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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2019
Carries all items that have been added or updated to News Online and Observatories.
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EU: Non paper - Increasing transparency and accountability of the EU - Joint non paper by Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands on increasing the transparency and accountability of the European Union (pdf)
"A future-proof and effective EU requires a Union that is accountable and enjoys the trust and participation of its citizens. Enhancing openness and sharing information are key, as it brings citizens closer to the EU and enables the institutions to enjoy greater legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness."
See Statewatch Observatory: FOI in the EU
Sophia in limbo: political games limit sea rescues (euobserver, link):
"There are only few weeks left until the mandate of the EU's naval mission in the Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR Med [Operation Sophia], will expire on 31 March.
Nevertheless, Germany already decided in January to stop contributing vessels to the mission: its frigate Augsburg left in February."
EU must rethink migration policy that empowers "unaccountable militias and regimes", say rights groups
A coalition of civil society organisations working for democracy and human rights in Africa have accused the EU and its member states of empowering "unaccountable militias and regimes" and "undermining rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and the role of civil society" through activities undertaken as part of the EU-driven 'Khartoum Process' and the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
EU: A Europe that protects: good progress on tackling hybrid threats (Commission press release, pdf):
"The European Union and Member States have made good progress in tackling hybrid threats through a number of concerted actions in a wide range of sectors to significantly boost capacities, shows the latest report adopted today by the Commission and the European External Action Service."
See: JOINT STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT: Report on the implementation of the 2016 Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats and the 2018 Joint Communication on increasing resilience and bolstering capabilities to address hybrid threats (SWD(2019) 200 final, 28 May 2019, pdf)
Norway: 'Callous decision' to deport family to Afghanistan must be reversed (Amnesty, link):
"The Norwegian government must immediately halt the dangerous deportation of Taibeh Abbasi and her family back to Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today.
Taibeh (20) and her brothers Eshan (16) and Yasin (22) were flown from Norway to Istanbul on Saturday together with their mother. Due to a health condition, their mother is expected to be returned to Norway, but the children are at imminent risk of being flown to Kabul.
Ten Norwegian immigration police in Istanbul are reportedly escorting the siblings to Kabul. The Norwegian government has justified the familys deportation by claiming that Afghanistan is safe for returns. This claim is contradicted by the record-high levels of violence documented across Afghanistan."
Joint EU-US statement following the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (pdf):
"On 19 June 2019 the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the EU-U.S. Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Bucharest, Romania. The meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to take stock of their long-standing cooperation in this area and to reaffirm their partnership in addressing common security threats."
Topics noted: terrorism and information-sharing; Passenger Name Record (PNR); aviation security; "the use of the internet for terrorist purposes"; cyberspace; 5G and law enforcement; e-evidence; Frontex; ETIAS; visa waivers.
In the margins of the meeting the Commission launched negotiations on the exchange of e-evidence. The European Parliament is still considering its position on new EU laws.
Four human traffickers jailed for life over migrant truck deaths (DW, link):
"Four years ago, the bodies of 71 migrants were found inside an abandoned truck in Austria. The main suspects had already been sentenced, but now an appeal court in Hungary has delivered the final ruling on the case.
A court in Hungary on Thursday sentenced an Afghan ring leader and three Bulgarian accomplices to life in prison over the deaths of 71 migrants four years ago.
The men were found guilty of human trafficking and manslaughter. Judge Erik Mezolaki ruled Thursday that three of the traffickers would have no possibility of parole, whilethe fourth would serve a minimum 30 years."
CoE: Doris Fiala urges parliaments to lead the debate on humane refugee policy (link):
"The Chair of PACEs Migration Committee has urged national parliaments to lead the political debate on devising humane refugee policies, reminding states that it is a legal and moral obligation to treat with humanity everyone seeking refuge in Europe.
Speaking on World Refugee Day, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) said this was all the more important at a time when racism, xenophobia and nationalism were challenging the Council of Europes common values and legal standards on refugees."
Germany: Death threats sent to pro-refugee politicians (DW, link)
"As the investigation into the murder of Walter Lübcke intensifies, Cologne's mayor and several other German politicians have had their lives threatened. Police say the threats likely also stem from right-wing extremists."
EU's terrorism filter plans: The problems just keep coming (ZDNet, link):
"A few weeks ago, German internet users discovered that their country's authorities had been keeping closer tabs on them than they realized.
In late April, in reply to a parliamentary question, the federal police Germany's version of the FBI revealed that they had quietly established a database for online terrorism referrals last October.
...All this activity was part of a pilot project developed in preparation for new European rules, the interior ministry, which oversees the federal police, explained in its reply to the official enquiry from left-wing German MPs."
New ECtHR Judgment: Greece violates Articles 3 & 5 ECHR (Deighton Pierce Glynn, link):
"The ECtHR has ruled on the plight of migrant children trapped in degrading conditions of detention in Greece caused in part by the closure of the Balkans corridor into the rest of Europe. Our client, Statewatch, submitted a third party intervention on this important case.
DPG Partner Zubier Yazdani instructed Garden Court barristers Shu Shin Luh and Ronan Toal to draft a third party intervention for our client Statewatch.
In a judgment issued on 13/06/2019 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece had violated its obligations under Articles 3 & 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits cruel inhumane and degrading treatment (Art 3) and arbitrary detention (Art 5). The case was brought by several applicants against Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia."
See: ECHR press release (pdf) and: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervener (pdf)
UK: Domestic extremism label is manifestly deficient says former reviewer of terrorism laws (Netpol, link):
"In a report published last week, David Anderson QC, a former independent reviewer of UK terrorism legislation, has called the domestic extremism label applied by police to a wide range of campaigning groups manifestly deficient, and indicated the Home Office is under pressure to abandon it.
Lord Anderson, now a crossbench peer who was responsible between 2011 and 2017 for independent oversight of UK counter-terrorism legislation, published a report on 11 June assessing the progress made by MI5 and counter-terrorism policing (CTP) on a review conducted after the 2017 terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.
The report severely criticises the use of the term domestic extremism and contains the first public indication that both the government and policing bodies are considering whether to ditch this controversial categorisation."
See: David Anderson: 2017 terrorist attacks MI5 and CTP reviews: Implementation stock-take - unclassified summary of conclusions (pdf)
UK-EU: Supreme Court finds UK breached residence rights of hundreds of thousands of EU citizens (Free Movement, link):
"The Supreme Court has today dismissed the Home Office appeal in the case of Gubeladze  UKSC 31. The judgment affects hundreds of thousands of EU citizens from the so-called Accession Eight (or A8) countries that joined the EU in 2004 and means that the United Kingdom unlawfully imposed a registration system, known as the Worker Registration Scheme, on these citizens between 2009 and 2011."
See the judgment: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v Gubeladze (Respondent) (pdf) and: Press summary (pdf)
STRUCTURAL FAILURE: Why Greeces reception system failed to provide sustainable solutions (Refugee Support Aegean, link):
"On June 6th 2019, there were 16,108 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants stranded on the Greek islands of Samos, Chios, Lesvos, Leros and Kos. Out of those, 12,628 lived in the hot-spots while the capacity of these centres was for 6,438. The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants staying in the Evros RIC was 366 while its capacity is for 318 people. Meanwhile, an estimated 16,457 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were living in 25 refugee camps in Greeces mainland.(...)
Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) and PRO ASYL have studied and analyzed three key elements of the reception system in order to produce a narrative on why state interventions, co-planned and subsidized by the EU, have not managed to produce long term sustainable solutions."
Council of Europe member states must assume more responsibility for rescuing migrants at sea and protecting their rights (CoE ,link):
"European states approach to migration in the Mediterranean Sea has become much too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, and too little on the humanitarian and human rights aspects. This approach is having tragic consequences, said Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a Recommendation today which identifies the deficiencies of this approach, and aims at helping member states to reframe their response according to human rights standards."
See: Lives saved. Rights protected.Bridging the protection gap for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean (pdf)
Germany mulls requests to host Sea-Watch migrants (DW, link):
"Dozens of cities, including Berlin and Rottenburg, have offered to take in migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. But German authorities have said resettling 53 migrants rescued by Sea-Watch would require EU support."
EU summit must give effective answer on migration (euobserver, link):
"Three years on from the peak of arrivals, the inability of European leaders to put in place an effective system is both failing the most vulnerable and threatening the EU's credibility with its citizens - leaving populist and far right parties to reap the rewards in the European elections."
EUROPES MIGRATION CHALLENGE - From integration to inclusion (link):
"As Europe prepares for the arrival of new Members of the European Parliament, a new European Commission and a new President of the European Council, its time to take a fresh look at Europes conventional thinking on migration. "
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-13.6.19) including:
- France carries out first deportation to Eritrea
- Germany: Bundestag approves new deportation law
- Italy to fine people saving lives at sea
- Frontex opens risk analysis cell in Senegal
USA: An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That's Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border (Esquire, link):
"Surely, the United States of America could not operate concentration camps. In the American consciousness, the term is synonymous with the Nazi death machines across the European continent that the Allies began the process of dismantling 75 years ago this month. But while the world-historical horrors of the Holocaust are unmatched, they are only the most extreme and inhuman manifestation of a concentration-camp systemwhich, according to Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, has a more global definition. There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, andwith Japanese internmentthe United States. In fact, she contends we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border."
UK: Book Launch, London, 18 June 2019: After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response (pdf):
"On the 14th June 2017, a fire engulfed a tower block in West London, seventy-two people lost their lives and hundreds of others were left displaced and traumatised. The Grenfell Tower fire is the epicentre of a long history of violence enacted by government and corporations. On its second anniversary activists, artists and academics come together to respond, remember and recover the disaster."
Free entry, book online: Book Launch - After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response (Eventbrite, link)
EU: Council Conclusions on Security and Defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy (10048/19, 17 June 2019, pdf):
"Since the launch of the EU Global Strategy in June 2016, the EU has taken ground-breaking steps forward in the area of security and defence. The Council welcomes the substantive progress made to enhance the security of the Union and its role as a security provider and global actor, including through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Today's complex and evolving threats and challenges require a comprehensive EU response, across the nexus between internal and external security as well as using the integrated approach to conflicts and crises."
France carries out first deportation to Eritrea (La Cimade, link):
"On June 6, 2019, the prefecture of Pyrénées-Orientales expelled an Eritrean person to Asmara from the administrative detention center (CRA) of Toulouse. This is France's first expulsion to Eritrea, a country with one of the most violent dictatorships in the world."
UK: Independent review of the Home Office response to the mandating of DNA evidence for immigration purposes (pdf)
"This is the review into the Home Offices response to the mandating of DNA based evidence for immigration purposes. The legal position is that the Home Office has no express legal power to mandate people to provide DNA based evidence of identity or familial relationships in support of an application, nor can their application be refused for not providing such evidence. People can, however, voluntarily provide DNA based evidence."
And see: Government response (pdf)
EU budget 2020: Commission focuses its proposal on jobs, growth and security (EC press release, pdf):
"Many of Europe's challenges know no borders. The EU has repeatedly used all flexibility in the budget to respond to disasters, address migration challenges and strengthen the EU's external borders. By mobilising its various instruments, the 2020 EU budget will continue to invest in solidarity and security in Europe and beyond:
420.6 million (+34.6% compared to 2019) for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2019 to set up a standing corps of 10 000 border guards by 2027;
Frontex opens Risk Analysis Cell in Senegal (Frontex, link):
"On 12 June, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, opened a Risk Analysis Cell in Dakar in cooperation with Senegalese authorities within the framework of the Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC).
Taking part in the opening in Senegal were representatives of Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, as well as other international partners.
The role of the cells, which are run by local analysts trained by Frontex, is to collect and analyse strategic data on cross-border crime in various African countries and support relevant authorities involved in border management.
This includes information on illegal border crossings, document fraud, trafficking in human beings and other types of cross-border crime. It is shared with authorities at national and regional level to produce analysis and policy recommendations, as well as with Frontex."
Balkan Region Report May 2019 (Border Violence Monitoring, link):
"No Name Kitchen, Border Violence Monitoring and [Re:]ports Sarajevo have published a common report summarizing current developments in pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and along the Serbian borders with Croatia.
As such, this report contains analysis and a review of the situation in these areas as well. In total, this report covers 23 case reports on border violence and collective expulsions.
The report details, among other things:
- the lack of systematization in push-back procedures from BiH to Montenegro
- Border violence from Serbian authorities
- a variety of footage from Croatian push-backs obtained over the course of the last month
- the reintroduction of certain techniques of violence in Croatian push-backs
- Velika Kladuas role in chain push-backs from Slovenia to BiH"
EU: Data Retention: EU Commission inconclusive about potential new legislation (EDRi, link):
"According to the Commission, there are no clear next stages in the process, apart from the aforementioned study that will have to be prepared after the Council conclusions on data retention published on 6 June. The Commission will, in addition to this study, continue dialogues with civil society, data protection authorities, EU Fundamental Rights Agency and Member States that will inform a potential future action (or inaction) from the EC on data retention."
France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees (Amnesty, link):
"French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.
Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in Calais and Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.
Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees, said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty Internationals Human Rights Defenders Researcher."
HUNGARY: Criminalisation of homelessness: "No one has the right to be homeless " (Verfassungsblog, link):
"In its decision of 4 June, the Hungarian Constitutional Court found section 178/B of the Act on Misdemeanors making residing in public spaces as habitual dwelling a punishable act conform to the constitution. The majority of the justices ruled that [a]ccording to the values of the Fundamental Law no one has the right to be poor or homeless, this status is not part of the right to dignity [para. 102] This decision is a clear manifestation not only of extreme deference to the government but also of the lack of basic humanity. While reading the reasoning of the Court, one has the impression that we are back in the socialist dictatorship again."
German Parliament Passes Orderly-Return-Law (ECRE, link):
"...the Orderly Return Law (Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz)... has drawn extensive criticism from several civil society organisations, including PRO ASYL. The bill facilitates the use of detention by expanding the grounds for using detention e.g. when asylum seekers do not cooperate for the purpose of their deportation or in cases in which there is no evidence of a risk of absconding. Similarly, the authorities responsible for carrying out deportations are granted the right to access apartments without a judicial order in certain circumstances. In violation of the EU Return Directive, the bill also provides that, until 2022, people awaiting deportation may be placed in regular prisons as long as people affected will be held in premises separate from convicted criminals."
Passport free airport experiences take off with the help of facial recognition (World Security Report, pp.12-13, link to pdf):
"Famous for the relentless chore of security check-ins and passport control, there is no better place for biometrics than airports. In fact, this has even become an expected location for individuals to utilise facial recognition technology at immigration control, with specially designed RFID chips containing a digital copy of personalised information and biometric identifiers to match the image on a passport, with the identity in real life. Over the past few years, this has amounted to a total of 490 million e-Passports circulating across 100 different countries, with a total of 259 e-passport gates in operation across 14 different UK airports alone."
IRELAND: Jailing of sex workers keeping brothel shows law not fit for purpose (Irish Times, link):
"The jailing of two sex workers in Kildare last week for keeping or being in charge of a brothel proves that Irish laws around prostitution are not fit for purpose, the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI) has said.
Two women, including one who is pregnant, were jailed for nine months last Thursday following a hearing at Naas District Court. Adrina Podaru (25) and Ana Tomascu (20), both from Romania, were charged with keeping or being in charge of a brothel in Newbridge which was raided by gardaí in November 2018. They were also working as prostitutes in the brothel."
ECHR: Unaccompanied migrant minors stayed in Greece in conditions unsuited to their age and circumstances (pdf):
"In todays Chamber judgment1 in the case of Sh.D. and Others v. Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia (application no. 14165/16) concerning the living conditions in Greece of five unaccompanied migrant minors from Afghanistan, the European Court of Human Rights, unanimously:
- declared the complaints against Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded;
- declared the complaints against Greece under Articles 3 and 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights admissible;"
See: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervener (pdf)
Biometrics: The new frontier of EU migration policy in Niger (thenewhumanitarian.org, link):
"The EUs strategy for controlling irregular West African migration is not just about asking partner countries to help stop the flow of people crossing the Mediterranean it also includes sharing data on who is trying to make the trip and identifying to which countries they can be returned. (...)
proposed tougher mandate will rely in part on biometric information stored on linked databases in Africa and Europe. It is a step rights campaigners say not only jeopardises the civil liberties of asylum seekers and others in need of protection, but one that may also fall foul of EU data privacy legislation.(...)
Niger hosts the first of eight planned Risk Analysis Cells in Africa set up by Frontex and based inside its border police directorate."
And see Statewatch Analyses: EU-Africa: Fortress Europes neo-colonial project (pdf) and From the carrot and stick to the stick From GAMM (2005) to Partnership Frameworks (2016) in Africa (pdf)
Are You Syrious (12.6.19, link)
Feature: A New Law has been passed in Italy Decreto Sicurezza Bis, that among other things, means exorbitant fees for all who dare to save lives at sea.(...)
"Specifically the new Decree includes: Fees between 10,000 and 50,000 for transporting people on the move to the Italian shores. The fee must be paid by the captain of the vessel, the owner of the vessel."
UNHCR urges Italy to reconsider proposed decree affecting rescue at sea in the Central Mediterranean (UNHCR UK, link):
"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned at a recent decree from the Government of Italy that contains several provisions affecting refugees and migrants, including fines for NGO vessels engaged in saving lives at sea.
Sea rescue is a long-standing humanitarian imperative. It is also an obligation under international law. No vessel or shipmaster should be at risk of a fine for coming to the aid of boats in distress and where loss of life may be imminent.
At a time when European states have largely withdrawn from rescue efforts in the Central Mediterranean, NGO vessels are more crucial than ever, said Roland Schilling, UNHCR Regional Representative to Southern Europe ad interim. Without them, it is inevitable that more lives will be lost."
Refugee population on the Greek Islands as at 9 June: 16,200 (UNHCR)
2019 EP Elections News from the UNITED network (link):
"The 2019 European Parliamentary Elections results brought an unprecedented political composition of the European Parliament. While the turnout (almost 51%) has been the highest since 1994, an important growth of the Greens, and great gains for nationalists and far-right parties shows a trend of increasing political polarisation."
Frontex: Migration situation has improved significantly (infomigrants.net, link):
"The illegal immigration situation in the EU has "significantly improved," with 30,000 irregular crossings of EU borders since the start of 2019, Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the European Union border agency Frontex, said in a recent interview.
"The highest number of [arrivals were] in Greece, where migrants are either crossing the land border from Turkey, or by sea. The Aegean Sea is once again the number one route," Leggeri said in an interview with German daily Welt."
Italy to fine NGOs who rescue migrants at sea (DW, link):
"The Italian government has decided to impose stiff fines on rescuers who bring migrants into port without authorization. It also gave the interior ministry, led by Matteo Salvini, power to demand the payment."
And see: EU mute on new Italian decree to fine NGO boats (euobserver, link): "The European Commission has said it will not comment on a new Italian decree to fine NGO boats that rescue migrants at sea until it is officially passed by the government in Rome. Pressed on whether it opposes sanctions in general on such vessels, the Commission on Wednesday (12 June) also declined to respond."
Germany withdraws from EUNAVFORs Operation 'Sophia' in Mediterranean (Jane's 360, link):
"Germany will end its participation in the European Union Naval Force Mediterraneans (EUNAVFOR Meds) Operation Sophia counter human smuggling and trafficking mission, the German Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 6 June. German personnel will stop working in the missions headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 30 June."
Political groups in the European Parliament since 1979 - Facts and figures (EP, pdf):
"Taking a variety of shapes and forms, European transnational party cooperation is a unique international phenomenon. This is true of transnational party cooperation both outside and within the European Parliament. Moreover, transnational party cooperation in the Parliament and elsewhere is key to explaining the success of European integration and the various existing transnational party families at European level are crucial in shaping European politics."
EXCLUSIVE: What countries really think of the EUs strategic agenda (euractiv, link):
"EU member states broadly supported priorities highlighted for the next five years, although they called for a more positive vision for the bloc. Despite the demands made by the capitals, the latest version of the blueprint only included small changes, according to the second draft seen by EURACTIV."
Migrant crisis: Children among seven killed as boat sinks in Greece (BBC News, link):
"At least seven people have been killed and 57 others rescued after a boat carrying migrants overturned near the Greek island of Lesbos, officials say.
The bodies of two children, four women and a man were recovered on Tuesday morning off the port of Mytilene."
ITALY: Blacklisting of Judges is a breach of the Rule of Law (MEDEL, link):
"The recent declarations made by the Italian Interior Minister are unacceptable and a serious breach of the Rule of Law. MEDEL has issued today a statement in that regard:"
German intelligence wants access to domestic smart appliances (New Europe, link):
"Germany plans to allow its police and security forces to access smart home devices in anything from fridges to Amazons Alexa.
The plan announced by the interior ministry would see Germanys BND intelligence services gain access to the digital traces of devices in order to collect data from recordings of actual conversations. The practice is already used by the US and UK for counter-terrorism activities."
And see: EU: Press release: EU officials in a panic over the possibility of a world without wiretapping
LEAK: EUs five-year plan doubles down on protecting borders (euractiv, link):
"EU leaders want to focus on migration and protection of external borders, or the integrity of our physical space, over the next five years, according to a draft of the so-called strategic agenda obtained by EURACTIV. Economy and climate action rank second and third.
In the draft strategy for 2019-2024, meant to guide the work of the EU institutions, national leaders prioritise migration policy over other areas, while strengthening the economy, fighting climate change and taking Europe global also feature."
See: Draft EU strategy 2019-2024 (pdf)
Are You Syrious (20.6.19, link):
"Croatia has erected a spiked metal fence on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina near the crossings Gejkovac and Pain Potok yesteday.
That is surely the effect of the EUs support to enforcing Croatian discouragement tactics that are basically illegal collective expulsions and violence imposed on the people who are found at the border area, but also within the country."
Neighbourhood Watched (Privacy International, link):
"From facial recognition to social media monitoring, from remote hacking to the use of mobile surveillance equipment called 'IMSI catchers', UK police forces are using an ever-expanding array of surveillance tools to spy on us as we go about our everyday lives. Too often, these new and intrusive spying technologies are rolled out without the say, or even the knowledge, of the public or their locally elected representatives."
We are campaigning alongside Liberty for the public to have a greater say as to whether their local police force should be allowed to use such highly intrusive technologies. We believe these technologies should not be bought or used without proper public consultation and the approval of locally elected representatives, such as Police and Crime Commissioners.
To join our campaign, download our campaign pack to help you organise as a community, contact your local Police and Crime and Commissioner to tell them how you feel about police surveillance of your community."
Asylum seekers in EU on the rise again: report (Politico, link):
"Analysis shows more applications from Latin American, western Balkan countries with visa-free travel.
The number of people seeking asylum in the EU has increased so far this year, bucking a downward trend since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, according to an analysis by German media (...)
The increase is attributed to a dramatic rise in people applying from Venezuela, Colombia and the western Balkans, who dont need a visa to travel to the EU."
MI5 in court accused of extraordinary and persistent illegality - Agency has been obtaining surveillance warrants based on false information, says Liberty (Guardian, link):
"MI5 has lost control of its data storage operations and has been obtaining surveillance warrants on the basis of information it knows to be false, the high court has heard.
The security agency has been accused of extraordinary and persistent illegality in a legal challenge brought by the human rights organisation Liberty. The failures have been identified by the official watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, Sir Adrian Fulford, and admitted in outline by the home secretary, Sajid Javid. The full extent of the problems within MI5 began to become apparent in disclosures made public at the hearing on Tuesday. The revelations relate to bulk interceptions of data acquired through surveillance and hacking programmes and downloaded to its computers."
See statement by Home Secretary: Investigatory Powers Act 2016: Safeguards Relating to Retention and Disclosure of Material (link)
CoE: Anti-racism commission publishes its annual report - Hate speech and xenophobic populism remained major concerns in Europe in 2018 (link):
"Xenophobic populism and racist hate speech continued to make their mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe in 2018, says the annual report [pdf] of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today.
The growing public anxiety about economic, geopolitical and technological changes was exploited by those scapegoating migrants and minorities, in particular populist politicians aiming at dividing societies along national, ethnic or religious lines. Not only were such views expressed by fringe politicians, but they increasingly gained footing within mainstream political parties and national governments, which remained a major concern for ECRI."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.6-10.6.19) including 20 items.
Statewatch Analysis: The Commission and Italy tie themselves up in knots over Libya (pdf): by Yasha Maccanico.
At the end of March, the European Commission and the Italian interior minister appeared to undermine one another both respectively and collectively through a sequence of messages that emerged as part of their efforts to assert the existence of a Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zone.
The entire incident demonstrates how Italy and the European Commission are trying to assert the fiction of a Libyan SAR zone financing it, providing resources and managing it in order to neutralise concerns over both the north African countrys status as an unsafe place and their own humanitarian obligations.
EU restricts visas for non-cooperation on migration (DW, link)
"Citizens from third countries that do not take back rejected asylum-seekers may find it more difficult to obtain visas for the EU. Conversely, full cooperation could reap extra rewards."
Europeans still anxious about AI facial recognition (euractiv, link):
"Technology experts are usually among the first to embrace new and emerging digital tools. But that idea was put to the test at a stakeholders gathering about artificial-intelligenceenabled facial recognition this week at the Microsoft Center in Brussels.
Asked who in the audience was comfortable with facial recognition, only a smattering of people raised their hands. Asked who was uncomfortable, over half of the room said yes."
Refugees in Greece concerned about state of EU (DW, link):
"Thousands of refugees and migrants make a new start in the EU every year. After the recent European elections, Marianna Karakoulaki spoke to some of those who have made Greece their home about the problems they see."
Five Star struggles to form or join an EU Parliament group (euractiv. link):
"If attempts to rebuild the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group with the Brexit Party fail, 14 Five Star MEPs are likely to slip back into the black-hole of non-attached members, as no other parliamentary group has agreed to team up with them so far."
'A Europe that protects': what does that actually mean? (euobserver, link):
"Yet despite its recent traction, I argue that the narrative puts too much weight on the protection of borders, security and living standards and not enough on the protection of European values."
UPDATED: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 6-7 June: Returns, Migration challenges, data retention, e-evidence & 5G
Background Note (pdf), Main "B" points agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf), "A" Points - Non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf)
See: Press release for 6-7 June: final (pdf)
Council of Europes Anti-racism Commission publishes conclusions on Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (link)
Innocent until proven guilty? The presentation of suspects in criminal proceedings (Fair Trials, link):
"This report seeks to identify key threats to the presumption of innocence resulting from how suspects are presented in public."
Italys far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, escalates attack on judges - Three magistrates singled out over their challenges to governments hardline immigration policies (Guardian, link):
"A simmering row over the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Italy has erupted after the far-right interior minister publicly singled out three magistrates who have challenged his hardline anti-immigration policies.
In an escalation of his battle with the judges and the courts, Matteo Salvini said he would ask the state attorney to examine whether the magistrates should have abstained from passing verdicts in cases involving immigrants because their opinions conflict with government policy on security and immigration."
Orban-style 'media capture' is spreading across Europe (euobserver, link):
"Imagine a Europe where news media are controlled by cartels of governments and oligarchs. Prime ministers give lucrative advertising contracts to press companies that support them and financially punish those that don't to the point of extinction. Public broadcasters are gutted of critical journalists and turned into cheerleaders for the ruling party.
This is not a dystopian fantasy. It is Europe in 2019."
Violence by design the PPT delivers its verdict on the hostile environment (IRR News, link):
"Public tribunal finds hostile environment policies foster racism, institutional cruelty and violence by design.
As the scandal over the treatment of the Windrush generation and the failure to offer adequate compensation continues, the Home Offices immigration and asylum policies are under scrutiny like never before. The Department of Health and Social Care are under fire too for failing to make public reports on the detrimental effects of immigration checks on migrants. Now the jury of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Violations of the Rights of Migrants and Refugees adds to the pressure, with a damning verdict on the impact of the governments hostile environment policies."
See: PPT Report (pdf)
EU: Press release: EU officials in a panic over the possibility of a world without wiretapping
5G telecoms networks could render traditional police "lawful interception" techniques obsolete unless EU and national governments take action, according to internal EU documents obtained by Statewatch, which is today publishing a new analysis explaining the issues and calling for them to be debated in public.
EU: Ministerial statement on "migration challenges" keeps focus on control measures
Interior ministers and other representatives of EU and Western Balkan states recently produced a statement emphasising the need to maintain strict control measures along the 'Balkan Route' and at the EU's south-eastern borders, with no reference to the dire situation faced by many migrants and refugees in the region.
GREECE: Exclusive: Violence breaks out between residents of refugee camp and police on Greek island of Samos (Euronews, link):
"Police clashed with residents from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos on Saturday morning, an NGO has told Euronews.
The refugees and asylum seekers were staging a protest march about living conditions in the camp but had their route blocked by police at around 7.30 am local time, a member of the NGO said.
...Overcrowding is a serious issue in the Samos camp, which is designed to host a maximum of around 650 people, while there are roughly 4,000 people living there and in the "jungle" surrounding it.
...This is not the first time the inhabitants of the camp have demonstrated, with three peaceful protests taking place in January along with another that turned violent, although "nothing as bad as this," according to the NGO.
Saturday marked the first time police used tear gas on the asylum seekers and refugees, it said."
IRELAND: Justice not the appropriate department to support asylum seekers (Irish Times, link):
"The Department of Justice is not appropriately equipped to provide accommodation, health and social services to people in direct provision who are effectively, living in punitive detention, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.
The councils submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, co-written with Dr Maeve ORourke from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, highlights the need for unannounced inspections of direct provision centres to ensure the rights of residents are respected.
The report follows a presentation made by the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) last week to the Oireachtas justice committee in which the group called for the system of direct provision to be abolished and replaced with a scheme which would provide asylum seekers with housing support via local authorities."
See: Irish Council for Civil Liberties/Irish Centre for Human Rights: Joint submission to Committee on Justice and Equality on Direct Provision (link to pdf)
EU: European External Action Service and European Defence Agency: Report on "interactions, linkages and coherence among EU defence initiatives"
"Since capabilities are ultimately developed to be used operationally - in the EU or within other frameworks (UN, NATO, national, ), further consideration should also be given to promoting the operational availability of forces for CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] operations..."
EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report - May 2019
The Commission Services together with the EEAS (European External Action Service) have produced the latest: GAMM update (9679/19, LIMITE, 24 May 2019, 44 pages, pdf).
CZECH REPUBLIC: Border protection centre opens in Prague (Radio Praha, link):
"Minister of Interior Jan Hamácek, along with police and customs officials on Tuesday opened a National Border Protection Centre in Prague. The main task of the newly established centre is to ensure cooperation between security forces in the protection of the Czech Republics outer borders.
The joint centre of the immigration police and the Czech Republics Customs Administration, which is located in Prague, will cooperate with partners in the Schengen Area and other countries.
Mr Hamácek said better protection of the Czech Republics outer borders was a basic precondition for preserving the freedom of movement."
EU's Frontex border agency set for 34% budget increase (EUobserver, link):
"The European Commission on Wednesday, in its draft EU budget proposal for 2020, said Frontex, the EU's border and coast agency, should get 420.6m. That sum is a 34.6 percent increase compared to 2019. The money is slated to help set up a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027."
Interview: We Need to Snap Out of the Crisis Mode and Take a Step Back (ECRE, link):
"Interview with Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, working on migration, borders and security. He is the author of No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019) and Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014)."
UPDATE: Case against EU taken to ICC on migration policy in the Mediterranean: Full-text of submission to the court (244 pages, pdf)
See also: ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link)
EU Data protection watchdog flags GDPR issues institutions websites (New Europe, link):
"A recent inspection by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) found that the websites of major EU institutions and bodies were far from secure in terms of data protection and data security issues."
See: Press Release - EDPS flags data protection issues on EU institutions websites (link)
EU: New immigration liaison officers network puts more emphasis on EU-level coordination
The Council of the EU and European Parliament recently agreed on a new Regulation establishing a network of European immigration liaison officers, aiming for greater EU-level coordination of the officials deployed to non-EU countries for the purpose of monitoring migration flows, assisting in obtaining documents for people subject to deportation from the EU and passing on relevant information to EU law enforcement authorities.
CoE: European anti-racism body urges Ireland to act on Traveller accommodation, hate speech and hate crime (link):
"The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has urged Ireland to take action against local authorities that fail to spend money allocated for providing accommodation for Travellers.
ECRI part of the 47-nation Council of Europe has also called upon the Irish authorities to enact new legislation on hate speech and hate crime, working together with civil society.
These two priority recommendations form part of ECRIs fifth report on Ireland, published today. Progress towards implementing these recommendations will be reviewed by ECRI in two years time."
The first judgment of the ECJ regarding a breach of the rule of law in Poland? (verfassungsblog.de, link)
"While the judgment in C-619/18 Commission v. Poland is unlikely to deliver a surprise as to the assessment of the Polish reforms, interesting issues are emerging in relation to the effects of the judgment for the Polish authorities. This piece starts from a brief discussion why the case seems lost for Poland, proceeding then to analysis whether and how the judgment should be implemented."
NUJ warns of FOI threat in Ireland (NUJ News, link):
"A decision by an Irish high court judge appears to have undermined the presumption of disclosure, considered central to any effective freedom of information legislation.
The judge, Justice Garrett Simons found that the information commissioner, Peter Tyndall, was wrong to assume a presumption in favour of disclosure in a case challenging the information commissioners own ruling.
Journalists, politicians, legal experts and transparency campaigners have raised concerns that if Justice Simons decision is allowed to stand it would undermine the whole basis of freedom of information, which, of course, is based on a presumption of disclosure. The office of the information commissioner confirmed an appeal will be taken by the commissioner."
UK: £900,000 bill for Notts shale gas policing (Drill or Drop, link):
"Policing at two IGas shale gas sites in Nottinghamshire has cost nearly a million pounds, campaigners have revealed.
Frack Free Misson said this morning it had been told the total cost of police operations at Tinker Lane, near Blyth, and Springs Road, near Misson, stood at £900,000 up to April 2019."
Call for submissions: "Soft law and informal lawmaking in the global counter-terrorism architecture: Assessing implications on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (UN Human Rights, link):
"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism is studying the impact of the proliferation of soft law instruments and related standard-setting initiatives and processes in the counter-terrorism context on global governance on the promotion and protection of human rights at the global, regional and domestic level.
The outcome of the study will contribute to the report of the Special Rapporteur to be submitted to the 74th session of the General Assembly."
EU: Commission unmoved by accusations of crimes against humanity (euractiv, link):
"The European Commission defended its track record of saving lives in the Mediterranean on Monday (3 June), as it faced accusations of crimes against humanity substantiated in a 245-page report by international lawyers, brought before the International Criminal Court."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-3.6.19) including:
- Submission to ICC seeks prosecution of EU over migrant deaths
- Hundreds occupy Paris airport to protest against deportations
- New report on the Dublin Regulation, the "infernal machine of the European asylum system"
- Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU
FRANCE: The Yellow Jackets blinded by police weapons (Politico, link):
"Since the first Yellow Jackets protest last November, 24 people have been blinded in one eye and 283 sustained other head injuries as a result of police weapons, mostly LBD-fired bullets, according to David Dufresne, an independent journalist who keeps count of the injuries for the news site Médiapart. The French interior ministry, which does not keep individual counts of specific types of injury, said that as of May 13, 2,448 protesters and 1,797 police had been wounded.
Since the first protest six months ago, the Yellow Jackets movement has grown from a demonstration against a fuel tax raise into an at times violent revolt against President Emmanuel Macron and his economic policies. The scale of the protests eventually forced Macron to backtrack on the fuel tax and organize a great national debate for citizens to air their grievances. His attempts at dialogue were overshadowed by violence, however, as riots erupted on the Champs-Élysées and French police countered with a severe crackdown.
The heavy-handed police tactics sparked an outcry, and became a secondary driving force, along with economic discontent, for the weekly protests."
And see: Viewpoint: Why have the French police become the most violent in western Europe? (pdf)
ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link):
"The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the international criminal court (ICC).
The 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EUs deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe.
The indictment is aimed at the EU and the member states that played a prominent role in the refugee crisis: Italy, Germany and France."
Background: Time to Investigate European Agents for Crimes against Migrants in Libya (EJIL: Talk!, link)
Orbán moves against historical research: The first victim is the 56-Institute (Hungarian Spectrum, link):
"On the last day of May, M. János Rainer, director of the 56-Institute, a historical research center focused on the 1956 Hungarian revolution, its antecedents and the Kádár regime that followed it, learned from the newspapers that his institute no longer exists. It will be incorporated into the Veritas Historical Research Institute, which was established five years ago to bring together researchers whose historical views coincide with those of the current political leadership. Viktor Orbán and his friends have been trying to destroy the institute for a long time, starting back in 1998 when they first acquired power, but it was only now that they dared to abolish it altogether."
See also: 1956 Institute (link)
UK: Five ridiculous reasons why the police label campaigners as domestic extremists (The Canary, link):
"Its unclear exactly how many people have their personal details included on the polices secretive domestic extremist database or to give it its full name, the National Special Branch Intelligence System. This database holds records identifying campaigners as either nominals (with their own detailed profile) or as one of the much larger numbers who are connected to those with detailed profiles or mentioned in data gathered from social media.
...Netpol has long argued that police decisions about whom they target are subjective and political. But they are also not entirely arbitrary. There is a definite pattern to how units within the National Counter Terrorism Policing Operations Centre the latest name for the part of UK policing responsible for gathering intelligence on protest movements decide on who is a person of interest and more likely to face surveillance in the future."
See: Protest is Not Extremism (Netpol, link)
UK: Football v the Hostile Environment in Sheffield and Bristol (These Walls Must Fall, link):
"Forget Liverpool, Spurs and the Champions League: the real football action this week was on the streets of Sheffield and Bristol, where local clubs came together to take on the Hostile Environment.
The initiative was kicked off by Mount Pleasant Park FC and These Walls Must Fall campaigners in Sheffield, with an exciting match right outside the Home Office immigration reporting centre. A rambunctious crowd cheered on the teams, and showed the red card to the Home Office. It was from that building that a local football coach and some fellow Zimbabweans were recently snatched and taken to a detention centre. Sheffield folk were outraged, and their friends were released, but the local campaign to end detention goes on."
Hungary drops courts plan opposed by EU, rights groups (DW, link):
"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said the launch of the new administrative court system would be suspended.
"The government will initiate the indefinite suspension of the launch of the administrative court system," Gergely Gulyas, Orban's chief of staff, said at a news conference on Thursday.
He defended the plans but admitted the pressure from the EU led the government to alter its position
"We believe that the law meets European standards and rule-of-law requirements," he said. "However, the administrative court system has been caught up in debates in Europe, which have unjustifiably called judicial independence into question."
The plan had been to set up a separate system of administrative courts, with its own Supreme Administrative Court and National Administrative Judicial Council."
Turkey police bust human trafficking ring, arrest smugglers (Al Jazeera, link):
"Turkish police have arrested 20 members of an international migrant-smuggling organisation, including one of Europe's most wanted traffickers, Turkish police have said.
Akbar Omar Tawfeeq, the suspected leader of the crime syndicate, and others were captured on May 25 during a joint operation conducted by police and intelligence agencies, officials said in a news briefing in Istanbul on Wednesday.
At least 569 migrants were caught and judicial authorities confiscated six vehicles, six boats and numerous life vests belonging to Tawfeeq's organisation, police officials said.
The crackdown came after an investigation led by Istanbul's chief public prosecutor, who suggested that the organisation smuggled migrants from Afghanistan and northern Iraq, to Greece, Italy and other European countries in return for large sums of money.
The prosecutor's report also found that the group smuggled migrants stuck in Greece to other European Union countries, as a second route across Europe.
Authorities conducted a process of technical surveillance and tracked the suspects' movements in countries such as Ukraine, England and Italy, in coordination with local authorities."
Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders Joint Statement (Council document 9761/19, 28 May 2019, pdf):
"We, the Ministers in charge of border management of Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, cooperating within the framework of the Ministerial Forum for Member States of the Schengen Area with External Land Borders (the Forum), established in Lappeenranta, Finland, in 2013; gathered in Kirkenes, Norway, on 20-22 May 2019, upon the invitation of the Norwegian Presidency of the Forum."
Northern Ireland judge rebukes police for seizing papers from journalists - Documents linked to investigation into 1994 massacre must be returned to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey (Guardian, link):
Northern Irelands top judge has delivered a stinging rebuke to police for raiding the homes and offices of two journalists who investigated a notorious still unresolved massacre during the Troubles.
The lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, Declan Morgan, said on Friday that police had obtained inappropriate search warrants, and ordered them to return laptops, phones, documents and other material seized from Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.
The judge vindicated the journalists, saying they had acted in perfectly proper manner in protecting their sources for the documentary No Stone Unturned, which investigated the June 1994 murder of six Catholics in Loughinisland, County Down, by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gunmen."
EU: CJEU ruling casts doubts on the legality of the proposed e-evidence regulation
According to the Court, [t]hat independence requires that there are statutory rules and an institutional framework capable of guaranteeing that the issuing judicial authority is not exposed, when adopting a decision to issue such an arrest warrant, to any risk of being subject, inter alia, to an instruction in a specific case from the executive. [emphasis added]
Meltdown Showed Extent of NSA Surveillance and Other Tales From Hundreds of Intelligence Documents (Intercept, link):
"The problem had been brewing for nearly a decade, intelligence sources had warned, as the National Security Agency vacuumed up more and more surveillance information into computer systems at its Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters: There just wasnt enough power coming through the local electric grid to support the rate at which the agency was hoarding other peoples communications.
...The Intercept is publishing three other articles taken from this cache of documents, including an investigation by Henrik Moltke into how revolutionary intelligence pooling technology first used by the U.S., Norway, and other allies in Afghanistan spread to the U.S.-Mexico border raising questions about over-sharing at home and abroad. In another article, Miriam Pensack reveals how the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000 was closely monitored by Norwegian (and eventually U.S.) intelligence, which knew more about the tragedy than was initially revealed. And Murtaza Hussain shows how the NSA drew up new rules in response to a request from its Israeli counterpart, which had sought to use U.S. intelligence to target killings, apparently at Hezbollah."
USA: Report reveals new details about DOJs seizing of AP phone records (Columbia Journalism Review, link):
"With its latest leak indictment last week, the Department of Justice under Donald Trump is now on pace to break the previous record for prosecutions of journalists sources, just two and a half years into its administration. A new report, released for the first time today, shows just how dangerous such cases can be to journalists."
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