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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2020
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Carries all items that have been added or updated to News Online and Observatories.

May 2020

EU-UK: Commission not happy with UK's 'action plan' to fix unlawful use of Schengen database

The European Commission has condemned a UK action plan to remedy its mismanagement and misuse of the Schengen Information System as "not adequate... mainly because the implementation timelines of at least 10 of the recommendations are very lengthy and cannot be considered acceptable."

EU: Increase in cumulative charges for terrorism and war crimes (Eurojust, link):

"Prosecutors in the EU are increasingly cumulating charges against returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), members of ISIS and its affiliates, with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, so-called core international crimes. In over 20 cases in five Member States, judgments have been delivered or investigations and trials are ongoing where FTFs are charged not only with membership of a terrorist organisation but also with core international crimes, increasing the possibility of higher sentences and of getting justice done for victims. This is the main conclusion of the report ‘Cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters for core international crimes and terrorism-related offences’, which will be presented on the occasion of the 5th EU Day against Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on 23 May 2020."

See the report: Cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters for core international crimes and terrorism-related offences (pdf)

EU: COVID-19 and the justice system: CCBE Statement on the reactivation of justice in Europe: The CCBE sounds an alarm bell for justice in Europe (pdf):

"The CCBE urges the European institutions and all member states to:

- Facilitate the complete reactivation of justice systems in Europe, while promoting health and safety measures
- Invest in justice and legal aid urgently
- Provide support to promote access to justice and guarantee citizens’ rights
"

UN: Joint Guidance Note on the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Human Rights of Migrants: Joint Guidance Note on the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Human Rights of Migrants (pdf):

"The UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW)and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrantswarn that the COVID-19 pandemic is having serious and disproportionate effects on migrants and their families globally. Migrants who are in an irregular situation or undocumented are in a situation of even greater vulnerability. Migrants in many cases already do not have effective access to medical care, education and other social services, work in unstable jobs -usually without benefits or the right to unemployment benefits -and in some cases have been left out of the social assistance measures implemented by States, despite of their significant economic contributions to society.In some countries they showthe highest levels of contagions and deaths from COVID-19as a consequence of the abovementioned factors."

The dismal UK Home Office response to coronavirus: the wider picture (Migration Mobilities Bristol, link):

"We’ve learned that closeness does not mean contact, so I hope that this can count as a ‘Letter from Afar’ even if ‘afar’ seems a strangely 19th-century way of talking about the distance between Newport and Bristol. I wanted to share with you some of my reflections on the UK Home Office’s response to coronavirus and what it means for migrants and asylum seekers."

Racial discrimination in education and EU equality law (pdf)

"This thematic report analyses national and international (case) law and assesses the jurisprudential and practical impact of the Racial Equality Directive on racial or ethnic discrimination in education. The report is based on information and analysis provided by the national experts of the European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination by means of a questionnaire addressing the major themes. The report indicates the contribution of each national expert and, where available, refers to the primary sources of the analysis. The report hereafter comprises an introduction followed by 5 sections: the first maps out the multiple sources of European equality law on racial or ethnic discrimination in education. Section 2 presents up-to-date information about national legislation and its compliance with EU law and international treaties signed and ratified by the Member States. Section 3 analyses national jurisprudence on racial or ethnic discrimination in education. Section 4 investigates the enforcement of racial equality in education and Section 5 sets out our overall conclusions."

CYPRUS: Syrian refugees in Cyprus pushed back to Turkey (EuroMed Rights, link):

"On 15 May 2020, the administration of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) forcibly sent 100 Syrian refugees, including unaccompanied children, to Mersin, Turkey. They have been transferred to Kilis, near the Syrian border, where they are now. Most of the 100 Syrian refugees – 56 – are children and women and girls are in the majority."

FRANCE: First victory against French police drones (La Quadrature du Net, link):

"The Conseil d’État, the French administrative highest court, has just issued its decision on our case against surveillance drones deployed by the Parisian Police during the Covid lock-down. This decision is a major victory against drone surveillance. It sets as illegal any drone equipped with camera and flying low enough, as such a drone would allow the police to detect individuals by their clothing or a distinctive sign.

According to the Conseil d’Etat, only a ministerial decree reviewed by the CNIL could allow the police to use such drones. As long as such a decree has not been issued, the French police will not be able to use its drones anymore. Indeed, today’s decision is all about the Covid health crisis, a much more important purpose than those usually pursued by the police to deploy drones."

UK: BAME people fined more than white population under coronavirus laws (The Guardian, link):

"Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in England are 54% more likely to be fined under coronavirus rules than white people, it can be revealed.

Analysis by Liberty Investigates and the Guardian shows that BAME people received as many as 2,218 of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) under distancing regulations recorded from 27 March to 11 May, while white people were given about 7,865."

See also: Many Days Late and Many Dollars Short: COVID-19 Institutionalised Racism and the Black British Experience (Birkbeck Comments, link)

GREECE: Tents at Sea: How Greek Officials Use Rescue Equipment for Illegal Deportations (Just Security, link):

"In at least 11 incidents since March 23, migrants have been found drifting in orange, tent-like inflatable life rafts without motors or propellants and that cannot be steered. Members of the Turkish Coast Guard reported these apparitions, but Greek authorities neither explained nor documented them. Images of these life rafts, fluorescent triangular structures afloat between black sea and dark sky, looked strange enough to seem superimposed. Relying on testimony and footage we obtained from multiple sources, including asylum seekers in the area, our investigation verifies this latest show of violence at the Greek-Turkish maritime border.

Far from Australia’s flashier orange vessels from five years back, these are more modest structures. Importantly, the Greek life rafts have appeared in a very different maritime environment: compared to the oceans surrounding Australia, the Aegean Sea is a relatively placid and narrow body of water. Yet like the Australian vessels, these too have been put in place by State authorities, in an organized way, violating fundamental rules of international law. The two sets of deportation craft share visible similarities and are each used in dangerous ways, shedding light on the legal and moral risks that states are now willing to take, just to keep out unwanted populations."

HUNGARY: No more transit zones, now asylum seekers will have to apply abroad (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"People were stunned this morning when Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, announced that the government had decided to shut down the much criticized transit zones at the Serbian-Hungarian border where about 300 refugees had been waiting, some for over a year, for a decision on their asylum status.

...Later in the day, Gergely Gulyás announced the unexpected news during his Thursday government press conference, which was promptly reported on by all the foreign correspondents. He also announced that, from here on, those seeking asylum from the Hungarian government will have to present their requests at one of the Hungarian diplomatic missions abroad.

Gulyás made it clear that “the government does not agree with the court’s decision,” but, “as a member of the European Union, we are naturally obliged to comply with every court decision.” "

See: European Court declares authorities broke EU law by detaining asylum-seekers in transit zone (AI, link)

GERMANY: In their current form, surveillance powers of the Federal Intelligence Service regarding foreign telecommunications violate fundamental rights of the Basic Law (Bundesverfassungsgericht, link):

"In its judgment pronounced today, the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court held that the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst – BND) is bound by the fundamental rights of the Basic Law when conducting telecommunications surveillance of foreigners in other countries, and that the statutory bases in their current design violate the fundamental right to privacy of telecommunications (Art. 10(1) of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG) and the freedom of the press (Art. 5(1) second sentence GG). This applies to the collection and processing of data, the transfer of data thus obtained to other entities and the cooperation with foreign intelligence services. However, statutory bases for foreign telecommunications surveillance can be designed in conformity with the Constitution."

New Right, old racism – the battlefield of Covid-19 (IRR News Service, link):

"As Public Health England conducts its controversial rapid review into Covid-19 disparities, lurking in the background is a new school of ‘race realists’ whose retrogressive biological arguments must be tackled head-on.(...)

Whether we be community activists or health care professionals, NHS managers or trades unionists, we need to harness that capacity for change to ensure that investigation into Covid-19 disparities does not compromise with the race realists and explicitly addresses the role of racism in the course of the pandemic. If it does this, it will be likely to expose the extent to which racism today is the hidden public health crisis."

EU: New analysis: reinforcement of Frontex runs into legal problems

An internal Frontex report published today by Statewatch highlights a series of issues in implementing the agency’s new legislation, including uncertain legal terminology and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

EU data watchdog ‘very worried’ by Hungary’s GDPR suspension (EurActiv, link):

"The European Data Protection Board, the EU’s umbrella organisation overseeing the application of EU data protection rules across the bloc, has voiced its concern over the suspension of EU data protection rights in Hungary.

In early May, the Hungarian government put forward plans to suspend obligations to a number of protections outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as part its new emergency powers passed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in the country."

Hungarian Supreme Court: Romani children deserve financial compensation for school segregation (romea.cz, link):

"The Hungarian Supreme Court has confirmed a lower court verdict according to which Romani children from the town of Gyöngyöspata are entitled to compensation for having been segregated in school. According to the judgment, the school in northern Hungary, the local authority and the local education department must pay a total of 100 million forints (EUR 282,105) to the families of 60 Romani children for separating them away from non-Romani pupils and delivering them a worse education.

Defenders of those institutions, according to the MTI press agency, had asked that they be able to offer the children courses instead of money. The court ruled that "the only possible compensation for this non-material harm is payment in money.""

UK: Artificial intelligence in the police force: a force for good? (RSA, link):

" This short paper explores how police forces in the UK are communicating their use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision systems (ADS).

Through freedom of information requests, we asked every police force in the UK whether they were using AI or ADS to make policing decisions, what training and guidelines they offer to staff, and whether they had consulted with the public.

Key findings

We discovered that only a small minority of police forces were prepared to confirm to us whether they are using AI or ADS for policing decisions, and of these very few have offered public engagement."

UK: Prison sentences for any serious crime to be increased for ‘terrorist connection’ under government plans (The Independent, link):

"Judges will be able to increase prison sentences for any serious crime by finding a “terrorist connection” under new government proposals.

Currently only specific offences, including murder, hijacking and causing explosions, can be subject to the measure.

But plans being considered by MPs would see judges consider whether there is a “proven terrorist connection” for any crime punishable by more than two years in prison.

The Counter Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, which is being introduced in parliament on Wednesday, would also force terror offenders to spend longer in prison and increase monitoring following their release."

Risk of Repression: New Rules on Civil Society Supporting Refugees and Migrants in Greece (RSA, link):

"Recently, however, politicaldiscourseagainst non-governmental organisations (NGOs)in the field of asylum and migration hasintensifiedand fuelledunprecedented hostility by local groups against civil society,1ranging from generalised, vague accusations of illicit activitysuch as smuggling,to racist incidents and violent attacks against organisations and their staff."

Syrian refugees in Cyprus pushed back to Turkey (EuroMed Rights, link):

"On 15 May 2020, the administration of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) forcibly sent 100 Syrian refugees, including unaccompanied children, to Mersin, Turkey. They have been transferred to Kilis, near the Syrian border, where they are now. Most of the 100 Syrian refugees – 56 – are children and women and girls are in the majority."

Fears mount over migrants dying ‘out of sight’ in Mediterranean (euractiv, link):

"More and more migrants are crossing, Europe is closing its ports and no humanitarian ships are carrying out rescues. As the coronavirus pandemic dominates headlines, activists fear the Mediterranean is the scene of an overlooked “tragedy”."

GREECE: 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving from abroad extended to end of May (euractiv, link):

"The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine rule on international flight arrivals, first imposed on 16 March, is extended to the end of May, the Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday (18 May), AMNA reported.

All international passengers must also take a Covid-19 test upon arrival. If the test is positive, foreign nationals are denied entry to Greece. Both they and Greek nationals entering Greece must stay in quarantine for 14 days (...)

As of Wednesday (13 May), Greece has recorded 2,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 156 deaths and 1,374 recoveries."

Coronavirus cases among refugees on Lesbos spark fresh calls for evacuation - NGOs say infections among arriving refugees show urgent need to move more migrants from Moria camp to mainland (Guardian, link):

"135 Migrants from the Moria camp on Lesbos arrive at the port of Piraeus, Athens on 4 May. The Greek government has promised to transfer 2,000 asylum seekers to the mainland.

Migrants from the Moria camp on Lesbos arrive at the port of Piraeus, Athens on 4 May. The Greek government has promised to transfer 2,000 asylum seekers to the mainland.

Two migrants arriving by sea to the Greek island of Lesbos tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, leading to increased calls for evacuation of the overcrowded local camps.

The Moria camp in Lesbos has so far not reported cases of the virus, though two other camps and a hotel where asylum-seekers are staying were locked down in April after positive coronavirus tests were returned."

Hungary: European Court declares authorities broke EU law by detaining asylum-seekers in transit zone (AI, link):

"This is a damning indictment of Hungary’s treatment of asylum-seekers. Today the EU Court has made clear: Hungary held two families seeking asylum in a border transit zone for more than a year, giving them no opportunity to have their situation reviewed by a court, and with no option to lawfully leave that zone of their own free will in any direction. In doing so, Hungary broke EU law. "

40 percent of LGBTI people suffer harassment, finds largest ever EU survey - The survey of 140K people finds little progress in attitudes and striking differences between countries.(Politico, link):

"The survey by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency, the largest of its kind ever done, reveals little progress in the perception of discrimination since the agency's previous survey conducted in 2012 and published the following year."

Lithuania’s Response to COVID-19: Quarantine Through the Prism of Human Rights and the Rule of Law (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"‘The decisions taken are not simple and require drastic, important measures, which are necessary to control the spread of the virus.’ The Quarantine Resolution is a secondary legislation issued on the basis of the Law on Civil Protection and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Contagious Diseases. The initial duration of quarantine was set for 16-30 March, but it has been extended until 31 May."

EU: Ban biometric mass surveillance! (EDRi, link):

"Across Europe, highly intrusive and rights-violating facial recognition and biometric processing technologies are quietly becoming ubiquitous in our public spaces. As the European Commission consults the public on what to do, EDRi calls on the Commission and EU Member States to ensure that such technologies are comprehensively banned in both law and practice.

...The EU regulates everything from medicines to children’s toys. It is unimaginable that a drug which has not been shown to be effective, or a toy which poses significant risks to children’s wellbeing, would be allowed onto the market. However, when it comes to biometric data capture and processing, in particular in an untargeted way in public spaces (i.e. mass surveillance), the EU has been a haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance. This has happened despite the fact that a 2020 study demonstrated that over 80% of Europeans are against sharing their facial data with authorities."

EU-TURKEY: 369 Syrians deported to Turkey through EU fund for refugees

At the end of April the European Commission slipped out the 'Fourth Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey', which summarises how the €6 billion committed by the EU and the member states to projects in Turkey, as part of the March 2016 EU-Turkey deal, has been used. Amongst other things, the funds have paid for the deportation of 369 Syrians from the EU to Turkey.

UK: Policing the virus: all 44 prosecutions under Coronavirus Act unlawful; "postcode lottery" for fines

New powers given to UK police forces as part of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic are being unlawfully and unevenly applied.

France: End Discriminatory Police Checks and Fines (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(Paris) – The French government should take urgent and concrete steps to end discriminatory police stops, 24 local, national, and international organizations said on Wednesday in an open letter sent to French authorities.

In response to the new coronavirus pandemic, France adopted confinement measures on March 17, 2020 and declared a state of health emergency that went into effect on March 24 throughout the country. Under the emergency law, failure to respect lockdown rules is subject to a €135 fine (US$146), while repeated breaches are punishable by up to six months in prison and a €3,750 (US$4,065) fine.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, many accounts, some corroborated by videos posted on social networks, reveal police stops that appear abusive, violent, and discriminatory, sometimes accompanied by racist insults."

EU: Border externalisation: European Parliament gives green light to Frontex operations in Serbia and Montenegro

The European Parliament has voted to approve two agreements allowing Frontex operations outside the EU: one between the EU and Serbia, and the other between the EU and Montenegro.

'A bloody method of control': the struggle to take down Europe's razor wire walls (The Guardian, link):

"Razor wire is cut from galvanised steel, and unlike barbed wire, which was devised to tangle and impede movement, it is designed to maim.

It is one of the most visible symbols of the fortification of the EU’s borders. Thousands of migrants have already paid with their lives while attempting to get around those borders: by crawling through pipes, suffocating in the back of lorries, or drowning in the Mediterranean.

In September 2005, a Senegalese man reportedly bled to death from wounds inflicted by deadly razor wire coils topping the fence in Ceuta, one of Spain’s two exclaves on the north African coast."

EU court censures Hungary over migrant detentions (BBC News, link):

"The EU's top court has ruled that Hungary's arbitrary detention of asylum seekers in border zones is illegal.

...The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Budapest says the EU Court of Justice ruling paves the way for those asylum seekers - nearly half of them children - to be released, as the ECJ ruling means Hungary must devise new asylum rules.

Two families - from Afghanistan and Iran - sued the nationalist Hungarian government at the ECJ, and they will have to be released, our correspondent says.

Of those detained in the two transit zones, 120 have spent more than a year there."

See: CJEU press release (pdf), judgment (CJEU, link, currently available in French and Hungarian) and: Németh: Govt to Do its Utmost to Keep Transit Zones (Hungary Today, link): "Hungary’s government and the ruling Fidesz-KDNP alliance will do its utmost to maintain the fence and military-police surveillance along the country’s southern border, and guarantee the continued operation of the transit zones, state secretary of defence Szilárd Németh told public media at the transit zone in Röszke on Sunday."

UK turns to counterterror chief to run Covid-19 risk hub (Financial Times, link):

"The UK’s new joint biosecurity centre, an independent body monitoring the coronavirus threat level, is to be set up by a senior counterterror official in the running to become the next chief of MI6, the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service.

Tom Hurd, director-general at the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, has been urgently switched from his post in the Home Office to head up the centre, said four government officials with knowledge of the move.

...It will run along the same lines as Britain’s joint terrorism analysis centre (JTAC), which determines the terror risk across Britain as either low, moderate, substantial, severe or critical, and helps decide the response accordingly."

UK: Revealed: How Britain’s profiteering spymasters ignored the country’s biggest threats like coronavirus—and endangered the public (Declassified UK, link):

"There is money and power in identifying Russia and cyber attacks as the key security threats facing Britain — but not in addressing the more important issues of pandemics and climate change. Former UK intelligence chiefs are personally profiting from the ‘revolving door’ between government and business, and the public is paying the price.

- Former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove has earned more than £2-million from a US oil company.
- Another former MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, has earned £699,000 from oil giant BP since 2015.
- Sir Iain Lobban, former head of GCHQ, has become director or adviser to 10 private cyber or data security companies since leaving office in 2014; his own cyber consultancy is worth over £1-million.
"

Swiss lawmakers should review draft legislation on police counterterrorism measures to ensure respect for human rights (Council of Europe, link):

"In a letter addressed to the Chair and members of the National Council Committee on Security Policy, made public today, the Commissioner invites parliamentarians to review the draft Federal Law on Police Counterterrorism Measures in order to ensure that all human rights standards are respected.

In particular, the Commissioner mentions questions raised by the lack of sufficient legal safeguards as to the scope of the administrative measures which may be imposed by the Federal Police Office, outside the context of criminal proceedings, against a person whom it considers to be a "potential terrorist" based on a presumption that they might commit certain acts in the future."

Internal EU report: Far-right terrorist attacks rise (EUobserver, link):

"Right-wing terror threats and their online hate ideology is rising in some EU states, according to an internal EU document.

"Activities from right-wing violent extremists are on the rise," notes the 4 May document, addressed to national delegations, and seen by EUobserver.

The 12-page paper drafted by the EU presidency under Croatia provides a broad overview of terror threats emanating from returning foreign terrorist fighters, right-wing terrorists and - to a much lower extent - the far-left.

Broadly speaking, the overall terror threat in the EU remains elevated and unchanged, it says."

ITALY: Thousands of undocumented migrants to get Italian work permits (Al Jazeera, link):

"Bilongo said the regularisation could also help improve conditions for up to 180,000 people living in shantytowns at a time when the public health emergency is "far from over". Activists have long warned that the informal settlements housing irregular workers lacked access to running water and sanitation and risked becoming coronavirus hotspots.

Yet, human rights groups decried the temporary nature of the amnesty.

"A time-limited amnesty is just a patch, an absurdity which gives priority to production over dignity," said Cesare Fermi, director of migration programmes for INTERSOS, an NGO.

Calling the measure "a lost chance", Fermi added: "How will the workers' conditions change once the permit is over?""

GREECE-TURKEY: During and After Crisis: Evros Border Monitoring Report (HumanRights360, link)

"HumanRights360 documents the recent developments in the European land border of Evros as a result of the ongoing policy of externalization and militarization of border security of the EU member States. The report analyses the current state of play, in conjunction with the constant amendments of the Greek legislation amid the discussions pertaining to the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the Return Directive."

CORONAVIRUS: The Netherlands: Of Rollercoasters and Elephants (Verfassungsblog, link):

"This double drive – expertise-based but with a visible concern for public opinion – seems to really guide the communication of the government, in which Mark Rutte constantly acts as explainer-in-chief of what he has dubbed an ‘intelligent lockdown’, taking his audience step-by-step through the rationales of measures taken.

While this communication strategy may have been rather effective, even leading to initial praise and support of many opposition parties, the tools applied by the government and by local authorities to secure public health and enforce lockdown advice are more problematic. We will discuss a number of such legal issues related to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights here."

UK: It just got more difficult for Europeans to become British citizens (Free Movement, link):

"The Home Office has decided to make it more difficult for European residents to become British citizens. EU citizens with settled status who apply for naturalisation now have to provide evidence that they have been living in the UK legally, according an update to government nationality policy released on 15 May.

...when people with settled status come to apply for citizenship, the Home Office is now saying that the right to reside issue must be dealt with in their application. Simply having settled status is not enough, in this context. Settled status will serve as proof of being free of immigration time restrictions (another of the naturalisation requirements) but will not do in terms of showing that the person’s period of residence in the UK was in accordance with immigration law."

The EU is undermining its democracies while funding its autocracies (Politico, link):

"As the European Union struggles to agree on a joint response to the coronavirus crisis, calls for solidarity are colliding with the reluctance of wealthier northern states to come to the aid of struggling states in the south.

And yet, these so-called northern frugals — which includes Germany and the Netherlands — seem perfectly content to finance autocratic, anti-democratic governments in Hungary and Poland.

This hypocrisy — claiming “moral hazard” when it comes to Southern Europe, but continuing to shower generous subsidies on governments flouting democratic values — is sending messages that could undermine European integration for a generation."

UK Supreme Court quashes Adams' Long Kesh escape convictions (rte.ie, link):

"The UK's highest court has said Gerry Adams was imprisoned illegally by the British government when he was interned without trial in the early 1970s.

The Supreme Court has quashed his two convictions for trying to escape from Long Kesh Prison.

Lawyers for the former Sinn Féin President had argued that those convictions were unlawful as his detention was unlawful.

They said his detention order was flawed because it had not been "personally considered" by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in accordance regulations at the time.

In a judgment this morning, five judges, led by the former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Brian Kerr, agreed."

Summary of judgment: Press release (link) and Full judgment (link)

Brexit will mean checks on goods crossing Irish Sea, government admits - Ministers’ letter confirms border control posts at ports of Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne (Guardian, link):

"The government has privately conceded there will be post-Brexit checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, months after Boris Johnson insisted there would be no such trade barriers.

In a letter to the executive office in Stormont the government confirmed there would be border control posts in three ports, Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne.

Declan Kearney, one of the two junior ministers in the executive office, the regional equivalent of the Cabinet Office in London, confirmed the details at a select committee session in Belfast on Wednesday."

European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee: LIBE: REPORT on the draft Council implementing decision on the launch of automated data exchange with regard to dactyloscopic data in the United Kingdom (pdf):

"having regard to the Council draft (14247/2019), (...)

Rejects the Council draft"

Greek Council for Refugees denounces rights violation from the new law on the asylum, meanwhile the law has already been voted at the Greek Parlement (link):

"The Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) expresses its deeep concern over the new draft law that inter alia amends asylum legislation[1], which was submitted for public consultation amidst a public health crisis, at a time when the main concern is the protection of asylum seekers and the entire population from the risks and effects of the pandemic, and while concerns for asylum seekers who remain in overcrowded sites and/or in administrative detention in the midst of the pandemic are increasing."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.4-11.5.20) including:

EU: Council considers action on "non-removable" irregular migrants

The Croatian Presidency of the Council has raised the prospect of EU measures to deal with "non-removable" irregular migrants - people who for a variety of reasons "end up in a situation of prolonged illegal stay, which can last for a number of years."

GREECE: Analysis: Rights denied during Greek asylum procedure suspension (RSA, link):

"The Decree ceased to produce legal effects at the end of March 2020. However, it has had highly damaging effects on a significant number of people in need of protection. According to UNHCR statistics, 2,927 persons entered Greece via land and sea in the course of that month.[6] These persons were automatically and arbitrarily placed in detention under abhorrent conditions and continue to remain in closed facilities without effective judicial protection, despite ultimately being allowed to express the intention to lodge an asylum application with the Asylum Service. Asylum applications have not yet been registered, however. Harm from inhuman detention conditions is compounded by serious, even life-threatening, health risks stemming from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which have regrettably not led to a reconsideration of detention policy in Greece.

In this Legal Note, Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) examines the administrative treatment and policy of detention applied to persons falling within the scope of the Decree, the conditions in which they have been detained and the response adopted thus far from the different fora approached by individuals in search of judicial redress at domestic and European level."

EU-UK: MEPs take stand against UK fingerprint data exchange scheme (EurActiv, link):

"Lawmakers in the European Parliaments Civil Liberties committee have signalled their disapproval at the UKs participation in a fingerprint data exchange scheme with EU member states after the countrys decision to withdraw from the bloc.

MEPs backed a report on Thursday afternoon (7 May) recommending that Parliament reject EU plans to grant the UK access to a sharing mechanism for fingerprint data, the 2005 Prüm treaty, which outlines rules for police cooperation between EU member states in the field of information exchange.

The move gives a strong signal to the European Parliament, who will vote on the Civil Liberties report in next weeks plenary session, as part of a non-binding vote."

See: UK to join police fingerprint database network, but other member states want broader data access (November 2019)

Migrants sue German state over mobile phone searches (InfoMigrants, link):

"In Germany, three migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Cameroon are suing the state for accessing personal data on their mobile phones. A civil rights group taking part in the action says the phone searches are a serious invasion of privacy.

...Under a law passed in 2017, German authorities can examine the mobile phones of asylum seekers who are unable to present a valid passport on arrival, in order to verify information provided regarding identity. But the GFF, which filed the lawsuits together with the three refugees, says this represents "a particularly serious and extensive encroachment on the privacy of those affected.""

Council of Europe: Commissioner urges Malta to meet its obligations to save lives at sea, ensure prompt and safe disembarkation, and investigate allegations of delay or non-response to situations of distress (link):

"Noting that Libya cannot be considered a place of safety, the Commissioner calls on Maltas government to refrain from any action that would result in the return to and disembarkation in Libya of persons rescued or intercepted at sea. This also includes refraining from issuing instructions to private vessels to disembark rescued persons in Libya, and not handing over responsibility to the Libyan Coast Guard or related entities when the foreseeable consequence of this would be disembarkation in Libya. In addition, she urges the government to ensure full accountability for situations in which action by the Maltese authorities has directly or indirectly led to such returns."

See: Reply from Robert Abela, Maltese prime minister (pdf) and background: Mediterranean: As the fiction of a Libyan search and rescue zone begins to crumble, EU states use the coronavirus pandemic to declare themselves unsafe (pdf)

UK: Manchester police refer Taser shooting of man with child to IOPC (The Guardian, link):

"A video of the incident, which happened at a petrol station in Stretford at approximately 11pm on Wednesday, shows Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara, 34, being confronted by two GMP officers while carrying the boy.

Shortly after he puts the child, who can be heard screaming Daddy throughout the footage, on the ground, the man is Tasered by one of the policemen.

He is then repeatedly shouted at to put his hands behind his back by the officer, while still incapacitated on the floor, and in the view of the young child."

And see: GMP release new statement over incident where a man was tasered in front of a child at petrol station (MEN, link)

FRANCE: In Conversation: France's 'Black Lives Matter' Leader Assa Traoré is Still Fighting for Her Brother, Adama (okayafrica, link):

"On the day of his 24th birthday, July 19th 2016, Assa Traoré's brother Adama was asphyxiated to death in a gendarme station outside Paris. That's the official account, but Assa and her supporters say the evidence shows that the gendarmesmembers of the French national police forcehad crushed him during the chase and before entering the police station. Since then, Assa has been leading the fight to find out the truth about what happened to her brother, creating the "Justice for Adama" movement in the process. In a short amount of time, Assa has become a major figure against police brutality in France. She has found worldwide support from many activists and celebrities such as Angela Davis and Alice Walker."

Fund but disregard: the EUs relationship to academic research on mobility (Crisis, link):

"The European Union funds extensive academic research with the potential to inform humane and effective border policies. Yet evidence-based immigration policy is undermined by the EUs increasingly repressive border regime. How do we make sense of this contradiction? And which transformations are needed to address it?"

GREECE-ISRAEL: Greece and Israel deal spotlight leasing model for military UAVs (Defense News, link):

"Greeces Hellenic Ministry of National Defense will lease unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, in a deal that offers up an alternative to pricey acquisitions amid budgetary constraints.

The Heron long endurance drones, manufactured by IAI, will be used for border defense under a leasing model that IAI said may grow more appealing with the new pandemic dynamics that countries face.

Executive vice president and general manager of AIAs Military Aircraft Group, Moshe Levy, praised the new deal with Greece as "yet another example of the successful leasing model promoted by IAI in many parts of the world.

Greece will have an option to purchase the Herons after the lease term ends in three years."

EU: European Ombudsman: Annual Report 2019 (link):

"Dealing with complaints remains the core business of the Ombudsmans Office. In 2019, we continued to receive a high number of complaints from members of the public, civil society, businesses and media. I believe that this should not be taken as a sign that the EU administration is performing poorly but, rather, as result of ever-increasing awareness of the work my Office does and the positive outcomes we can achieve."

EU: Weekly Editorial: A Pact for an Inclusive Recovery? (ECRE, link):

"There is pressure on the EU from some political parties and Member States to publish the pending Pact on asylum and migration. But it is hard to see how the Pact can go ahead without integrating COVID-related developments, and that could take some time. If it is published without significant reference to the health emergency it will be panned. The Commission is also reluctant to repeat the tortuous process of launching proposals when there are fundamental disagreements among the Member States and despite the background negotiations and joint letters, it is not clear that conflicts on the key issues have been overcome...

...Holding off and adapting the Pact to the new COVID world, is not the worst idea. It will only be worth it, though, if the updated version, builds on these small positive responses to the crisis and if it acknowledges the need to have effective policies in Europe rather than outsourcing responsibilities and people. Above all, it needs to embody a positive vision of asylum and migration AND back that up with the necessary legal provisions, policies and funding decisions. Otherwise, a positive narrative will be coated onto the same restrictive practices that leave displaced people vulnerable to health crises and much else besides."

USA-ALBANIA: Travel surveillance: Agreement Signed to Implement New PNR Law (Albanian Daily News, link):

"US Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim and Minister of Interior Sander Lleshaj on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation between the United States and Albania aimed at implementing Passenger Name Record (PNR) law and deepening US-Albanian law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation."

Screen New Deal: Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia (The Intercept, link) by Naomi Klein:

"Its a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctors offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails." (...)

"We face real and hard choices between investing in humans and investing in technology. Because the brutal truth is that, as it stands, we are very unlikely to do both."

EU-USA JHA Officials meeting including "Racially-motivated violent extremism"

The EU-USA Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials meeting on 5-6 March 2020 discussed some old and some new issues (LIMITE doc no 7083-20, pdf). Among the new issues is: "Racially-motivated violent extremism":

"one of the greatest challenges for combatting this form of extremism is ensuring that actions perpetrated by right-wing/supremacist groups are designated as terrorist crimes."

Press briefing note on Migrant rescues in the Mediterranean (UNHCR, link):

"We are deeply concerned about recent reports of failure to assist and coordinated pushbacks of migrant boats in the central Mediterranean, which continues to be one of the deadliest migration routes in the world. Reports that Maltese authorities requested commercial ships to push boats with migrants in distress back to the high seas are of particular concern."

Frontex expects fresh move of migrants toward Greek border, German report says (DW, link):

"rontex expects a fresh wave of migrants seeking to cross the Turkish border into the European Union via Greece after Ankara lifts restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus, German newspaper Die Welt reported Friday citing an internal report of the blocs border agency.

According to the Frontex document, the easing of restrictions in the provinces of Canakkale, Istanbul and Izmir is expected to trigger large movements of migrants toward the Evros border, Die Welt said."

UK to blame hard Brexit on COVID-19, warns EU trade chief (euractiv, link):

"The United Kingdom is preparing to walk away from trade talks with the EU and blame the impasse on the coronavirus pandemic, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said on Thursday (7 May)."

EU: Mejiers Committee report: Note on steps to take towards the improvement of the transparency of Council decision making during the upcoming EU Presidency of the Federal Republic of Germany (pdf)

Report calls for:

"1. Continue the experiment with wider proactive disclosure of legislative documents initiated by the 2019 Finnish Presidency
2. Lisbonise" Regulation 1049/2001
3. Finalise the one-stop shop legislative observatory
4. Further develop the Councils standing practice on the proactive publication of contacts with lobbyists
5. Promote greater coherence of drafting, registration, and disclosure of Council documents
6. Prepare the internal debate in the Council on the legal definition of a document adapted to new modes of communication."

Time to Change: Coronavirus and Refugees on Samos Island (Samos Chronicles, link):

"The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting every aspect of human life on earth. The challenge is awesome in its scale and scope.

To date we have no cases of the virus on Samos. But still its impact on life here is huge with businesses and schools closed, the tourist industry completely stalled, and deeply engrained social activities such as drinking coffee and church going prohibited. All this is further compounded for as common with much of Greece, Samos has not come through the social and economic crisis that has crippled so many here for the past 12 years.

It is only access to gardens and land on the island with islanders growing and producing food for themselves and their families and neighbours that has kept hunger at bay for many here. (Not all are so fortunate). The loss of any income, however small, is a disaster."

European Parliament: DRAFT REPORTwith recommendations to the Commission on a framework of ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies (2020/2012(INL)) - Committee on Legal Affairs - Rapporteur: Ibán García del Blanco (link):

"declares that the development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies, including but not exclusively by human beings, should always respect human agency and oversight, as well as allow the retrieval of human control at any time"

MEPs to discuss the use of personal data in the fight against COVID-19 (link):

"he Civil Liberties Committee will discuss the use and protection of personal data in managing COVID-19, including smartphone apps, with EU data protection experts.(...)

In a plenary resolution adopted on 17 April, the Parliament stressed, regarding contact-tracing apps, that national and EU authorities must fully comply with data protection and privacy legislation and that mobile location data can only be processed in compliance with the ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR."

Two new incidents of shots at Evros border reported (ekathimerini.com,link):

"Greek authorities have reported two new incidents in less than 24 hours of shots being fired in the air by Turkish guards on the Evros River border with Greece, in the northeast."

Hungarian government suspends EU data protection rights (euractiv, link):

"The Hungarian government has announced plans to suspend its obligation to certain protections laid out in EU data protection law until the current state of emergency period has been declared over."

GREECE: Documented Pushbacks from Centres on the Greek Mainland

In response to the recent spike in pushbacks from Greece to Turkey, the Border Violence Monitoring Network, with members Mobile Info Team and Wave Thessaloniki , are releasing first hand testimony and photographic evidence indicating the existence of violent collective expulsions. In the space of six weeks, the teams received reports of 194 people removed and pushed back into Turkey from the refugee camp in Diavata and the Drama Paranesti Pre-removal Detention Centre.

Refugees and European human rights law: Expelled from Humanity (Verfassungsblog, link):

"The decision of the European Court of Human Rights in M.N. and Others v. Belgium will undoubtedly further propel the debate on the scope of extraterritorial state jurisdiction. More importantly, however, it reveals the necessity of addressing the systemic exclusion of refugees from the international legal order.

...the Courts choice to not shake up the European asylum system does not come as a surprise.. [but it] gives new impetus to a conversation around the significance of the concept of jurisdiction and its interrelationship with the international political order.

...with its decision to disallow the application of the Convention to visa procedures, the Court not only disappointed those who see it as an unwavering defender of human rights. More importantly, it laid bare the naivety of believing in the universality of human rights in a world of disintegrating nation-states in 1939 as well as in 2020. Let us thus take the Courts decision as an opportunity to advance a conversation about overcoming the systemic exclusion of refugees from the international order."

ECtHR press release: The European Convention on Human Rights does not apply to visa applications submitted to embassies and consulates (pdf) and: Judgment (pdf)

UK: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on the United Kingdom (CoE, link):

"This targeted follow-up visit to England focussed on the persistently high levels of violence in the local male adult prisons and juvenile detention centres, as well as on broader concerns regarding regimes, the use of force, segregation and use of means of restraint... the CPT found that in 2019 the prison system remained in deep crisis; local male prisons visited remained violent, unsafe and overcrowded, with many inmates enduring restricted and isolating regimes and/or long periods of segregation... A similar state of crisis was also found in the two young offender institutions visited, notably at Feltham A."

See: Report to the United Kingdom Government on the visit to the United Kingdom carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 13 to 23 May 2019 (pdf) and: Government response (pdf)

UK: Covid-19 and European prison population changes (CCJS, link):

"How do European states compare with England and Wales?

Our latest infographics illustrate prison population changes across Europe in response to Covid-19.

England and wales are leagues behind other European states in reducing the prison population to manage Covid-19. The government is relying on temporary measures like makeshift single-occupancy cells, re-opening prisons and a drop in judicial activity to halt the spread of the virus. These are likely to cause other problems and also prevent the wiggle room needed to prevent future outbreaks."

COVID 19 and States of Emergency: Dissecting Covid-19 Derogations (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Does the pandemic require derogation from human rights treaties? This question has sparked significant debate, notably spurred by Alan Greenes provocative argument that failing to derogate would denature ordinary human rights law and leave the start and end points of the crisis unclear. Others disagree: Scheinin argues the principle of normalcy, contained in General Comment 29, should continue to apply. Only where ordinary human rights provide inadequate flexibility should derogation be considered, and even then the principle should continue to limit the derogations...

This post seeks to complement this debate in two ways. First, it will summarise the state practice during this crisis, mapping the derogations to date from European, American and international human rights systems (I). Second, it will draw some tentative conclusions from this practice (II)."

EU: European Regulators Group for Audivisual Media Services: Assessment of the implementation of the Code of Practice on Disinformation (pdf):

"...the Code has significant weaknesses that need to be addressed if it is to achieve its objectives.

Firstly, there is a need for greater transparency about how the signatories are implementing the Code...

Secondly, the measures of the Code are too general in terms of content and structure...

Thirdly, the number of signatories of the Code is limited..."

See: Code of Practice on Disinformation (European Commission, link)

Google and Apple ban location tracking in their contact tracing apps (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Apple and Google have announced that their coronavirus tracing technology will ban the use of location tracking. The announcement could create potential complications for some apps that planned to use the two companies system for notifying people of potential exposure to covid-19."

EU: The impact of COVID-19 on judicial cooperation in criminal matters - Executive summary by Eurojust of collected information (Council document 7693/20, 30 April 2020, pdf):

"The measures taken at the national level to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are having a significant impact on judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the European Union.

...The present document summarizes the main practical and legal issues identified from an analysis of the replies included in the most recent version of the compilation (Council doc. WK 3472/2020 REV 3) on the following topics:

" Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant;
" Extradition from/to third States;
" Directive 2014/41/EU on the European Investigation Order;
" Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters;
" Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA on the transfer of sentenced persons;
" Framework Decision 2003/577/JHA on freezing orders;
" Framework Decision 2006/783/JHA on confiscation orders;
" Framework Decision 2002/465/JHA on Joint Investigation Teams.
"

EASO publishes the COI report "Syria - Security situation" (EASO, link):

"Today, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published the 2020 update to the Country of Origin Information (COI) report "Syria - Security situation". This report is part of a series of Syria reports produced in 2019-2020. These reports cover actors of protection, internal mobility, key socio-economic indicators, and targeting of individuals. The reports provide information relevant for international protection status determination for Syrian applicants for international protection, and will be used in the development of a country guidance note on Syria."

In lockdown: Migrants in France up against pandemic, police abuse (DW, link):