesters (VICE, link):

"Last Thursday, two protesters were found not guilty of violent disorder and actual bodily harm against police officers, which they were accused of committing during a Cardiff Uncut protest at a bank on the 2nd of May last year. As a result of the acquittal, the CCTV footage of the event can now be released, and it tells a remarkably different story to what was presented as evidence against the two men.

The video shows police charging into the protesters, punching, kneeing, choking and hurling members of the group around the room. One defendant, 26-year-old Josh Longbottom, is held in a chokehold. In the scuffle the second defendant, Pete Simpson, aged 30, approaches his friend Josh before being picked up by the throat and slammed into the ground."

UK: Woman who was engaged to police spy sues Met over 'psychological torture' (Guardian, link):

"Complainant wants apology and list of fake names used by undercover officers, after two-year relationship with man she knew as Carlo Neri. A woman who accepted a marriage proposal from a married undercover police officer has begun legal action against the Metropolitan police, alleging that she suffered “abusive, cold-hearted, psychological torture” from his deception.

The woman, known only as Andrea, had a two-year relationship with the officer, during which time the spy told her that he wanted a baby with her but did not tell her that he already had a wife and child and was an undercover cop."

Portuguese Court Rules Ex-CIA Operative Should Serve Italian Sentence (The Wall Street Journal, link): "A Portuguese court has ruled that a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative convicted in Italy for kidnapping under the U.S. rendition program should be turned over to Italian authorities to serve a seven-year prison sentence."

The background: Statewatch Analysis: State secrets in the Abu Omar case: the transatlantic relationship undermines the rule of law in cases involving human rights abuses by intelligence services by Yasha Maccanico (August 2014, pdf)

And see: Portuguese court backs ex-CIA agent's extradition to Italy (The Local, link)

EU: FENCES: Bulgaria and Macedonia

Bulgarian IntMin Hopes Fence at Border with Turkey to be Completed in March (Novinite, link): "She reminded that the fence has a length of 132.6 kilometres and is situated at the territories of three regions – Haskovo, Yambol and Burgas

The cost of the fence is BGN 60 M, with half of the sum having been absorbed until now.

According to her, the new facility is better than the one which had been constructed by the army during the government of Plamen Oresharski.

The barbed wire of the new facility is thicker, it has three rows instead of the existing two and the fence has warranty service of five years."

European refugee crisis: Macedonia builds 10ft-high razor-topped fence along Greek border (International Business Times, link): "The Republic of Macedonia is just weeks away from completing a 10ft-high razor-topped fence along its border with Greece to stop refugees and migrants entering the Balkans.

(...)

Armed security teams from six other Eastern European nations will help Macedonia patrol its southern border. This underpins the idea that Macedonia's fence would operate as a bottleneck to slow the refugees down..."

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.1.16)

The draft EU Directive on Combating Terrorism: Much Ado About What? (EU Law Analysis, link): " The slow strangulation of the transnational public sphere continues. The publication last month of a draft EU Directive on Combating Terrorism is the Union’s initial (legislative) response to recent murders by Islamic State fighters in Europe and elsewhere. The draft Directive will recast the Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism, first adopted in 2002 and amended in 2008, and will further broaden the impact of EU law in national criminal law as regards terrorism.

(...)

Taken as a whole, the Directive continues the ongoing restriction of various mobilities – of finance, information, and people – in the name of counter-terrorism. This restriction has been the hallmark of international efforts since 11 September 2001. There is an inevitable risk for critiques of such action: on the one hand it appears to be restrictive of civil liberties across Europe and on the other hand its operational usefulness is unclear. Can such a law be both draconian and ineffective? Undoubtedly. As with any EU measure the proof will be in the transposition and implementation."

See:

UK: Refusal and revocation of British citizenship for dishonest conduct (Free Movement, link): "In another reminder that British citizenship can be refused on the basis of past dishonest conduct we have the case of R (on the application of Rushiti & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 3931 (Admin). This one dates back a few months but I’m afraid I only just found it in my drafts folder. It involves two linked cases, both of which are further examples of Albanians entering the UK and pretending to be Kosovar, eventually obtaining immigration status then applying for British citizenship.

(...)

I originally drafted this post just as I was reviewing Eric Fripp’s The Law and Practice of Expulsion and Exclusion from the United Kingdom and was rather surprised to learn that there were zero recorded instances of citizenship deprivation on the basis of dishonesty between 1983 and 2009, but in 2009 there were 30 such decisions. All or almost all are said by the authors to be Albanian/Kosovar cases. Since then, the numbers seem to have been steadily increasing.

The deprivation of citizenship — the exclusion of perceived undesirables from our polity — is one of the most important trends of our time."

See: Judgment: Rushiti & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 3931 (November 2014, pdf)

UK: Majority Of Boroughs Fail To Meet Stop And Search Arrest Targets (Londonist, link): "Two thirds of London boroughs are failing to meet arrest targets set under the Met's stop and search guidance, police data shows.

It means that across the capital hundreds of thousands of people are being unnecessarily searched by the police — mostly black people, who are 11.5 times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts."

See: Metropolitan Police: Stops and Searches Monitoring Mechanism, November 2015 (pdf)

News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (18.1.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27 news items and developments (16-17.1.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: Checks at external borders, Combatting terrorism, GAMM & Visa Code facilitation and readmission

- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation No 562/2006 (EC) as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 5208-15, pdf)

"On entry and on exit, persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law shall be subject to the following checks...

Use of advanced passenger data for border control purposes A delegation, supported by certain other delegations, proposed to include provisions on the use of advance passenger data, available pursuant to Council Directive 2004/82/EC on the obligation of
carriers to communicate passenger data, for the purpose of border control. The approach suggested would allow that certain checks could be carried out on the basis of such information received by the border control authorities in advance of the arrival to the border of the persons concerned, with the understanding that the result of the consultations would be verified at the border control..."

- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Compilation of replies (LIMITE doc no: 5201-15, pdf) Detailed Member State positions:

"Further to the invitation of the Presidency for written contributions concerning the proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism, which was extended at the meeting of the Working Party on Substantive Criminal Law on 7 and 8 January 2016, delegations will find in the annexes to this note a compilation of the replies provided by the Member States..."

And: COR 1 (pdf): "Portugal also wants to express its discontent in relation to the working plan presented by the Presidency, which provide for seven (7) meetings on the negotiation of this draft proposal for the months of January and February of 2016, two of which in the Working Group DROIPEN and the remaining five (5) in the Friends of the Presidency format (Fop)." [emphasis in original]

See: EU to gold plate international anti-terrorism obligations with "urgent" new law (Statewatch database) and Commission: Proposal for a Directive on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (link)

- High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (LIMITE doc no: 13426-15, pdf) including: GAMM UPDATE (19 October 2015 - Annex 17 pages). "This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM)."

- Connection between the facilitations set out in the Visa Code and readmission (LIMITE doc no: 15507-15, pdf) Contains three options including:

"Introduction of a recital which states that visa facilitation with third countries - beyond the rules provided for in the Visa Code - is reserved only for nationals of third countries that have concluded a readmission agreement."

Policing with accountability or policing with impunity? (IRR, link) by Liz Fekete:

"Media stigmatisation of poor multicultural neighbourhoods of Europe as strongholds of Islamist terrorism and organised crime is lending legitimacy to a more coercive, more militarised style of policing....

Across Europe, with its different policing traditions (Greece, Spain and Portugal, for instance, only emerged from dictatorship in the mid-1970s and elements of authoritarian policing linger on), squads that had by necessity to have specialist roles were not supposed to operate above or outside the law. But now something very different seems to be happening across Europe. There is a danger that we are sleepwalking into a more military-style of policing (in the first instance being tried on poor, multicultural communities) which affords an effective impunity for its officers far more serious and undermining of democracy, than anything we have hitherto known."

EU: The Discreet Charm of Passenger Data: Big Data Surveillance Coming Home (PRIO, link):

"Several governments see in the mass-surveillance of passenger data the key tool of counter-terrorism. These data are generally known as PNR – Passenger Name Records, and their potential for law enforcement has been discussed at least since the 1990s. Now European Union (EU) debates about the creation of a European PNR scheme seem settled once and for all. Others have already provided legal analyses of the measure to come. Here the goal is different: I aim to show how urgent it is to start researching the political dimensions of this security program right when all politics fade away."

EU: TRAVEL SURVEILLANCE: Bulgarian Passenger Name Record (PNR) law on the way: