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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.

January 2020

ITALY: Giving names to victims — deaths in Italian deportation centres (AYS Daily Digest 20/01/20, link)

"Twentynine people died in Italian deportation centres from 1998 until 2020.

The last death occurred on Saturday 18th January 2020 in the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo, when Vakhtang Enukidze lost his life, as he was surrounded by 8 policemen in riot gears and beaten heavily, causing him fatal injuries.

Therefore, today’s digest will, in a way, try to pay respect to those “invisible” deaths occurred by the hand of the Italian state, those deaths that are not investigated properly because the victims are “unwanted” in the country, guilty of being alone in a hostile land."

GREECE: January 2020 Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"A. Situation Report in Lesvos, as of 15/1/2020

  • Total population of registered asylum seekers and refugees on Lesvos: 21,268
  • Registered Population of Moria Camp & Olive Grove: 19,184
  • Registered unaccompanied minors: 1,049
  • Total Detained: 88
  • Total Arrivals in Lesvos from Turkey in 2020: 1,015
  • Over 19,000 people are now living in Moria Camp – the main refugee camp on the island – yet the Camp lacks any official infrastructure, such as housing, security, electricity, sewage, schools, health care, etc. While technically, most individuals are allowed to leave this camp, it has become an open-air prison, as they must spend most of their day in hours long lines for food, toilets, doctors, and the asylum office."

    SCOTLAND: Far-right activist sent to Scotland to infiltrate army as veterans targeted by race hate groups (Daily Record, link):

    "Since the Iraq War, the British military in Scotland has made huge progress in becoming an inclusive and diverse organisation but ­accusations of endemic racism within its ranks have surfaced.

    We can reveal that far-right extremist group For Britain has deployed an activist in Scotland to try to develop links among serving and retired forces personnel.

    Our probe also revealed soldiers with links to Nazi thugs’ group Combat 18."

    EU: MONITORYOU: the MilliONs beIng spenT by the eu on develOping surveillance tech to taRget YOU (Privacy International, link):

    "The European Union (EU) spends billions on research and development aimed at driving economic growth and jobs, as well as furthering the bloc’s broader agenda. Within the current budget, known as Horizon 2020 and covering the years 2014-2020, some €80 billion has been made available for research in a huge number of areas, ranging from finding cures for diseases to helping keep the earth viable for life.

    From the same budget, it also funds a lot of projects aimed at developing surveillance technology. Successive research budgets have ploughed billions in euros to surveillance companies, government security agencies, and universities to conduct research and develop products to complement EU and national internal security policies.

    Much of the funding goes to companies which sell surveillance tech to governments or to government agencies which themselves carry out surveillance. This not only furthers surveillance capabilities; it takes money away from other vital research."

    UK: Tougher sentencing and monitoring in government overhaul of terrorism response (Home Office, link):

    "Confirmed by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC, the new Counter-Terrorism Bill, to be introduced in the first 100 days of this government, will force dangerous terrorist offenders who receive extended determinate sentences to serve the whole time behind bars and ensure those convicted of serious offences such as preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation spend a mandatory minimum of 14 years in prison.

    It will also overhaul the terrorist licensing regime, doubling the number of specialist counter-terrorism probation officers and introducing measures such as polygraph testing. It will increase the number of places available in probation hostels so that authorities can keep closer tabs on terrorists in the weeks after they are released from prison."

    USA: We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point. (The New York Times, link) by Bruce Schneier:

    "... facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we’re in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm. In countries like China, a surveillance infrastructure is being built by the government for social control. In countries like the United States, it’s being built by corporations in order to influence our buying behavior, and is incidentally used by the government.

    In all cases, modern mass surveillance has three broad components: identification, correlation and discrimination. Let’s take them in turn."

    POLAND: 1460 Days Later: Rule of Law in Poland R.I.P. (Part I) (Verfassungsblog, link):

    "On 13 January 2016, exactly four years ago today, the Commission activated its rule of law framework for the very first time with respect to Poland (for our previous 2-part post assessing the situation as of 13 January 2019 see here).

    During this time, Poland has become the first EU Member State:

    As if to outdo itself when it comes to annihilating judicial independence, Poland’s ruling party has rushed an unprecedented piece of legislation last month."

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.1.20) including:

    UK: Corin Redgrave Memorial Lecture 2020: Justice In A Broken World by Professor David Andress - Saturday 14 March 2020, London (pdf):

    "Human Rights are one of the most powerful expressions of a commitment to justice in the world. Yet they have been from their origins compromised even by those who declared them. This lecture will consider whether alternative ways of framing the goals of a rights driven order might offer different routes to achieving more of such goals in the future."

    DENMARK: 'Unacceptable for people': Danish asylum centre slammed in anti-torture report (The Local, link):

    "The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture published on Tuesday a highly critical report on a detention centre in Denmark.

    The committee called the centre at Ellebæk in North Zealand “unacceptable for people”.

    ...The report is based on visits to Ellebæk and other detention centres including Nykøbing Falster Arrest.

    Both facilities house migrants who are under arrest based on Denmark’s immigration laws (Udlændingeloven), but not for committing crimes."

    See: Report to the Danish Government on the visit to Denmark carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumanor Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 3 to 12 April 2019 (pdf)

    EU mulls five-year ban on facial recognition tech in public areas (Reuters, link):

    "The European Union is considering banning facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years, to give it time to work out how to prevent abuses, according to proposals seen by Reuters.

    The plan by the EU’s executive - set out in an 18-page white paper - comes amid a global debate about the systems driven by artificial intelligence and widely used by law enforcement agencies.

    The EU Commission said new tough rules may have to be introduced to bolster existing regulations protecting Europeans’ privacy and data rights."

    See the document: Structure for the White Paper on artifical intelligence - a European approach (pdf) which notes that rather than a ban "it would be preferable to focus at this stage on full implementation of the provisions in the General Data Protection Regulation."

    UK: Greenpeace included with neo-Nazis on UK counter-terror list (The Guardian, link):

    "A counter-terrorism police document distributed to medical staff and teachers as part of anti-extremism briefings included Greenpeace, Peta and other non-violent groups as well as neo-Nazis, the Guardian has learned.

    The guide, produced by Counter Terrorism Policing, is used across England as part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence.

    ...the list of groups viewed as a potential concern contained in the new 24-page document includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace – among whose supporters are Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson and Joanna Lumley – and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd, whose supporters include Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Also included is Stop the Badger Cull, which is backed by Sir Brian May, the Queen guitarist."

    See: The document produced by Counter Terrorism Policing (pdf) and: Non-violent protesters are not terrorists and it’s time the police accepted that (The Guardian, link)

    EU: How do the European media cover migration? (European Journalism Observatory, link):

    "In the five years since the European refugee crisis began, controversies related to migration have deeply affected political landscapes across the EU, yet no “European solutions” have so far been found. A new study by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) now shines a light on the media’s role in the migration debate.

    EJO’s comparative analysis reveals that in each country, the media tell different stories about migrants and refugees. Clear differences in the quantity and quality of coverage can be discerned not only between Western and Central Eastern Europe, but even within Western Europe. The study also reveals a number of blind spots in the coverage of migration."

    Europeans seek ‘lawful’ ways of intercepting 5G communications (EurActiv, link):

    "The European Commission is working alongside Europol and EU member states to “identify appropriate ways of preserving lawful interception capabilities in 5G networks,” said Ylva Johansson, the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner.

    ...improved standards in mobile communications may, in turn, allow for a user’s identity and location to be protected, therefore undermining police authorities’ ability to conduct “lawful interception” – in other words, wiretapping or eavesdropping.

    In Europe, fears among politicians and police authorities in this regard are starting to provoke ideas about how these higher levels of encryption may be bypassed.

    “The Commission, Europol and Member States’ law enforcement authorities are working together to identify appropriate ways of preserving lawful interception capabilities in 5G networks,” a written statement from Commissioner Johansson said on Monday (13 January)."

    See: Statewatch Analysis: A world without wiretapping? Official documents highlight concern over effects 5G technology will have on "lawful interception" (pdf)

    UK: Police leaders to start bidding for more tasers from today (Home Office, link):

    "Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales can start bidding today to equip more of their officers with tasers as part of a Home Office drive to give police more powers and tools to tackle crime.

    This follows the Home Secretary’s commitment to put more officers carrying tasers on our streets through a £10 million ring fenced fund, allowing them to better protect themselves and others from harm.

    Bidding will open on a new online platform launched by the Home Office, where forces will decide how much funding they apply for based on the threat and risk in their local area."

    UK: The Queen’s Speech: setting the ‘public’ against its ‘enemies’ (IRR, link) by Frances Webber:

    "What will be the ramifications of the Conservative government’s policies, as set out in the December Queen’s Speech, for BAME communities and all those fighting for racial justice, both domestically and internationally?

    In the field of criminal justice, the proposed new offence of criminal trespass on land dramatically intensifies the war on Gypsies and Travellers – communities under siege from local authorities and central government...

    Other ‘tough on crime’ proposed legislation will stipulate longer sentences for those convicted of serious violence, sexual or terrorism offences, with a 14-year minimum proposed for the most serious terrorism offences, and restrictions on early release...

    In the field of immigration and asylum, the deletion of the May government’s pledge to retain the right of stranded child refugees to join family members in the UK following Brexit has angered those working with child refugees in Calais and elsewhere in Europe...

    In a blow against those wishing to show international solidarity, public bodies such as local authorities and universities are to be banned from ‘imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, divestment or sanctions [BDS] campaigns’..."

    See: The Conservative government programme: The Queen's Speech 2019 (pdf)

    GREECE: Migrants face increasingly hostile conditions (Al Jazeera, link):

    "Refugees and migrants trying to make their journey into Europe are facing increasingly hostile conditions - forcing them to take huge risks to their safety.

    Closed borders, police brutality and a suspicious public are combining to make already desperate journeys often impossible.

    In the first of a series of reports on the main overland route from Greece to Croatia, Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee found refugees are becoming increasingly reliant on organised people smuggling."

    UNHCR’s Recommendations for the Croatian and German Presidencies of the Council of the European Union (EU) January - December 2020 (pdf):

    1. Moving ahead with sustainable asylum reform

    I. Foster responsibility sharing and solidarity within the EU;
    II. Ensure access to territory and fair and fast procedures;
    III. Support integration and efficient and rights-based return systems;
    IV. Invest in resettlement and complementary pathways; and
    V. Addressing statelessness.

    2. Providing more development and peacebuilding support for the countries where most refugees live and originate from

    I. Asylum and forced displacement in the new Neighbourhood, Development and
    International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)
    II. EU political leverage to promote inclusion of refugees.

    Transforming the EU in a freedom security and justice area: first Council ideas for a Strategic Agenda (2019-2024) (free-group.eu, link):

    "This is a joint discussion paper for both justice and home affairs submitted by the Croatian Presidency to the other delegations and to be debated at the Informal JHA Council in Zagreb on January 23rd-24th."

    Greece: Chios: Protesters boo, throw water bottles at Dep Labor Minister over Migration policy (keeptalkinggreece.com, link):

    "Serious incidents erupted in the town hall of the island of Chios on Monday night, where Deputy Minister of Labor, Notis Mitarakis was booed and became the target of protesters angry over the government’s migration policy and the creation of a new structure for refugees and migrants.

    A group of protesters had gathered outside the town hall and started to boo and fire insults when the deputy minister arrived. Mitarakis was helped by to seek refugee inside the hall.

    The protesters finally broke the door outside and entered the building. Some of them reportedly threw water bottles and coffee cups at the minister.

    Police detianed two of the protesters, one of them was arrested."

    Dozens of German cities petition to take in more refugees (DW, link):

    "The European Union has decreased its Mediterranean rescue efforts, while Greece and Italy are struggling to deal with displaced people who have already arrived. German cities are demanding permission to take action."

    Greece to build new facilities for 15,000 migrants (euobserver, link):

    "The Greek government has decided to build 10 new facilities to house 15,000 migrants, as new irregular arrivals from neighbouring Turkey continue. Nine of the 10 centres will be built in western Macedonia and one on the island of Crete. The purpose is to relocate people from overpopulated migration camps on the Aegean island as soon as possible. The first 10,000 migrants should be relocated in February."

    Chios municipal council rejected plan for closed migrant centre (ekathimerini.com, link):

    "The municipal council of the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, rejected a government proposal to set up a new, closed pre-departure center for migrants on the island, in a marathon session that ended at midnight on Monday."

    Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.12.19-13.1.20) including:

    UK: History repeats itself with calls to introduce mandatory SIM registration

    An official review of police action against 'county lines' drugs gangs has said that the possibility for people to purchase and use mobile phone SIM cards anonymously "enables criminality" and that the Home Office "should commission a review of the criminal abuse of mobile telecommunications services" by the end of 2020.

    IRELAND: Concerns 'spying powers' still being used despite ruling Irish legislation breached EU law (Irish Examiner, link):

    "The use of a controversial spying power by law enforcement agencies has fallen sharply since a landmark ruling that Irish legislation breached EU law.

    However, one legal authority expressed concern that the powers are still being used to a significant extent despite the ruling.

    TJ McIntyre, associate professor of law at UCD, said the exercise of the powers is in breach of both the High Court judgement of December 2018 and previous European court rulings.

    The High Court ruled that 2011 legislation allowing State agencies to access people’s private communication data provided for an “indiscriminate” data-retention regime and breached privacy rights under EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights."

    UK: Priti Patel defends inclusion of Extinction Rebellion on UK terror list (The Guardian, link):

    "The home secretary, Priti Patel, has defended anti-terror police for putting the Extinction Rebellion environmental protest group on a list of extremist ideologies, saying it was important to look at “a range of security risks”.

    While accepting that XR was not a terrorist organisation, Patel told LBC radio that such assessment had to be “based in terms of risk to the public, security risks, security threats”."

    See: Terrorism police list Extinction Rebellion as extremist ideology (The Guardian, link) and: UK: Files on politicians, journalists and peace protestors held by police in "domestic extremist" database (Statewatch News, November 2013)

    Europol Study: Disclosure of electronic evidence often fails due to incompetence of authorities (Matthias Monroy, link):

    "The planned EU e-Evidence regulation is intended to force Internet service providers to cooperate more with police and judicial authorities. However, a survey shows that the companies already comply with their requests voluntarily. But they are often incorrect and thus rejected."

    See: Europol: SIRIUS EU Digital Evidence Situation Report 2019: Cross-border access to electronic evidence (pdf)

    UK: Undercover Inequality: Help challenge sexism in the justice system (CrowdJustice, link):

    "When does lying in a sexual relationship undermine consent?

    The criminal justice system currently imprisons young women found guilty of impersonating men in a sexual relationship. But, when male undercover police have sex with women in order to gather intelligence on social justice and environmental movements, they have committed no crime.

    Help us challenge this sexism and clarify the criminal law."

    UK: No sanctuary for migrants: Undocumented migrants criminalised (Big Issue North, link):

    "Forces detain refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants for a variety of immigration offences – with Immigration, Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) agents sometimes even working out of police stations. The trend reflects what Bhatia, from Birkbeck College at the University of London, sees as the merging of the UK immigration and criminal justice systems in recent years.

    He said: “Using a false passport, for example, used to be a civil offence but now it’s dealt with under criminal law. There are now 89 immigration-related offences on the statute books where a person can go to prison.

    “The focus on the inherent ‘dangerousness’ of this group and re-classification of immigration breaches as serious criminal offences mean the system frequently resorts to imprisonment for what are non-violent offences.""

    12 migrants found dead after boat sinks off western Greece (ekathimerini, link):

    "Greece's coast guard reports that 12 bodies of migrants have been collected from the Ionian Sea, southwest of the Greek island of Paxos in western Greece, after their boat took in water and sank.

    A coast guard spokesperson told the Associated Press that 21 migrants had been safely recovered from the sea. “The initial report is that 50 people were in the boat,” he said.

    There was no further information about the migrants, including age, gender and ethnic background."

    EU-ERITREA: How Forced Labor in Eritrea Is Linked to E.U.-Funded Projects (The New York Times, link):

    "BRUSSELS — The European Union spent 20 million euros last year in Eritrea, hoping to help stem an exodus from the repressive African country, which is consistently one of its biggest sources of asylum seekers.

    The money, about $22 million, bought equipment and materials to build a road, a seemingly uncontroversial task. The catch? Many workers on the construction site are forced conscripts, and the European Union has no real means of monitoring the project.

    The decision caused outrage in human-rights circles. But that did not stop the bloc in December from deciding to give Eritrea tens of millions more, funding a system of forced conscription that the United Nations has described as “tantamount to enslavement.”"

    The Hope Project Charity Auction London, 6–17 January 2020

    Christie’s is proud to present a charity auction to benefit
    The Hope Project, which is founded on the principles of dignity, compassion and safety for all.

    The Hope Project Arts is a safe place for refugees to express themselves through art, theatre, poetry, music, dance and so much more, while teaching others new skills and promoting a sense of community and understanding.

    The Hope Project’s overriding focus is the mental health of refugees on Lesvos. The artworks exhibited here were all created by refugees in The Hope Project art studio, many of whom are still living on the island.

    The sale will take place in London on 13 January 2020 at 7:15 pm Christie’s, King Street, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QT

    Viewing: 6 – 17 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm St James’s Piccadilly Church and 9, 10 & 13 January, 8:30 – 6:30pm Christie’s, King Street

    EU: EASO operations to double in size this year (EASO, link):

    "In December 2019, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) signed Operating Plans with the national asylum authorities of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta, following needs-based discussions on the support which the Agency will provide throughout 2020.

    In 2020, EASO will see its operational deployments double in size, with up to 550 personnel deployed in Greece, 150 in Italy, 120 in Cyprus and 60 in Malta. In addition, interpreters and security personnel will be deployed in the four Member States, bringing the total deployment up to as many as 2,000 personnel. Cyprus, Greece and Malta will all see a doubling of EASO personnel, while operational deployments in Italy will be decreased in light of changing needs on the part of the Italian authorities."

    SCOTLAND: SCVO warns against extension of Scottish Freedom of Information Act (ThirdSector, link):

    "Extending the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act to charities that deliver public sector services would create a "disproportionate burden" on voluntary sector organisations, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has warned the Scottish government.

    In its response last month to a consultation by the Scottish government about extending FOI legislation, the SCVO says it has concerns about the "potential financial and operational implications" for the voluntary sector and the lack of engagement with the sector to date, particularly during the consultation period.

    The consultation, which closed last month, suggested extending the FOI Act in Scotland to cover organisations that deliver public services."

    EU: Irregular migration into EU at lowest level since 2013 (Frontex, link):

    "The number of irregular border crossings detected on the European Union’s external borders last year fell to the lowest level since 2013 due to a drop in the number of people reaching European shores via the Central and Western Mediterranean routes.

    Preliminary 2019 data collected by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, showed a 6% fall in illegal border crossings along the EU’s external borders to just over 139 000. This is 92% below the record number set in 2015.

    The number of irregular migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean fell roughly 41% to around 14 000. Nationals of Tunisia and Sudan accounted for the largest share of detections on this route.

    The total number of irregular migrants detected in the Western Mediterranean dropped approximately 58% to around 24 000, with Moroccans and Algerians making up the largest percentage.
    "

    MALTA: UNHCR concerned about fire at reception centre, calls for urgent action on detention conditions (UNHCR, link):

    "UNHCR is deeply concerned about the fire that broke out at the Initial Reception Centre in Marsa on Wednesday 8th January 2020.

    It is a relief that there were no serious injuries. We thank the staff of the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers (AWAS) and emergency services for acting swiftly to make sure everyone was safe. There are currently around 450 asylum-seekers residing at the centre, including around 180 children.

    While condemning all forms of violence and vandalism, we reiterate that detaining people, including children, for prolonged periods has a detrimental effect on mental and physical wellbeing. The substandard conditions in the centres contribute to the feeling of frustration among asylum-seekers, many of whom arrived in Malta after having experienced inhumane treatment when fleeing their country and on their journey. Detention of asylum-seekers in a manner that is not within strict legal basis needs to be addressed as a matter of priority."

    See: 20 arrests after large fire at Marsa migrants centre (Times of Malta, link): "Hundreds of people were evacuated from an initial reception centre in Marsa on Wednesday after a large fire broke out inside one of its dormitories. "

    UK: MPs reject Labour's call to reinstate child refugee pledge (BBC News, link):

    "The Commons has rejected an attempt by Labour to reinstate child refugee protection rights in the Brexit bill.

    MPs voted 348 to 252 against the amendment, which would have guaranteed the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family living in the UK after Brexit.

    The pledge was included in a previous version of the Brexit bill, but was removed after the Tories' election win.

    The government said it had "a proud record of helping vulnerable children.""

    SPAIN-MOROCCO: Statement on the hot returns from the Chafarinas on 3 January: "a serious violation of human rights"

    Yesterday morning, on 3 January 2020, a group of 42 migrant people, including 26 women and two children aged three and four, reached Congress Island in the Chafarinas archipelago. That same evening, the Guardia Civil enacted the summary return of the 42 migrants. On this occasion, the Spanish government allowed the hot return of vulnerable minors and women.

    GERMANY: New analysis: Shadow army or isolated cases? Right-wing structures in the security authorities

    Over two years after the case of Franco A came to light, public attention and official sensitivity to the problem of right-wing attitudes and structures in the military and police have decreased significantly. Nevertheless, individual revelations about right-wing structures and incidents in the Bundeswehr (Germany army) and the police continue to raise questions.

    EU: Migration-related deaths: open access book provides "first interdisciplinary overview" of causes, dynamics and consequences

    A new book that is freely-available online claims to offer the "first interdisciplinary overview" of the causes, dynamics and consequences of migration-related deaths, with eight chapters examining issues such as the collection and use of data; the process of mourning missing migrants; and the causes of border deaths.

    MALTA: MV Lifeline captain conviction overturned on appeal (Malta Independent, link):

    "MV Lifeline captain Claus Peter Reisch is a free man, after the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction for ship registration irregularities.

    In May last year, Captain Claus Peter Reisch had been found guilty of not having his ship’s registration in order and was fined €10,000, with the court refusing the prosecution’s request to confiscate the vessel.

    Reisch had been in charge of the vessel when it rescued 234 stranded migrants at sea in 2018. The rescue had caused an international dispute, with the Lifeline eventually being allowed to dock in Valletta, after which the rescued migrants were distributed amongst a number of EU countries.

    Reisch had been charged with entering Maltese territorial waters without the necessary registration or licence."

    MALTA: 24 arrests made in Safi migrants' centre protest (Times of Malta, link):

    "The police made 24 arrests late on Monday after a violent protest by migrants at Safi Detention Centre.

    The protest started at about 7.30pm, with several people banging on fences and trying to rush the gate.

    Police said the migrants, many of them with hooded, also started removing stone slabs from their dorms, smashing them and throwing stones at the police.

    The administrative offices were also damaged.

    The police deployed reinforcements and a number of arrests were made.

    No one was injured. "

    UK: DNA supplied by public to trace their ancestry should be available to police, according to majority of Britons (The Telegraph, link):

    "DNA that the public supply to private firms to trace their ancestry should be available to police investigating crimes, says a majority of Britons.

    Some 55 per cent of people believe that the police should be able to access the DNA records of people held in private databases, according to a YouGov poll of 1,621 adults.

    About one in 20 (five per cent) of Britons, equivalent to around 2.5 million people, told researchers they had used a DNA test kit, with a further eight per cent, saying they planned to do so in the future."

    Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds: AP (Al Jazeera, link):

    "When the European Union started funnelling millions of euros into Libya to slow the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the money came with EU promises to improve detention centres notorious for abuse and fight human trafficking.

    That has not happened. Instead, the misery of migrants in Libya has spawned a thriving and highly lucrative web of businesses funded in part by the EU and enabled by the United Nations, an Associated Press investigation has found."

    Italy Faces Complaint at UN Over ‘Abusive’ Libya Asylum Returns (The Globe Post, link):

    "Campaigners filed a complaint with the United Nations on Wednesday against Italy over a teenage migrant who was sent back to Libya in 2018 along with other migrants, where he was shot, beaten, and subjected to forced labor.

    The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) lodged the case with the U.N. Human Rights Committee aiming to challenge the practice of E.U. coastal states like Italy engaging commercial ships to return vulnerable people to unsafe locations.

    The NGO says it is the first case of its kind to target so-called privatized push-backs."

    See: CASE: PRIVATISED MIGRANT ABUSE (Global Legal Action Network, link) and: Privatised Push-Back of the Nivin (Forensic Architecture, link)

    50 countries ranked by how they’re collecting biometric data and what they’re doing with it (Comparitech, link):

    "From passport photos to accessing bank accounts with fingerprints, the use of biometrics is growing at an exponential rate. And while using your fingerprint may be easier than typing in a password, just how far is too far when it comes to biometric use, and what’s happening to your biometric data once it’s collected, especially where governments are concerned?

    Here at Comparitech, we’ve analyzed 50 different countries to find out where biometrics are being taken, what they’re being taken for, and how they’re being stored. While there is huge scope for biometric data collection, we have taken 5 key areas that apply to most countries (so as to offer a fair country-by-country comparison and to ensure the data is available). Each country has been scored out of 25, with high scores indicating extensive and invasive use of biometrics and/or surveillance and a low score demonstrating better restrictions and regulations regarding biometric use and surveillance."

    Pole and Hungarian brothers be – EU member states fuel the rise of pro-government propaganda with taxpayers money (Atlatszo, link):

    "With almost 500 media titles owned by one pro-government foundation and hundreds of millions of euros of state advertising yearly to fuel it, the right-wing Hungarian government built the largest propaganda machinery in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Poland follows suit with a growing stream of taxpayers money transferred to media openly supporting the governing party. In return, both governments can count on propaganda broadcasts and no difficult questions from journalists."

    UK: More police, more prosecutions, more punishment (CCJS, link):

    "To 1945, 1979 and 1997 might be added 2019: a pivotal General Election with the potential to reshape policy and politics in the UK for a generation.

    In the case of criminal justice, we should expect a resumption of the kind of criminal justice growth and expansion last seen under the Labour governments between 1997 and 2010, an expansion that, temporarily at least, the coalition and Conservative governments between 2010 and 2019 successfully halted... After a decade of no prison growth, the new government looks set to pick up where the Major, Blair and Brown governments left off."

    Facial recognition fails on race, government study says (BBC News, link):

    "A US government study suggests facial recognition algorithms are far less accurate at identifying African-American and Asian faces compared to Caucasian faces.

    African-American females were even more likely to be misidentified, it indicated.

    It throws fresh doubt on whether such technology should be used by law enforcement agencies."

    See: NIST Study Evaluates Effects of Race, Age, Sex on Face Recognition Software (NIST, link)

    UK: MI5 policy allowing informants to commit serious crimes ruled lawful (The Guardian, link):

    "MI5’s partially secret policy allowing agents and informants to participate in serious crimes is lawful, judges have ruled by a three-to-two majority.

    In a 56-page judgment, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which hears legal complaints about the intelligence agencies, declared that the guidelines do not breach human rights or grant absolute immunity to those who commit offences such as murder or torture.

    It is the first time the IPT has published dissenting judgments, both of which in this case are highly critical of the statutory framework surrounding the handling of agents. Many of the key arguments turned on the exploitation of informants within the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries during Northern Ireland’s Troubles."

    Judgment: Privacy International & others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs & others ([2019] UKIPTrib IPT_17_186_CH, pdf) and: Press summary (pdf)

    The ever-rising securitisation of mixed migration (Mixed Migration Centre, link):

    "Over the last decade there has been a surge in the securitisation of different aspects of migration, especially in relation to mixed flows, including refugees, using irregular pathways. This essay outlines what securitised and criminalised mixed migration looks like and how security concerns are used to justify and normalise what were previously exceptional policies and practices around the world. It will also explore how these trends might change in the future."

    UK: Decade of dissent: how protest is shaking the UK and why it’s likely to continue (The Conversation, link):

    "This is the age of dissent – and the last decade saw a large rise in protest events across the UK. The relative social peace of the 1990s and 2000s has given way to a period of economic crisis and social conflict, sparked by the global economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath.

    Many viewed 2011 as the high point of this wave of protest – with occupations of public spaces taking place across the globe, not least during the Arab Spring. But the trend has, in fact, continued to proliferate throughout the decade. While austerity was the initial driver of protest in the UK, a wide range of issues are now leading to dissent.

    ...In 2019 there were over 280 reported protest events, compared with 154 in 2010 – and only 83 in 2007, the year before the global economic crisis hit."

    UK Police Snowden Probe Declared "Inactive" (Ryan Gallagher, link):

    "In 2013, London's Metropolitan Police began a criminal investigation focusing on journalists who reported stories from a trove of secret documents leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Now, after six years and no arrests or prosecutions, the Met has confirmed that the investigation has been shelved.

    The Met told me in response to a recent Freedom of Information request that the investigation is "inactive pending further information being received." Since 2014, I've had several updates from the Met regarding the investigation, and this marks the first time that its status has changed from "ongoing." In November 2017, the Met stated that it was a "complex investigation and enquiries continue."

    The investigation, which was given the code-name Operation Curable, had been led by the Met's Counter-Terrorism Command, under the direction of assistant commissioner Mark Rowley. In March 2018, Rowley retired from the Met -- and with his departure, it seems the Curable investigation went cold."


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