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Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.

March 2017

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Regulation: Latest draft position: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection (pdf): 163 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"This document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles, except for the following items placed between square brackets and which will be discussed as a later stage...

Suggested modifications are indicated as follows: - new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold - new text compared to the previous version of this document is in bold underlined - deleted text is in strikethrough."

Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops’ Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines (The Intercept, link):

"Last year, a Russian startup announced that it could scan the faces of people passing by Moscow’s thousands of CCTV cameras and pick out wanted criminals or missing persons. Unlike much face recognition technology — which runs stills from videos or photographs after the fact — NTechLab’s FindFace algorithm has achieved a feat that once only seemed possible in the science fictional universe of “Minority Report”: It can determine not just who someone is, but where they’ve been, where they’re going, and whether they have an outstanding warrant, immigration detainer, or unpaid traffic ticket.

For years, the development of real-time face recognition has been hampered by poor video resolution, the angles of bodies in motion, and limited computing power. But as systems begin to transcend these technical barriers, they are also outpacing the development of policies to constrain them. Civil liberties advocates fear that the rise of real-time face recognition alongside the growing number of police body cameras creates the conditions for a perfect storm of mass surveillance." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.3.17)

Council of Europe calls on Hungary to reconsider new law that risks exposing migrant children to sexual exploitation (Press release, link):

"In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, published today,Claude Janizzi, the Chairperson of the Council of Europe Lanzarote Committee expressed hisconcern that the adopted law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing thestrictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management” – will negatively impacton the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention, to which Hungary is party, in mainly twoways:·

Unaccompanied migrant children between 14 and 18 will be considered adults during theemergency crisis and will not benefit from child protection measures, including theappointment of a guardian;·

These children will be placed in transit zones with a greater risk of becoming victims ofsexual abuse or exploitation."

See: Letter (pdf)

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’ (euractiv, link);

"Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday (23 March)."

European Commission: Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/369 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 131-17, pdf):

European Commission Factsheet published on 13 January, 2015 alerted the EU in “Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe and the EU response" that: In 2014, more than 276,000 migrants irregularly entered the EU, which represents an increase of 155% compared to 2013. Syrians together with Eritreans were the largest group apprehended at EU external borders trying to enter the EU in an irregular manner.”

This report notes that: "In 2015 and 2016, close to 1.1 million persons, who may be in need of international protection, and irregular migrants (hereafter referred to as 'refugees and migrants') made their way to the European Union (EU) along the Eastern Mediterranean route."

So why did it take until 2 March 2016 for the Commission to adopt a proposal on the provision of emergency support within the Union. (the Regulation was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016)? Why was the "experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department" not immediately activated at the beginning of 2015?

It should also be noted that:

"Greece was the only Member State that met the two 'eligibility' conditions set out in the Regulation:

the exceptional scale and impact of the disaster give rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences in one or more Member States; and no other instrument available to Member States and to the Union is sufficient.

As a result, all the actions funded under this Regulation to date were exclusively aimed at tackling the humanitarian situation in Greece."

EU: eu-LISA Single Programming Document 2017-2019 (pdf):

"The purpose of the Single Programming Document of the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice is to give a structured overview of the main objectives and activities to be achieved and performed in 2017. It reveals the connections and the logic in the breakdown of the long-term strategic goals into multiannual and annual objectives and outcomes....

The Agency successfully delivers its core task: of providing operational management of the VIS, SIS II, and EURODAC systems."

UK: Four new “Supersized” Prisons – Our Response (Cage, link):

"Justice secretary Liz Truss today announced that four new “supersized” mega-prisons, with a combined capacity of at least 5000, are now earmarked for construction. The sites: Port Talbot in South Wales, Wigan in Greater Manchester, Rochester in Kent and Full Sutton in East Yorkshire."

The Asylum System in Spain: Guaranteed Right to Protection? (link)

"Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled central Barcelona on February 18th to demand that European governments fulfil their obligations. They demanded compliance with the relocation quotas from Greece and Italy. But they called for more, insisting that the right to asylum must be guaranteed with safe means of entry, that asylum procedures should be fair and consistent with international law and that reception conditions should be dignified. Thus far, the Spanish government has relocated just 900 of the nearly 16,000 asylum seekers agreed in September 2015. That is a long way from where it should be. We know little about the Spanish asylum system, what awaits those who attempt to arrive by themselves and those who are already here. Is the right to international protection guaranteed?"

EU roadmap for Libya to stem flow of sea migrants - Libyan prime minister asked for rescue and emergency equipment to curb illegal migration across its border into Europe (aljazeera.com, link):

"Ongoing consultations between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, representatives of the interior ministers of Italy and other eight European countries aim at bolstering an agreement signed in February, when Libya agreed to tackle the smuggling of migrants into Europe.

EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and interior ministers from Algeria and Tunisia also attended the meeting....

In the meantime, Rome has been pursuing a solution to the political stalemate in Libya, in the hope that the UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), signed in 2015, would finally take off and help the Tripoli government establish control over its borders and as a result over migrants routes across its territory.

But the deadlock between Tripoli and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) is far from over. Under the influence of renegade General Khalifa Haftar, the HoR is refusing to acknowledge the UN-sponsored Government of National Accord(GNA) formed by Serraj, who also heads the Presidential Council."

Slovenia: More should be done to ensure that Roma, migrants and those in poverty are not left behind (CoE, link);

"Slovenia from 20 to 23 March, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, examined the situation of Roma, migrants and asylum seekers and of the increasing number of people living in poverty in the country. He stressed the centrality of human rights to ensure that Slovenian society is truly inclusive."

UK: Coppers 'persistently' breach data protection laws with police tech - Staff association warns that systems 'increasingly' being used for personal reasons (The Register, link):

"Coppers in England and Wales are "persistently" committing data breaches, according to the Police Federation's head of misconduct.

Technologies from the Police National Computer (PNC) systems through to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) databases are "increasingly being used by officers for non-work related reasons" according to the Police Federation, the statutory staff association for officers – all of whom are barred from joining an ordinary trade union under the Police Act 1996."

See also: PCSOs jailed after implicating innocent man in an attempted murder (BBC News, link) and Safe in Police hands? How Police Forces suffer 10 data breaches every week and still want more of your data (Big Brother Watch, link)

More than 200 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean (BBC News, link):

"More than 200 migrants are feared dead after five bodies were discovered off the Libyan coast, a Spanish aid organisation says.

Proactiva said the bodies were found floating near two capsized boats which could each hold more than 100 people.The group's Laura Lanuza said the five they pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned."

EU: Divides deepen between member states over posted workers bill (euractiv, link):

"After a year of stalled negotiations, fresh changes to draft rules affecting workers temporarily sent to other EU countries are further deepening rifts between eastern and western member states. A new compromise draft from Malta, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, has caused outrage among some eastern EU countries.

A group of countries including Poland, Romania and Hungary has fiercely opposed any legal changes to 21-year-old posted workers rules and called western EU member states protectionist for pushing measures to raise pay for workers from lower wage countries."

And see: MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay (euobserver, link)

Belgium criticises aid groups for saving lives (News That Moves, link):

"From Reuters: Belgium’s migration minister, Theo Francken, has said aid organisations are causing more deaths by saving migrants that try to cross the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa to Italy.Theo Francken went on Twitter to criticize Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for operating ships near the Libyan coast that he says only encourage smugglers...."

Greece: Turkish asylum requests on the rise (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An increasing number of Turkish nationals have been finding their way to Greece since the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country and the mass purges that followed.

More specifically, 236 Turks requested political asylum in Greece from last July until February. According to official data from the Asylum Service seen by Kathimerini, the rising trend in the number of requests was already discernible by early 2016...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.3.17)

EU Council of the European Union: Criminal justice in cyberspace - Improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 7479-17, pdf):

"The fight against crime has become more than ever dependant on access to electronic data - data which do not belong to law enforcement or judicial authorities, nor can be regulated by JHA policy makers alone. However, the availability of and access to these data has been reduced due to technical and/or legal reasons: cloud-based storage, limited retention of data, use of encryption, use of Carrier Grade NAT solutions or virtual currencies. Collaboration and coordination with partners and stakeholders is therefore essential to establish workable solutions."

As working on these matters needs to take account of various sectors and legitimate interests (e.g. of LEA/judiciary, data protection/human rights, internal market/trade, electronic communications), there is a clear need of improved coordination and collaboration at national and EU level between the different policy fields....

Regular cyber and/or ICT dialogues with third countries would facilitate international cooperation, in particular with those third countries where most of the service providers are located." [NB:"third countries" particularly include the USA] [emphasis in original]

See also: 6890-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf) and Encryption: Challenges for criminal justice in relation to the use of encryption - future steps - progress report (LIMITE doc no: 14711-16, pdf)

EU: European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security{ (COM 29-17, pdf):

"despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Article 2 provides that the scope of the Agreement covers flights with a US nexus. The use of an override mechanism to access non US nexus PNR data is subject to a number of conditions and subject to oversight. The number of overrides has increased since the 2013 review and DHS need to record detailed reasons of why overrides have been used to better understand why they occur.

In relation to Article 5, the number of personnel with access rights to PNR data has increased since the previous review in 2013. Whilst the EU team is satisfied with the oversight mechanisms in place, DHS is invited to continue to monitor the number of staff with access rights to PNR data to ensure that only those with an operational need to use and view the data can do so....

In relation to Articles 16 and 18, DHS should provide further information on exactly what data is being collected under these provisions and be in a position to provide further information on data that has been shared with other US authorities, and police, law enforcement and judicial bodies within the EU."

See; 2012 EU-USA PNR Agreement (pdf)

And see: Staff Working document: SWD-14 (SWD, 45 pages, pdf) and Letter from US Homeland Security: SWD 20 (pdf)

European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (pdf):

"This report concerns the fourth joint review of the Agreement since it entered into force and covers a period of 22 months between 1 March 2014 and 31 December 2015."

And see detailed Staff Working Docuent: SWD 17 (52 pages, pdf): "In how many cases was information derived from accessing these payment messages provided to competent authorities in the EU, including Europol and Eurojust?

During the 22 months of the current review period, U.S. investigators supplied 93 TFTPderived “reports” consisting of 2,680 leads pursuant to Article 9 and an additional 8,998 “leads” pursuant to Article 10 to competent authorities of EU Member States and Europol. A single TFTP report may contain multiple TFTP leads. For example, a single Article 9 spontaneous report provided to Europol during the review period contained 147 TFTP leads."

EU:Justice and Home Affairs Council 27-28 March, 2017: Background Note (pdf) Substantial items on refugees, migration and asylum.

Ill-Treatment Of Migrants In Greek Law Enforcement – Are the Strasbourg Court Judgments the Tip of the Iceberg? (EU Migration Law, link):

Nikolaos Sitaropoulos, Head of Division and Deputy to the Director, Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.All views expressed herein are strictly personal.

"A number of reports by international human rights organisations, like CPT and Amnesty International, have recorded numerous cases of ill-treatment, including torture, suffered by migrants while under the control of Greek law enforcement officials. Despite the frequent reporting of such incidents there have not been any major cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (‘Strasbourg Court’ or ‘the Court’) until recently."

EU: Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception (link):

"The European Investigation Order in criminal matters allows judicial authorities in all EU Member States to instruct each other to collect evidence. It also sets forth provisions for cross-border telecommunications surveillance. The European standardisation institute ETSI is consequently working on interfaces for the hand-over of intercepted phone calls."

Enough is enough: deaths on the western Balkans route (IRR News, link):

"A public push is needed to stop refugee and migrant deaths on the western Balkans route.

IRR News continues its investigation into violations and deaths at EU borders, focusing on seven deaths in the Serbian, Hungarian and Bulgarian border zones."

Dissent is not a crime News from Netpol  March 2017 (link):

"Welcome to the March 2017 edition of our newsletter, with an update on the policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire and news of a new Netpol campaign launching next week."

USA: Why does WikiLeaks keep publishing U.S. state secrets? Private contractors. (Washington Post, link):

"By outsourcing key intelligence work, the government has made classified material more vulnerable....

When WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s global hacking programs this month, it dropped a tantalizing clue: The leak came from private contractors. Federal investigators quickly confirmed this, calling contractors the likeliest sources. As a result of the breach, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal.”"

Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU (euobserver, link):

" this particular deal has come at an incredibly huge political price for the EU and its member states, notably Germany.

From the agreement's inception, Turkey has been trying to use it as a card to exert political pressure against the EU, and has more than once threatened to call it off if it did not get visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in return. ..."

Commissioner warns of ‘growing menace’ of right-wing terrorism in EU (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE/ EU Security Commissioner Julian King warned of the ‘growing menace’ of violent, right-wing extremism, as a possible backlash against the ongoing attacks by jihadists."

Germany to quash 50,000 gay convictions (BBC News, link):

"Germany's cabinet has backed a bill to clear men handed sentences for homosexuality after World War Two under a Nazi-era law.

The notorious Paragraph 175 of the penal code was eventually relaxed in 1969, but not before 50,000 men were convicted. Many were sent to jail and some took their own lives because of the stigma. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said it was a flagrant injustice and those still alive would be given compensation."

EU: Humanitarian Visas, still an open question (balcanicaucaso.org, link):

"The recent verdict of the European Court of Justice comes as a blow to those who want to see safe and legal access to the EU for refugees. But the reform of the Code on Visas offers another chance for change, and the European Parliament is keen on not letting it get away."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.3.17) including: police violence at the Hungarian border; 1.2 million asylum application in EU in 2016; child migrants suffer abysmal conditions.

UN: Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration

"The present report, which was prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration, makes recommendations for the better management of migration through international cooperation, and proposes ways of strengthening the engagement of the United Nations on migration, as noted by the General Assembly in its resolutions 70/302 and 71/1."

Bulgaria Bans Book That Attacks Government Critics (OCCRP, link):

"Bulgaria halted Wednesday the distribution of a book that slammed several journalists, activists and politicians as "foreign mercenaries" who want to take control of the country with the help of philanthropist George Soros.

"Robbers of Democracy" was released Monday and handed out for free alongside the highest circulation newspaper in Bulgaria, the Telegraph daily, owned by media mogul Delyan Peevski.

The country’s Central Election Commission halted the distribution following a complaint made by the Yes, Bulgaria! party, which the book condemns as a Soros orchestrated power-grab."

EU: European Commission registers two European Citizens' Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens after Brexit and rejects one on preventing Brexit (press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today registered two European Citizens' Initiatives concerning the rights of Union citizens in the context of the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU and rejected a third proposal entitled 'Stop Brexit'.

The first invites the Commission to separate Union citizenship from Member State nationality in light of the UK withdrawal from the EU ("EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis"), and the second calls on the Commission to uphold the right of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union ("Retaining European Citizenship"). At the same time, the Commission has rejected as inadmissible a third proposal calling on the Commission to prevent the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU ("Stop Brexit").

The Commission's decisions concern the legal admissibility of the proposed initiatives. At this stage, the Commission has not examined the substance of the initiatives."

Countering online "radicalisation": EU Internet Forum: Civil Society Empowerment Programme (European Commission, link):

"The Civil Society Empowerment Programme supports civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices.

Using the positive power and tremendous reach of the internet, it empowers these different groups to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists, as well as ideas that counter extremist and terrorist propaganda.

The Civil Society Empowerment Programme is an initiative under the umbrella of the EU Internet Forum, which was launched in 2015 by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, to tackle terrorist content online."

And see: the currently non-public: 2017-2019 Joint Activity Plan (JAP) for the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP) (pdf):

"This Joint Activity Plan (JAP) summarizes the main activities of the programme in 2017 and describes specific contributions of Facebook, Twitter and Google. This JAP details the specific contributions of all partners. The adoption of the JAP is scheduled for 31 January 2017, during a first of three meetings of all partners to coordinate its contributions to the CSEP. For now, the 2017 contributions are detailed, and possible cooperation in 2018-2019 is mentioned tentatively. In late 2017, a 2018 update of this JAP could be produced, to detail the specific contributions of all partners in the forthcoming year."

HUNGARY: US human rights report highlights mistreatment of migrants and refugees

A report by the US State Department raises a number of serious issues with regar to the situation of human rights in Hungary, noting in particular "the government’s handling of migrants and asylum seekers seeking to transit the country, which was marked by several reports of physical abuse and xenophobic rhetoric. International organizations and human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to voice criticism of the systematic erosion of the rule of law; potential violations of international humanitarian law; weakening of checks and balances, democratic institutions, and transparency; and intimidation of independent societal voices since 2010."

See: US Department of State: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Hungary (pdf)

And an overview: US State Department Report Assesses the State of Human Rights in Hungary in 2016 (Hungary Today, link)

HUNGARY-SERBIA: Police violence against migrants and refugees at Hungarian-Serbian border

A video by the Serbian volunteer group Fresh Response has collected the testimonies of numerous people who have suffered violence and mistreatment at the hands of Hungarian police whilst trying to cross into the country from Serbia. The film includes numerous accounts of beatings with batons, the use of dogs and pepper spray, and the confiscation of shoes and clothes in freezing conditions. The group argues that many of the testimonies describe "acts that can be only seen as torture," and that "the enormous scale and clear pattern of violence leave no doubt: these are not just rare and isolated acts of brutality."

UK: Government plans for online courts threaten principles of open justice

"Government plans for online courts will lead to more unrepresented defendants, challenge the principle of open justice and could make it too easy for defendants to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.

A report by the charity Transform Justice published on Wednesday warns that the Ministry of Justice’s £1bn court reform programme contains digital trial proposals that may confuse anyone entering a plea."

UK: High Court rules Blair-era rendition case can be heard in secret (Reprieve, link):

"The High Court has today ruled that a Blair-era renditions case should be heard in secret, following a request from the government under the controversial Justice and Security Act.

In reaching his judgment, Mr Justice Leggatt warned that secret hearings are a “serious derogation from the fundamental principles of open justice and natural justice.”

The case involves two Pakistani men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, who were detained by the UK in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US forces.

The pair were then rendered to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where they were tortured and held without charge or trial for a decade."

EU official: we can make members accept refugees (Associated Press, link):

"The European Union's commissioner for migration says there are ways to make all EU members states comply with the program of relocation of migrants among them.

Dimitris Avramopoulos made the statement Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is visiting the growing European border guard agency, Frontex.

...Without naming Poland, Avramopoulos said the EU has the "tools, the means and the power" to convince all members to comply and will make an assessment of response by the end of September. He mentioned no sanctions."

BREXIT: How Brexit hits EU External Action: the UK’s European legacy (German Development Institute, link) by Thomas Henökl:

"It remains to be seen over the coming months and years to what extent the EU and the UK will continue to work together on EU foreign policy and, especially, in the area of international cooperation and development policy. We can expect this new relationship to be largely unstructured and primarily interest driven, on a case-by-case basis."

UK: Met police accused of using hackers to access protesters' emails (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists.

The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers.

The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating."

Trump to visit ‘hellhole’ Brussels on 25 May (EurActiv, link):

"US President Donald Trump, who last January called the Belgian capital a “hellhole”, will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on 25 May in Brussels, the White House said yesterday (21 March).

Trump’s visit will give him an opportunity to press his case for why many NATO allies need to boost defence spending to help spread the cost of the security umbrella.

Trump has made key European allies nervous with his demands that they increase defense spending and his talk of establishing an alliance with Russia to counter Islamic State militants."

EU: Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions' (EUobserver, link):

"Children who trekked alone to reach Europe often find themselves living in "abysmal conditions" upon arrival and are being denied free legal aid.

The findings are part of a thematic report, released on Wednesday (22 March) by Strasbourg-based human rights overseer the Council of Europe.

Spearheaded by Tomas Bocek, the report says children left to fend for themselves are sometimes found begging in Turkey and, in some cases, arrested and detained."

See the report: Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children: Prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees (pdf)

UN Special Rapporteur: we are in the midst of a struggle "for the future of equality, humanity and democratic values"

The UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association has warned that the world is "in the midst of an epic global struggle" between "tyranny and intolerance on the one hand, and self-determination and dignity on the other," that will shape "the future of equality, humanity and democratic values."

GREECE: You can't evict a movement: a story of squatting and migration in Athens (OpenDemocracy, link):

"An inside look at one of the most remarkable stories to come out of Greece's ongoing economic and refugee crisis - the intersection of the anarchist and migrant solidarity movements in Athens."

And see: Greece's Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government (VICE, link)

BELARUS: UN Special Rapporteur concerned about recurring violence against demonstrators in Belarus (UN Special Rapporteur, link):

"GENEVA – Belarus is being urged by a UN human rights expert to stop acts of violence and harassment against demonstrators and to respect freedom of peaceful assembly.

The appeal comes from the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and follows reports of mass arrests and intimidation of activists protesting against the presidential decree “On the Prevention of Social Dependence”, also referred to as the “anti-parasitism” law.

The order by President Lukashenko allows fines to be imposed on anyone who does not work more than 183 days and is not declared officially unemployed. As implementation began last month, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest."

Dealbreaker: EU migration policy causes more harm and chaos one year after EU-Turkey deal (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Agreed on 18 March 2016, the EU-Turkey deal drew a line in the sand, after which all migrants and refugees who crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands, and who did not apply for asylum in Greece or whose claim was refused, would be returned to Turkey.

The EU-Turkey deal has not lived up to its promise of ending irregular migration and has, in the meantime, caused enormous suffering. People are languishing in horrible conditions across the EU, record numbers of people still die at sea, or are trapped in Turkey, Libya and beyond. Over 60,000 people have been left in limbo in Greece, and a further 8,000 stranded in Serbia. Relocation numbers remain simply pitiful, with less than 10,000 relocations from Greece as of March 2017. Levels of trauma, depression and suicide among migrants and refugees have increased.

In a recent case brought before the European Court of Justice, the EU even argued that it cannot be held responsible for any consequences of the deal because it was “just a press release”. So essentially, a document of “no legal value” is causing unjustifiable human cost, drastically changing policy and promising billions of euros to Turkey for keeping its end of the deal."

EU: Polish approach weakens V4’s leverage to influence the future of Europe (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"Right when the European unity is more vocally proclaimed around its 60th celebration, it was challenged once more during the latest European Council in Brussels, when Donald Tusk was re-elected as Council’s President. Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, voted against his compatriot’s appointment and was outvoted 27-1 by the other Member States.

The Polish government has been increasingly drifting away from the core of the EU during the past couple of years and this event will likely accelerate this trend. In this report, we look at the voting behaviour of Polish representatives into the broader EU decision-making picture (Council and European Parliament), which highlights increasing divergence even with traditional allies, such as Hungary’s FIDESZ."

Book: The Role of the State in Migration Control: The Legitimacy Gap and Moves towards a Regional Model (Brill, link):

"This research questions the seemingly ossified premise that states have an absolute discretion to control international migration. Applying Max Weber’s theories of legitimacy, it determines that while states have certain traditionally legitimate functions, migration control, as distinct from the determination of citizenship, is not one such function. Measures of migration control must thus be justified on a rational-legal basis, that is, on a minimal evidential basis.

Acknowledging the many obstacles states face in carrying out this legitimising exercise, it is suggested that a supranational approach at the regional level is the most sustainable long-term model, with an ultimate aim of achieving inter-regional cooperation on migration management on the basis of equality between regions."

POLAND: Can pre-trial detention last for nearly eight years? A view from Poland (Fair Trials, link):

"Michal started to be detained pre-trial in mid-May 2009. The pre-trial detention decision was consecutively extended no less than 29 times, and each time the criminal court would repeat the same justifications: a) a severe penalty is to be imposed on the defendant, if he is found guilty, b) prima facie evidence indicates that he had committed the imputed offences and c) the defendant risks to pervert the course of justice. However, none of the courts has ever indicated how the man could have possibly interfered with the proceedings lasting for almost eight years. In the end, Michal has been detained for seven years and ten months despite the fact that the case was sent to a retrial and the non-final sentence of 10 years of imprisonment was not challenged by the prosecution."

EU: Asylum Information Database: new reports on Germany, Ireland and Sweden

New reports have been published by the Asylum Information Database on the legal situation in Germany, Ireland and Sweden, three countries that have all recently made significant changes to their asylum systems.

FRANCE: At the crossroads: homeless and undocumented people in Paris since the Calais evictions (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Porte de la Chapelle is a gathering place for the ‘new’ migrants and refugees of Paris – the ones people mean when referring to the ‘crisis’ – although it’s not the only one. Across the city there is an untold number of people in transit. Pushed back from the UK border by the Calais evictions last October, many hope to move on to Germany or Sweden, or simply seek to somehow negotiate the obstacles of the over-stretched French asylum system and the Dublin Agreement. If your fingerprints have been taken in another European country, you have little chance of remaining ‘officially’ in France.

Some have family or help or a place to stay. Some have been housed by the state or a charity, or after too much hardship and exposure have decided to take their chances in the wildly varying ‘Centres d’Accueil’ outside of the capital, the reception centres to which many of the Calais people were taken. But far too many are sleeping rough in the grey Paris winter, living from day to day."

EU: European Parliament briefing: on use of the Schengen Information System for return purposes

"The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a large-scale information database that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen states. It enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and lost or stolen property. In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One of these proposals is focused on extending the use of the SIS for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. In particular, this proposal introduces an obligation for Member States to enter all return decisions in the SIS. The main aims of the proposal are to enhance the enforcement of the EU return policy and to reduce the incentives to irregular migration to the EU. The other parts of the package concern making more effective use of SIS in border checks and allowing access for law enforcement purposes."

See: Use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

EU: Statistics on asylum application in 2016 published: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers registered

"In 2016, 1 204 300 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number slightly down compared with 2015 (when 1 257 000 first time applicants were registered) but almost double that of 2014 (562 700)

Syrians (334 800 first time applicants), Afghans (183 000) and Iraqis (127 000) remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2016, accounting for slightly more than half of all first time applicants."

See: Asylum in the EU Member States - 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2016 (press release, pdf)

And: Asylum statistics - statistics explained (pdf): "This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) ."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch elections: little to celebrate (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Should the outcome of the Dutch elections be celebrated as a victory over right-wing forces that contagiously spread throughout the western world? Many seem to believe that Mark Rutte’s victory marks a decisive turning point that will allow for the safe homecoming of centrist liberal politics. We would like to disagree with such self-congratulating sentiment and, instead, warn for the dangerous trend towards an already existent and increasingly violent normalisation of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, as well as the continuing dismantling of the welfare state through neoliberal restructuring.

While Wilders’ ‘loss’ may seem important in preventing the far-right from winning in other European countries, the fact remains that the VVD’s win should arguably be seen as a win for right-wing populists rather than a success for progressive forces."

New ICPR report describes vast disparities in use of imprisonment in 10 countries around the world (prisonstudies.org, link):

"Overcrowding, inhumane and degrading detention conditions and disproportionate harm to marginalised groups are some of the consequences of the rapid, unrelenting growth of imprisonment worldwide, according to Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world, published today [16 March] by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (link is external) (ICPR), Birkbeck, University of London, and the NGO, Fair Trials.

...The report, by Jessica Jacobson, Catherine Heard and Helen Fair, draws on ICPR’s unique World Prison Brief database and describes patterns and trends in imprisonment in ten contrasting countries across all five continents."

See the report: Prison: evidence of its use and over-use from around the world (pdf)

Balkan migration route is ‘not closed’ (EurActiv, link):

"Roadblocks set up across the Balkans have caused a backlog in Greece and other transit countries. In its recently released annual report, EU border agency Frontex said that although an “effective closure of the Balkan route” had been achieved in spring 2016, it did not stop migration completely. In 2016, 382,000 illegal migrants arrived in Europe from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In its Risk Analysis for 2017, Frontex noted that the route has shifted west and more sea crossings are being made. The report warned of “growing migratory pressure from Africa, mainly on the route from Libya to Italy”. As a result, Italy recorded its highest number of arrivals last year, with numbers topping 182,000.

The number of vulnerable people making the journey, including women and children, has also increased. Legal reunification of refugee families with those that have already made it north reduced in Germany in 2016.

Refugee protection organisations and migration researchers feel vindicated by the numbers and figures related to the alleged closure of the Balkan route. “Migration cannot be stopped so long as the reasons that cause it are still there and which force people to leave their homelands: including wars, poverty, overexploitation of the environment,” Sabine Hess told Der Tagesspiegel."

HUNGARY: Calm before the storm for Hungary's NGOs (BNE Intellinews, link):

"The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban began 2017 with a threat against foreign-funded NGOs. On January 10, a senior government official said a number of NGOs would be "swept out" of the country by a law due in the spring. However, on March 8 the bill was delayed.

Hungary’s NGOs have been kept in a state of uncertainty ever since the start of the year. Details of the bill, which will put further transparency demands on a handful of Hungary’s tens of thousands of NGOs, have remained elusive. So much so, that the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ last week asked the government to release the text of the draft bill and hold consultations.

However, the ruling Fidesz party has announced that the bill has been delayed, because it has not yet found the threshold required to impede "Soros' hired hands", while not inconveniencing "decent" NGOs. Again, that leaves the targets of the legislation largely in the dark.

Nevertheless, statements from numerous government figures have given the NGOs clues as to what requirements they should anticipate. That includes a wealth-declaration requirement for their leaders and extra registration requirements. NGOs who receive funding from the US-Hungarian financier Gyorgy Soros can expect to be in the very centre of the crosshairs."

And see: Statement by the President of the Conference of INGOs and the President of the Expert Council on NGO Law (Council of Europe, link):

"In our capacity as President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe and President of the Expert Council on NGO Law we are concerned about the statements made by certain Hungarian politicians and information reported by the media, labelling some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as foreign agents..."

UK: London, 5 April 2017: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing

"Join us to demand disclosure on political policing abuses in the UK

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am April 5th 2016 – on the first day of the hearing
What? Picket – bring banners, & placards
Who? Anyone who cares about our democracy

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal broke, creating shock that the police could commit such abuses against social, animal, and environmental justice campaigners in our country. Women have been deceived into abusive intimate relationships, miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated, families fighting the police for justice have been spied on, trades union activists have been blacklisted. They, and we, need to know what has happened and why, so that we can repair the damage done to our lives and our democracy."

See: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing (Police Spies Out of Lives, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.17)

EU- AFRICA-LIBYA: Council of the European Union: EU targets Libyan refugees

Migration policy: implementation: - External aspects: contribution of Ministers of Interior = Discussion paper (LIMITE doc no: 7110-17, pdf): Following the 3 February 2017 Malta Declaration (pdf) the Council Presidency reports that "its implementation has now taken off." The aim is to cut or halt refugees arriving in the EU via Libya and the same for the neighbouring states to Libya. This includes:

"Supporting IOM in significantly stepping up assisted voluntary return activities...

"IOM would need to recruit more staff, post international staff in Tripoli (IOM office planned to be open by the end of March 2017) and more importantly, assist the country of origin's consuls in neighbouring countries to increase their capacity to issue travel documents. This is currently considered the main bottleneck in carrying out assisted voluntary returns from Libya." [emphasis added]

And: "Helping to reduce the pressure on Libya's land borders, keeping track of alternative routes and possible diversion of smugglers' activities as well as deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration with all countries neighbouring Libya."

Also from the Valletta Plan:

"enhancing adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya and neighbouring countries for migrants;
- improving the socio-economic situation and resilience of host communities in Libya and neighbouring countries;
- enhancing border management capacity on Libya's land borders.."
[emphasis added]

"Reception capacities" equals holding centres.

See also: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch): With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management". See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

European, North Africa ministers seek to curb Libya migrant flows (euractiv, link):

"Interior ministers mainly from the central Mediterranean region met in Rome yesterday (20 March) to ramp up efforts to curb migration from Libya amid a sharp rise in the number of people trying to cross to Europe.

One year after a controversial deal with Turkey to stop migrants setting out across the Aegean Sea for Greece, the European Union is seeking to reach a similar accord with conflict-hit Libya, despite fierce opposition from human rights campaigners."

Interior ministers from Algeria, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Slovenia, Switzerland and Tunisia took part in the meeting, along with European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The group released a declaration of intent which limited itself to promising increased coordination and information-sharing in a bid to tackle the root causes of migration, as well as combat smuggling and strengthen borders."

See: Declaration of Intent (Italian, pdf) and see: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the Ministerial Conference on the Central Mediterranean Migration Route in Rome (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: EU digitalises passenger registration to make travelling by sea safer: Council agrees its position (Press release, pdf):

"The EU is moving to digitalise the registration of ship passengers to ensure that, in the event of an accident, search and rescue services have immediate access to information on the people on board. To make it easier to assist victims and their relatives, the recorded data will include passengers' nationality."

The press release makes no mention of the security aspects of the changes.

Council: General approach (6937-17, pdf) The information collected on each passenger will be:

"the family names of the persons on board, their forenames, their gender, their nationality,their date of birth, when volunteered by a passenger, information concerning the need for special care or assistance in emergency situations."

National designated authorities will transmit the data: "by means of the Automatic Identification System."

European Commission proposal for Directive: Amending Council Directive 98/41/EC on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community and amending Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States (pdf)

Experts criticize US electronic devices ban on some flights from Middle East (Guardian, link):

"New TSA requirement blocks passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and cameras, with a lack of specifics on whether flight crews are included in rule."

Greece: Sharp increase in migrants reaching Aegean islands from Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link):

"New arrivals to the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos have raised the number of migrants landing in Greece from neighboring Turkey since last Thursday to 566, government figures showed on Monday.

The figure represents a significant increase compared to arrivals in the rest of March and for the whole of February.

In the past four days, 195 migrants landed on Lesvos, 341 on Chios and 30 on Samos."

EU: Council of the European Union: Data Retention & International criminal law agreements

• Data retention: Retention of electronic communication data (LIMITE doc no: 6726- REV-1-17. pdf):

On 8 April 2014 the Court of European Justice (CJEU) ruled that the 2006 Data Retention Directive had been unlawful since it was adopted. Now nearly three years later the EU has failed to respond and adopt a new measure to meet the Court's judgment.

Europol says in its submission that:

"The overturning of the Data Retention Directive by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in its ruling of 8 April 2014 in Digital Rights Ireland 1 has created a scattered legal landscape for law enforcement and prosecutors to obtain relevant data from private parties. The annulment of the Data Retention Directive as such had no immediate effect on the national implementing legal acts. Therefore, in some Member States (MS), there is currently still legislation in place to ensure that telecommunication companies retain such data for law enforcement purposes, whereas in others, the national legislation has been annulled in the wake of the ECJ judgment....

This underlines, from an overall perspective, the operational need for a harmonised framework on the retention of electronic communication data."

The document contains a compilation of the contributions provided by the Member States and Europol: Annex I - Belgium, Annex II - Czech Republic, Annex III - Germany, Annex IV - Hungary, Annex V - Ireland, Annex VI - Portugal, Annex VII - Sweden, Annex VIII - Slovenia, Annex IX - Europol.

•.Criminal law: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - Inventory (LIMITE doc no: 6892-17, pdf):

"CATS agreed that the practice of keeping an inventory of present and future international agreements that raise an issue of EU competence in the area of criminal law should be maintained with a view to further improving coordination in the area of external action. An updated inventory is found in the Annex."

And see: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - systematic examination (LIMITE doc no: 12275-16, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.3.17)

UK: Surveillance and protests: State surveillance of protest and the rights to privacy and freedom of assembly: a comparison of judicial and protester perspectives (pdf) by Val Aston:

"This paper considers the approach taken by the UK courts to the use of visible, overt police surveillance tactics in the context of political assemblies. Contrasting judicial attitudes to the direct experiences of protesters themselves, the paper argues that the narrow approach taken by the courts to questions of privacy, based on informational autonomy and the 'reasonable expectation of privacy' test, has led to the insufficient recognition of the psychological, social and political harms arising from intensive surveillance operations.

The paper argues for a broader view of privacy, or in the alternative, a more robust application of the right to freedom of assembly, to protect protest mobilisations and assemblies from disruptive and intrusive aspects of overt state surveillance."

UK-EU: Brexit could place 'huge burden' on Parliament (BBC News, link):

"Parliament might have to scrutinise up to 15 new bills to deliver Brexit, leaving little time for other legislation, the Institute for Government has warned.

The IFG says legislation will be needed to establish new policies on areas such as customs and immigration. The extra measures will place "a huge burden" on Parliament and government departments, the think tank says."

See: Institute for Government report: Legislating Brexit: The Great Repeal Bill and the wider legislative challenge (pdf)

UK: Take off for police drones air force: Remote-controlled 'flying squad' to chase criminals and hunt for missing people (Daily Mail, link):

"First 24-hour police drone unit to launch in Devon and Cornwall in summer
The dedicated force will be shared with Dorset and save helicopter costs
They will be used to picture crime scenes and track antisocial behaviour
But fears raised that technology could lead to cuts to officer numbers."

BREXIT: House of Lords European Union Select Committee: Brexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses? (pdf): The Committee's conclusions included:

"If the Government continues to apply its anti-CJEU stance too rigidly it will severely limit its post-Brexit options for adequate alternative arrangements. It is clear that regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, civil justice cooperation of the type dealt with by these Regulations will remain a necessity. We are in no doubt that without adequate alternative arrangements post- Brexit there will be great uncertainty for UK businesses and citizens. Given the importance of these Regulations, we call on the Government to publish a coherent plan for addressing their post-Brexit application."

European Parliament: Revision of the Schengen Information System for border checks (pdf):

"In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One focuses on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of border checks. It provides for more effective use of fingerprints and facial images in the SIS and would oblige Member States to record all entry bans issued to third-country nationals staying illegally in their territory."

And see: Revision of the Schengen Information System for law enforcement (pdf):

"One of these proposals is focused on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It clarifies procedures, creates new alerts and checks, extends the use of biometrics, and enlarges access for law enforcement authorities." [emphasis added]

In Rome, EU and North African ministers hold 'migration summit' (DW, link)

"EU and North African ministers are to meet in Rome to discuss strategies for curbing the number of migrants coming to Europe. Thousands of people have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean in dangerous boats.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is to meet with interior ministers from a number of EU countries and from three Northern African states on Monday in Rome.

The interior ministers of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are to meet with their German, Italian, French, Austrian, Maltese, Slowenian and Swiss counterparts. The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is also attending.

Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti wants to form a permanent "contact group" between European and North African countries that addresses migration issues. Following the closure of the so-called Balkan route and an EU deal with Turkey, more migrants have attempted the hazardous route from North Africa across the Mediterranean towards Italy."

Greek Ministry: Refugee statistics 20.3.17 (pdf): Records 56 people arriving in Lesvos and 24 in Chios. Total of 14,762 on the Islands and 62,434 in Greece.

European Ombudsman launches Inquiry into availability of Council legislative documents

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "the root of legislative secrecy lies in secret trilogues"

On 10 March 2017 the European Ombudsman launched an inquiry into: "the disclosure of documents from discussions on draft EU legislative acts in Council preparatory bodies."

See: Access to documents relating to Council preparatory bodies when discussing draft EU legislative acts (pdf)

The letter to the Council observes that:

"The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) does not proactively make available documents reflecting the positions of individual Member States during negotiations. This approach, however, is without prejudice to the right of public access to documents provided for in Regulation 1049/20015. These documents can be made available after the act in question has been adopted, provided that they are not covered by any exception laid down in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001." [emphasis added]

The notion that legislative documents are only made public after a measure is adopted has no place in a democracy.

The reality is that Member States positions in the Council developing its negotiating position are hidden in LIMITE documents see for example: RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions.

Historical images of para-military policing by Tony Bunyan: The following images are of para-military policing and the army in civil society

The story and images (pdf)

•.
1st Image (pdf) The first probably came out of the Kent State shooting or Massacre on 4 May 1970 by the Ohio National Guard

•.
2nd image (pdf) The second is the front cover of "Movement" (February 1973) which highlighted the emergence of para-military in the UK following on from "Bloody Sunday" in Derry. The adapted image form a soldier to a policeman was done by an artist at Hornsey Art College (Crouch End Hill, North London) as a linotype on brown cartridge paper."Movement" was a libertarian socialist magazine collective which went on to become "Writing on the Wall" and then "The Leveller".

3rd image The above image, with the permission of the artist, was used on the front cover of "The history and practice of: The Political Police in Britain" by myself. It was written after the 1973-1974 miners strike and the emergence of the coercive state. It is still available from Statewatch

4th image The fourth image - remarkably similar to its predecessors - is now being given out at British Army Arms Sales Exhibitions.

Police Scotland confirms secret G8 file on notorious undercover police unit (Herald Scotland, link):

"POLICE Scotland has confirmed that a secret file was created on the activities of a disgraced undercover unit at the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The "intelligence briefings" on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose officers had sex with the protestors they spied on, will now be examined by a watchdog as part of its covert policing probe. Police Scotland said they would not comment on the contents of the file.

Two Met-based units – the Special Demonstration Squad and the NPOIU – were set up to keep tabs on so-called subversives and domestic extremists."

GREECE: Thousands of asylum claims pending despite influx drop (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Thousands of asylum applications remain pending even though the influx of undocumented migrants into Greece from neighboring Turkey has plummeted over the past year.

A total of 2,627 migrants landed on the islands of the eastern Aegean from Turkey between January 1 and March 5 this year, according to government data. In the same period last year, that number was 121,426."

UNHCR: (17.3.17): 2017: 15,556 arrivals in Italy, 2,945 in Greece, 1,000 in Spain. 537 dead/missing.

Turkey Interior Min: Let’s send 15,000 migrants a month to Europe to “blow its mind’ (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said Turkey could send 15,000 refugees and migrants to Europe to shock the Europeans. The threat follows the recent diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Germany and the Netherlands that stemmed from the latter’s decision to bar Turkish ministers from staging rallies there.

“We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind. You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region in spite of Turkey,” Soylu said at an event late on March 16, referring to a readmission deal between the European Union and Turkey to return migrants to Turkey who have illegally crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)

European Parliament Study: The Brexit Negotiations: An Assessment Of The Legal, Political And Institutional Situation In The UK (pdf):

"The research analyses the post-Brexit political developments in the UK, the various parameters that should be taken into account, by both the UK government and the 27, in view of the Article 50 negotiations and the possible shape of the final deal and the future economic relationship, taking into account the EU obligations and the constraints of Theresa May’s government."

EU: Council of the European Union: Humanitarian Visas: Court case

Humanitarian visas - Reference for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code (Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X v. Belgium) (LIMITE doc no: 7271-17, pdf):

"On 7 March 2017, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) gave its judgment in Case C-638/16 PPU, Humanitarian visas. It concerns the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of Regulation 810/2009 (Visa Code) and of Articles 4 (on prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 18 (on right to asylum) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and more particularly the question of whether Member States were obliged by the Charter to deliver visas of limited territorial validity under Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code to a family of Syrian nationals having requested such visas at the Belgian consulate in Lebanon with a view to apply for international protection in Belgium. As the preliminary ruling was about the interpretation of the Visa Code, and not about its validity, the Council did not intervene. This Case had raised a lot of concern among Member States, 14 of which intervened in support of Belgium......

One can draw from this judgment that should the EU decide to adopt harmonising legislation regarding the issuance of long-term visas or the examination of asylum or international protection applications submitted in the territory of third countries, the relevant authorities of the representations of Member States in these countries would fall within the scope of EU law and therefore within the scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights"

EU: CYBERSPACE: Council struggles to formulate policy to get full access to all communications while respecting fundamental rights

The Council is seeking to find a common position on access all content everywhere for the purpose of gathering evidence in possible criminal cases and intelligence-gathering, including breaking encryption, while at the same time respecting fundamental rights:

See: Criminal justice in cyberspace - improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 6890-27, pdf):

Ireland pushes Trump on illegal Irish immigrants (New Europe, link):

"Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, during a visit to Washington to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, urged US President Donald Trump to help Irish people living in the US illegally, saying they just want to “make America great”.":

Greek verdict hangs over EU-Turkey migrant deal (euobserver, link):

"Once again, the EU's migrant deal with Turkey hangs in the balance, but this time from a high court in Athens.

The legal stakes in Greece underpin a sharp rise in antagonistic rhetoric between Ankara and EU capitals. Caught in the middle are the thousands of migrants stuck in misery on the Greek islands.

Agreed on 18 March one year ago, the deal risks unravelling if the Greek court's conservative judges decide Turkey is not a safe third country.

Lawyers representing two Syrian asylum seekers have until Friday (17 March) to send them written evidence. Both Syrians had applied for asylum in Greece. Both applications failed. Neither want to go back to Turkey. "

Eric Kempson reporting from north Lesvos (17.3.17, FB link):

"most people don't understand that many boats arrive on the islands nearly every night, I only report the boats coming into Lesvos, Last night so far 172 people came in on the islands, this was one post we received today, Some disturbing news from the people from the first boat this morning.

Turkish try to flip the boat, everyone was soaked. They take seven men from the boat back to turkey. Somehow the boat manage to brake lose, and continued towards the frontex boat standing in Greek waters waiting. The Turkish coast Guard did perhaps not go after the boat because Frontex was present, but not sure. A boat filled with children, and this is how they try to handle it..."

Note: The official Greek Ministry reports do not record 172 refugees arriving: Statistics (pdf): 14,018 on the isalnds and 62,434 in the whole of Greece.

European Parliament: WORKSHOP: Civilian and military personnel in CSDP missions and operations (pdf):

"The workshop was organised on January 26, 2017 at the initiative of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) with the aim to highlight trends, challenges and recommendations regarding civilian and military personnel deployed in CSDP missions and operations in particular in the areas of force generation, training and the national follow-up on crimes and offences perpetrated during deployment."

EU to find missing migrant children with fingerprinting (euobserver, link):

"EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos recently told the European Parliament that there is a need to "fully" use the existing instruments to report and record child disappearances, suggesting they were currently not.

He said missing children should be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is the only EU database used for the purpose of recording missing persons. He also proposed that photographs and fingerprints should be attached to SIS entries...

Omid Mahmoudi, the founder of Ensamkommandes Forbund, an association for unaccompanied minors in Sweden, told EUobserver that increased fingerprinting could be counterproductive. "It's the same kind of argument as saying that closing the borders would prevent children from drowning. Children go missing because they are fighting to survive," he argued.

Mahmoudi, who came to Sweden as a lone minor, said he paid smugglers so they would bring him to safety without being stopped on the way. "Instead of asking why children disappear, we are creating further measures that scare them. Children are afraid of being fingerprinted, even six-year-olds are afraid of being deported if they are caught," he said.

"Besides, we already have fingerprints for most missing children, and nobody is looking for them," he said

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.3.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: ETIAS and Reception Directive

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (LIMITE doc no: 6929-17, pdf):

"The issue of which Member State is responsible to decide on an application for travel authorisation only arises when there is a "hit" in the context of the automated processing and the application is therefore transferred to manual processing. If there are no "hits" when the application is submitted, the travel authorisation is issued in an automated manner and no Member State needs to be involved.

If there are one or more “hits”, it is the ETIAS National Unit of the responsible Member State which will issue or refuse the travel authorisation...."

RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions. Substantial,changes proposed by the Council Presidency:

"New text to be discussed at the meeting on 16 March is indicated with addition in bold„ and the deleted text is indicated in strikehtrough"

EU: European Commission: Commission proposes a new EU Action Plan on Drugs to enhance action against drug use and trafficking (pdf):

"Building on the findings of the evaluation of the EU Drugs Strategy for 2013-2020 and the Action Plan for 2013-2016, the new Action Plan on Drugs provides a strengthened response to the newly-emerging health and security challenges in the area of illicit drug use and trafficking. While maintaining and updating the core policy areas and cross-cutting themes of the overall EU Drugs Strategy,..."

And see: Evaluation of the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2013-2016: a continuous need for an EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 (COM 195, pdf)

EU: New measures going through on what is known is as the "Package" on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS):

1. Criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person. Recast

2. Eurodac system for the comparison of fingerprints of applicants for international protection and for identifying illegally staying third-country nationals or stateless persons; requests for the comparison with Eurodac data. Recast

3. European Union Agency for Asylum

4. Common procedure for international protection in the Union

5. Qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and content of the protection granted

6. Reception of applicants for international protection. Recast

7. Union resettlement framework

8. EU common list of safe countries of origin

And see: Reform of the Dublin system (pdf) and Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf). Note: As yet there is no new proposal on long-term "solidarity" concerning the relocation of refugees within the EU.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.17)

UK: London launch of report: Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business Outsourcing and privatization of migrant detention (pdf): 6pm Tuesday 28th March, Praxis, Pott Street, London E2 0EF (round corner from Bethnal Green underground, buses 8, 106, 254, 388; easy access and toilet facilities for wheelchair users and pushchairs):

"In the UK, corporations like G4S, Serco, Mitie and Capita make millions locking up migrants in privately run detention centres. Many other less known companies also jostle for contracts in the detention industry, for example providing healthcare, cleaning or construction services. Britain is a pioneer in detention outsourcing, hurtling towards the model of the massive US private prison industry.

But detention outsourcing is also taking off across Europe. This meeting will present a new research report by Migreurop, the European and African migration network, which maps the rise of the privatised migration detention business across the European Union."

Organisers: Migreurop, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Corporate Watch, Statewatch.

UK: A National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales Surveillance Strategy (pdf):

"Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner launches a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

This strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community to enable system operators to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations (such as those contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act)."

See: Facebook Events (link)

Turkey must reassess EU migration deal, minister says (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey must re-examine its migration deal with the European Union for it has become clear that the bloc will not live up to its promise to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel, the country’s minister for European affairs, Omer Celik, told Reuters late Tuesday.

Visa-free access to the EU – the main reward for Ankara's collaboration in curbing an influx of migrants into Europe – has been subject to delays due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation and Ankara's crackdown after July’s failed coup."

Real or Empty Threat? Will Turkey send a new wave of refugees to Europe? (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"As relations between Turkey and Europe deteriorated, the government in Ankara did what it knows best: it fired threats. Exactly there where it knows it hurts Europe: The Refugees. At least two ministers told media that the government is considering to review the EU Turkey Deal. The statements were immediately understood as a threat that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan would open the doors and send a new mass wave of refugees and migrants to Europe. More than 850,000 people left Turkey for Greece in 2015.

Will Erdogan make his threats come true? Some people, like smugglers, think and hope, he will. But analysts believe, he won’t."

ECHR: Border-zone detention of two asylum-seekers was unlawful and their removal from Hungary to Serbia exposed them to the risk of inhuman and degrading reception conditions in Greece (Press release, pdf):

"The case of Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary (application no. 47287/15) concerned the border-zone detention for 23 days of two Bangladeshi asylum-seekers as well as their removal from Hungary to Serbia. In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 5 §§ 1 and 4 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights because the applicants’ confinement in the Röszke border-zone had amounted to detention, meaning they had effectively been deprived of their liberty without any formal, reasoned decision and without appropriate judicial review;..."

See: Judgment (pdf)

European media ‘deeply regrets’ EU plans to ditch search engine payouts (euractiv, link):

"European media groups voiced concern Tuesday (14 March) that the European Union could ditch plans to force search engines like Google to pay them when their content is used."

EU: Headscarf bans at work: explaining the ECJ rulings (EU Law Analyses, link):

"When can employers ban their staff from wearing headscarves? Today’s rulings of the ECJ have attracted a lot of attention, some of it confused. There have been previous posts on this blog about the background to the cases, and about the non-binding opinions of Advocates-General, and there will hopefully be further more

Council of Europe: European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT): Immigration detention (pdf): Very good summary of law and rights:

"Immigration detention is a primary focus of the work of the CPT. It has carried out hundreds of visits to immigration detention facilities, and has developed a detailed set of standards.

The CPT's standards build on legal principles originating from international (human rights) instruments, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Committee of Ministers' Twenty Guidelines on Forced Return, relevant United Nations (UN) treaties, and the 2008 European Union (EU) Return Directive."

England and Wales have highest imprisonment rate in western Europe - Incarceration rate of 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 people is almost three times that of the Netherlands (Guardian, link):

"England and Wales have the highest rate of imprisonment in western Europe, according to the Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics.

The prison population in England and Wales has stabilised at nearly 86,000 in recent years but the incarceration rate, at 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 population, remains higher than in Spain (137.9), France (98.3), Italy (86.4) and Germany (77.4)."clear up any confusion."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.17)

NGOs urge Greek lawmakers to reject asylum changes (News That Moves, link):

"Thirteen Greek and international NGOs have urged Greece to resist external pressures and reject any legislative changes that could remove the existing safeguards within the Greek Law on Asylum.

In an open letter, the NGOs told Greece’s parliament that any amendment to the law, based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, would further aggravate the situation for people arriving on the Greek islands,"

See: Open Letter: Urgent appeal from 13 NGOs not to approve amendments in Greek Parliament that will be harmful to asylum seekers (link)

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: Revision of Dublin, Qualification Directive, Refugees situation in Greece, EASO reform.. (LIBE debates on March 9,2017) (link)

EU taskforce highlights security failings that facilitated terror attacks (Guardian, link):

"Leaked report suggests need to enhance Schengen area security, raising possibility of internal border police checks"

See also: EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

UK-EU:
Deal to allow individual Britons EU rights must go both ways, Theresa May told (Guardian, link): "Eastern European politicians say if UK wanted to let its citizens apply for freedom of movement it would have to be reciprocal."

EU-GREECE: Greece: Reject EU Pressure on Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(Athens) – The Greek Parliament should resist external pressures and reject any changes to legislation based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan for the EU-Turkey agreement, that will further worsen the situation for people seeking safety and a better life in Europe, 13 nongovernmental organizations said today in an open letter.

As the Greek Parliament is expected to vote within the coming days on these changes, the organizations are calling on Greek Members of Parliament not to support amendments to Greek Law 4375/2016 already published in the EU Joint Action Plan that will remove safeguards for vulnerable people and families. The parliament should stand by the protections enshrined in Greece’s current asylum legislation by making sure that most vulnerable persons and those eligible for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation are exempted from accelerated admissibility procedures aimed at sending them back to Turkey."

See: Urgent appeal from 13 NGOs not to approve amendments in Greek Parliament that will be harmful to asylum seekers (Human Rights Watch, link)

FRANCE: Breaking France’s addiction to its state of emergency (OpenDemocracy, link):

"France needs to adopt a clear path out of the state of emergency. The parliamentary commission monitoring the state of emergency suggested in December setting an upper limit on the extension of a state of emergency but parliament ignored it and voted a fifth extension with almost no debate. Candidates in the upcoming presidential election have largely avoided talking about the issue, perpetuating the procrastination strategy by the political class, and journalists have not pushed them on the issue.

It is no longer enough to wait and hope that the security threat will simply vanish or that the future president or legislature will finally decide to tackle the issue. The debate about lifting the state of emergency should become a priority topic in this presidential election. Like any addict hoping to recover, France needs to start by recognizing the problem and begin a serious conversation on how to quit."

UK: Investigatory Powers Act: do you know who's watching you?

"The power of the digital realm has been demonstrated in recent months like never before. Hacking and cyberwars dominating geopolitics; algorithms and ‘filter bubbles’ supposedly influencing elections; increased anxiety around the ‘internet of things’. So when leaked emails revealed that US police forces keep tabs on Black Lives Matter protesters with the help of a private company data-mining social media sites, was it so surprising?

We know that the rich online map of our lives and activities is a dream tool for governments and companies seeking to quell protest and resistance. And yet in the UK, we’ve now granted authorities unprecedented spying powers."

See: Do you know who's watching you? (OpenDemocracy, link)

EU: The risks of transparency in times of rising populism (Access Info, link):

"Madrid, 10 March 2017 – It’s not often that your own colleagues working on democracy issues actually question the wisdom of pressing for greater transparency, but this has happened to me a few times lately.

Most recently, I’ve been asked about the wisdom of pursuing Access Info’s high profile campaign to get the European Commission to publish the travel expenses of EU Commissioners.

The fear seems to be that this very peculiar time in European history – with sensitive elections in France and the Netherlands, with Brexit negotiations likely to be tense, with democracy struggling in Hungary and Poland, and of course with the terrifying spectre of tweeting President Trump on the other side of the Atlantic – is a delicate context, and that any scandals about the EU’s senior politicians might further undermine faith in the democratic system and push people into the arms of anti-democratic populists.

The paradox is that Access Info’s Commissioners’ travel expenses campaign has only come about because of the extreme reluctance of the European Commission over the past couple of years to provide the data."

EU: Council: updated draft conclusions on the EU policy cycle on organised crime 2018-21

"Delegations will find attached a revised version of the above-mentioned draft Council conclusions, based on the outcome of the discussions in the COSI [Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security] Support Group on 22 February and 7 March 2017 and the written comments received."

EU: Casting the PNR net wider: Netherlands offers recommendations for customs authorities

An updated paper produced by the Dutch delegation to the Council of the EU's Customs Cooperation Working Party offers a series of recommendations on how national customs authorities can make use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, due to be gathered and analysed by law enforcement authorities across the EU according to the April 2016 PNR Directive.

ITALY: Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming (The Guardian, link):

"An Italian migrant rights organisation, the Proxyma Association, estimates that more than half of all Romanian women working in the greenhouses are forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation.

Police say they believe that up to 7,500 women, the majority of whom are Romanian, are living in slavery on farms across the region. Guido Volpe, a commander in the carabinieri military police in Sicily, told the Observer that Ragusa was the centre of exploitation on the island.

...The number of Romanian women travelling to work in Sicily has increased hugely over the past decade. According to official figures, only 36 Romanian women were working in Ragusa province in 2006, rising to more than 5,000 this year. Romanians overtook Tunisians this year as the largest group working in Ragusa’s fields.

“Greenhouse owners are now afraid of being prosecuted for facilitating illegal migration by hiring undocumented migrants,” says Giuseppe Scifo, a union leader for CGIL, Italy’s largest union. “So the new targets for exploitation are EU citizens, who are willing to accept low wages because of the desperate situation in their home countries.”

The Refugee Archipelago: The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece (Refugees Deeply, link):

An important, detailed article examining the response by the EU and Greece to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from early 2015 onwards. It examines in detail the overlapping responsibilities (or lack thereof) of Greek state ministries and agencies, the EU and major humanitarian organisations that have had such a high human and financial cost.

"A sequence of events beginning with the record refugee flows into Greece in June 2015 and culminating in the photograph of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi woke the world to the refugee crisis. The effect of that awakening was to tip the entire humanitarian complex toward Greece, sending resources tumbling out of the developing world into the European Union. It prompted an unprecedented number of international volunteers to descend on the country, the U.N. refugee agency to declare an emergency inside the E.U., and the E.U. to deploy its own humanitarian response unit inside Europe for the first time. In the process, it became the most expensive humanitarian response in history, according to several aid experts, when measured by the cost per beneficiary.

...Officials from the E.U.’s humanitarian operations directorate, ECHO, believe the cost per beneficiary was unprecedented from their operations. And yet, one senior aid official estimated that as much as “$70 out of every $100 spent” had been wasted."

UK: The evidence is clear: LASPO isn’t working (Legal Voice, link):

"The government recently announced the long-promised post-implementation review of LASPO [the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012].

...Over the past few years, there has been no shortage of reports flagging many ways in which the consequences of LASPO have proved to be as bad as its critics predicted at the time of its passage through parliament. In its evidence to the Bach Commission, the Law Society highlighted many such problems. The society observed how some of the high level principles underpinning the government’s approach had proved flawed. The market and the not-for-profit sector did not find ways to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of legal aid, as the coalition government asserted would happen. Focusing legal aid on the most serious cases has meant withdrawing the vital early help that can stop problems turning into serious cases. Taking vast areas of law out of the scope of legal aid has led to an explosion in the number of litigants in person, and the courts are struggling to cope."

Challenging Patriarchy Through the Lens of Privacy (Privacy International, link):

"Many of the challenges at the intersection of women’s rights and technology as it relates to privacy and surveillance, come down to control. Such challenges have come sharply into focus as societies trend toward surveillance by default and foster data exploitative ecosystem.

And whilst control, in the context of privacy, should be about one’s control of their data, the limitations that are set, and the boundaries one erects between one’s self and others, unfortunately the dominant narrative has been about something else. The focus has been about the powerful, the State, industry, and dominant males, being given legitimacy within patriarchal societies to exercise their control over people, over women, in the name of security, economic prosperity, and self-empowerment. Feminists argue that surveillance itself is tool of patriarchy which controls and limits the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms online and offline."

And see: International Women's Day 2017: A PI Network Highlight Reel (Privacy International, link): "In this special briefing for International Women’s Day 2017, we explore through the work of the Privacy International Network some areas of concern being addressed in relation to privacy, surveillance, women’s rights, and gender."

EU: Lack of safe and legal routes results in ever more deadly journeys (ECRE, link):

"UNHCR and MSF have released reports underlining the consequences of EU migration policies restricting access to the EU. Without safe and legal access to protection, migrants are at the mercy of smugglers and pushed to risk their lives on ever more dangerous routes."

See: UNHCR: Desperate journeys: refugees and migrants entering and crossing Europe via the Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes (pdf) and: MSF: Dying to reach Europe: Eritreans in search of safety (pdf)

GERMANY-TUNISIA: Merkel scores political win by getting Tunisia to speed up deportations of rejected asylum seekers (Vice News, link):

"With eyes on September’s federal elections and in need of a political win, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her first official diplomatic visit to Tunisia on March 3, where she discussed the two countries’ shared immigration concerns and sought to assure the German electorate that security is her first priority.

Standing next to her Tunisian counterpart, President Beji Caid Essebsi, Merkel announced new plans to repatriate Tunisian citizens. “We have agreed with Tunisia to send back 1,500 Tunisians to Tunisia who have been refused [permission] to stay in Germany… Those who want to return voluntarily will be eligible to receive aid.”

The deal, which will speed up the deportation of rejected Tunisian asylum seekers in exchange for $264 million in German aid, was especially critical for Merkel, who has faced mounting pressure from all sides of the political spectrum, as well as millions of German citizens, who want her to curb the number of migrants and refugees coming into the country. Germany deported a record number — 80,000 — of rejected migrants in 2016, and expects that number to rise in 2017. "

See also: Germany's Merkel strikes immigration deal on visit to Tunisia (Al-Monitor, link) and: Germany to deport alleged 'IS' militant to Tunisia over 2015 Bardo museum attack (Deutsche Welle, link)

EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases

The Council Presidency is preparing to launch a "mapping exercise" on all movements in and out of the EU at its external borders and also internally ("police checks"). See Note to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI): Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

For both all "third country nationals" including refugees and migrants and EU citizens the legal basis for carrying out "security checks" is:

"verification that the person concerned is not likely to jeopardise the public policy, internal security, public health or international relations of any of the Member States. Such verification shall include direct consultation of the SIS and other relevant Union databases, without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases."

Statewatch Viewpoint: 9th report on relocation and resettlement: Mystification and selective use of data in effort to present a dysfunctional approach as “sustainable” (pdf):

"On 8 February 2017, the Commission produced its ninth report on relocation and resettlement, covering a two-month period from 8 December 2016 to 7 February 2017. It basically offers an update on the figures and developments from the previous report, noting the resettlement of 13,968 people overall under the scheme and 3,813 relocations in the reporting period, viewed as maintaining “the overall positive trend” with December recording the record figure to date (1,926) and bringing the total to 11,966, up from 8,162....

The point is that the very limited targets for relocations are not being met, and it would make very little difference to the situation in Greece and Italy if they were met."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-12.3.17)

EU: Council Presidency treads a tricky path in trying to get Member State "solidarity" on refugees

The last Council Presidency (Slovakia) sought to resolve the issues of "solidarity" in responding to the refugee crisis with the majority of Member States failing to respond to calls for relocation and set the results out in a report to Delegations: Solidarity and responsibility in the Common European Asylum System - Progress report by the Slovak Presidency (LIMITE doc no, 15253-16, pdf). In the public version of this document pages 3-5 are deleted).

The Presidency lays out the dilemma as: "there is broad consensus that the current Dublin system is not ready to face substantial migratory pressures and that this has to be remedied."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Period of validity for residents permits (LIMITE do no: 6926-17, pdf):

Some Member States want to set "minimum standards" - 3 years for refugees and 1 year for subsidiary protection. While other back between 5 and 10 years for refugees and 1 to 5 years for subsidiary protection.

Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy (link):

"The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, warn against a one-person regime in Turkey in a definitive, as-adopted, opinion on proposed constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum next month.

The Venice Commission warns that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system."

UK: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee report: Article 50 negotiations: Implications of ‘no deal’ (pdf):

"Uncertainty for UK participation in the EU’s common foreign and security policy... In the event of no agreement at the end of the Article 50 period, however, legal and political uncertainty could be cast over the status of UK assets deployed as part of ongoing EU CSDP missions.... Leaving the EU without any withdrawal deal would also mean immediately leaving the European Defence Agency (EDA), which was established in 1994 to foster co-operation in capabilities-building, procurement and the defence industry across the Member States."

“They are Nazis” Turkey lashes out after Netherlands denies FM’s landing permission (Keep Taking Greece, link):

"Turkey lashed out at Netherlands on Saturday after the Dutch government decided to deny landing rights for foreign minister Mevsut Cavusoglu. Immediate was the reaction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who spoke of “Nazis and fascists” and wondered “let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey.” Several European countries cancelled Turkish Referendum rallies in their soil.

Speaking at a referendum rally in Istanbul just hours after the Hague denied landing permission to Cavusoglu, Erdogan said."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.3.17) including: rights violations in hotspots; Austria and Poland tighten asylum rules; four million sets of fingerprints now held in Eurodac; Member States look to restrict refugees' socio-economic rights in Council discussions.

EU: Hotspots for refugees in Italy and Greece have led to "serious fundamental rights violations"

A major study on current EU policies and practices regarding refugees warns that the "hotspot" system of detaining, registering and processing migrants "has led to instances of serious fundamental rights violations in both Italy and Greece," and that the failure of EU Member States to meet their commitments under the relocation scheme should "be taken seriously as a threat to the rule of law at the EU level, which may warrant exploration, as well as formal enforcement action."

EU: Europol "threat assessment" paves the way for increased operational police cooperation

EU policing agency Europol has published its latest 'Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment' which focuses on "crime in the age of technology" and argues that there are more than 5,000 organised crime groups currently under investigation in the EU, whose activities are "increasing in complexity and scale" and for whom "technology is a key component of most, if not all, criminal activities".

UK: New documents on the policing of the miners' strike accompany renewed calls for public inquiry

A new batch of documents on the policing of the 1984-85 miners' strike, primarily related to the Battle of Orgreave in 1984, have been released by the National Archives. The documents show "hints of political direction of the police" according to the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, and reveal that the Thatcher goverment feared a "witch hunt" were any public enquiry held.

DENMARK: Surveillance: illegal Danish data retention law to stay in place and defence intelligence agency to receive PNR data

Two new articles published by EDRi explain how the Danish Defence Intelligence Service is to obtain access to Passenger Name Record (PNR) data; and that while the Danish law on data retention does not meet the standards laid down by the European Court of Justice in the recent Tele2 ruling, it will remain in place "until new rules for targeted data retention have been fully implemented."

German Bundestag greenlights further surveillance measures (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The new security resolution was agreed by the Bundestag during a marathon parliamentary session in the early hours of Friday morning. The measures will place greater weight on public safety concerns when deciding whether video surveillance technologies should be installed in certain locations.

In effect, the bill will make it simpler for private firms to install surveillance systems in public areas, particularly in shopping centers, by football stadiums and in car parks.

On the back of the government's increasing emphasis on public safety, new updates to Germany's data protection act stipulate that the protection of life, health or freedom carry particularly important interest. This key amendment to the act, which has historically valued privacy rights, is expected to make it significantly more difficult for privacy advocates to block any future surveillance measures."

EU: European Council, 9 March: Conclusions by the President of the European Council: economy, security and defence, migration

"The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance.

References to the European Council in the attached document should not be read as implying a formal endorsement by the European Council acting as an institution."

See: Conclusions by the President of the European Council (pdf). Poland blocked unanimous adoption of the conclusions due to its displeasure with the re-election of Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council. See: Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk (The Guardian, link)

And see: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

Further restrictions on rights in Austria’s asylum reform streak (ECRE, link):

"A new reform proposal aiming to exclude asylum seekers from reception conditions (Basic Care) as soon as their application is rejected reaffirms Austria’s restrictive policy. The proposed measures reflect a continued effort of diminishing the rights of asylum seekers in Austria, following on from a recent Aliens Law reform proposal (FrÄG 2017).

“Politcians create the impression that in the area of asylum there is a permanent need for reform”, states Asylkoordination Österreich in its assessment of the latest legislative proposal affecting asylum seekers in Austria."

Poland: Draft amendment to the law on protection of foreigners – another step to seal Europe’s border (ECRE, link):

"In January Polish Minister of Interior Mariusz Blaszczak presented draft amendment to the law on protection of foreigners on the territory of Poland. He claimed that there is a need to response to the growing migration flow in Poland and to ensure public security. However, he failed to explain what kind of danger to public security asylum seekers create amid lacking evidence that the number of crimes perpetrated by foreigners in Poland has increased. Moreover, official statistics show that, for the past years the number of asylum applications lodged in Poland has not exceed 15 000 yearly and neither has it increased recently. Taking this into consideration, it seems that the draft amendment reflects the national and regional trend of portraying foreigners as security threat and closing borders to persons seeking protection rather than the actual response to some changed situation."

GERMANY: Parliament rejects government attempt to classify Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as safe countries

"In the end, the vote wasn't even close. Led by federal states with left-leaning governing coalitions, a wide majority the Bundesrat shot down a law written by the government and passed by Germany's lower parliamentary chamber, the Bundestag. It would have declared the Maghreb states - Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria - "safe countries of origin" and thus allowed for expedited deportations of failed asylum seekers there.

Representatives of the federal government and the conservative-led state of Bavaria argued that the law was needed to prevent people wishing to migrate to Germany for economic reasons from misusing Germany's asylum legislation. They said only a tiny fraction of asylum applications by people from the three Maghreb states have been approved."

See: German Bundesrat says Maghreb states not safe for refugees (Deutsche Welle, link)

EU: CJEU Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X – Dashed hopes for a legal pathway to Europe (European Law Blog, link):

"On 7 March 2017, the CJEU announced its judgement in case C-638/16 PPU (X and X / Belgium) and dashed all hopes for an extensive interpretation of the EU Visa Code in the light of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. To summarize the facts of the case, X and X and their three small children are an Orthodox Christian family living in rebel-held Aleppo. In October 2016 X leaves Aleppo to apply for a visa with limited territorial validity ex Article 25(1) of the EU Visa Code at the Belgian embassy in Beirut (Lebanon). The application states that the aim of entry into Belgium is to apply for asylum...

The Court first reiterates that Regulation 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) was adopted on the basis of Art. 62 EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council had the competence to adopt measures on visas for intended stays of no more than three months. The visa applications in question, however, were for visas with limited territorial validity with a view to a future application for asylum in Belgium. Hence, the applicants’ intended stay was not limited to 90 days – and their visa-application should not be considered under the Visa Code, but under national law. As the application thus falls outside the scope of EU law, according to the Court, the Charter of Fundamental Rights is not applicable either.

In the last sentences of its judgment, the Court also adds that allowing third country nationals to lodge applications for visas in order to apply for international protection in the Member State of their choice would undermine the Dublin system. With this remark, inserted as if it were an afterthought, the Court seems to reveal the true motivation behind the ruling in X and X: to save an already failing system…"

See: Judgment (pdf) and Press release (pdf): "Member States are not required, under EU law, to grant a humanitarian visa to persons who wish to enter their territory with a view to applying for asylum, but they remain free to do so on the basis of their national law."

ISRAEL: Your Fingerprint: Coming Soon to a Terrorist Near You (Haaretz, link):

"More than 80% of the policemen investigated by the internal affairs unit admitted to using the police database for personal needs, sometimes for profit, a high-ranking cop told Haaretz in June 2016. Now the biometric database law has come into being, ruling that from now on, Israeli identity cards and passports will all bear a chip with our biometric information, meaning a portrait photo and fingerprint. The law will come into force from July, after regulatory amendments, until which time the biometric pilot program will continue to operate.

It took the law nine years to pass through the Knesset, not least because of frenetic opposition. One of the amendments to be enacted has to do with police use of the biometric database."

FRANCE-USA: France warns construction firm Lafarge over offer to build Trump’s wall (France 24, link):

"France’s government on Thursday urged the French-Swiss construction giant LafargeHolcim to reconsider its offer to sell cement for building US President Donald Trump's controversial US-Mexico border wall.

"It (Lafarge) should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this," French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio on Thursday, a few days after LafargeHolcim’s chief executive Eric Olsen said he was prepared to supply the materials for it.

"Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics. ... Very well, but I would say companies ... also have social and environmental responsibilities," added France’s top diplomat."

ENGLAND/WALES: Upgraded Taser authorised for England and Wales police (BBC News, link):

"An upgraded Taser model is to be made available to police in England and Wales, the Home Office has announced.

The Taser X2 - featuring a second back-up cartridge if the first charge fails - will eventually replace the X26, which is no longer in production.

Policing minister Brandon Lewis said officers would have the "tools they need to do their job effectively".

But a lawyer specialising in Taser-related injuries said a public consultation should have taken place."

UK: How many Irene Clennells? The criminalisation of family life in May’s Britain (IRR, link):

"The month-long detention and deportation to Singapore of a grandmother with a 27-year marriage to a British husband, British children and a British grandchild rightly caused outrage. Yet it is no aberration, but an inevitable outcome of the assault on family migration by the Tories, from 2010 on.

As home secretary, Theresa May was tasked with implementing David Cameron’s pledge to reduce migration from its annual average of nearly a quarter of a million to the ‘tens of thousands’. In fact, net migration rose to 330,000 during her time in the post. But she certainly tried hard, introducing a cap on work permits and on student migration, and coming down particularly hard on family migration. The rules setting out the criteria for British and settled residents to bring non-EU family members in were made extremely tough."

UK: Marking the Home Office’s homework on immigration detention – urgent improvement needed (Unlocking Detention, link):

"What is true is that fewer people are being detained. In the last three months of 2015, 7702 people were detained. Between July and September 2016, this decreased a little, down to 7196 people. But, shockingly, what the Home Office’s own statistics show is that despite the reduction in the number of people entering detention, those who are in detention are being held for longer. At the end of December 2015, the month before the Shaw Review was published, 453 people who were being detained had been there for longer than 4 months. Nine months later, that number was 553.

Not only are people being detained for longer, but the impact of that is that despite fewer people entering detention, the number of people detained at any one time is actually higher than it was. On December 31 2015, 2,607 people were being detained. By the end of September 2016, this had jumped to just below 3,000."

UK: Home Office ends policy of automatic settlement for refugees after five years (Free Movement, link):

"The Home Office has announced a new policy of reviewing whether all refugees require protection at the end of a five year initial period of leave. The policy appears to be effective immediately for all refugee settlement applications, including for refugees already resident in the UK and who were expecting to qualify automatically for settlement.

Because refugees, employers and colleges can no longer assume a refugee will qualify for settlement, it will be harder for refugees to find work, commit to educational courses or simply settle down and rebuild their lives. Combined with the cuts to English language classes for refugees, one is left with the impression either that the Government does not want refugees to integrate or at least that there is no-one sufficiently senior at the Home Office who is responsible for thinking about integration.

Any refugees refused settlement under the new policy will in theory face detention and removal, although with the numbers of enforced removals and voluntary departures falling year on year this seems unlikely in practice. More likely they will be inducted by the Home Office into the twilight world of the “hostile environment”, unable to work, rent accommodation, drive, maintain a bank account and more."

And see: UK Home Office: Refugee Leave (pdf)

UK-ECHR: Depriving suspected terrorist of British citizenship was lawful

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the British government acted lawfully in depriving a dual Sudanese-British national of his citizenship due to suspected involvement in activities related to terrorism in Somalia.

ENGLAND/WALES: Research on pre-trial detention informs legal changes in England and Wales (Fair Trials, link):

"Between 2015 and 2016, Fair Trials carried out a regional research project on the use of pre-trial detention in 10 EU countries. Through their research, our local partners from England and Wales even contributed to the reform of the region’s Criminal Procedure Rules. "

EU: Opinion: Fortress Europe is designed to keep asylum seekers at bay (Deutsche Welle, link):

"A year ago, the European Union closed the Balkan route to migrants, then made a deal with Ankara to send newly arriving migrants and Syrian refugees in Greece to Turkey. The desired effect quickly became noticeable: the number of new arrivals sank drastically, putting a dampener on the illegal dealings of human traffickers.

The EU's southeastern external borders continue to be "protected," to use the terminology of several statements issued by heads of state. The goal is to stop "illegal migration." The land borders between Turkey and Greece, and between Serbia and Hungary had previously been sealed off with fences. The plan is working.

But "Fortress Europe" isn't working between Libya and Italy. Last year, more migrants embarked from Libya to Italy via the Mediterranean than ever before. The EU also wants to shut this route down, as stated in numerous summit declarations. Here too, the EU hopes to employ deterrent tactics. It used to be that EU marine units would save migrants from their unseaworthy boats and bring them to Italy. In future, the migrants are to be taken directly back to northern Africa, or better still, prevented from even making the journey. If that worked, then Fortress Europe would be perfect. Because then there would practically be no way for potential asylum seekers to reach EU territory - not on land, nor via sea."

EU: Ombudsman to Council on secrecy in law-making: "there has never been a more critical time" for openness

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has said that "there has never been a more critical time for the European democratic process to be seen by EU citizens as open and transparent," in a letter urging the Council to provide more information on how it plans to respond to the Ombudsman's inquiry on secret "trilogue" meetings between the Council, Parliament and Commission. The letter was sent to the Council in February but is classified as LIMITE and has been kept from public view.

EU: New Statewatch briefing on cooperation between Frontex, non-EU states and international organisations

The purpose of cooperation between Frontex and third countries is principally to try to minimise the number of people arriving at the EU’s borders by extending the use of EU “border management” policies, techniques and technologies to those countries. Indeed, “measures in third countries” make up the first step of the “four-tier access control model” that was part of the EU’s original concept of ‘Integrated Border Management’. The other three were “border control, control measures within the area of free movement, including return)”.

This briefing provides a comparative overview of current agreements between Frontex and non-EU states and international organisations. It examines the overall framework for concluding such agreements, the types of agreements currently in force and their content, coordination and management of the agreements and other related issues such as forthcoming agreements.

EU: Austria proposes EU funding cuts for states opposing refugee distribution (New Europe, link):

"Solidarity is not a one-way street. So said Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on March 9. The Social Democrat called for increased pressure on member states that continue to shirk their responsibility in the redistribution of refugees.

“In future, the money from the EU budget must be distributed more equally among the member countries,” Kern told German daily Die Welt.

“If countries continue to duck away from resolving the issue of migration, or tax dumping at the expense of their neighbours, they will no longer be able to receive net payments of billions from Brussels,” Kern said in the article."

EU: How to deal with democracy in crisis in Southeast Europe (Deutsche Welle, link)

"Many of the crisis symptoms that European democracy is currently experiencing have been growing for a long time and have anchored themselves in countries in the southeast of the continent: The democratic crisis in Southeast Europe is clear for all to see, and the "idea of liberal democratic consensus no longer exists," Florian Bieber from the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria told Deutsche Welle.

Yet the crisis is not a result of an acute depression, emphasizes Michael Hein, a professor at Berlin's Humboldt University, but rather, has grown out of a long, negative process. Hein analyzed and evaluated a number of statistics and indicators that measure various developmental, legal and social parameters. They show the same tendencies across the board: All of the countries of Southeast Europe, with the exception of Kosovo, and regardless of whether they are EU member states or not, have exhibited a constant downward trend over the last ten years.

This pertains to objectively measurable declines, but also to subjective parameters, such as citizens' faith in political and social institutions, which show the same downward tendency."

EU: Eurodac: over four million sets of fingerprints now held

The EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems recently published the annual report on the use of Eurodac, the EU database that holds the fingerprints of asylum-seekers in order to enforce the Dublin Regulation on responsibility for asylum applications. The number of fingerprint sets stored in the system has increased massively, by some 51%, growing from over 2.7 million at the end of 2014 to almost 4.1 million at the end of 2015.

EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention

On 6 March the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a revised set of Guidelines on protecting and promoting the rights of children just days after the Commission adopted a Recommendation on returns policy that called for, amongst other things, stepping up the detention of children.

EU: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

On 9 March there will be a meeting of the European Council followed on 10 March by an "informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government". The main themes of the Council meeting are migration, security and defence and the economy, while the informal meeting is concerned with "a political discussion on the content of the Rome declaration on the future of the EU that they are expected to adopt in Rome" on 25 March.

RUSSIA-ECHR: Incarcerating prisoners thousands of miles away from their relatives violated their right to family life (press release, pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Polyakova and Others v. Russia (application nos. 35090/09, 35845/11, 45694/13 and 59747/14) the applicants are either prisoners, or the family members of prisoners, who were adversely affected by decisions of the Russian Federal Penal Authority (“the FSIN”) to imprison individuals thousands of miles away from their families. The applicants complained that the decisions to allocate prisoners to remote penal facilities - and their subsequent inability to obtain transfers – had violated their right to respect for family life. The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of each applicant.

The Court held that the distance between the penal facilities and homes of the prisoners’ families – ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 kilometres – was so great that it had inflicted hardship on the persons concerned."

Judgment: CASE OF POLYAKOVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (35090/09 and three others, pdf) and see another recent case: FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf)

MALTA: Schengen Information System: 49 people caught using false documents since start of 2016 (Malta Independent, link):

"49 persons were caught entering Malta with false documents since the start of 2016, with 14 people being caught while Schengen was temporarily closed, the Police have confirmed with The Malta Independent.

The numbers show that 28% of people using false documents were caught during a 20-day period when Schengen was suspended – between 21 January 2017 to 9 February 2017 - while the remaining 35 were caught throughout the rest of the year. This indicates that more people using false documents can cross borders undetected when Schengen is in place."

Council of Europe: Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity, prevent human trafficking and strengthen its child-protection system (CoE, link):

"“Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity and integration policies, prevent human trafficking and combat corruption in the migration-related services sector” are the main recommendations in a report published today by the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Bocek.

The Special Representative also stressed the need to strengthen the protection of refugee and migrant children; called upon the Italian authorities and the EU to expedite the examination of asylum claims and of relocation and family-reunification requests; and pointed to the risk that weaknesses in the system for voluntary and forced removals might be encouraging the arrival of more irregular economic migrants."

See: Report of the fact-finding mission to Italy by Ambassador Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, 16-21 October 2016 (pdf)

EU-US: CIA used Frankfurt consulate to spy on Europeans (EUobserver, link):

"The US intelligence agency, the CIA, has used the American consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base to carry out digital spy operations, Wikileaks revealed on Tuesday (7 March).

The Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, based in the German city, was the base for CIA hackers covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Wikileaks said. The information is based on documents from the agency's internal discussion forum."

See: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Wikileaks, link) and: The Wikileaks CIA Stash May Prove Interesting, But Not Necessarily for the Hacks (MIT Technology Review, link)

EU: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): data protection warning

"The [ETIAS] proposal would require visa-exempt travellers to undergo a risk assessment with respect to security, irregular migration and public health before entering the EU.

...The proposal provides for the establishment of screening rules, a profiling tool that would enable the ETIAS system to single out individuals suspected of posing such risks. In his Opinion, the EDPS stresses that profiling techniques, as with any other form of computerised data analysis, raise serious technical, legal and ethical questions, related to their transparency and accuracy, and calls on the Commission to produce convincing evidence establishing the need for their inclusion and use in the ETIAS system."

UK-EU: Statement on Homelessness charities and local authorities complicit in detention and deportation of EU nationals rough sleeping (North East London Migrant Action, link):

"Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative) are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.

Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported."

And see: The Round-Up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration (Corporate Watch, link):

"Several nights a week, immigration patrols are out targeting rough sleepers in London, now a prime focus for raids under Theresa May's “hostile environment” policy.

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) and Refugee rights

• Massive re-draft of Council position: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulationl establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 (LIMITE doc no: 5332-17, pdf): With 150 Footnotes on Member State positions.

• "Blue Card": Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 6633-17, pdf): With 150 Member State positions in Footnotes. Council developing its negotiating position.

• Social rights of refugees: Theme: Socio-Economic Rights of Asylum Seekers and Beneficiaries of International Protection (LIMITE doc no: 5405-17,pdf). Highly detailed Member State objections in Footnotes.

This affects the Reception Conditions Directive, Recast Dublin Regulation and Qualification Regulation

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.17)

ECJ ruling continues absurd asylum impasse (euractiv, link):

"The European Court of Justice ruling this morning (7 March) that countries have full discretion to refuse humanitarian visas will have serious consequences for the EU’s ability to manage migration and for the lives and safety of thousands of people, writes Thomas Huddleston."

See: Judgment (pdf) and Press release (pdf): "Member States are not required, under EU law, to grant a humanitarian visa to persons who wish to enter their territory with a view to applying for asylum, but they remain free to do so on the basis of their national law."

WIKILEAKS: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Press release, link):

"Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina."

See: Documents (link)

And see: WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents (NYT, link): "WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.3.17) including: EU plans on return will create more harm and suffering, EP committee wants "forced fingerprinting" procedure; and more.

EP study: The budgetary tools for financing the EU's external policy (pdf):

"In recent years, the European Union (EU) architecture for financing external policies has become more complex. In addition to the EU’s financing instruments in the EU budget, several innovative funding tools and mechanisms have been established. Driven by the need to respond to new challenges and unforeseen crises in times of tight public budgets, the EU has considerably diversified its toolbox for funding external policies. This toolbox now includes new funding tools, such as trust funds (TFs), and mechanisms, such as blending facilities, that combine funds from the EU budget with other resources. Instruments in the budget are also evolving to address the need for greater flexibility and simplification in the financing of the EU’s external policies.

As a result, EU funding for external policies is becoming more complex. This complexity creates challenges. Besides making the EU budget less transparent in the eyes of European citizens, these developments also pose challenges to the European Parliament (EP) in terms of budgetary oversight. As reform dynamics are picking up pace, it is important to take stock of the evolving architecture for financing EU external policies."

EU: Call for tough asylum fingerprinting measures backed in draft EP budget committee opinion

A draft opinion on the new Eurodac Regulation written for the European Paliament's budgets committee calls for the adoption of "an EU procedure for forced fingerprinting," taking a similar line to an earlier draft report produced for the civil liberties (LIBE) committee.

UK: ‘Unacceptably haphazard’: Steven Avery’s lawyers support open justice campaign (The Justice Gap, link):

"Steven Avery’s lawyers have lent their support to a new campaign calling for an end to the Ministry of Justice’s policy of destroying vital court records.

Dean Strang who featured in the Netflix hit documentary Making a Murderer was speaking at a meeting at parliament on Tuesday to launch the Open Justice Charter, an initiative which comprises a series of demands for greater transparency and accountability in the justice system.

The charter, which features in the latest issue of Proof magazine, highlights the automatic destruction of court transcripts. ‘That the MoJ would destroy court transcripts at all, let alone after a period as short seven years, should deeply disturb all Britons,’ Dean Strang said in an interview for the Justice Gap ahead of the meeting. ‘When you have lost the transcript of trial proceedings you have made it, if not impossible, then a damned sight harder for anyone to review the safety or reliability of that conviction. I find that unacceptably haphazard.’"

See: Destruction of court records 'hampers miscarriage of justice inquiries' (The Guardian, link) and the campaign: Open Justice Initiative: Increasing accountability by opening up access to information (Centre for Criminal Appeals, link)

EU: Protect rights at automated borders (Nature, link):

"Around the world... technologies are transforming the nature of regional and national borders in radical ways. Booths that recognize people's irises, faces and fingerprints are proliferating at airports, ports and other checkpoints. E-gates that compare identities against biometric records stored on chips in passports are supposedly faster, cheaper and more reliable than human border guards, and are presented as technical add-ons to the existing system. But, unmanaged, such technologies can threaten human rights and open up new forms of discrimination."

EU: Commission White Paper Option Six: A Europe of Democracy And Social Justice (Social Europe, link) by Paul Mason:

"The White Paper by Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 March 2017 is a poor answer to the crisis of the European Union. In response, I am proposing that parties and movements committed to internationalism and social justice offer the following alternative to the five options Juncker outlines."

See: See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf)

Will This British Citizen on Death Row in Ethiopia Ever Walk Free? (Newsweek, link):

""But after almost three years away, Hailemariam is hopeful that her partner may return home soon. Earlier in February, three top British legal officials penned a letter to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, urging him to push for Tsege’s release from detention, which they say is “in violation of international law.” This development, along with what Hailemariam believes is the Ethiopian government’s fatigue at holding him—the country is dealing with other problems, including a wave of anti-government protests since November 2015, while Tsege’s ongoing detention is likely straining ties with the U.K., a major donor to Ethiopia—has renewed the family’s hope of getting Tsege back. “[But] I don’t know if I’m being too much of an optimist,” she says.""

AIDA reports on Italy, Malta and Spain – Southern borders a laboratory for deflection policies (ECRE, link):

""“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.""

See the reports: Italy, Malta and Spain (links to pdfs)

Terror and Exclusion in EU Asylum Law Case – C-573/14 Lounani (Grand Chamber, 31 January 2017) (European Law Blog, link):

"The on-going conflict in the Middle East has profound implications for the global legal order in two areas of law in particular: asylum law and anti-terrorist law. The European Union and EU law have not been immune from this development and in many respects are closely affected by these geopolitical developments and their legal impact. After a fitful start, the EU has become a major actor in the area of criminal law, and in particular anti-terrorist law, on the one hand and in asylum law on the other. The two fields meet in Article 12(2)(c) of the Qualification Directive, itself reflecting Article 1F of the Geneva convention, providing that an individual shall be excluded from eligibility for refugee status for acts contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, acts which have been held to include acts of terrorism. Furthermore, Article 12(3) of the Qualification Directive extends that exclusion to ‘persons who instigate or otherwise participate in the commission of the the crimes or acts’ mentioned in Article 12(2). The status of terrorist and refugee are legally incompatible and mutually exclusive; one simply cannot be a terrorist and also a refugee. What, however, constitutes a terrorist for the purposes of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive? That essentially is the question at stake in Lounani."

See: Opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston (pdf) and judgment: Case C-573/14, request for a preliminary ruling in: Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides v Mostafa Lounani (pdf)

FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf):

"In its decision in the case of Labaca Larrea v. France and two other applications (applications nos. 56710/13, 56727/13 and 57412/13) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously decided to join the applications and declared them inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerned the detention in France of three ETA members in a prison located at a great distance from the residences of their families.

The Court considered that the transfer of the applicants to the Lyon-Corbas prison had not been such as to significantly impede their right to receive visits. They had not been the subject of measures to restrict or limit their right to contact with their families and there was no evidence that the journeys which their relatives had had to make had caused any insuperable, or even particularly difficult, problems."

Judgment: Case 56710/13 (pdf, French only)

EU to step up backing for military missions

"On 6 March the Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence. The conclusions assess what has been done to implement the various lines of action agreed by the European Council on 15 December 2016. They form the basis of a report for the European Council of 9 and 10 March 2017.

The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations, which contains measures to improve the EU's capacity to react in a faster, more effective and more seamless manner, building on existing structures and in view of enhancing civilian-military synergies, as part of the EU's comprehensive approach.

These measures include the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), within the existing EU Military Staff of the European External Action Service, for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions..."

See: press release: Security and defence: Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missions (pdf)

Adopted: Council conclusions on progress in implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence (pdf) and: Concept Note: Operational Planning and Conduct Capabilities for CSDP Missions and Operations (pdf)

SWEDEN: Several injured in fire at Sweden's largest asylum centre (The Independent, link):

"Several people have been injured in a suspected arson attack on Sweden’s largest refugee centre.

One man was seriously injured after jumping from a third floor window trying to escape the fire.

Around a dozen were treated with oxygen after inhaling smoke, while three people were taken to Norra Älvsborg Hospital in Trolhätten."

New EU-wide journalism project examines the lives of new refugees in Europe

"Like the people it covers, the migration story itself is on the move. In 2014 and 2015 it was all about the odyssey, the journey made by hundreds of thousands, haphazardly, perilously, up into Europe. In 2016, it was about Europe’s hesitant response, the political backlash.

In 2017, the focus is turning to the people who are suddenly in our midst. How are they adapting to their new lives? What do they miss? What’s it like to swap Homs for Hamburg, Kabul for Croydon - or Mosul for the Mosel, for that matter. Which European countries are best at helping refugees settle?

It is these questions that four major European newspapers are taking on in a new project entitled The New Arrivals. Over a period of 18 months, The Guardian, Le Monde, El País and Spiegel Online are embedding inside newly arrived communities in each of their countries to assess whether promises are being kept, whether European society is changing the new arrivals - and vice versa."

See: The New Arrivals (link). It should be noted that there is still very much a "migration story" related to people's journeys to Europe as people continue to die at sea and are denied their right to seek asylum. See: Statewatch Observatory: The refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: a humanitarian emergency

UK-FRANCE: Presidential elections should not let us forget the fate of migrant children from Calais (HRW, link):

"The outlook for child migrants took a turn for the worse when on 8 February, the UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the UK had ended transfers under the Dubs amendment—even though the government had spoken of accepting between 1,000 and 3,000 children when the provision was debated in Parliament. The UK’s decision to end this humanitarian program tarnishes its history as a refuge for thousands of refugee children during World War II. The UK should restate its commitment to the Dubs amendment and ensure that an overly narrow application of the criteria does not lead to unfair or arbitrary decisions.

(...)

The fate of these young migrants depends also on the French government response. The French government has left these young migrants in limbo, placing them in CAOMIs outside the regular asylum and child protection system as an interim measure. The agencies hired to run the centers have varied in quality—while some have done an excellent job, others have lacked experience in supporting unaccompanied child migrants. Communication between the young migrants and French social workers or government officials has often been difficult due to the absence of qualified translators. In one shelter that I visited in December, a crowd of young migrants gathered around me to voice their anger and distrust toward the staff running the place."

This Is Why Encryption Is Such a Headache for Lawmakers (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Encrypted smartphones and messaging apps that prevent even the companies that make them from decrypting their data are unreasonably hindering criminal investigations, and the situation is worsening, say law enforcement officials. A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent bipartisan policy think tank, helps quantify the scale and complexity of the issue."

See: The Effect of Encryption on Lawful Access to Communications and Data (CSIS, link):

"Terrorists and criminals find creative ways to leverage the latest technologies to evade law enforcement. Technology continues to evolve, making unrecoverable encryption easier for individuals to obtain and use. Furthermore, any U.S. policy on encryption might set a precedent that other countries would be tempted to follow. While the debate thus far has pitted privacy and individual security against the critical task of stopping criminals and terrorists, there may be technical and policy solutions that can balance national security and public safety with protection of privacy, civil liberties, and a functioning global Internet ecosystem."

FRANCE: National Front plans for the constitution threaten democracy

"Ms. Le Pen’s constitutional program echoes a current practice in some dictatorial regime, which consists in using the referendum in order to justify authoritarian backslidings. If the constitutional program is adopted, no constitutional disposition would be safe from any authoritarian tendencies. Amending the constitution through referendum would allow Ms. Le Pen to propose constitutional reforms which go beyond her original constitutional program. It is already the case with the reestablishment of death penalty since she recently announced that this question will be asked by referendum.6) Moreover, nothing would inhibit Ms. Le Pen to use the referendum in order to extent or renew the presidential mandate, or to modify the electoral system of the NA if the latter is too troublesome."

Analysis: Marine Le Pen: a Constitutional Program Threatening the French Constitutional Regime (Verfassungsblog, link)

See also: National Front tones down manifesto ahead of presidential elections (Deutsche Welle, link) and problems in the European Parliament: Le Pen takes the Parliament to the EU Court of Justice in the assistants’ case (New Europe, link):

"The embattled French Front National leader Marine Le Pen announced plans to take the European Parliament to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in the assistants’ case.

Marine Le Pen refuses to return the sums linked to the dubious employment of a parliamentary assistant."

EU: Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds (New Europe, link):

"Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states."

UK: Illegal rendition cover up continues: Government seeks secret hearing for first time in victims’ case (Reprieve, link)

"The Government is asking the High Court to use secret proceedings in a case brought by victims of a UK-US rendition during the ‘War on Terror’. This is the first time such powers are set to be used in a rendition victims’ case, and it is being sought so the Government may avoid embarrassing revelations on how parliament and the public continue to be misled as to what happened.

At a hearing next Tuesday (7th), lawyers for the Government will argue that the case of two men who were rendered to Afghanistan in 2004 should be heard in secret.

The men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, are challenging the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence over the UK’s involvement in their rendition."

NORTHERN IRELAND: DUP puts Sinn Féin in driving seat, but road ahead is unclear (The Detail, link):

"THE shock election result in Northern Ireland that has seen unionism lose its majority status is an overnight sensation that has been years in the making.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

The 2011 census revealed that the once unassailable Protestant/unionist majority was in decline, while the growing Catholic/nationalist population was likely to become the largest community.

The DUP has known for a long time that a shift in politics was possible, but the party did nothing, despite holding power for the last ten years."

UK may return tortured asylum seekers to country they fled, says immigration minister (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not consider a person having been tortured in the country they are fleeing reason enough alone to accept a claim of asylum, the immigration minister has said.

Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary debate on torture that not all proven survivors of past torture “automatically qualify for protection” if they cannot produce additional evidence that they would be at risk of further serious harm upon being sent back to where they had fled."

How does the ageing process affect automated facial recognition systems?

"The two underlying premises of automatic face recognition are uniqueness and permanence. This paper investigates the permanence property by addressing the following: Does face recognition ability of state-of-the-art systems degrade with elapsed time between enrolled and query face images? If so, what is the rate of decline w.r.t. the elapsed time? While previous studies have reported degradations in accuracy, no formal statistical analysis of large-scale longitudinal data has been conducted. We conduct such an analysis on two mugshot databases, which are the largest facial aging databases studied to date in terms of number of subjects, images per subject, and elapsed times. Mixed-effects regression models are applied to genuine similarity scores from state-of-the-art COTS face matchers to quantify the population-mean rate of change in genuine scores over time, subject-specific variability, and the influence of age, sex, race, and face image quality. Longitudinal analysis shows that despite decreasing genuine scores, 99% of subjects can still be recognized at 0.01% FAR up to approximately 6 years elapsed time, and that age, sex, and race only marginally influence these trends. The methodology presented here should be periodically repeated to determine age-invariant properties of face recognition as state-of-the-art evolves to better address facial aging."

See: Longitudinal Study of Automatic Face Recognition (IEEE, link)

EU: DATA RETENTION: Council calls in the "experts" to try and get round the law

Retention of electronic communication data - next steps (LIMITE doc no: 6713-17, pdf):

In the Watson/Tele2 case the Council recognises that:

"the Court ruled that Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC (the ePrivacy Directive), read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation "which, for the purpose of fighting crime, provides for general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication", as well as national legislation that "governs the protection and security of traffic and location data and, in particular, access of the competent national authorities to the retained data, where the objective pursued by that access, in the context of fighting crime, is not restricted solely to fighting serious crime, where access is not subject to prior review by a court or an independent administrative authority, and where there is no requirement that the data concerned should be retained within the European Union,,,

Many delegations expressed their concerns on the implications of the judgment, which might hinder the effectiveness of the investigations and prosecutions of crimes. The majority of delegations reiterated the support expressed at the informal ministerial meeting in Valletta on 26-27 January 2017 for a coordinated approach at EU level and for discussions to continue at expert level." [emphasis added].

The Commission three years after the Digital Rights and now confronted by the confirmation by the Court that such laws are unlawful is considering:

"how national data retention laws can be construed in conformity with the judgment:"

See: In December 2016: Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf) and in 2014: "Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and others": The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf) - the CJEU declared the measure was unlawful since it was adopted in 2006.

NGO Statement: New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (pdf): Signed by 90 civil society organisations, including Statewatch:

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower the bar."

See also: European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

UK: Watchdog to launch inquiry into misuse of data in politics - Investigation follows revelations of digital firm’s involvement in Brexit (The Observer, link):

"The UK’s privacy watchdog is launching an inquiry into how voters’ personal data is being captured and exploited in political campaigns, cited as a key factor in both the Brexit and Trump victories last year.

The intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) follows revelations in last week’s Observer that a technology company part-owned by a US billionaire played a key role in the campaign to persuade Britons to vote to leave the European Union."

EU: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM (EES): Council of the European Union: Council negotiating position for trilogue with the European Parliament:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 6572-17, 161 pages, pdf):

"The new addition are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the documents are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission proposals are marked as […]...

A number of delegations have recalled the work carried out by the High Level Experts Group on Information Systems and Interoperability, and have called for a consistent approach on the issue of law enforcement access across the pending legislative proposals. It is suggested that a Council declaration on this issue (as revised following the discussion in the JHA Counsellors meeting of 23 February) is attached to the minutes of Coreper." [emphasis added]

See also: High-Level Expert Group interim report (pdf) and:

Correction (LIMITE doc no: 6572-COR-1-17, pdf) See important amendments regarding non-EU agency access.

New EU Commission plans on returns and detention will create more harm and suffering (ECRE, link):

"Bowing down to political pressure to be “tough” on irregular migration, the European Commission has turned its back on the full implementation of human rights safeguards in its Returns’ Directive and is actively pushing member states to lower... "

See also: Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Home Affairs Letter to Ministers in June 2015 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.3.17)

EU: European Commission belatedly makes available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report

Third Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf):

"this Report is linked to the renewed Action Plan on a more effective return policy and the Recommendation on the implementation of the Return Directive adopted in parallel by the Commission. Substantial progress on returns also depends on making legal and administrative processes inside the EU simpler and more effective, and also on ensuring full cooperation with third countries of origin....

The Commission, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service, will take stock of the approach and its results in reducing irregular migration flows, addressing its root causes and improving return rates when it reports in June, one year on from the launch of the Partnership Framework....

Progress in the negotiations of the EU-Nigeria readmission agreement is of the utmost importance: the first round took place in October 2016, but a second round of talks has been postponed several times by Nigeria...

Dialogue and cooperation with Mali on return suffered a setback following inaccurate media reports in December 2016 about the signature of a formal agreement on return with the EU which never took place, and Mali did not sign Operating Procedures on readmission." [emphasis added]

Comment. "Confusion" in the media was caused by the EU trying to "jump the gun" by saying it had signed the agreement - but Mali had not agreed: see: Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks" with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (Press release) pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African state:

"Tangible progress has been made with the five African priority countries, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal but efforts need to be stepped up to deliver results. Along the Central Mediterranean route, work is taken forward to better manage migration, continue saving lives, step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers and offer protection to migrants in need and increase
resettlement and assisted voluntary returns."

Annex (pdf): Detailed targets for "priority" states.
FAQ (pdf)

And see:

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements (Statewatch)
New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch)
Viewpoint: Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch, pdf)
EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (Statewatch, pdf)

EU-TURKEY DEAL: Question to the Commission: Effects of the General Court’s orders on the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf) from Barbara Spinelli MEP:

"if the EU-Turkey Statement had to be considered an international instrument, what would be the legal basis for the involvement of the EU institutions in its implementation?

Does the Commission consider the commitments already made on the basis of this text to be compatible with the orders issued by the General Court?"

See: EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

EU: Parliament asks EU Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (Press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visafree access to nationals of five EU countries. In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months”.

The text prepared by the Civil Liberties Committee was adopted by a show of hands.

Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free."

And see: Parliamentary Tracker : a new episode of the EU-US visa waiver saga… (ASFJ, link)

UK: Inclusion of CAGE as “controversial” in PREVENT training manual shows how the policy strangles debate on crucial issues (link):

" The inclusion of CAGE on a PREVENT training presentation as a “controversial” organisation whose views should be mitigated on campuses, is indicative of the securitisation of universities under PREVENT and the creeping infringement of the government on free speech.

Although CAGE was singled out in the manual, we are just one of the many dissenting voices targeted by PREVENT, which also takes aim at Muslims who question foreign and domestic policy, environmental activists and pro-Palestinian groups.

It is alarming that criticism of PREVENT and government policy is seen as a marker for ‘extremism’, especially since all our events feature presenters that call for due process and the rule of law."

The Growing International Movement Against Killer Robots (Harvard International Review, link):

"Six weapons have been internationally banned: poison gas, biological weapons, chemical weapons, blinding lasers, antipersonnel landmines, and cluster munitions. The bans on the latter three were all achieved in the past 21 years, and, in each case, civil society was the driving force in bringing the issue to the forefront and convincing governments to agree to a ban. All three bans were rooted in the desire to better protect civilians during warfare and its aftermath, and to strengthen further international humanitarian law. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.3.17)

Refugee crisis: Commission: Draconian Recommendations to "substantially increase rate of return"

Commission: Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (pdf) Publication was delayed several hours:

"The objectives of such an integrated and coordinated approach in the area of return should be to: ensure swift return procedures and substantially increase the rate of return...

put in place measures to effectively locate and apprehend third-country nationals staying illegally...

Member States should ensure that return decisions have unlimited duration, so that they can be enforced at any moment...

ensure that return decisions are followed without delay by a request to the third country of readmission to deliver a valid travel documents or to accept the use of the European travel document...

provide in national legislation for a maximum initial period of detention of six months that can be adapted by the judicial authorities in the light of the circumstances of the case, and for the possibility to further prolong the detention until 18 months in the cases provided for in Article 15(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC;

bring detention capacity in line with actual needs, including by using where necessary the derogation for emergency situations as provided for...

provide for the shortest possible deadline for lodging appeals against return decisions established by national law...

Risk of absconding

(15) Each of the following objective circumstances should constitute a rebuttable presumption that there is a risk of absconding:

(a) refusing to cooperate in the identification process, using false or forged identity documents, destroying or otherwise disposing of existing documents, refusing to provide fingerprints;
(b) opposing violently or fraudulently the operation of return;
(c) not complying with a measure aimed at preventing absconding imposed in application of Article 7(3) of Directive 2008/115/EC, such as failure to report to the competent authorities or to stay at a certain place;
(d) not complying with an existing entry ban;
(e) unauthorised secondary movements to another Member State."

European Commission: Relocation, EU-Turkey "deal" and EU Border Agency

"Solidarity" is a eupemism for failure of relocating refugees within the EU:
Commission calls for renewed efforts in implementing solidarity measures under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"Ahead of next week's European Council and in the form of three progress reports, the Commission is today making a renewed call on Member States to pick up the pace of relocation to alleviate pressure from Italy and Greece, with few having met their commitments in full....

the current pace of relocation is still well below expectations and below the European Council endorsed target...

the current pace will not allow for the relocation of all eligible applicants currently present in Greece and Italy by September 2017 – despite this being perfectly feasible. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for
both Italy and Greece, whereas some (Hungary, Austria and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all and others are doing so on a very limited basis (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia)....

soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those who have not complied with the
obligations stemming from the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September."
[emphasis added]

•  Tenth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 202-17, pdf)

•  Annex 1: Relocations: Greece (pdf)
•  
Annex 2: Relocations: Itay (pdf)
•  
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece by 28 February 2017 (pdf)

•  Fifth Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 204-17, pdf)

•  Annex (pdf)

•  Second report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM 201-17, pdf)

European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

Press release: European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents new measures for an efficient and credible EU return policy (pdf):

"the Commission is today following through with a renewed EU Action Plan on Return and a set of recommendations to Member States on how to make return procedures more effective.....

Remove inefficiencies by shortening deadlines for appeals, systematically issuing return decisions that do not have an expiry date and combining decisions on the ending of a legal stay with the issuance of a return decision to avoid duplicate work...

Tackle abuses of the system by making use of the possibility to assess asylum claims in accelerated or, where considered appropriate, border procedures when it is suspected asylum claims are made merely to delay the enforcement of a return decision...

Prevent absconding by detaining people who have received a return decision and who show signs they will not comply such as refusal to cooperate in the identification process or opposing a return operation violently or fraudulently....

Overcoming the challenges of readmission by working to swiftly conclude the negotiations of Readmission Agreements with Nigeria, Tunisia and Jordan and striving to engage with Morocco and Algeria.

Within the Partnership Framework, employ collective leverage in a coordinated and effective manner through tailor-made approaches with third countries."

Communication: On a more effective return policy in the EU - A renewed Action Plan (COM 200-17, pdf)

Annex 1 (pdf): Detailed plan

FAQ: Returns and readmission (pdf)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership
Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route
(pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African states

UK: Watchdog says police cuts have left forces in 'perilous state' - Government austerity blamed in report, which shows stretched forces downgrading calls and leaving suspects at large (Guardian, link):

"Policing in England and Wales is in a “potentially perilous state” as government cuts lead to investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects remaining at large, a watchdog has warned.

In a report on effectiveness in policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices that have arisen out of police forces’ approach to dealing with budget cuts in excess of 20%."

See: HMIC: PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 (pdf) And: Breakdown by force (link)

EU: European Commission: Fifth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 203-17, pdf):

Sweeping agenda for more controls and surveillance:

"This is the fifth monthly report on the progress made towards building an effective and genuine Security Union and covers developments under two main pillars: tackling terrorism, organised and cyber crime and the means that support them; and strengthening our defences and building resilience against those threats.

A prerequisite of building an effective and genuine Security Union is ensuring the timely adoption and full and effective implementation of EU legislation."

EU-BREXIT: Ombudsman urges appropriate Brexit transparency

"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the European Commission to set out the arrangements that it plans to put in place to ensure transparency and to secure appropriate stakeholder input during the upcoming Brexit negotiations. These should cover the types of information and documents the Commission intends to publish - including the timeline for negotiations and reports on negotiating rounds - and when."

See: Letter from the Ombudsman to President Juncker concerning information for the public on the upcoming negotiations aimed at reaching agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.3.17): EU not responsible for EU-Turkey deal, says ECJ; migrants sentenced to years in prison in Hungary; relocation figures; and more.

HUNGARY: Szeged court issues final guilty verdict in case of 10 immigrants charged with rioting (Budapest Beacon, link)

"A Szeged court has reached a final guilty verdict in an appeal hearing against 10 immigrants for their involvement in clashes with police at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke in September, 2015. Among the convicted are an ill, elderly woman, a man who walks with a cane, and a man in a wheelchair. The court ruled that all of the accused had illegally crossed Hungary’s border as participants in a riot, index.hu reports.

The court sentenced four of the defendants to one year and two months imprisonment and banned them from Hungary for four years. Another man, who was observed speaking to the crowd through a megaphone during the border clashes, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and banned for six years from the country. That man, 22-year-old Syrian national Yamen A., was the only defendant to appear at the sentencing, and reportedly wept upon hearing the verdict. He has been in custody for nearly 18 months.

Each of the 10 immigrants spent at least nine and a half months in custody while awaiting the verdict in last year’s first-degree trial."

And see from December 2016: Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link)

HUNGARY: Orbán speaks of the necessity for ethnic homogeneity in speech to business leaders (Budapest Beacon, link):

"In an address to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán boasted of successful economic policies before pointing to the maintenance of Hungary’s ethnic homogeneity as a key to improving its international standing.

...“Hungary’s ethnic relations are complex, so this isn’t an easy issue,” he said, adding that the country’s competitive labor market makes “such ideas completely unimaginable”.

To improve Hungary’s international standing, it must protect its ethnic homogeneity because “too much mixing causes problems.” Being a “single color” was important (the statement released on his website uses the word “egyszínuség”, which in English would translate to the exact opposite of “diverse”), as was strong public safety, and having a “clean, green Hungary”."

EU: Final text of the 2017 Directive on Combating Terrorism

See: DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA (pdf)

And: Joint statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission (pdf)

The text is still to be published in the Official Journal.

Full background and documentation on the Statewatch European Monitoring and Documentation Centre (SEMDOC): Directive on combating terrorism

EU: European Citizens’ Initiative: General Court rules on the Commission’s obligation to give reasons for refusing to register proposals (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On Friday the 3rd of February, the General Court (GC) annulled for the first time a Commission Decision refusing registration of a proposed European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), on the ground that the Commission infringed its duty to give reasons for its decision. Minority SafePack is a short judgment concerning procedural matters yet at this early stage of the ECI, which was established in 2012, any judgment clarifying the applicable legal framework is worthy of attention from those interested in the ECI and more generally in the opportunities for citizens’ participation in EU lawmaking."

See the judgment: Case T-646/13 (pdf)

EU: Refugee relocation: numbers up but Member States still need to provide tens of thousands of places

The Commission has published an update on the number of refugees moved from Greece and Italy to other EU Member States via the relocation scheme agreed in September 2015.

The number of people relocated has increased (800 people have been relocated from Greece and 504 from Italy since the last update on 8 February).

ISRAEL: Knesset committee approves landmark biometric database law after 8-year experiment (Jerusalem Post, link):

"The Knesset late on Monday approved a landmark law by a 39-to-29 vote limiting the use of biometric databases for smartcard identification, following its passage by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in its final readings.

The law’s final version reflects a number of compromises made to address privacy concerns that have made it the center point of a grand battle for years. "

GREECE: Official figures on refugees and migrants in the Aegean, 1 March 2017

The detention centres on Lesvos, Samos and Kos are still massively overcrowded, with Samos holding 1695 "guests" despite its capacity of 850. As of 8:00 on 1 March, 139 people had arrived on Greece's Aegean islands.

EU: Citizens should get access to data on firm owners to fight money laundering (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"EU citizens could access registers of beneficial owners of companies without having to demonstrate a “legitimate interest,” and trusts would have to meet the same transparency requirements as firms, under amendments, agreed by MEPs on Tuesday, to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive."

HUNGARY: Court Agrees With HCLU: Hungarian Police Discriminated Against Roma (Liberties.eu, link):

"The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) initiated an actio popularis lawsuit based on the Equal Treatment Act of Hungary (ETA) against the Heves County Police Department in order to enforce the rights of Roma in the village of Gyöngyöspata. The aim of the lawsuit was to have the court affirm that the actions of the police in Gyöngyöspata in 2011 were unlawful and violated the right to equal treatment of local Roma.

The judgment represents a particularly important and decisive development in terms of the protection of rights and case law in Hungary: this was the first time that the Curia stated in a public interest lawsuit that the police committed negative discrimination against Roma citizens."

For more detail, see: Supreme Court: the police discriminated against the Roma of Gyöngyöspata (HCLU, link):

"Despite the dismissal of the ethnic profiling part of the case, the HCLU is very proud of the judgment regarding the issue of state protection against racist harassment. The Kúria emphasized in the oral reasoning that the Gyöngyöspata incidents were the second most serious racially motivated events in Hungary since the regime change (the most serious were the racist serial murders), and the police clearly had the positive obligation to take measures against racist harassment which they failed to do. The inaction of the police amounted to harassment under the Equal Treatment Act. This ruling of the Supreme Court of Hungary is a considerable success."

EU: Commission outlines 5 scenarios for future of EU in white paper (Politico, link):

"The European Commission has outlined five scenarios for the future of the European Union in a white paper obtained by POLITICO ahead of its publication on Wednesday.

The scenarios are entitled “carrying on,” “nothing but the single market,” “those who want more do more,” “doing less more efficiently,” and “doing much more together.”

The paper is an attempt by the Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, to shape a major debate about the EU’s future following Britain’s shock decision to leave. The document is also intended to influence a declaration by the 27 countries remaining in the EU at the bloc’s 60th anniversary summit on March 25 in Rome."

See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf) and annex: Five scenarios offering a glimpse into the potential state of the Union by 2025 (pdf)

EU-USA: U.S. says Trump order will not undermine data transfer deals with EU (Reuters, link):

"An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine two data transfer agreements between the United States and the EU, Washington wrote in a letter to allay European concerns.

An executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of U.S. immigration law rattled the European Union as it appeared to suggest Europeans would not be given the same privacy protections as U.S. citizens.

The order directs U.S. agencies to "exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.""

On the other hand: The Trump Administration Is Threatening to Publicly Release the Private Data of Immigrants and Foreign Visitors (ACLU, link): "The U.S. government promised it would protect Europeans’ personal data as a condition of these agreements. But both agreements may be in jeopardy if the Trump administration goes forward with its plans."

EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it has no competence to judge the legality of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees as "neither the European Council nor any other institution of the EU decided to conclude an agreement with the Turkish Government on the subject of the migration crisis." The case was brought by three individuals seeking asylum in Greece, who sought to challenge the legality of the deal as it posed a risk that they might be returned to Turkey.

EU-POLAND: Case not closed: 20 NGOs demand Commission holds Poland to account over rule of law

The recent claim of the Polish Foreign Minister that his government's dispute with the European Commission over legal changes undermining the rule of law is now "closed" appears to have been rather premature. Twenty-six international and Polish NGOs have written to the European Commission to demand that it "halt Poland's backsliding from the EU's founding values," by activating Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which ultimately makes possible the removal of a Member State's voting rights within the Council if a "serious and persistent breach" of the EU's founding values is confirmed.

See: Joint NGO letter: Open Letter to the College of Commissioners regarding the situation in Poland (16 February 2017, pdf)

EU: Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims (Asylos, link):

"Thorough research is vital for a successful asylum claim. Such country of origin information (COI) is used to support specific elements in asylum seekers’ claims. As asylum seekers often lack documents that prove a risk of persecution on return, they rely on information from their countries of origin to illustrate their need for international protection. Specific pieces of information can support their testimonies of why and how they fled their countries; testimonies which are often disbelieved by national authorities in receiving countries. In short, COI is used to substantiate both the likelihood of persecution on return and the credibility of their individual stories.

We know surprisingly little about how NGOs and asylum lawyers conduct research for asylum claims. To close this gap, Asylos interviewed 20 asylum lawyers and NGO staff in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK to understand the challenges of researching evidence, as well as the opportunities for improving the research process."

See the report: Asylos: Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims (link to pdf)

Berlin furious after Turkey arrests German journalist (EUobserver, link):

"The Berlin and Ankara rift continues to widen following the arrest of a German newspaper correspondent on terrorism related charges earlier this week in Turkey.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel had already spoken out against the arrest followed by demands on Tuesday (28 February) by the German foreign ministry for Ankara to explain the charges against the reporter.

A judge in Turkey on Monday ordered the arrest of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist for the Die Welt newspaper.

Yucel had been detained since mid-February over a story on a hacker attack against Turkey's energy minister, who is also president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son in law."

February 2017

At the behest of the EU Greece is to install a "coastal surveillance system covering the whole sea border between Greece and Turkey"

The latest report from the Hellenic delegation to the Council of the European Union on "serious" deficiencies in the application of the Schengen acquis envisages the construction of a: "National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (NIMSS)":

See: Schengen evaluation of Greece - 3rd Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6311-17, pdf)

EU tells France: Take "immediate measures" to identify and deport migrants living in and around Calais

See: Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of France (Pas-de-Calais) on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (Commission LIMITE doc no: 26-17, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.2.17)

European Parliament: EU borders: Civil Liberties MEPs vote to step up checks and data protection (pdf):

"Civil Liberties MEPs voted on Monday for stronger protection and a shorter retention period for data stored in the new EU entry/exit system, which is designed
to modernise and step up checks on non-EU nationals travelling to the European Union.... The draft resolution was adopted by 38 votes to seven, with one abstention.

Stronger data protection

MEPs backed the EU Commission’s proposal to store a combination of four fingerprints and a facial image of travellers arriving in the Schengen area. However, they say data should be stored for only two years, and not the five years proposed by Commission. They also want to ensure that the text is in line with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation, for example by allowing the data subject the right to access his or her own data.

Clearly-defined purpose

The purposes of data processing in the new system should also be clarified, MEPs say. Migration handling should be the first purpose and law enforcement a further one. The two should be treated separately, as the conditions for the use and storage of the data are not the same, they underline."

NGO rescues off Libya encourage traffickers, says EU borders chief (Guardian, link): "Head of Frontex calls for rescue operations in Med to be re-evaluated and says NGOs work ineffectively with security agencies."

See: Statewatch: EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast (16.12.16)

Data Brokers, Data Analytics, “Muslim registries” & Human Rights (AI, link):

""perhaps a Muslim registry - or list of deportation targets, for that matter would not necessarily have to invollve registration at all. The past 10 years have witnessed a boom in big data. The sheer scale of data about people, combined with advances in data mining techniques, mean that hundreds of US companies now possess a "super databases" of hundreds of millions of individually-identifiable consumers.."

EU urged to end cooperation with Sudan after refugees whipped and deported (Guardian, link)

"MEP calls for inquiry as Ethiopian and Eritrean asylum seekers receive 40 lashes and $800 fines, while activists warn EU migration aid is emboldening Sudan.... The MEP Barbara Lochbihler, vice-chair of the European parliament’s sub-committee on human rights, said the EU should launch an inquiry. “The EU must voice clear criticism on the recent incidents, conduct a thorough investigation, try and help the people concerned, and draw the necessary conclusion: if projects such as Better Migration Management carry the risk for the EU to become complicit in human rights abuses, which I believe to be true, we should pull out immediately.”"

Britain's child migrant programme: why 130,000 children were shipped abroad (Guardian, link)

"The national child abuse inquiry is hearing testimony from people shipped as children to Australia. Some children sent to former colonies between the 1920s and 1970s faced servitude, hard labour and abuse."

EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.2.17): EU visa waiver rules amended to try to ensure readmission cooperation; border walls in Hungary and Turkey; ECJ victory for human rights in asylum proceedings.

EU: Pre-trial prisoner population in Europe falls by 42% since 2000

"Today sees the launch of the third World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List. The List provides comprehensive data on pre-trial/remand prisoner populations, as at the end of November 2016, for 216 countries and dependent territories across the world. It shows that at least two and a half million prisoners are detained pre-trial. But taking account of those not reported in official data, or from the ten countries where no official data are published, the worldwide total is likely to be close to three million.

What are the main trends since 2000?

...The biggest positive is that the total European pre-trial prisoner population has fallen by 42% since 2000. In Russia, numbers halved; and they fell substantially in most other former Soviet republics and former socialist countries of central and Eastern Europe. There has also been progress in much of southern and western Europe. I’m heartened to see this, having worked at Fair Trials during the first stages of its European pre-trial justice campaign."

See: Catherine Heard discusses today’s release of the latest global pre-trial detention data (Fair Trials, link) and: World Prison Brief: World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List: third edition (pdf)

EU: Internal market: European Parliament study on extending the scope of the geo-blocking prohibition: An economic assessment

A new study for the European Parliament "illustrates the prevalence of geo-blocking in e-commerce and summarizes available relevant evidence. It also discusses the economic impact of lifting geo-blocking restrictions in online goods and copyrighted digital content services."

From the executive summary:

"Geo-blocking occurs when traders operating in one Member State block or limit the ability of customers from other Member States to order their goods or online services, a practice that restricts cross-border commerce and specifically e-commerce. Surveys demonstrate that European consumers are frustrated by the level of geo-blocking; moreover, it can be viewed as a significant barrier to the Single Market.

At the same time, geo-blocking is a complicated issue where solutions need to be crafted with care in order to avoid unwanted and possibly undesirable consequences."

See: Extending the scope of the geo-blocking prohibition: An economic assessment (pdf)

EU: Visa waiver rules amended to allow suspension if third countries fail to cooperate on readmission

"On 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation to revise the suspension mechanism which can be applied to all existing visa liberalisation agreements.

(...)

The objective of the revised regulation is to strengthen the suspension mechanism. It does this by making it easier for member states to notify circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send annual reports to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria.

The possible grounds for suspension have been extended, and include a decrease in cooperation on readmission, a substantial increase in the refusal rate of readmission applications, including for third-country nationals in transit, and a substantial increase in the risk to public policy or the internal security of the member states."

See: Council of the EU press release: Visas: Council adopts a revision of the visa waiver suspension mechanism (27 February 2017, pdf) and European Commission: Revision of the Visa Suspension Mechanism - Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

UK: Scathing report on the imprisonment of young people and children calls for urgent change

A report by the Youth Custody Improvement Board (YCIB), which was set up by Conservative government in May 2016 "to explore and report on the current state of the youth custodial estate and recommend how the system could be improved," has issued a damning report on Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) and Secure Training Centres (STCs) in England and Wales.

EU: New Court of Justice of EU ruling increases human rights protection for asylum seekers in Dublin system (ECRE, link):

"A new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) increases human rights protection for asylum seekers in the Dublin system. It establishes that a Dublin transfer should be halted if the asylum seeker to be transferred faces an individual risk of inhuman or degrading treatment because of his individual situation. This is notably the case in circumstances where the transfer of an asylum seeker, with a particularly serious mental or physical condition, leads to the applicant’s health significantly deteriorating, the Court says. A Member State should suspend the transfer for as long as the applicant’s health condition does not render him capable of such a transfer."

See the judgment (French): C.K., H.F., A.S. v Slovenian Republic (C-578/16, pdf)

EU: Proposed Directive on equal treatment: discussions and disagreement continue

The Member States of the EU are still debating a Directive on the equal treatment of persons regardless of their religion, beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation, which was first proposed in 2008. The record of the latest discussions in the Council's Working Party on Social Questions revolve around the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity.

BORDER WALLS: Hungary starts second wall, Turkey's wall with Syria half-finished

"Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia, a government spokesman said on Monday (27 February), a move likely to exacerbate criticism from some of the country’s European Union partners.

...A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria.

It effectively blocked that route to Germany, where many were heading, but Hungary has said a second fence would make the barrier more effective and hold back migrants while processing their asylum requests."

See: Hungary starts construction of second border fence (EurActiv, link)

And: Turkey builds more than half of Syrian border wall (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Turkey has erected 290 kilometers (180 miles) of a planned 511-kilometer (317 miles) "security wall" along its border with war-torn Syria, local media reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the body building the structure.

The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons. The blocks are 2-meters thick (6.5-foot) at the base and 3-meters (10-foot) high, topped by a meter of razor wire. Along the entire wall roads are being built for military patrols and watch towers are being erected."

UK: Draft guidance for police following death or serious injury angers officers' organisation

"If approved by the Home Secretary, all police forces in England and Wales will be obliged to make use of the guidance in the event of fatalities or serious injuries resulting from firearms operations, incidents in custody or other police contact."

UK-EU: BREXIT: Poland sees 100,000-200,000 Poles coming home after Brexit (Reuters, link):

"Between 100,000 and 200,000 Poles living in Britain may return home as a result of Britain leaving the European Union, a Polish government ministry said on Monday.

"The situation around Brexit combined with improvement in the socio-economic situation in Poland may mean that some Poles (an estimate of 100,000-200,000) presently living in Great Britain will decided to return," Poland's Development Ministry said in a reply to a question by a member of parliament.

Some 916,000 Poles live in the United Kingdom, according to 2015 data from Britain's Office for National Statistics."

UK: BBC dismayed at German 'BND spying on journalists' (BBC News, link):

"The BBC has voiced dismay over alleged German spying on foreign journalists, including some working for the BBC.

Germany's foreign intelligence service BND spied on media e-mails, faxes and phone calls, including more than a dozen BBC numbers in London and Afghanistan, Spiegel news reported.

The surveillance, which began in 1999, also extended to Reuters news agency and the New York Times, it is alleged.

"We are disappointed to hear these claims," a BBC spokesperson said."

And see: Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (Der Spiegel, link)

EU: Europol report on European Migrant Smuggling Centre's first year of operations

"The EMSC one year activity report, published today, details how almost 12 000 operational messages were submitted via Europol’s secure communication network SIENA, representing a 34% increase compared to 2015. The operational messages contained data on over 17 400 new suspected migrant smugglers and helped launch 2057 new international investigations. Nearly a quarter of these investigations were related to identity and/or document fraud, as investigators reported detecting 2589 identity documents that had been forged, counterfeit or reported as lost or stolen. In addition, 22 print shops or document forgery factories were identified and dismantled. The EMSC’s ‘list of vessels of interest’ has grown and currently includes information on over 500 vessels that have potentially been used by criminals to smuggle migrants."

See: Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre: One year on (press release, pdf) and the report: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Activity Report: First year (pdf):

"The EMSC was officially launched on 22 February 2016, during the 2nd Europol-Interpol Forum on Countering Migrant Smuggling Networks.

This report looks at the evolution of migrant smuggling and the development of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre in 2016."

EU-BELGIUM: Belgian Act on Passenger Name Records published (Lexology, link):

"On 25 January 2017, the Belgian Act on the processing of passenger name records (“PNR Act”) was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. The PNR Act implements three EU directives in the Belgian legal order: Directive 2016/681 on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, Directive 2010/65 on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States, and Directive 2004/82 on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data.

The PNR Act obliges carriers and travel operators in the different transport sectors to transmit their passenger data to a central database called the “Passenger Database”, so that these data can be analyzed in the framework of terrorism, violent radicalization, and other forms of serious crime. This will allow law enforcement agencies to determine new trends and phenomena and to assess which passengers could be a danger to the public order. Transport companies and travel operators risk fines of up to €600 000 if they do not comply with this obligation.

However, before the PNR Act can enter into force, some implementing measures have yet to be taken. For instance, a new service called the “Passengers Information Unit” has yet to be established within the Federal Public Service Internal Affairs. This Unit will be in charge of the Passenger Database and cooperate with the Passenger Information Units of other member states, with Europol, and with third countries."

And see: PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure (Statewatch News Online, 21 December 2016)

UK: A Grandmother Has Been Deported With Just £12 In Her Pocket Despite Living In Britain For The Past 30 Years (BuzzFeed, link):

"A grandmother who made headlines for being placed in immigration detention after living in Britain for nearly 30 years was forcibly removed from the country on Sunday.

BuzzFeed News revealed earlier this month that Irene Clennell, 53, was being held in Dungavel detention centre in South Lanarkshire because the government wanted to remove her to Singapore.

She is the main carer for her sick British husband, John, and has two British sons and a British granddaughter.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News from the plane on the runway at Edinburgh airport, she said she had just £12 in her pocket, nobody to stay with in Singapore, and no change of clothes.

Clennell had been planning to see a new lawyer on Monday morning to discuss the potential for a fresh case. She believes her sudden removal was planned for a Sunday so she would have no chance of getting hold of a lawyer to stop it."

See: UK: Foreign spouse income rules do not breach of human rights – Supreme Court (Migrants' Rights Network)

Interview: detention as the new migration management? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Certainly people fleeing Syria are in individual or personal crisis, oftentimes, and certainly people left behind in places of conflict or civil war are in crisis. But the states that are responding to migration are by and large not in crisis. These new immigration arrivals are largely manageable, and I think the solution is the way that migration has been managed for most of time immemorial. That is, legal pathways for people to enter a country, or to enter a country without prior permission, and to regulate their status after the fact.

This is something that has been done for centuries. It's only relatively recently, and I think it's important to note this, that we've turned to this really securitised approach of 'fix your status ahead of time or don't come at all'. I think that has real impact on things like right to asylum, the protection of children, victims of trafficking – it's really causing a fundamental breakdown in the way that the international protection regime is supposed to work."

Thousands of Romanians form EU flag at anti-government rally (Reuters, link):

"Thousands protested in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Sunday against the Social Democrat government that tried to weaken a crackdown on corruption earlier this month.

In early February, the cabinet of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu approved an emergency decree that would have decriminalised several graft offences.

The move drew criticism from Western allies and triggering nationwide protests that at their height drew at least half a million people onto the streets.

The ruling coalition rescinded the decree, which would have shielded dozens of public officials from prosecution, and on Wednesday it reshuffled the cabinet, hoping to draw a line under the matter.

While the numbers of protesters has fallen sharply since early February, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people gathered outside government headquarters on Sunday demanding the resignation of a government they say they cannot trust. Many were carrying pins that read "Resist"."

See also: Romanian anti-government protesters form EU flag at rally (Politico, link):

"In an interview with POLITICO last week, Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu praised the protesters. “I want to look at the good part of what happened: The civic part of our society reacted on this topic. It’s a very good thing for the country,” he said."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive, "Blue Card" Directive, EES and ETIAS

• QUALIFICATIONS: Proposed Regulation on qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection (LIMITE doc no: 5402-REV-1-17, 88 pages, pdf): Council developing its position with 144 Member State footnotes.

• "Legal migration"/Blue Card: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 5899-17,pdf) Council developing its position with 157 Member State footnotes. Modifications are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with strikethrough.

• Nearly agreed Council position on Entry/Exit System (EES): Draft mandate to open interinstitutional negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 6323-17, 154 pages, pdf): Major deletions of parts of Presidency compromises are
marked as (…).

• Issues within the Council concerning ETIAS:
Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 6324-17, pdf): Issues include:

"Defining the responsible Member State as the Member State of first entry would not lead to a fair distribution between Member States of the workload linked to the authorisation process. It is likely that Member States with large airports or with a land border with a third country would receive the highest number of applications....

One should consider what happens in practice in relation to applicants who need a visa to enter the EU: often, the actual Member State of first entry is not the one that was declared by the traveller in his application...

"Duration of the authorization: While some Member States are fine with the five-year duration of the authorization, others find this
validity period too long and have suggested shorter terms. Such suggestions have varied from single use to two years (the latter being the case of the US ESTA system)....

Considering that the main concerns by Member State relate to having only an assessment once in a 5-year period of time, would the possibility for additional re-assessment in case new alerts are introduced in the systems solve the Member States concerns (i.e. extend the re-assessment foreseen in Article 35(3) and (4) in case of new alerts in SIS and the ETIAS watchlist to other systems)?"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.2.17)

EU Council of the European Union: HLWG: Migration and GAMM report & European Council Draft Conclusions

High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 5657-17, pdf): Includes: Detailed Global Approach to Migration and Mobility: GAMM UPDATE: 19 January 2017 (pages: 4-29):

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

European Council (9 and 10 March 2017) - Draft guidelines for the conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5575-17, pdf): Includes:

"MIGRATION: On the basis of the report of the Maltese Prime Minister (see above), the European Council will take stock of the follow up to the guidance provided at the informal meeting in Malta on 3 February 2017, with a focus on operational measures. It will also encourage further efforts by the Council to rapidly deliver on all aspects of the EU's comprehensive migration policy
during the current Council Presidency."

"European Public Prosecutor's Office (draft conclusions): Following the referral by 17 Member States pursuant to Article 86(1), second subparagraph, TFEU of the draft Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, the European Council discussed the draft and noted that the condition set out at the beginning of Article 86(1), third subparagraph was met, thus opening the way to the possible establishment of enhanced cooperation on the basis of that draft."

UK: Police told to delete on request millions of images of innocent people (Guardian, link): "Home secretary says any ‘unconvicted persons’ can request that police delete their images from national database.

The home secretary has ordered police forces to delete on request millions of images of innocent people unlawfully retained on a searchable national police database.

A Home Office review published on Friday found that police forces make extensive use of more than 19 million pictures and video, known as custody images, of people they have arrested or questioned on the police national database.

Despite a high court ruling in 2012 that keeping images of innocent people was unlawful, police forces have quietly continued to build up a massive database without any of the controls or privacy safeguards that apply to police DNA and fingerprint databases.

The review, ordered by ministers in the wake of the high court ruling, found five years ago that more than 16 million images had been enrolled in the facial recognition gallery on the police national database making it possible to search them using facial recognition technology."

See: Home Office: Custody Image Review (pdf): "The total numbers of images stored by the forces that participated in this Review ranged from 26,816 in the smallest of the eight forces, to 7.8 million in the largest. "

Comment: Note you have to request removal of your image - ..It would be more impressive if they just deleted them all.

European Parliament Study: The European Union’s Policies on Counter-Terrorism Relevance, Coherence and Effectiveness (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, identifies (counter-) terrorism trends, threats and policies in the EU, focussing particularly on seven themes, including database access and interoperability, measures on border security, criminal justice and prevention of radicalisation."

DENMARK: New legal framework for predictive policing in Denmark (EDRI, link):

"After the terrorist attack in Copenhagen in February 2015, the Danish government presented an action plan to strengthen the data analysis capacity of the police and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET). The action plan, called “A Strong Guard against Terror”, specifically mentions monitoring of social media posts in order to discover possible terrorist attacks being planned."

See also: How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World (The Intercept. link)

The kingpin of Libya’s human trafficking mafia (TRTWorld, link):

"Al Bija is the biggest player in the coast guard “mafia” that has established a stranglehold on the lucrative human trafficking business in Zawiya and the surrounding coastal region. Nancy Porsia has this exclusive investigation for TRT World....

"The Europeans should have all these details after they have been gathering for months information at sea as part of Operation Sophia," the man explains, referring to EUNAVFOR Med's training programme for the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy."

The articles note the training now being given to the Libyan coast Guard under the auspices of the EUNAVFOR MED operation, point out that:

"Although this is coordinated with Tripoli, not Al Bijaâ's rogue Zawiya coast guard, the nature of the growing EU-Libyan collaboration is nonetheless raising some eyebrows in Libya.

"This agreement between the European Union and the Libyan Coast Guard is ridiculous. They are calling for the smugglers themselves to stem the trafficking," TRT World's source says. "All smugglers [west of Tripoli] pay Al Bija his stake."

Smugglers who don't pay a cut of their earnings to Al Bija find their boats intercepted by his "coast guard," who either take their engines and leave the refugee-laden boats stranded at sea, or bring them back to the Al Nasser Detention Centre in Zawiya, which belongs to Al Bija's Abu Hamyra tribe."

See also: EU-Libya: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch)

GERMANY: Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (Spiegel, link):

"Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, apparently spied on large numbers of foreign journalists overseas over the course of several years, including employees of the BBC, Reuters and the New York Times. Critics see a massive violation of press freedoms."

UK: London Internet Exchange members vote no to constitution tweak (The Register, link): "Peering peers reject proposed rules on keeping quiet about secret govt gagging orders."

The shame of asylum housing of child refugees in the UK (IRR News, link):

"John Grayson, a campaigner from South Yorkshire, examines the market in asylum housing in the UK."

Inside Europe - Protests in France over alleged police brutality (DW, link):

"There are new claims of police brutality in France targeting racial minorities. Along with calls for reforming policing, the controversy has also cast a spotlight on France’s gritty banlieues - the low-income, immigrant heavy suburbs, with their poverty, high unemployment and crime. Some reject that stereotype - as Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of Bobigny."

Situation of Polish journalists is ‘untenable’ (euractiv, link):

"NGO Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has called on the European Commission to defend press freedom in Poland, after the country fell 29 places in the RWB’s global ranking. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports."

UNHCR: Refugee situation:

EU: Seeking asylum: 884,461
Turkey: Registered refugees: 2,851,968
• Lebanon: Registred refugees: 1,011,366
Jordan: Registered refugees: 695,795 and Estimated: 1.3 million
Syria: Displaced: 6.3 million
Iraq: Registered: 223,224
Egypt: Registered: 116,013
North Africa: 29,275

The migrant slave trade is booming in Libya. Why is the world ignoring it? by Ross Kemp (Guardian, link):

"I’ve seen the dangerous route to Europe through Libya, with thousands of people at the mercy of cruelty for profit. But our leaders prefer to keep them there."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.2.17) including: Afghan returns policy built on false narrative; new Irish asylum procedure must allow for quality legal advice; and more.

EU: Germany proposes EU rules making migrant deportations easier (EurActiv, link):

"German officials have proposed that the European Union relax some human rights safeguards so that more asylum seekers can be deported while awaiting the outcome of their cases, according to a working paper seen by Reuters.

The paper is among many under discussion in Brussels as the EU, which has taken in more than 1.3 million migrants and refugees since the start of 2015, makes it tougher for them to get in and be allowed to stay.

The paper said the proposal would only kick in at times of a “mass influx” of people to the bloc. “This is another element in efforts to energise readmission of people to wherever they came from,” said one Brussels-based diplomat."

And see: Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions (Statewatch News Online): The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration" and Germany-France Letter (20 February, French, pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: Theresa May on the attack over Troubles' soldier cases (BBC News, link):

"The Prime Minister has attacked those she claims have made a business of dragging soldiers through the courts over incidents in Northern Ireland.

Theresa May told MPs the government will ensure any Stormont investigative bodies have a legal duty to be fair, balanced and proportionate.

The PM said it was essential the justice system reflects that 90% of killings in NI were by terrorists.

She said treating them more favourably than army or police would be wrong."

And see: Now even our legacy issues have legacy issues (The Detail, link)

Malware Lets a Drone Steal Data by Watching a Computer’s Blinking LED (Wired, link):

"A few hours after dark one evening earlier this month, a small quadcopter drone lifted off from the parking lot of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel. It soon trained its built-in camera on its target, a desktop computer’s tiny blinking light inside a third-floor office nearby. The pinpoint flickers, emitting from the LED hard drive indicator that lights up intermittently on practically every modern Windows machine, would hardly arouse the suspicions of anyone working in the office after hours. But in fact, that LED was silently winking out an optical stream of the computer’s secrets to the camera floating outside.

(...)

But the simplest countermeasure by far is simply to cover the computer’s LED itself. Once, a piece of tape over a laptop’s webcam was a sign of paranoia. Soon, a piece of tape obscuring a computer’s hard drive LED may be the real hallmark of someone who imagines a spy drone at every window."

EU: Afghan Returns Built on False Policy Narrative (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The idea that returning refugees will drive development in Afghanistan ignores reality, says researcher Marieke van Houte. She argues that the mass return of Afghans will further destabilize the country and drive a new exodus.

(...)

The economic, security and political challenges of the current transition period have set in motion a new episode of large-scale outward migration of Afghans. Instead of trying to manage and contain these migration flows, and treating the next large-scale arrival of Afghans as a “refugee crisis,” we should facilitate the resilience and ongoing determination of people to find a better life. If migration is to contribute to development and security, it should be facilitated rather than contained."

When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig (The New Yorker, link):

"I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”"

CROATIA-SAUDI ARABIA: Croatia Sells Record Number of Arms to Saudi Arabia in 2016 (OCCRP, link):

"Zagreb sold a record amount of aging weapons and ammunition to Saudi Arabia in 2016, ignoring evidence the arms are regularly being diverted to Syria.

Croatia has drastically increased its sales of decades-old arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia despite mounting evidence that the deliveries are being diverted to Syria in breach of European Union (EU) and international law."

EU: Ring of Pakistani migrant smugglers prosecuted (Europol press release, pdf):

"Law enforcement authorities of Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia, in strong cooperation with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, have dismantled an organised crime group that arranged smuggling of migrants from Hungary to Italy.

Coordinated investigations revealed that members of the smuggling network were Pakistani citizens who formed their criminal enterprise in Italy. More than 100 migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan were smuggled by them in the last couple of years, to destinations in Italy or Germany.

On each occasion between 20 and 36 migrants were transported, hidden in the cargo bays of minivans. The perpetrators rented their vehicles in either Italy or Hungary using fake documents. The illegal transportation was always secured by lead cars, which were also rental vehicles."

UK: Foreign spouse income rules do not breach of human rights – Supreme Court (Migrants' Rights Network, link):

"The Supreme Court has ruled today, 22 February, that the Family Migration Rules do not breach the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 8 concerning the right to family and private life.

But the court added that the Home Office’s rules and instructions failed to take full account of their legal duties in respect to the children involved or to allow alternative sources of funding to be considered.

So the ruling could give limited hope to some of the separate families with children but the four families who brought the appeal will not find out whether they can live together in Britain until their cases are reconsidered."

See also: Supreme court backs minimum income rule for non-European spouses (The Guardian, link)

And: Supreme Court: five cases on appeal: MM (Lebanon); Abdul Majid (Pakistan); Master AF; Shabana Javed (Pakistan); SS (Congo): judgment ([2017] UKSC 10, pdf) and press summary (pdf)

POLAND: Polish recruiting agencies illegally exchanging data: official (Radio Poland, link):

"Some Polish recruitment agencies are illegally exchanging personal data, creating “blacklists” of unwanted potential employees, Deputy Labour Minister Stanislaw Szwed has said.

“We have received information that recruitment agencies have created blacklists of people they … did not like during the recruitment process,” Szwed told Poland’s PAP news agency.

He said that the problem is one that is hard to investigate, adding that his ministry is considering different ways of preventing such activities.

Szwed also said he had received reports of some agencies discriminating against women."

UK: Young man deported for a murder he didn't even witness (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link):

"On Friday February 17, Edward Conteh was put on a plane at Gatwick and flown to Belgium, deported as a convicted killer.

Conteh, 23, maintains he is innocent, that he did not kill 16-year-old Nicholas Pearton in 2011. The courts agree - it was never suggested Conteh played any active role in the crime, yet he was convicted of manslaughter, imprisoned for years and deported.

“It doesn’t seem right for them to send me away for something I didn’t do,” he said.

Also 16 at the time, Conteh was convicted using a controversial law known as joint enterprise, which allows prosecutors to scoop up groups of suspects and prosecute them for the same crime."

See: JENGbA: Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (link): "We campaign on behalf of, and with, those wrongfully convicted. We're campaigning to reform legal abuse by Joint Enterprise."

IRELAND: Rush to implement new asylum procedure should not be at expense of quality legal advice and representation say Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) today called for clarification from the International Protection Office (IPO) on the consequences of not submitting a questionnaire within 20 days and for more resources to be provided for comprehensive legal representation for people in the asylum process.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said: “The requirement that people complete a 60 page questionnaire within 20 working days, even with an ‘if possible’ caveat, has created understandable alarm. Our Drop-In Centre and Law Centre have seen a considerable increase in requests for assistance since the new application packs were sent out.”

He continued, “We are asking that the IPO state publicly on their website that flexibility will be provided so that people can obtain legal advice and representation and receive assistance in completing the questionnaire.”"

See: Government warned asylum seekers 'in distress' after changes to application process (Irish Examiner, link)

EU: Home Affairs Commissioner speech after meeting with German Interior Minister

"This morning our discussions focused on the internal and external dimensions of migration, security and border management. We agreed that in the coming months we need to find more common ground for the reform of Dublin based on the principles of solidarity and fair responsibility-sharing among Member States.

The Dublin reform is part of our wider effort to develop an effective and comprehensive asylum system. And I hope that we will find an agreement swiftly on the reform, which will improve our procedures, guarantee refugee rights and avoid abuses.

We need to protect those who need protection, prevent irregular migration and return those who have no right to stay.

With Thomas, we are on the same line on all these issues. In this context, I have also informed the Minister of the Commission's intention to put forward next week an Action Plan on Return and a Recommendation to Member States on the efficient implementation of return procedures."

See: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos after his meeting with German Minister of the Interior de Maizère (pdf)

EU-POLAND: With Hungarian support, Poland defies EU over rule of law (EurActiv, link):

"Poland dismissed on Monday (20 February) demands that it implement judiciary reforms deemed essential by the European Commission to uphold the rule of law.

Poland risks being stripped of its voting rights in the 28-member bloc, but such a move requires unanimity, while Hungary said it would not support sanctions.

The European Commission has set the Polish government a late February deadline to implement measures to protect the powers of the Constitutional Court, after a series of new appointments and reforms appeared to weaken its independence."

And see: Rule of law concerns: case closed, says Polish FM (Radio Poland, link):

"Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Tuesday that he considers the issue of the state of the rule of law in Poland a “closed” case.

He was speaking a day after Warsaw said it had submitted a detailed response to European Commission recommendations issued amid concern in Brussels over sweeping legal changes introduced by Poland’s ruling conservatives."

UK-USA: British Muslim teacher taken off US-bound flight: I was treated like a criminal (The Guardian, link):

"A young British Muslim teacher escorted off a New York-bound flight by US officials in front of the school party he was helping lead has spoken of his concerns that he was targeted simply because of his religion.

Maths teacher Juhel Miah, 25, who was born in Birmingham and brought up in Swansea, said his treatment left him feeling humiliated. Both he and his school are demanding an explanation from the US authorities."

EU: Amnesty: "we cannot rely on government to protect our freedoms"

Amnesty International has published its annual report on human rights around the world, noting a "pervasive weakening of the rule of law and an erosion in the protection of fundamental rights" across Europe that has often been led by "anxious establishment parties" borrowing many of the policies favoured by new and resurgent "populist" parties.

The report states bluntly that: "We cannot rely on governments to protect our freedoms, and so we have to stand up ourselves. We have to come together and resist the roll back of long-established human rights. We must fight against the deceitful narrative that we have to trade of our rights in exchange for prosperity and security."

UK: Ukip MEP compared to Donald Trump after citing non-existent police statement on illegal immigration (The Independent, link):

"A Ukip MEP has been compared to Donald Trump after she cited a police statement to claim hundreds of illegal immigrants are arriving in the UK every week, only for the police force in question to say the statement does not appear to exist.

Jane Collins, Ukip’s Home Affairs spokeswoman, said during a speech to the party’s conference in Bolton that the “hundreds” of illegal immigrants were not being arrested when they are caught.

When later challenged about the claim, Ms Collins said her comment was a “direct quote” from Sussex Police.

However, a spokesman for the force told The Independent it had no records of this statement."

Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil (EUobserver, link):

"An internal report from the EU's border mission for Libya provides a bleak account of the country's misfortunes, casting a long shadow over EU aims to control its migration flows towards Italy.

The assessment broadly echoes statements made by the UN's Libya envoy, Martin Kobler, who told BBC Newshour over the weekend that efforts to deliver services to Libyans "is getting from bad to worse."

Kobler's comments follow the EU's announcement last month to channel some €200 million into Libya-centric migration and border projects throughout much of north Africa.

It is not yet clear how much of that budget will go to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

An European Commission official said on Monday (20 February) that they are still in the "identification phase"."

See: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, 17 February 2017)

SPAIN-MOROCCO: More than 300 people climb the fence into Ceuta, eleven taken to hospital

Just days after some 500 people clambered over the razor-wire-topped fences seperating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Moroccan territory, another 300 people reached Spanish soil by climbing the fence early in the morning of 20 February during heavy rain and high winds, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Diario. Eleven people were taken to hospital, three with fractures and eight with other injuries.

HUNGARY: Atlatszo.hu sued government for withholding corruption investigation records (Atlatszo.hu, link):

"Hungary’s government is happy to rely on a recently completed OLAF report exposing the questionable practices in the construction of the M4, Budapest’s fourth metro line. Since the objections raised are mainly targeted at the political sides preceding the current power in office, the state started leaking portions of the document to friendly media. However, when we filed a request for the release of the entire document we were rejected. Atlatszo.hu has consequently sued the Prime Minster’s Office, we are hopeful that the result will pave the way for the general public’s access to OLAF studies. After we filed our lawsuit, the government suddenly released the full document."

EU: Declassified Council reports on cybercrime (Greece, Slovenia) and financial crime (Malta)

The Council of the EU has recently declassified a number of reports setting out the findings of evaluations on "the practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime" in the Greece and Slovenia; and "financial crime and financial investigations" in Malta.

USA: Boom foreseen in surveillance technology for private prison and detention companies

"Cristina remembers the first time her ankle monitor talked at her. It spoke in Spanish.

From the surveillance device affixed to her ankle with a rubber medical grade strap came a man’s voice. “The monitor said, ‘you need to report to the ICE official,’” she tells Inverse through a translator, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “I called the ICE office and said, ‘I’m in court, they scheduled two meetings for the same time.’”

Cristina, who asked to have her last name withheld, was in the middle of an immigration hearing in San Antonio, Texas during this unsettling episode, back in May 2016.

...If her story sounds unbelievable, it shouldn’t. The official website for BI Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of private prison company Geo Group, advertises a GPS monitoring device that allows officers to “send pre-recorded voice messages to offenders through the tracking unit, useful for appointment reminders or to notify an offender upon entering a forbidden zone.”"

See: This Low-Tech Device Is Primed for a Comeback (Inverse, link)

EU: IP addresses: Industry lawyers trying to undermine Internet privacy (Daten-Speicherung.de, link):

"In Breyer vs. Germany (Case C-582/14) the European Court of Justice concluded that the IP address used when browsing the Internet come under the protection of the data protection directive if there are legal means for operators of online services to have offenders prosecuted using their IP address. In consequence Internet content providers such as Google or Facebook may retain an IP address only if they have a legitimate interest in it outweighing the user’s right to privacy. In my opinion there is a prevailing interest in using online media anonymously and without tracking, meaning that a blanket retention of all users IP addresses is illegal (this question is yet to be decided).

Industry lawyers from White&Case are now trying to find a loophole: In an essay they argue that the General Data Protection Regulation sets a different standard when saying:

'To determine whether a natural person is identifiable, account should be taken of all the means reasonably likely to be used, such as singling out, either by the controller or by another person to identify the natural person directly or indirectly.'

They argue that is is unlikely that a random user’s IP address would ever be identified. But this argument is completely misleading."

UK: Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership challenge (BBC News, link):

"A heterosexual couple have lost their Court of Appeal battle to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, from London, challenged a ruling that said they did not meet the legal requirement of being the same sex.

The judges said there was a potential breach of their human rights, but the government should have more time to decide the future of civil partnership."

UK Govt spends £¾ million on torture cover-up attempt (Reprieve, link):

"The British Government has spent £744,000 in its attempts to ensure a case involving the kidnap and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife is never heard in court, documents obtained by Reprieve show – even though the victims have offered to drop the claim in return for an apology."

And see: MI6 chief’s role in abduction of Gaddafi foe Belhaj set to be revealed (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s role in the seizure and alleged torture of a Libyan opponent of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi looks set to be exposed after a court decision that will set alarm bells ringing in the intelligence services.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.2.17)

EU: Council of the European Union targets Greece and Italy's failure to implement the Schengen acquis and control-return refugee arrivals

Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (EU doc no: 6354-17, pdf

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6365-17, pdf)

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the common visa policy (6352-17, pdf):

• Italy: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (6538-17, pdf)

• Italy: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6357-17, pdf)

How E.U.'s Migration Policy Enables Migrant Smuggling (Real News, link): Interview:

Statewatch's Chris Jones says the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency is less concerned with human rights and far more preoccupied with border control, surveillance and the interception of migrants.

NGOs Joint Statement: Asylum down the drain - Intolerable pressure on Tunisia (pdf):

"Brussels, 21 February 2017 - Lately, Tunisian authorities have been the target of intolerable pressure by Germany and Italy. Within a week, they have been forced to clarify their opposition to the German as well as to the Italian authorities which were allegedly planning to send migrants and refugees back to Tunisia. Domestic security issues appear as a cornerstone in the cooperation framework imposed to Tunisia albeit being attached to a domain which is clearly distinct from it: the right of asylum.

Pushing for the disembarkation in Tunisia of people intercepted by the Italian coast-guards in exchange for support in counter-terrorism policies, as suggested in an Italian press article, would be in blatant breach of the EU’s as well as Italy's legal obligations. The latter was actually already condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 for pushing back refugees to Libya and thus for resorting to the exact same practices. In so

EXCLUSIVE: UK “voluntary” returns – refugee coercion and NGO complicity (IRIN, link):

"An IRIN investigation finds evidence the Home Office is using outside NGOs to pressure asylum seekers.

The UK Home Office is accelerating its drive for “illegal” migrants and those refused asylum to return home voluntarily – a tactic publicised as more cost-effective and “humane” than forced returns. But how “voluntary” are these returns really? And how have NGOs become complicit in this strategy?"

Malta anger over plans for web crackdown (euobserver, link):

"A draft bill which aims to regulate online news in Malta has worried opposition politicians and added a motive for several thousands of Maltese to take to the streets on Sunday (19 February).

A protest organised by opposition centre-right Nationalist Party was against the government's handling of the Panama Papers scandal, but also against a proposed legislation which opposition leader Simon Busuttil said would be “the beginning of the end of freedom of expression on the internet”.

The draft bill, proposed last week, would update Malta's defamation and libel laws. But its broad definitions have given rise to fear that ordinary citizens would be required to register before being able to express their views online."

Turkey: Statement: BHRC trial observers call on Turkish authorities to ensure the fair trial rights of Taraf journalists (British Human Rights Committee of England and Wales):

"BHRC continues to express grave concern about potential violations of international human rights law, following the second hearing in Istanbul in the ongoing trial of five former journalists from the daily newspaper Taraf."

Robots and Brexit: Indicators of the EU’s future? (euractiv, link):

"Many British people voted to leave the EU because they felt like they had been abandoned by the European project. The Union cannot afford to let the same happen when it comes to robotisation, warns Nomi Byström."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.2.17): huge pro-refugee protest in Barcelona; Belgian politicians want to check asylum-seekers' phones; asylum seekers "in distress" in Ireland; and more.

EU-USA: MEPs reassert call for asylum for Edward Snowden following appointment of new CIA chief

At the end of January the US Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo the new as Director of the CIA. Pompeo has said that Edward Snowden should be executed for being a "traitor". His appointment as CIA Director led a group of four MEPs to ask the Council of the EU what steps it will take to "urge" Member States to meet with October 2015 demands from the parliament for Edward Snowden to be given international protection and protected from extradition or rendition "in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender."

SPAIN: Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of migrants and refugees

The organisers of a huge demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday 18 February have said it was the largest protest seen in Europe so far in support of migrants and refugees and estimated that half a million people attended. The police put the number of attendees far lower, at 160,000, but in either case it was the largest protest seen in the city since those against the Iraq war in 2003.

UK: Britain attempts to brand journalists as spies (Al Jazeera, link) by Jim Killock:

"British journalists could be treated as spies, and given up to 14 years in prison for handling state secrets, if proposals by the UK's Law Commission become law.

In 2015, the Commission, whose remit is to review and recommend reforms to UK legislation, was asked to examine laws relating to official data. Its recommendations, published last week, suggest the definition of the offence of espionage is changed so that it is "capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers information" (PDF).

It would also lift restrictions on who can commit espionage. They would no longer have to be employees of the state, but could include journalists, NGOs or whistle-blowers, who wouldn't be able to use a public interest defence to protect themselves.

We don't have to look further than the 2013 Snowden leaks to understand the implications of the proposed changes - in fact they can be seen as a direct attack on the newspaper that broke the story."

EU: New Asylum Information Database reports on France and Switzerland

Two new reports have been produced by the Asylum Information Database examining the situation in France and Switzerland.

For an overview see: New AIDA report: France and New AIDA report: Switzerland (ECRE, links)

The reports: France and Switerland (links to pdfs)

BELGIUM: Aliens’ Office Chief wants checks on migrants’ phones (Expatica, link):

"The Head of the Aliens’ Office (DVZ) Freddie Roosemont is in favour of measures that would see asylum seekers’ mobiles, smartphones, tablets and laptops be subject to screening for possible threats to national security.

Mr Roosemont was speaking during a session of the Parliamentary Investigative Commission into the terrorist attacks on the 22 March 2016.

Last summer the Federal Secretary of State Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) took a similar line after returning from a visit to Denmark.

"Between 60% and 70% of asylum seekers lie about their identity, whether it’s their name, their country of origin, their age, the route they took to get here or what they had done with their life prior to coming here. Indications can be found on a mobile phone or laptop that can help corroborate or dispel an asylum-seeker’s story”, Mr Francken said."

BELGIUM: Face recognition on new motorway cameras? (Expatica, link):

"New smart cameras that are being introduced on roads across Belgium in coming years will be able to do a lot more than just recognise number plates.

According to the weekly Knack the cameras will take photos of the entire vehicle and will be able to see who is in the vehicle. The tender drawn up by the federal police also calls for face recognition.

The federal government decided last year to introduce some 1,000 ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras along the motorways. The cameras are already in use at several border crossings and at the airports of Zaventem and Charleroi. Other airports are to follow soon. The cameras are intended to heighten road safety but will also be used in the fight against terrorism and organised crime."

BELGIUM: Draft Law Calls for Deporting Foreigners Born in Belgium (Morocco World News, link):

"On Thursday, a draft law against terrorism was adopted by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. One of its chapters is sparking controversy, as it provides for the possibility of deporting foreigners born in Belgium or arriving before the age of twelve.

Belgian newspaper, Le Soir, reported that the Chamber approved two bills on Thursday setting up a new framework for the deportation of foreigners who are legal Belgium residents. This bill, which worries a majority of the opposition, was issued by the Government for the sake of the protection of public order and national security."

And see: Belgium: Counter-terrorism Law Allows Deportation of Belgians & foreigners, Moroccans in Target (The North Africa Post, link)

EU-USA: Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence (pdf):

"Today I heard words which are promising for the future, words which explain a lot about the approach of the new administration in Washington. I repaid our guest by offering honesty in my assessment of the situation; I shared our concerns and hopes. Given that I am an incurably pro-American European who is fanatically devoted to transatlantic cooperation, I could afford to be outspoken even more.

I asked the Vice President directly if he shared my opinions on three key matters: the international order, security and the attitude of the new American administration towards the European Union...

...In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times "yes"! After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practise what they preach."

UK: One Day Without Us: National Day of Action (link)

"1 Day Without Us is a National Day of Action on 20th Feb 2017 to celebrate the contribution of migrants to the UK, to coincide with UN World Day of Social Justice.

For 24 hours, we are inviting migrants from inside and outside the European Union, and everyone who supports them, to celebrate the contribution that migrants make.

Some may choose to do this symbolically, by wearing badges and lanyards, posting selfies or pictures that show your support, or putting posters in their windows. Some may wish to have a communal meal or a party with the migrants they have known as friends, colleagues, workmates and neighbours. Workers may take a five-minute silence or a mini-rally at lunchtime or tea-time. There are also those who may wish to highlight migrant contributions to the UK in more direct ways.

There are many ways that you can take part in this day. Do what you feel able to do and what you feel is most appropriate to your situation.

Whatever your nationality and place of origin; wherever you live and work, join us and make February 20 a day of protest, solidarity and celebration."

UK: Judicial review and human rights challenge launched against HM Coroner's refusal to open an inquest into the death of David Clapson (Leigh Day, link):

"The sister of David Clapson, a 59-year-old ex-soldier who died in 2013 after he was ‘sanctioned’ by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has issued a judicial review and human rights claim in the High Court, challenging the refusal by the Senior Coroner for Hertfordshire to hold an inquest into her brother’s death.

Mr Clapson, an insulin dependent Diabetic, was found dead in his home on 20 July 2013. His benefits had been stopped by DWP staff who knew that he suffered from diabetes. It appears that at the time of his death David had been unable to pay for electricity as he had been rendered destitute by the sanction. His insulin could not be refrigerated due to the absence of electricity, and he had no food available to feed himself. In effect, Mr. Clapson starved to death and died because he could not feed himself or refrigerate his insulin without access to State benefits.
"

UK: Fractured Childhoods: The Separation of Families by Immigration Detention (Border Criminologies, link):

"Fighting an immigration case – with the power of the state against you – has never been simple. Yet successive government reforms have been directed at making that task even more challenging. The right to a family and private life is enshrined within the European Convention of Human Rights under Article 8. But UK governments have sought – with some success – to erode that right by imposing increasingly harsh – `hostile’, in the words of then Home Secretary Theresa May – conditions on immigrants. The removal of publicly-funded legal aid for deportation cases in 2012 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act has significantly affected foreign nationals fighting to maintain their family and private life in the UK.

...The ace in the government's hand, however, is access to justice. Much of the legal aid that was previously available for immigration cases has been cut. This means that few families facing separation because of deportation are able to access any legal advice or representation that would allow them to put forward their case."

UK: New Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation appointed (gov.uk, link):

"The Home Secretary has appointed Max Hill QC as the government’s new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Mr Hill has been a QC for 9 years and has extensive experience both defending and prosecuting complex cases involving terrorism, homicide, violent crime, high value fraud and corporate crime. He successfully prosecuted the 21/7 bombers, and appeared in the inquest into the 7/7 bombings. Mr Hill takes over the role from David Anderson QC, who has held the post since 2011."

POLAND: The Ever-expanding National Security State in Europe: the Case of Poland (FREE Group, link):

"Up to now, France is the only EU Member State to have formally declared a state of emergency on national security grounds for terrorism-related acts on the last couple of years. However, other Member States have passed laws in fast-track processes and engaged in operations in response to real or perceived security threats. A clear example comes from Austria and Hungary, which have recently invoked the threat of terrorism in the context of the refugee crisis with profoundly negative impact on the right to seek and enjoy asylum in Europe.

One of the countries which is currently attracting the attention of several NGOs working in the field of human rights protection is Poland. Several cases of human rights violations as well as dismantlement of the rule of law have been reported since the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc) party came to power in October 2015.

In June 2016, Poland enacted a new Counter-terrorism Law following a fast-track legislative process. This law consolidates sweeping powers in the hands of the Internal Security Agency (ISA) and, combined with other recent legislative amendments, it creates conditions for violations of the rights to liberty, privacy, fair trial, expression, peaceful assembly and non-discrimination."

AUSTRIA: Proposed surveillance package in Austria sparks resistance (EDRi, link):

"The Austrian coalition parties have renegotiated their government programme in January 2017. This new programme contains a so-called “security package” that encompasses the introduction of several new surveillance measures and additional powers for the Austrian security agencies. These changes in the law are to be implemented by June 2017.

However, so far no evaluation of already existing surveillance measures and investigatory powers has been carried out. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the new measures will bring about an increase in security, whereas they will severely limit fundamental right to privacy and dial back on existing data protection measures."

UK: Neo-Nazi pipe bomb teenager given rehabilitation order (BBC News, link):

"A neo-Nazi teenager who made a home-made pipe bomb has been sentenced to a three-year youth rehabilitation order.

The 17-year-old from Bradford, who cannot be named, was also ordered to receive intensive counselling from a deradicalisation expert.

The teenager had been convicted of making the pipe bomb at Leeds Crown Court in January.

During his trial it emerged he was a member of the "secretive neo-Nazi" group National Action.

The boy, who praised the killer of MP Jo Cox, was arrested after he put a photo of the pipe bomb online.

Last month he was found guilty of making explosives but acquitted of the preparation of terrorist acts."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Parliament: Safety net for democratic freedoms or sleepnet? (EDRi, link):

"Currently, Dutch parliament is doing everything they can to get a dragnet surveillance bill approved before the elections on 15 March 2017. If they succeed, soon the online communications of Dutch citizens can, on a massive scale, get caught up in the secret services’ dragnet. So what’s happened since the last time we reported to you on this subject?

In September 2016, Rob Bertholee, head of the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (AIVD) gave a notorious interview, in which he stated that he was fed up with discussions about privacy. A month later, and despite a serious backlash, Minister Ronald Plasterk decided to advance his plans to carry out bulk interception of innocent citizens’ communications: he sent the definitive dragnet bill for the new Intelligence and Security Services Act to the House of Representatives."

Privacy is Power - Why the fight for privacy matters (Standard Journal, link):

"But privacy isn’t just about you or me, and what immediate returns we may see on our investment. It’s about the future of power. Of ensuring a system of checks and balances between ourselves and our governments and other large entities. There is a reason the information we produce is so cherished by these entities, and they will fight till the end to make sure our information is in their control. And because these entities are already so much more powerful than the collective privacy conscious, self-doubt and defeat is a reoccurring event.

Battles may be lost, but never doubt the significance of this cause. A paranoia is in the air, like the paranoia of 1776. Don’t ignore it. Don’t believe it isn’t real. Don’t believe it’s not important.

You are creating a better future for the people of 2217."

Italy curtails appeal rights and expands rebranded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"On 10 February, the Italian Council of Ministers adopted a law that foresees the acceleration of asylum procedures and returns, following heavily criticised plans set out in the second half of 2016. The Decree Law is only provisionally binding until it is voted on in the Parliament.

The new law creates specialised immigration chambers to hear asylum appeals. These chambers are established in 14 courts (Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Catania, Catanzaro, Florence, Lecce, Milan, Palermo, Rome, Naples, Torino and Venice), and are competent to decide on asylum appeal cases under a single judge. The reform also limits the possibility to be heard in such appeals: asylum appeal procedures are to be accelerated, as a decision by the specialised chamber must be taken within four months instead of six, and the decision can no longer be appealed to the Court of Appeal."

NETHERLANDS: Far-right leader Geert Wilders calls Moroccan migrants ‘scum’ (The Guardian, link):

"The Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders sparked outrage on Saturday when he launched his election campaign with a stinging attack on the country’s Moroccan population. The anti-immigration MP called them “scum” and said he wanted to make the Netherlands “ours again”.

Wilders, 53, was surrounded by police and security guards when he made his remarks during a walkabout in his party’s stronghold of Spijkenisse, part of an ethnically diverse industrial area just south of Rotterdam.

“The Moroccan scum in Holland … once again not all are scum … but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe, mostly young people ... and that should change,” he told journalists as he attempted to take a stroll in a market."

EU-UK: BREXIT: An Independent Scotland and the EU: What Route to Membership? (European Futures, link):

"In the event of independence, how might Scotland pursue EU membership? Kirsty Hughes and Tobias Lock explore the principal options, arguing that ensuring Scotland’s continuity with EU laws and policy would ultimately be more important than attempting to secure a fast-tracked route to membership, which would be completed in any case after Brexit."

IRELAND: Government warned asylum seekers 'in distress' after changes to application process (Irish Examiner, link):

"The Government is being warned that hundreds of asylum seekers are facing extreme distress this weekend following changes to the application process.

They are struggling to complete a 60 page application form, with a deadline to submit it, and a shortage of legal advisers to help."

And see: Information note on the new single procedure process for international protection applicants (Irish Refugee Council, link)

BELGIUM-EU: ECJ to rule on humanitarian visas on March 7th (The Brussels Times, link):

"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule in the Belgian case regarding visas for a Syrian family on Tuesday March 7th.

...This is a high profile case, relating to a family of four who wish to seek asylum in Belgium by means of a humanitarian visa initally requested from the Belgian embassy in Beirut (in the Lebanon).

Theo Francken is refusing to issue the humanitarian visa, despite several court judgments on penalties in such cases. The CCE is requesting that the Court rule on how the Visa Code should be interpreted.

On February 7th, the Advocate General, Paolo Mengozzi, opposed the Secretary of State's reasoning. Mr Mengozzi maintains the following. Member states should issue a visa “when there are substantial grounds for believing that refusing it will risk those seeking international protection being subject to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.”"

See: ECJ press release: According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (pdf)

In a seperate but related story, four Member States (Austria, France, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) recently demanded that it be made clear, in negotiations with the European Parliament on the EU's Visa Code, that the EP's demands for humanitarian visas were a "red line" that the Council would not cross. The minutes record that: "The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP." See: Visa Working Party: Summary of discussions on 17 January 2017 (5668/17, pdf)

UK: MI6 chief’s role in abduction of Gaddafi foe Belhaj set to be revealed (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s role in the seizure and alleged torture of a Libyan opponent of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi looks set to be exposed after a court decision that will set alarm bells ringing in the intelligence services.

The high court has said that it will hear an application for a judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge MI6’s former counterterrorism director, Sir Mark Allen, over the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife who were transferred to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004.

The decision means Belhaj’s legal team can apply for confidential documents about MI6’s part in the rendition of Belhaj to be shown to the court, a move that could embarrass the CPS."

See: High Court to review CPS decision in Libyan renditions case (Reprieve, link):

"The CPS took two years to decide that it would not charge the lead suspect, ex-MI6 counter-terror director Sir Mark Allen, due to ‘insufficient evidence’. The CPS did however find that Sir Mark was involved in the renditions and had “sought political authority for some of his actions.”

The decision was taken despite London’s Metropolitan Police providing a file of over 28,000 pages of evidence. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has since confirmed that the Met sought “to demonstrate that the conduct of a British official amounted to misconduct in public office.”"

Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions

- The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration"

- Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex comments:

"the plan is that (implicitly) all those entering the EU would be removed to non-EU countries willing to host them, and kept there in conditions which minimally guarantee their survival

Overall, the drafters of this proposal have made no serious attempts to think through its feasibility; and while they make a show of support for human rights principles, their plan demonstrates an underlying contempt for them.".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.2.17)

Italian investigators probe private migrant aid boats off Libya (The Local.it, link):

"The fleet of privately-run aid vessels rescuing migrants off the Libyan coast and bringing them to Italy is "of interest" to Italian investigators, a Sicilian prosecutor told AFP on Friday.

Catania prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro said the boats were not currently suspected of illegal activity but had drawn attention for their sophisticated and expensive operations.

"There is no investigation in progress, for the simple reason that we do not have information any crimes have been committed," the prosecutor said, refuting Italian media reports saying a probe had been opened."

Greece: ATIMA: Press Release: Death of an administratively detained migrant (pdf, link):

"On the tragic occasion of the incident of an Algerian detainee who died at the Petrou Ralli detention center (Tavros Pre-removal Detention Center) on 5 February 2017, we would like to note that last October our organization released the report FORGOTTEN in which we presented the serious deficiencies of the system for administrative detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Greece and made specific recommendations to the competent authorities."

Germany bans doll for being 'hidden spying device' (The Local.de, link):

"German regulators have banned an internet-connected doll called "My Friend Cayla" that can chat with children, warning Friday that it was a de facto "hidden spying device".

Parents were urged to disable the interactive toy by the Federal Network Agency which enforces bans on surveillance devices.

"Items that conceal cameras or microphones and that are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit data without detection, compromise people's privacy," said its head, Jochen Homann."

European Parliament Research Service: Addressing migration in the European Union (92 pages, 7 MB, pdf): Includes:

Public expectations and EU policies - The issue of migration, Reform of the Dublin system, European Union Agency for Asylum, Recast Eurodac Regulation, Reception of asylum-seekers - recast directive, Common procedure for asylum, safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list, European Border and Coast Guard system and Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU: An overview:

"Over the past two years, the migratory pressure on the European Union's external borders has led to dealing with migration becoming its highest priority. After a peak in 2015, the number of irregular entries into the European Union dropped by more than half in the second quarter of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, mainly as a result of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. However, the number of asylum applications remains high, with more than 1.2 million asylum applications made in the EU Member States in 2016. Nonetheless, the EU and its Member States are adapting to the new reality."

Hundreds of migrants storm fence to enter Spain from Morocco (The Local.es, link):

"Hundreds of migrants smashed their way into Spain's North African territory of Ceuta from Morocco early Friday and some were injured doing so, the emergency services and police said.

"The Civil Guard at Ceuta estimates that 500 people could have succeeded in entering the town," the emergency services said on Twitter."

Greece-Turkey: NATO's Aegean patrols to continue (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Patrols by the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) in the Aegean to stem the flow of migrants into Europe will continue despite objections by Turkey, defense ministers agreed Thursday at a NATO summit in Brussels.

“The prevention of refugee flows with NATO ships will continue as long as there are prospective illegal migrants or refugees on the other side of the Aegean,” said Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos."

EU-USA: Trump’s clash with U.S. spy agencies spooks intelligence allies abroad (Washington Post, link):

"European and Middle Eastern agencies that have information-sharing relationships with the U.S., already wary of the Trump team’s perceived closeness to Russian officials, are now watching with increased trepidation as a vicious fight boils over in Washington over intelligence leaks surrounding the Flynn case, current and former officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday.

“Our foreign partners are deeply alarmed and unsettled by what they’re seeing in Washington,” said one senior Republican national security source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

And see: United States asked Canada to help spy on candidates during 2012 French election: WikiLeaks (National Post. link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17-.2.17): Italy woos Libyan mayors; Tunisia to take intercepted migrants; secret EU report on Libyan state structures; French-Italian "migrant hunt" on trains, and more.

ITALY-LIBYA: Rome recruits desert mayors to stop flow of refugees from Libya (The Times, link):

"Italy has flown ten mayors from towns in southern Libya to Rome to persuade them to block tens of thousands of African migrants trying to travel to Europe.

The mayors were flown in on an unmarked aircraft for a secret summit with the interior minister, Marco Minniti. He outlined a plan to fund detention centres and boost patrols of Libya’s desert frontier, where traffickers bring sub-Saharan migrants into the country.

“The mayors overcame their tribal differences and offered their full collaboration with the deal — they even asked for its implementation to be accelerated,” an Italian government source said."

EU-TUNISIA: Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf

According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.

CYPRUS-UK: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus (CPT, link):

"A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out, for the first time, a visit to the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Akrotiri (Western Sovereign Base Area) and Dhekelia (Eastern Sovereign Base Area) on Cyprus from 9 to 11 February 2017.

The visit provided an opportunity to examine the treatment and safeguards in place for persons deprived of their liberty by the SBA Police and the British Forces Cyprus and to assess the conditions of detention and treatment of persons held in Dhekelia Prison. The CPT’s delegation also briefly assessed the situation and existing safeguards for migrants held within the SBA."

EU: New anti-terrorism powers passed by European Parliament

The European Parliament voted on Thursday 15 February to approve the controversial new Directive on combating terrorism, as well as amendments to the Schengen Borders Code that will mean all EU citizens now have to be checked against the Schengen Information System, Interpol's Lost and Stolen Travel Documents database, and "other relevant databases" whenever they enter or exit the Schengen area.

Workplace surveillance: Your Cubicle Has Ears—and Eyes, and a Brain (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Employers have long wanted to know how their workers spend their time. New office surveillance technology is now making the task far easier.

Bloomberg reports that an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks—anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving.

The raw data is just the beginning. New Scientist recently reported that a startup called StatusToday uses software to crunch information on everything from key card swipes to what applications people are using on their computers to understand how employees—and the business as a whole—operate."

NATO: Juncker calls on Europe to reject the US ultimatum on defense expenditure (New Europe, link):

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to US Defense Secretary’s ultimatum on Thursday by calling on Europe not to increase military expenditure.

Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference, the President of the European Commission reacted to the ultimatum presented by US Defense Secretary Mattis on Wednesday, who called for more military spending.

“It has been the American message for many, many years {to increase expenditure}. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said, noting that Germany would not have a budget surplus if Berlin did reach 2% military expenditure.

President Juncker stated that foreign aid should be seen as part of the security spending equation, specifying that “if you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different.”"

See also: Defense Secretary Mattis Tells NATO Allies to Spend More, or Else (New York Times, link) and: Military spending by NATO members (The Economist, link): "Does America contribute more than its fair share?"

UK: Metropolitan Police seek to limit scope of Undercover Police Inquiry

"Scotland Yard is pressing to change the scope of a judge-led public inquiry which is examining the controversial activities of undercover officers who infiltrated hundreds of political groups.

Lord Justice Pitchford, the senior judge heading the inquiry, wants to ask for evidence from all the undercover officers who are still alive, as he is not confident that all the documents relating to their covert operations still exist.

But the Metropolitan Police is arguing that the inquiry may not need to examine the conduct of every undercover officer in great detail."

See: Met presses undercover police inquiry to examine fewer officers (The Guardian, link); see also: Police Try To Water Down Spying Probe (Morning Star, link)

See: Undercover Policing Inquiry (Pitchford Inquiry) documentation: Application for an extension of time by the Metropolitan Police Service (pdf) and PRESS NOTICE: Inquiry Announces Hearing 5 April 2017 (pdf)

UK-GERMANY: Tasers: black and mixed-race Londoners disproportionately targeted; Berlin police to be armed with electroshock weapons

"Black and mixed-race people in London have been on the receiving end of more than 40% of police Taser use since 2014, despite accounting for less than one in six of the capital’s residents, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures obtained by a freedom of information (FoI) request show police are disproportionately targeting people of black or mixed white and black ethnicity with the electric stun guns, raising fresh concerns of racism in the force.

Between January 2014 and September 2016, 1,530 of a total of 3,815 cases – 40.1% – where police drew, aimed or fired Tasers involved people of black or mixed white and black ethnicities. According to the 2011 census, people from those groups comprise 15.6% of London’s population."

See: Black and mixed race people in London more likely to be Tasered (The Guardian, link)

And: Berlin police introduces electroshock weapons for patrolling officers (Mattias Monroy, link):

"In the future, Berlin police officers will carry taser guns when patrolling the districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg. After a test phase of three years, these weapons could be introduced across the board."

See also: UK: More powerful two-shot TASER set to be handed to Cambridgeshire police (Cambridge News, link)

ITALY-FRANCE: "Migrant hunt" on trains between Italy and France violates the law and human rights

What is legal in the push-backs carried out directly on trains by French police? "Basically nothing," says ASGI lawyer Anna Brambilla, who has long been following the situation at the French-Italian border: "The problem is a very complex one, and there are many violations."

EU: Half of former EU commissioners now work as lobbyists (European Post, link):

"A recent Transparency International report shows that 50% of former EU commissioners are currently working for lobbying companies.José Manuel Barroso left the Commission to work as chairman of Goldman Sachs, a few months ago, provoking widespread criticism.

About 30% of former MEPs switched their main working activity from politics to lobbying."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Hundreds of people reach Spain over razor wire-topped fences in Ceuta

The NGO Caminando Fronteras has said that there were "numerous injuries" during attempts starting at five o'clock this morning (17 February 2017) by hundreds of people to climb over the razor-wire topped barriers in Ceuta that seperate Spanish from Moroccan territory, with one person reportedly left unconscious after falling from the fence back onto the Moroccan side and others injured by climbing the fence or by Moroccan police attempts to prevent people from climbing. The Red Cross is apparently attending to some 400 people and the emergency services have been called to the scene. It is considered that some 500 people made it onto Spanish territory.

See: Cerca de 500 personas saltan la valla de Ceuta por la frontera del Tarajal (El Diario, link)

EU: Diagram of databases and information exchange networks for justice and home affairs

As negotiations on new databases and information systems continue - for example the Entry/Exit System and the European System for Travel Authorisation - and as the Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' discusses the interconnection of existing systems, "the General Secretariat of the Council has made an attempt to map the existing (and some future) information exchange instruments, networks and databases in the JHA field."

See: Overview of the information exchange environment in the justice and home affairs area (6253/17 pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Problems loom in Article 50 negotiations over Northern Ireland and Scotland

"Brexit is the most "dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition", the leader of the SDLP has warned.

Colum Eastwood told a UTV pre-election debate that any attempts to introduce a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be "economically and politically damaging"."

See: Brexit the most dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition, says Colum Eastwood (Belfast Telegraph, link)

And:

"BRUSSELS is ready to do a separate Brexit deal with Scotland, according to leaked European Parliament negotiating documents.

In a confidential report, seen by The National, senior EU figures say they’re ready to explore how to make the Scottish Government’s proposals for a differential Norwegian style post-Brexit model work.

The only stumbling block for Scotland’s future relationship with Europe is Prime Minister Theresa May."

See: Europe is willing to consider a special deal to keep Scotland in the single market, leaked report shows (The National, link)

USA: I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you. (freeCodeCamp, link) by Quincy Larson:

"A few months ago I wrote about how you can encrypt your entire life in less than an hour. Well, all the security in the world can’t save you if someone has physical possession of your phone or laptop, and can intimidate you into giving up your password.

And a few weeks ago, that’s precisely what happened to a US citizen returning home from abroad.

...What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life."

EU: Meijers Committee: requirements for meaningful democratic scrutiny of Europol

Europol's new legal basis (Regulation 2016/794) will come into force on 1 May 2017. A new note from the Meijers Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law examines some requirements for meaningful and effective parliamentary scrutiny of Europol, required under Article 51 of the new Regulation.

"The implementation of Article 51 into practice is currently debated, e.g. in the interparliamentary committee of the European Parliament and national parliaments.1 As specified by Article 51 (1) of the Europol regulation, the organisation and the rules of procedure of the JPSG [Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group] shall be determined.

The Meijers Committee wishes to engage in this debate and makes, in this note, recommendations on the organisation and rules of procedure."

See: Meijers Committee: Note on the interparliamentary scrutiny of Europol (pdf)

UK: Large or Small, Why Protests Still Matter (Netpol, link)

"...whether future protests are large or small, symbolic or more confrontational, it is essential we collectively reassert that the police have no absolutely business making what are always political judgments about their legitimacy.

That is why we are calling for an end to the labelling of political dissent as ‘domestic extremism’. This highly politicised vilification of campaigners, one that the police and the government have found impossible to legally define, is used simply to provide a justification for targeting a particular cause for increased surveillance.

Even if protesting is temporarily disruptive, or if organisers fail to provide advance notice, or if it leads to arrests, it is still a fundamental right, one that has been instrumental to every significant example of political progress and social change anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, all those who label protesters as ‘extremists’ have found themselves, almost always, on entirely the wrong side of history."

EU-LIBYA: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state

With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".

See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

Press release: EU border agency targeted "isolated or mistreated" individuals for questioning

Statewatch press release, 16 February 2017. Also available as a pdf

Guidelines produced for border guards participating in an EU joint operation instruct the targeting of "migrants from minority ethnic groups, and individuals who may have been isolated or mistreated during their journey, as such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences."

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Referendums on EU matters (pdf):

"It argues that we have entered a period of increasing political uncertainty with regard to the European project and that this new political configuration will both affect and be affected by the politics of EU-related referendums. Such referendums have long been a risky endeavour and this has been accentuated in the wake of the Great Recession with its negative ramifications for public opinion in the European Union."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Priorities for providing advice in 2017: The implementation of our advisory role to the EU legislator (pdf):

"We have identified three areas of strategic importance for this year:

• Ensuring the protection of confidentiality and privacy in electronic communications, in particular in the context of the ongoing review of the ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC

• Contributing to a Security Union and stronger borders based on respect for fundamental rights, including the proposals on ETIAS, the revision of SISII and ECRIS, as well as the issue of interoperability between these systems.

• Towards a new legal framework for the EDPS: the proposal for a new Regulation on data protection EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies."

And see: Annex (pdf)

Amnesty International: EU-Turkey "deal": A Blueprint for despair: Human Rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal (pdf):

"The dramatic scenes that saw a million refugees and migrants cross the continent prompted a backlash that continues to echo resoundingly, prompting a raft of measures increasingly focused on blocking future arrivals. Solidarity between EU member states and solidarity with a record global number of refugees has been in short supply."

European Parliament debates on binding anti-terrorism measures (New Europe, link):

"The proposals have already taken the national ministers approval the European Council’s trilogue procedure and await their final ratification by the European legislators."

See Statewatch: Directive on combating terrorism (link)

EU border agency expects same number of migrants via Libya this year as last (Reuters Africa, link):

"The European Union should expect as many migrants crossing from Libya this year as last, when a record number disembarked in Italy, the head of the bloc's border agency said on Wednesday.

Some 1.6 million refugees and migrants reached the bloc by crossing the Mediterranean in 2014-2016 and the main route now leads from the shores of the lawless Libya to Italy."

Migrants head to Switzerland amid Austria border crackdown (euobserver, link):

"Switzerland is turning into a transit country for migrants heading north as EU states impose internal border checks to stem their flows, according to Frontex, the EU border and coast guard agency.

African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya are avoiding Austria and are instead entering Switzerland in the hope of reaching northern EU states, Frontex said in a report on Wednesday (15 February)."

And see: Frontex: Annual Risk Report 2017 (10 MB, pdf)

Video shows Libyan coastguard whipping rescued migrants (The Times, link):

"Libyan coastguard officers have been accused of regularly whipping and beating the migrants they rescue, and threatening even to kill them — and the claims are backed up by video footage shown to The Times.

It shows heavily armed men in military fatigues repeatedly assaulting the migrants they have fished out of the Mediterranean near Sabratha, west Libya. Dozens of sub-Saharan Africans, including women and children, can be seen cowering in the flimsy boats they set sail in as they are lashed with plastic pipes, kicked in the face and screamed at."

EU: Frontex wants "human intelligence" sources, Europol wants "integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches"

EU agencies Frontex (dealing with border control and returns) and Europol (dealing with police cooperation) have published documents setting out their plans for the coming years. The Frontex 'Programming Document' covers the period 2018-20 and includes a proposal to develop "human intelligence" (HUMINT) sources; Europol's equivalent covers 2017-19, including the agency's work programme for 2017, and states an intention to "deliver feasibility analysis on a concept of integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches."

Hungary hits snags with squad to stop migrants (BBC News, link):

"A new police unit in Hungary, launched to reinforce patrols along the 175km (110-mile) border fence with Serbia, is struggling to find suitable candidates despite a massive recruitment drive.

Many fail the psychology test, one of several designed to weed out inappropriate applicants.

Several YouTube videos with a recruitment theme have disabled all comments. Where comments are still possible, one failed applicant complained that visible tattoos were a criterion for rejection.

Xenophobia is at record levels in Hungary, after two years of anti-migrant rhetoric from the conservative Fidesz government.

Work is continuing on a second, electronic fence parallel to the first, designed to prevent illegal entry. Hungary now accepts only 10 applicants for asylum a day from Serbia, where up to 7,000 asylum seekers are waiting for the chance to move on to western Europe."

Council of Europe: Anti-torture committee visits Cyprus and Albania

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has recently concluded visits to Cyprus and Albania (Council of Europe, links).

EU: The time has come to complain about the Terrorism Directive (EDRi, link):

"Nearly a year has passed since we told that you’d be now complaining about the Terrorism Directive. On 16 February, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on the draft Terrorism Directive. EU policy-makers have meaningfully addressed only very few of the concerns that EDRi and other NGOs have raised since the beginning of the EU legislative process."

And see: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms (Statewatch News Online)

UK: Police pay out at least £22m to informants in five years (BBC News, link):

"Police forces across the UK paid out at least £22m to informants over the last five years, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live.

The Met, the largest force, topped the list, spending £5.2m from 2011-16, the data showed.

One critic said it did not stop the "cycle of crime", however, the National Police Chiefs' Council said it was "a cost effective tactic".

A Home Office spokesman said it was "an operational matter for police".

Informants can get anything from a few pounds for basic information, up to several thousand pounds for helping break up organised crime."

UK: Hate crimes rise by up to 100 per cent across England and Wales, figures reveal (The Independent, link):

"The number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces rose by up to 100 per cent in the months following the Brexit vote, new figures show.

Dorset saw the greatest increase, with the 104 offences logged between July and September 2016 equating to double the total from April to June. Across England and Wales the rise was 27 per cent.

In total, 10 force areas saw rises of 50 per cent or more. Below we publish the full list."

IRELAND: Access to a lawyer: is Ireland turning back the clock? (Fair Trials, link):

"For the last three years, suspects detained by the Gardai (Irish police) for questioning about an offence have enjoyed the entitlement, or so it seemed, to have their solicitor present at all times during their interrogation. This stemmed from the seemingly inexorable tide of European, and UK, cases, in particular those of Salduz and Cadder, and an apparent concession by the Irish state that the presence of a lawyer during questioning was an international best practice norm, even if, as a matter of Irish law, the opposite was the position.

(...)

However on January 18th 2017, a potential bombshell landed. In the case of DPP v Barry Doyle, an appeal against conviction for murder, the Supreme Court, in the person of Judge Charleton with support from Chief Justice Denham, ruled clearly that suspects are not entitled to representation during interviews... His judgement is clear and unambiguous, and has been met with a stunned silence from the authorities. So far, there has been no recorded instance of a suspect being refused the presence of his solicitor despite this clear expression of the law."

See: the judgment: The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions) v Barry Doyle (Appeal No. 40/2015, pdf):

"17. The constitutional right is a right of access to a lawyer. The right is one of access to a lawyer, not of the presence of a lawyer during an interview."

And: Supreme Court information note (pdf)

EU: Declassified Council reports on cybercrime (Czech Republic, Hungary Poland) and financial crime (Ireland)

The Council of the EU has recently declassified a number of reports setting out the findings of evaluations on "the practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime" in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland; and "financial crime and financial investigations" in Ireland.

UK: Zombies At The Royal Wedding? Protester Arrests And The Right To Liberty (RightsInfo, link):

"On the day of the Royal Wedding in April 2011, police arrested several people in central London, some who were dressed as zombies.

The police thought they might try to disrupt the wedding causing a ‘breach of the peace’. However, after taking their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court the case was dismissed, the judges concluding that the police must be able to reasonably perform their duties.

(...)

The Supreme Court decided, in this case, to throw out the appeal. While they acknowledged people should be protected from arbitrary detention, they said this shouldn’t make it “impractical” for the police to do their job.

The judges added that police would be “severely hampered” if they couldn’t lawfully arrest and detain a person for a “relatively short time” (this means when the time is far too short to take anyone to court). The Court concluded that early release from detention for preventive purpose would not breach the right to liberty if the lawfulness of the detention could be challenged later and decided on by a court."

See: the judgment: R (on the application of Hicks and others) (Appellants) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Respondent) ([2017] UKSC 9, pdf) and Supreme Court press summary (pdf)

Background: Arrests, raids and wedding parades (Statewatch Journal, vol 21 no 2, April-June 2011)

Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf) by Vera Wriedt and Darius Reinhardt (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR):

Operation Hera is coordinated by the EU’s external border agency Frontex and aims to stop migration along the maritime route from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Frontex, the operation has been a success: the scale of unauthorised maritime crossings along this route was reduced from five-digit to three-digit numbers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) focused on Operation Hera, seeking to increase transparency about border enforcement operations and to reduce the agency’s unaccountability for human rights violations.

Frontex’s approach to transparency and accountability is evinced again in section 12.10 of the Handbook to the Operational Plan entitled "List of potential fundamental rights violations within Frontex activities". The whole section (including the headline) is completely redacted and could only be uncovered because the index lists the section. The argument that the publication of this section would affect public security seems particularly inappropriate in the context of human rights violations.

In conclusion, the partial concealment of border enforcement procedures underlines the inherent structural accountability and transparency deficits of Frontex specifically and EU agencies in general. Frontex redacted significant parts of the documents provided, including information on potential human rights violations. The provided documents do not give information on the methodologies of the operation in order to ascertain whether Frontex and the involved member states violate national, European and international human rights provisions.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.2.17)

EU-UK: Justice and Home Affairs after Brexit

European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): Briefing Note for the Committee: Contribution on the UK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) (pdf):

Overall the UK has already indicated in statements to the House of Commons and this Briefing says:

"The UK Government has already made it clear that strong security cooperation with the European Union will be one of its four overarching objectives in forthcoming negotiations3. In that respect, the area of Justice, Home Affairs will be a key component of both the withdrawal agreement and the future EU-UK relationship agreement."

Clingendael report: EU external migration policies misaligned with reality (ECRE, link):

"On the February 1, Dutch think tank Clingendael released a report on the relationship between irregular migration and conflict and stability in Mali, Niger and Libya. The report’s main finding is that current EU policies are misaligned with the reality of trans-Saharan migration.

The report argues that European external migration policies fail to take into account the diverse socio-political dynamics of intra-African migration. EU policies focus on stemming migration flows through securitised measures as a means to stop human smuggling. "

See also: The Niger-Libya corridor: Smugglers’ perspectives (pdf)

From Hotspots to Repatriation Centres: How Italy Gets tough on Immigration Policies (Linkedin, link):

"the latest plan presented by the newly appointed Italian Minister of Interior seems to open a path towards the return to a fully operational reception system while restoring the confidence into the Schengen area. However, this strategy faces three major challenges in its implementation: redistributing migrants in every Italian region, strengthening international relations with key third countries and encouraging the externalization of border management through law-enforcement cooperation. Although the government promptly assured that the proposal to open a Repatriation Centre (hereinafter CPR) for every region is meant to simplify bureaucratic procedures and alleviate pressure on the overcrowded hotspot system, this burden-sharing mechanism among municipalities in proportion to its inhabitants has already sparked a heated debate."

Europol chief calls for more online powers for police (France 24, link):

"Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, sat down with FRANCE 24 in The Hague. He says that unfortunately there will "probably" be further terrorist attacks in Europe. He points out that a number of planned attacks have been stopped in time over the past two years and says the sharing of information between EU countries has improved "tenfold" since 2015.

The UK is one of the more active members in terms of sharing and participating in Europol actions. But it is set to leave the EU, which means it will no longer be a full member of Europol either. Europol does, however, have agreements with non-EU members, so Wainwright expects the UK to have "some kind of associate membership".

UK: No 10: Official Secrets Act proposals 'project of previous prime minister' - Downing Street vehemently denies claims it plans to outlaw investigative journalism and public interest whistleblowers (Guardian, link):

"As a row erupted over a Law Commission report which suggested that the maximum penalty of two years in prison for leaking official information might be too low when set against 14 years in comparable jurisdictions, Downing Street on Monday night vehemently denied that it was trying to stifle a free press.

“This is a consultation by an independent body instigated by a previous prime minister,” a No 10 source said. “It will never be our policy to restrict the freedom of investigative journalism or public service whistleblowing.”

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Counter-terrorism cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood (pdf):

"Since the EU adopted its Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005, it has focused on forging closer ties with third countries in the fight against terrorism. Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood in this field is particularly important. Every single country within this region is affected by terrorism to different degrees and terrorist attacks on European soil are increasingly linked with the Middle East and North Africa."

UK: The Guardian view on official secrets: new proposals threaten democracy - Editorial (Guardian, link):

"The Law Commission’s proposals appear tailored to stop the Guardian ever again publishing something like the Snowden files...

it proposes powers that would herald a new journalistic ice age. Anyone that published an intelligence- or foreign affairs-related story based on a leak would be open to criminal charges. Reporters, as well as the whistleblowers whose stories they tell, would be under threat of sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest and even if there were no likelihood of damage.

This all began in 2015, when the government asked the barrister Professor David Ormerod, the law commissioner for criminal law and evidence, to examine the protection of official data. The date is significant: the Guardian, together with other European and American newspapers, had recently published some of the huge volume of material leaked by Edward Snowden about surveillance techniques...."

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-13.2.17)

Hungary ‘welcomes’ German, Dutch, French, Italian refugees (New Europe, link):

"Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has jokingly welcomed West Europeans who feel persecuted by liberal agendas to seek asylum in his country.

During his annual state of the union address on February 10, the right-wing conservative politician said: “Naturally, we will take in the real refugees. The panicked German, Dutch, French and Italian politicians and journalists, Christians forced to leave their countries will find here the Europe they lost at home."

Vice-versa: Racial profiling in Germany (euractiv, link):

"Germany and the EU: How do they cooperate? Where do their approaches conflict and where are their interests aligned? Euractiv Germany’s new Vice-Versa series continues to take a look at one issue from both a European and federal government perspective.

On New Year’s Eve, police ranks were bolstered in the German city of Cologne and more than one hundred North African men were rounded up and checked, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2015 Cologne attacks.

Critics say this was nothing short of racial profiling and that people were targeted purely because of their ethnicity. German anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the European Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits any form of discrimination that is based on race or social background."

Austria should improve integrity rules in parliament and independence of the judiciary: anti-corruption report (Council of Europe, link):

"In spite of commendable progress that Austria has made in recent years in domestic anti-corruption policies, those for parliamentarians are still at an early stage. Rules are needed to manage conflicts of interest when they arise and a code of conduct should be put in place to improve poor public perceptions of elected officials, according to a new report by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)."

UK: Union Leaders Call for Hogan-Howe to Explain Shredding (COPS, link):

"We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.

Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith."

Satellite location boosts EU emergency services (euractiv, link): "The single European emergency number, 112, can now pinpoint the location of callers, thanks to technological advances funded by the European Union"

UK: Government accused of 'full-frontal attack' on whistleblowers (Guardian, link)

"Outcry follows plans to radically increase prison terms for revealing state secrets and to prosecute journalists...

Draft recommendations from the government’s legal advisers say the maximum prison sentence for leakers should be raised, potentially from two to 14 years, and the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive information, as well as passing it on."

Also: Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies (The Register, link)

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Registering ID to combat fraud: Commission Questionnaire on Issues related to Registration of Identity (Doc no: 5633-17, pdf):

"Delegations will find attached a questionnaire suggested by the services of the Commission on issues related to Registration of Identity in the context of the follow-up to the Commission's Communication on an Action Plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud (COM(2016) 790 final)."

And see: Commission Communication: COM 790-16 (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Vulnerable refugees in four measures & Humanitarian visas

Vulnerable refugees - redraft of clauses: Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 5939-17, pdf) With 68 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"In the framework of the theme "Guarantees for those with special needs", delegations will find attached modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to:

- Articles 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 32 of the Asylum Procedures Regulation;
- Articles 11, 17a (3), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Reception Conditions Directive;
- Articles 22 (4) and (5) and 36 of the Qualifications Regulations; and
- Article 8 of the Dublin Regulation.

The changes in the text are marked as follows: added text is marked in bold and underline and deleted text from the original Commission proposal is marked in bold and single strikethrough."

• Humanitarian visas: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee - Outcomes (LIMITE doc no: 5668-17, pdf): Including Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast):

"AT, supported by FR, SK and CZ, reported that the EP had not yet given up on the idea of the humanitarian visa and strongly invited the Presidency to make it clear during the negotiations with the EP that this was a red line for the Council. Therefore, as long as the humanitarian visa was included in the compromise amendments, they stressed that the Council would not be in a position to agree on anything.

The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP."

EU: Statewatch Briefing: EU-wide biometric databases, “soft targets”, cybersecurity and data protection: Commission’s fourth report on building the ‘Security Union (pdf) by Chris Jones:

At the end of January the European Commission issued its fourth report on "building an effective and genuine Security Union”, examining four topics: “information systems and interoperability, soft target protection, cyber threat and data protection in the context of criminal investigations." The report puts significant focus on the need for “interoperability” between EU and national-level information systems and databases, in order to enable EUwide biometric surveillance, one of the current favourite topics of EU security officials.

See:
European Commission, Fourth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2017) 41 final, 25 January 2017, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.17)

French enquiry finds ‘insufficient proof’ police raped young man with truncheon (France 24, link)

"An initial French police investigation has found insufficient evidence to support allegations that a 22-year-old black man was anally raped with a police truncheon, a police source said Thursday.

The outcome of the internal police inquiry emerged after violence flared in the northern suburbs of Paris and elsewhere in France following the incident involving the man identified only as Theo.

The youth worker required surgery for severe anal injuries after he was allegedly assaulted with a truncheon and also suffered head trauma in a case that has revived the contentious issue of policing in France's deprived suburbs.

The police's own investigation into last Thursday's incident in the gritty suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois has concluded that the injuries were not inflicted intentionally.

...However, an investigating magistrate has charged one of the police officers with rape and is still examining the case."

And see: Two jailed as riots follow alleged police rape (RFI, link): "A French court has jailed two young men for six months for their part in riots that have broken out in response to the alleged police rape of a young black man. The violence continued on Wednesday night."

EU: European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC): Irregular Migration via the Central Mediterranean (pdf):

"Between 2011 and 2016, some 630,000 irregular migrants and refugees1 reached Italy via the Central Mediterranean. Some were successfully smuggled across, while others were rescued at sea and disembarked in Italy. More than 13,000 lost their lives attempting the crossing, and many more died on their journey through the Sahara."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in external
border management when working in or together with third countries
(pdf):

"This guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in border management situations aims to support the EU and its Member States when implementing integrated border management measures with the assistance of third countries. It also intends to mitigate possible risks of being held accountable.

It is not comprehensive, and Member States have to comply with all applicable obligations both within as well as beyond the scope of these guidelines, including those set forth in international, European and national law."

Farmer given suspended €3,000 fine for helping migrants enter France - Cédric Herrou, an organic olive farmer who has become a local hero for providing shelter for Africans, convicted in Nice court (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer who became a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and providing them with shelter has been given a suspended €3,000 fine for aiding illegal arrivals.

Cédric Herrou’s trial in a court in Nice had become a focal point in the ongoing debate about refugees and migrants in France, and the French law against helping or sheltering them. The current Socialist government amended the law against assisting migrants, but it remains illegal to help them cross borders."

See also the campaign against the "solidarity offence": Delinquants Solidaires (link) and French farmer punished for helping migrants enter France from Italy (RFI, link)

UK: Mental health patient kept in Norfolk police cell for three days (Eastern Daily Press, link):

"A mental health patient was kept in a police cell for three days in King’s Lynn because no bed could be found for him.

A second person needing mental health treatment was detained at Aylsham police station for 36 hours as the region’s mental health service struggled to find a bed.

The two cases, both from January, raise further concerns about the number of psychiatric beds in Norfolk and Suffolk which have been cut by 136 - around a quarter - since 2012."

Germany to ‘speed up deportation’ of failed asylum seekers (euactiv, link):

"Germany, which has taken in over one million asylum seekers since 2015, on Thursday (9 February) announced plans to speed up the deportation of those denied refugee status – but controversy flared over sending people back to war-torn Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel – who faces a re-election bid in September amid voter backlash over the mass influx – won agreement from leaders of Germany’s 16 state governments on a repatriation plan, which she said would “quickly” be drafted as a proposed law....

Among the planned measures is the establishment of national “deportation centres” aimed at coordinating federal and state operations. Financial incentives will also be offered for those who return voluntarily under the plan."

Hungary ready to build another fence on southern border (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is ready to build a second line of fencing on its southern border to keep out migrants if the situation worsens this year or next, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff said on Thursday (9 February).

Hungary has been building fences since the beginning of the migration crisis in 2015. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees trekked through Hungary and Austria in 2015 as they sought to reach wealthy European nations."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.17)

UN: Special Rapporteur releases annual report - "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights" (link):

"UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai is pleased to announce the release of his mandate's third and final annual report, "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights."

The report tells the story of 2016 from the perspective of assembly and association rights and recaps the Special Rapporteur mandate's work during the year. The report also features Kiai's farewell letter, in which he reflects on his nearly six years in the mandate.

When the Human Rights Council created his mandate in 2010, Kiai writes, "the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights - known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century."

"And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War," he adds.""

European Parliament: Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers

A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

EU: Commission threatens to sue countries that don’t take refugees (euractiv, link):

"The EU warned today (8 February) that it will consider punishing member states next month if they fail to share the burden of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans criticised the bloc for having so far admitted only 12,000 of the 160,000 Syrian and other refugees required to be relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU countries by September this year.

He said Brussels still hoped “peer pressure” would convince recalcitrant countries, but that it would consider penalties if there had been no progress by the time its next report on the issue comes out in March.

“That is the right moment to consider other options if they are necessary,” Timmermans told a press conference. “The Commission might start infraction procedures and we will certainly consider that.”"

And see: The Brief: Commission bares teeth over refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"Today Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans threatened court action against countries that refuse to relocate refugees. The first infringement procedures, which could result in fines, may be launched as early as next month....

A good start might have been mentioning the soon-to-be-missed target in its press release, rather than all this talk of “encouraging progress”....

It could be a case of the Commission finally being willing to bite back only to find that its teeth are uselessly blunt."

Libyan authorities oppose EU migrant plans (euobserver, link):

"Local authorities in Libya's capital city Tripoli and elsewhere are mounting resistance to EU plans to stem migration flows towards Italy.

The move is likely to further complicate efforts after the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced a €200 million plan to finance migration projects geared towards Libya throughout much of north Africa.

A large bulk of the money is likely to be shuffled into border control and surveillance in the hope of containing people likely to attempt the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing in the upcoming months.

But Mostafa Al-Barooni, the mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, told this website on Wednesday (8 February) that Mogherini's proposals were unacceptable."

Balkan states to introduce more anti-migrant controls (euobserver, link):

"Over a dozen European interior ministers vowed to impose more measures to curtail migrants from using the Western Balkan routes in their efforts to seek better lives outside Greece.

Austrian-led efforts to shut down borders throughout the Western Balkans last year managed to cut the numbers of people reaching EU states further north.

But ministers on Wednesday (8 February) in Vienna said they would come up with additional plans in April as many still continue to travel through the former Yugoslav countries with help from smugglers.

"We're sending a signal to the traffickers with this conference that there will be no illegal migration to Europe," Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters."

EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? (IRIN News, link)

"The EU-funded crackdown on migration through Niger has been effective at dramatically reducing the number of people heading northwards to the North African coast, and then Europe. But what has it left behind?"

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: Commission: 9th report on relocation and resettlement

• Press release: Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to build on encouraging results (pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The past months have seen progress on both relocation and resettlement....

However, significantly increased commitment and delivery is still needed from other Member States, in particular those who still have not started to carry out relocations at all."

Comment: The targets for relocation within the EU were set in September 2015 and are still way off being met and only a minority of Member States are regularly taking part. Moreover the new monthly targets for relocation from Greece and Italy are not being met with refugees continue to arrive.

Ninth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 74-17, pdf)

• Annex 1: Greece (pdf)

• Annex 2: Italy (pdf)

• Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: No unanimity on the creation of the European Public Prosecuror's Office:

See: European Public Prosecutor Office : Council takes first step towards a possible enhanced cooperation (Press release, pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council registered the absence of unanimity in support of the proposal for a regulation creating a European Public Prosecutor's office (EPPO). This opens the way for a group of at least nine member states to refer the text for discussion to the European Council for a final attempt at securing consensus on the proposal. If this does not prove possible, enhanced cooperation can be considered.

"EPPO has been part of the Treaties since 2009. However, as the last six and a half years have shown its establishment has been elusive. I am positive that the Maltese presidency will achieve concrete results by continuing to act as an honest broker so that those member states who wish to launch enhanced cooperation do so under this presidency”, said Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice of Malta."
[emphasis added]

EU: Thirteen European nations meet about possible migration uptick (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The interior and defense ministers of 13 European nations are meeting in Vienna on ways to prepare for a possible uptick in migrant flows once winter is over.

Convened by Austria's interior and defense ministers, Wednesday's meeting includes counterparts from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Kosovo and Greece."

See also: Austrian defence minister seeks new alliance to protect borders (The Local.au, link): "Austria’s Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) has said he wants to forge a new military alliance and strengthen cooperation with countries along the so-called “Balkan route” to prevent migrants and refugees crossing Austria's border illegally. "

New stats on asylum homes torched in Sweden in 2016 (The Local.se, link):

" Police believe that almost 100 fires at housing centres for asylum seekers in Sweden last year were deliberate, Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports.

At least 112 blazes occurred at asylum accommodation centres, or planned accommodation centres, across Sweden in 2016, according to national police statistics. Of those, 20 fires turned out to be caused by accident or carelessness.

Police believe that 92 of the fires were started deliberately, 37 by residents in the homes. In two cases other suspects have been identified, but in 53 of the investigations the culprit is still unknown.

"We suspect that a large part of these 53 fires were started by third parties," Ola Stoltz, a senior officer within Sweden's national police organization Noa."

EU: Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) Opinion of Advocate-General: According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (pdf):

"It is irrelevant whether or not there are ties between the person concerned and the requested Member State."

Reporters' spy saga gives glimpse of UK surveillance culture (AP, link):

"British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance.

In the months that followed Breen's exclusive, investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The two were stunned when they eventually discovered the scale of the spying.

"It just never even crossed our minds," Breen said in a recent interview in the newsroom of The Northern Echo, in the English market town of Darlington. "I don't know if I was quite naive, but on a regional newspaper you don't expect your local police force to do this."

The Echo's editor, Andy Richardson, said his paper's brush with police spying carries a warning as surveillance laws stiffen up and down the continent ."

And see: Court rules that Cleveland Police acted unlawfully by using telecoms spying powers to find newspaper sources (Press Gazette, link):

"Surveillance court judges have today ruled that a police force’s use of spying powers on two former officers in a bid to find the source of information leaks to journalists was “unlawful”."

Investigatory Powers Tribunal: judgment: Case between (1) Mark Dias (2) Stephen Matthews and The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police ([2017] UKIPTrib15_586-CH, pdf):

"This complaint was brought by two former police officers in the Cleveland Police Force against the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police alleging that the acquisition of their communications data had been unlawful. The Tribunal determined that the applications for and approvals of the obtaining of communications data relating to the claimants were unlawful and must be quashed."

President Radev: Risk to European citizens unless Bulgaria given access to Schengen Information System (Sofia Globe, link):

"There is no way for Bulgaria to effectively protect Europe’s external borders unless it is given access to the Schengen Information System – and the country’s lack of access to the system increases the risk for all European citizens, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said during an official visit to Berlin."

FRANCE: Police officer ‘raped black youth with a truncheon as colleagues watched’ (Metro, link):

"Rioting has broken out in Paris after a police officer was charged with raping a young black man with his truncheon.

CCTV footage allegedly shows four officers attack him, one of them forcing his police truncheon into his anal passage after they stopped him in the street during an identity check.

The man, a 22-year-old youth worker, was so severely injured that he is still in hospital after undergoing an operation, his lawyer said."

See also: New protests after French police accused of baton rape (RFI, link) and: Paris suburb simmers after youth allegedly raped by police (France 24, link):

"A Paris suburb has been subjected to two nights of violence, including burned cars and fireworks aimed at police, following the alleged rape of a young man by police during a violent arrest on Thursday. "

Google to appeal against order to hand over foreign emails (Computer Weekly, link):

"UK firms urged to consider the risks of non-UK cloud service providers and to encrypt data in the light of another US warrant to access emails held by a US cloud services firm on non-US servers

Google reportedly plans to appeal against a court order to hand over to the FBI emails of Gmail users stored outside of the US, arguing that doing so will put the privacy of non-US citizens at risk.

In a similar case, the US Department of Justice is considering going to the Supreme Court after an appeals court refused to revisit its July 2016 landmark ruling blocking government access to emails stored on Microsoft servers in Ireland. "

Former Polish President Walesa did help secret police, experts say (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Experts in Poland say they have found proof that former Polish President Lech Walesa collaborated with the country's notorious Communist-era secret police (SB) in the 1970s. The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) released a forensic report on Tuesday containing agreements signed by Walesa to collaborate with the secret police.

Officials revealed they are certain that papers they received from the widow of a Communist-era interior minister prove that Walesa was a spy for the SB and worked under the code name "Bolek" from 1970 to 1976.

The IPN, which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi occupation and the communist era, stated Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement and receipts for payment from the secret police."

UK: MPs criticise £1bn ‘slush fund’ for foreign security forces (Reprieve, link):

"A senior Parliamentary Committee has heavily criticised the Government for failing to allow public scrutiny of a new £1bn fund used for UK security assistance overseas.

In a report published today, MPs on the Joint Security Committee said there was a “fundamental lack of transparency” surrounding the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which was “undermin[ing] the Government’s commitment to transparency.” They described the £1bn CSSF as a “slush fund” that has been used for “questionable” projects in Bahrain and elsewhere.

The report comes after human rights organisation Reprieve raised concerns over some assistance to foreign security forces who carry out abuses, such as torture and the death penalty."

See: Billion pound fund lacks political leadership and accountability (parliament.uk, link) and: Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy: Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.17)

Thousands of Roma Forced onto Streets of France in 2016 (ERRC, link):

"More than 10,000 Roma were subjected to forced evictions by French authorities last year, with over 6 in 10 Romani families experiencing forced eviction.

The annual report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de L’Homme shows that more than half of the recorded evictions took place without a court decision and in most cases, no adequate alternative accommodation was offered to those made homeless."

See: Report (link, pdf) and Report (French, link, pdf)

‘Trump’s Muslim ban is racist and illegal. The same could be said of UK charter flights’ (The Justice Gap, link):

"It is right to be outraged at Trump’s Muslim ban. It is vital we continue to respond with outrage to any attempt to normalise it. But in the UK we must also use this political moment to reject the xenophobic moral panic in our own public discourse and to direct outrage at the violence inflicted by our own immigration policies.

Charter flights – planes privately hired by the Home Office to carry out forcible mass deportations – are one of the most invisible incarnations of this violence. Departing from undisclosed locations, the only people on board are those being deported and the private, unaccountable security enforcement personnel ‘escorting’ them. Charter flights are designed to escape inconvenient public scrutiny (such as commercial passengers witnessing use of excessive force); and activists recently organised two weeks of action protesting their use."

Inquiry into undercover police actions in Northern Ireland moves step closer (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"An anti-globalisation activist has won the first stage of a High Court battle to have a major inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by undercover British police officers extended to cover their activities in Northern Ireland. "

See also: Undercover officers linked to two NI murders (ITV News, link)

Thousands of Roma Forced onto Streets of France in 2016 (ERRC, link):

"More than 10,000 Roma were subjected to forced evictions by French authorities last year, with over 6 in 10 Romani families experiencing forced eviction.

The annual report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de L’Homme shows that more than half of the recorded evictions took place without a court decision and in most cases, no adequate alternative accommodation was offered to those made homeless."

See: Report (link, pdf) and Report (French, link, pdf)

‘Trump’s Muslim ban is racist and illegal. The same could be said of UK charter flights’ (The Justice Gap, link):

"It is right to be outraged at Trump’s Muslim ban. It is vital we continue to respond with outrage to any attempt to normalise it. But in the UK we must also use this political moment to reject the xenophobic moral panic in our own public discourse and to direct outrage at the violence inflicted by our own immigration policies.

Charter flights – planes privately hired by the Home Office to carry out forcible mass deportations – are one of the most invisible incarnations of this violence. Departing from undisclosed locations, the only people on board are those being deported and the private, unaccountable security enforcement personnel ‘escorting’ them. Charter flights are designed to escape inconvenient public scrutiny (such as commercial passengers witnessing use of excessive force); and activists recently organised two weeks of action protesting their use."

Inquiry into undercover police actions in Northern Ireland moves step closer (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"An anti-globalisation activist has won the first stage of a High Court battle to have a major inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by undercover British police officers extended to cover their activities in Northern Ireland. "

See also: Undercover officers linked to two NI murders (ITV News, link)

The European travel document Yet another step to deport by all means (migreurop, link);

"Mid-way in the Valletta processes, and as African and European high officials are meeting in Malta on 8/9 February 2017, the European Union is crossing a step further in its attempts to limit mobility of migrants and imposes its rule on countries where most of migrants originate from through the use of the “European travel document”, a document adopted last October 2016 and almost unnoticed....

The European travel document (EUTD) marks yet another step in the EU’s strategy to externalise its migration policy for over twenty years. This travel document is issued exclusively by EU Member States and enables the deportation of a person without s/he has been identified by the “third” country h/she suspected of coming from, i.e. without the person being issued a consular travel document regardless of the person’s rights and of the principle of equality between sovereign states (guaranteed in the Vienna Convention).

Despite the strong opposition of African leaders against the European travel document as soon as November 2015, a position reasserted in early 2017 by civil society and the Malian government, the EUTD is already in use, irrespective of substantial shortcomings both in the format and in the content."

See also: Statement (pdf)

EU: Council: Schengen area: Council recommends prolongation of internal border controls (pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

Starting from 11 February 2017, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway should prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of three months at the following internal borders:

Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
Germany at the German-Austrian land border
Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."

EU: Court of Justice (CJEU): According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (Press release, pdf):

"It is irrelevant whether or not there are ties between the person concerned and the requested Member State."

Hungary submits plans to EU to detain all asylum seekers - Government spokesman says applicants would be held in ‘shelters’, and denies they would be ‘detention centres’ (Guardian, link):

"Hungary will submit proposals to the EU to protect Europe’s borders by automatically detaining any asylum seeker for the whole period of their asylum application, according to the government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács.

Kovács claimed Donald Trump’s election in the US was contributing to “a change of mood in Europe” that vindicated the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s tough position on migration, and said the recent EU summit in Malta marked a turning point in the EU’s attitude to migration in the Mediterranean.

At a briefing in London, he said anyone seeking asylum through Hungary would be kept in “shelters” for the whole period of their application, though they would be free to go back to their own country at any point."

German regions stop sending rejected asylum seekers back to Afghanistan (euractiv, link):

"More and more of Germany’s regions are halting the deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan, as the situation in the conflict-torn country worsens.

Six of Germany’s 16 Bundesländer have suspended deportations of failed asylum seekers to the Middle Eastern country, according to media reports.

An investigation by the Berliner Morgenpost revealed that authorities in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate have largely stopped sending people back to Afghanistan.

The newspaper cited a Senate of Bremen spokesperson who said that the body regards the situation in Afghanistan as unsafe. Accordingly, a total halt on repatriations is being considered at the moment."

Western Mediterranean countries plead for increased NATO presence (euractiv, link):

"Defence ministers from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called on NATO to increase its presence in their part of the world.

Spanish Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal said after a meeting of the so-called “Southern Quartet” in Porto yesterday (6 February) that their request for more NATO involvement is justified because “today, the risks facing Europe are different to those in years past and they originate from more sources”.

Cospedal added that “it is true that NATO traditionally does not have a strong presence in the south of Europe”, yet she and her three counterparts are still advocating more Alliance-involvement in their region, especially in the Mediterranean."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.2.17): new reports on asylum in Serbia and Hungary; Italy-Libya agreement in English; latest statistics on the relocation scheme; Greece-Turkey push-back allegations; and more.

UK-IRELAND: Activist 'bitterly disappointed' by 'closed' report into undercover policing (Irish Independent, link):

"Activists who allege a British undercover police officer operated in Ireland have branded a Garda inquiry into his activity a whitewash.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was tasked late last year with a second internal probe into the activities of a spy from London's Metropolitan Police after an original inquiry in 2011 found no evidence of criminality.

Campaigners wrote to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald demanding she seek Ireland's inclusion in a public inquiry in England and Wales over undercover policing.

Activist Kim Bryan, who claims she was targeted by Met spy Mark Kennedy in England and in Ireland, criticised the minister's response.

"I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal garda report into undercover policing," she said."

EU: Asylum: AIDA 2016 Update: Hungary & Serbia (AIDA, link):

"Today AIDA is launching the first of a series of updated country reports from 20 European countries. The reports provide an updated and?thorough overview of statistics, legal and policy frameworks and practices in the areas of asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and rights of recognised beneficiaries of protection.

Country reports on Serbia and Hungary arereleased today, while another 18 reports will follow during the next months. “The AIDA database offers an in-depth understanding of country-specific developments but also enables comparative research through common structure. Our reports reveal the persisting lack of coherence and common standards across Europe, from most worrying measures to best practices – for the first time extending their scope to integration questions such as residence rights, access to citizenship and family reunification,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator.

The first two reports on Serbia and Hungary are illustrative examples of some of the most problematic policies and practices across Europe. At the same time, they reveal a cross-border perspective of interlinked problems."

The reports: Hungary and Serbia (links to pdfs)

Munich Security Conference 2017 takes place against the backdrop of transatlantic uncertainty and the crisis of the liberal order (Munich Security Conference, link):

"From February 17 to 19, 2017, the 53rd edition of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) will bring together hundreds of decision-makers in the realm of international security at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. Under the chairmanship of Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, more than 500 participants will debate critical security challenges, including the troubling state of the international order and the rise of illiberalism around the world."

ECHR: Case Watch: How Kosa v. Hungary is Challenging a Gap in Europe's Anti-Discrimination Protections (Open Society Foundations, link):

"a growing number of European countries have established collective redress procedures which allow Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to make claims on behalf of a distinct but indeterminate class of discrimination victims. However, this type of mechanism has proven problematic for the European Court of Human Rights, as the organization making the claim is not a “direct victim”.

It was under this type of collective redress procedures that the Hungarian NGO Chance for Children Foundation brought a legal action for education discrimination in 2008, after the discontinuation of a bus service to a local integrated school forced students in the town of Huszar telep into a Roma-only school. Whilst CFCF convinced lower Hungarian courts that discrimination occurred, they were denied a remedy to terminate the unlawful actions. Both at Hungary’s Constitutional Court—the Kuria—and the European Court of Human Rights, CFCF’s claim was rejected on grounds of standing, because the organization itself was not “directly affected” by the measures leading to segregated Roma education.

...This has created a situation where a domestic claim seeking to address instances of systemic discrimination, under a valid and justified mechanism, has no recourse to the Strasbourg Court. How can the Convention protection against discrimination be practical and effective in such circumstances?"

EU: Foreign Affairs Council: Council conclusions on Libya (pdf)

Adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 February 2017. Including:

"The EU condemns human rights violations and abuses against migrants and urges Libyan authorities to redouble their efforts to improve the protection and promotion of human rights, especially in migrant detention centres"

And:

"Recognizing the need for Libyan ownership in helping to address irregular migration flows and saving lives, the EU will continue its activities through different complementary and coordinated activities in the context of Seahorse Mediterranean Network, European Border and Coast Guard Agency and CSDP, in accordance with international law.

In line with the Malta declaration, the EU will give further priority to the provision of training, equipment and other support, with priority given to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and other relevant legitimate Libyan agencies."

And see: factsheet: EU-LIBYA RELATIONS (pdf)

UK: Domestic Extremism Awareness Day 2017

"As we have argued repeatedly over the last couple of years, the term “domestic extremist” means pretty much whatever the police want it to mean.

It is a critical justification for state surveillance on protest movements in the UK, but both the government and the police have struggled to devise a credible definition robust enough to withstand legal scrutiny.

(...)

If people fear the label of ‘domestic extremist’ may in future affect their immigration status or application for asylum, the safety of families in other parts of the world, their job security or their ability to work with children, or the prospect of routine harassment or preemptive arrest by the police, they are far more likely to think twice about exercising their rights of assembly and free speech.

This is why we are arguing for a complete end to the smearing of campaigners as ‘domestic extremists’. Our campaigns are not ‘extreme’ just because they challenge powerful state and corporate interests."

See: This is Not Domestic Extremism (Netpol, link)

UK: Government doesn't investigate human rights claims against Saudi Arabia before selling arms (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not make judgments over whether countries like Saudi Arabia have violated international humanitarian laws in specific cases before granting arms exports to them.

Ministers have admitted they do not reach any conclusion on whether there have been violations in particular cases, because they say it would “not be possible” in conflicts the UK is not involved in.

Ministers instead try to come to “an overall judgement” that arms sold to a country will not be used to violate international humanitarian laws (IHL), a government spokesman has told The Independent."

EU: Commission provides €12.5 million emergency "migration management" funding to Greece and Bulgaria

The European Commission has awarded Greece €3.9 million "to help improve reception conditions on the Greek islands" and Bulgaria €8.6 million, via the International Organisation for Migration, to "enhance the protection of unaccompanied children, carry out voluntary returns and provide reintegration support as well as assistance, information and counselling to migrants."

UK: Inside the government's mad plan to catalog every video on the Internet (New Statesman, link):

"Imagine a government scheme to catalogue and classify every single video on the web.

But you don’t need to imagine: that’s the bizarre proposal being put forward by Theresa May’s government in the Digital Economy Bill, which reached committee stage in the Lords this week.

The Digital Economy Bill proposes that online video should be classified just as films are now, and by the same people - the British Board of Film Classification."

EU-UK: As Bad as it Gets: the White Paper on Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Yesterday the UK government released its White Paper on Brexit. This tome was reluctantly extracted from the government after months of prompting, but is in the end enormously disappointing: the political equivalent of a cat coughing up a hairball.

As many had expected, the white paper is basically content-free. It's essentially Theresa May's recent speech (which I analysed here), in some cases word-for-word, with a few statistics and graphs added. But even this information refers back to the status quo, and in some cases is inaccurate (a graph suggested British workers get 14 weeks’ paid holiday a year, before it was corrected), out-of-date (the 2011 statistics on UK citizens resident in the EU), or only partial (the migration statistics omit Irish people in the UK, and vice versa).

There’s no proper analysis of different options relating to the UK’s post-Brexit future, with assessments of their relative pros and cons. But then there couldn’t be: the White Paper says little of substance about the very existence of those options. David Allen Green has pointed out that the initial version of the document was time-stamped at about 4am, giving the strong impression it was written overnight by an intern working to a deadline in a student-like coffee-fuelled flurry."

See: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

EU: Release of final evaluation on Eurojust's Action Plan against human trafficking (Eurojust, link):

"The Final evaluation confirms that the complexity of THB cases, due to their multinational nature, the involvement of sophisticated criminal groups and the targeting of vulnerable victims, is the main obstacle to the successful repression of THB in Europe. The Final evaluation highlights Eurojust’s crucial role in facilitating essential cross-border judicial cooperation to dismantle THB networks.

The Action Plan has also yielded promising results. Eurojust and Europol have expanded their cooperation on THB by improving the flow of information between the two bodies and increasing their shared casework. Similarly, over the action period, practitioners in the Member States have gained a clearer understanding of the legal complexities of cross-border THB cases, allowing them to better coordinate their actions, share information and tackle the THB phenomenon."

See: Eurojust: Implementation of the Eurojust Action Plan against THB [trafficking in human beings] 2012-2016 - Final evaluation report (pdf)

Protests continue in Romania after government repeals corruption impunity decree

"About 500,000 demonstrators have rallied across Romania, despite the government revoking a controversial decree that fuelled their discontent.

The left-wing government earlier scrapped the decree, which would have shielded many politicians from prosecution for corruption.

But protesters remain dissatisfied about a revised version of the bill which will now be put to parliament."

EU: We need to remove free movement from the vicious circle of security (OpenDemocracy, link) by Didier Bigo and Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet:

"'Freedom is that possession which permits the enjoyment of all other possessions', wrote Montesquieu. Yet, today we are led to believe that the only way to enjoy personal safety within society, and guarantee our individual and collective freedoms, is through preventive security and reinforced controls.

How have we arrived at a situation where our reasoning has been so thoroughly turned on its head that the movement of millions of people is now being brought into question in case it might – owing to the way it is organised and its great speed – lead either to the departure of combatants abroad (so called foreign fighters) or the entry of clandestine groups with violent intentions?"

Libyans intercept at least 1,131 migrants off western coast in a week - coast guard (Reuters, link):

"TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's coast guard intercepted at least 1,131 migrants near the western city of Sabratha over the course of a week, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Ayoub Qassem said 431 migrants had been intercepted on four inflatable boats off Sabratha's coast on Thursday and some 700 had been picked up on Jan. 27 from three wooden vessels in the same area.

"The illegal migrants are from various sub-Saharan countries and include a big number of women and children," Qassem said of those intercepted on Thursday.

Those intercepted on Jan. 27 also included migrants from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and the Palestinian territories, he said, and smugglers had attempted to block the coast guards from taking those migrants from their boats."

GREECE-TURKEY: Ankara says Greece has ‘forcefully’ sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey (Hurriyet, link):

"Turkey stated on Feb. 3 that Greece had “forcefully” sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey via the River Maritza in recent months.

Officials from the Directorate General of Migration Management, which works under the Interior Ministry, said that Greece sent back more than 3,000 migrants to Turkey in the past four months.

The officials requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

They said Greece was not abiding by the readmission agreement between Turkey and Greece, while also disregarding international laws on human rights."

Press release: the EU and Italy de facto violate the principle of non-refoulement

At the informal Summit held at La Valletta on 3 February, the European Union confirms its policy of agreements for the closure of borders. Italy seconds the EU requests and concludes a shameful agreement with Libya.

The new foreign policy of the EU Commission and Council: development funds instrumentally used as bargaining chips to reach agreements and partnerships with third countries in order to repel migrants and refugees.

ASGI strongly condemns this shameful policy of the EU and the Italian Government to conclude agreements with third countries. “The EU betrays basic rule of law principles and infringes the democratic basis for the peaceful coexistence of citizens” says Lorenzo Trucco, lawyer and president of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI).

Italy-Libya memorandum of understanding on migration and development: English translation

EU: Commission: Member States' Relocations (2.2.17, pdf): 8,692 relocated from Greece out of 63,302 places allocated and 3,205 relocated from Italy of 34,953 places allocated. Overall 22,453 places pledged out of 160,000 needed.

EU: Commission: EU has concluded readmission agreements with the following third countries (pdf) covering 17 countries, including nine in Europe.

Turkey: Greece “forcefully” sent more than 3,000 refugees, migrants back (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Ankara alleges that Greece has forcefully sent more than 3,000 refugees migrants back to Turkey in the past months violating the Turkish-Greek readmission agreement and the EU Turkey Deal. According to Turkish officials, the migrants were sent back to Turkey through the Evros river (Maritsa in Bulgarian, Meric in Turkish), the natural border between the two countries in the north. Turkish news agency Dogan reports, furthermore, that the migrants were tortured by Greek police officers who also seized their personal belongings before putting them on boats and pushing them back to where they came from."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.17)

USA: Exclusive: Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam - sources (Reuters, link):

"The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, "Countering Violent Extremism," or CVE, would be changed to "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump's election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase "radical Islam" in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries."

UK: Stop and search: police 'unacceptably slow' to comply with new rules (The Guardian, link):

"Four police forces have made “unacceptably slow progress” to comply with government rules aimed at eliminating discrimination in stop and search, a report has found.

An emergency special inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that forces in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire were still breaking the rules when visited in November 2016. This was despite previous findings that they were in breach of reforms they had agreed to make in 2014 and the government having made its displeasure clear.

Since the inspection four months ago, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Northamptonshire had carried out the changes demanded of them and now obeyed the rules. Derbyshire remained the only one of 43 forces in England and Wales to still not comply with the rules."

See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary: Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme: A summary of the findings of an HMIC revisit of the 19 forces that were not complying with the scheme in 2015 (pdf)

Further information and documentation: Best Use of Stop and Search - second revisits (HMIC, link)

EU-USA: Has President Trump’s Executive Order on “Public Safety” killed off Privacy Shield? (LinkedIn, link) by Chris Pounder:

"President Trump’s Executive Order (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) has caused controversy over its temporary ban on all Muslims entering the USA from certain countries. It has consequences for data protection.

However, law-firm Hunton and Williams has just published a blog which concludes that “the Order should not impact the legal viability of the Privacy Shield framework” (see references). This conclusion is reached because, in the blog’s view, EU nationals still have access to USA courts by the Judicial Redress Act which is unaffected by the Executive Order (unless this access is revoked by the USA).

I agree with the blog’s conclusions relating to the Judicial Redress Act; however, I am not convinced that this overcomes the main data protection problem associated with this Order.

This is because implementation of this Order requires enhanced data sharing between Federal Agencies in the USA. As this data sharing involves EU nationals it directly raises the question: “whether or not the provisions of USA’s Privacy Act 1974 itself offers an adequate level of protection for transfers of personal data to the USA?”.

In other words, the Executive Order will inevitably focus attention on the quality of protections provided by Privacy Act and not on whether these protections are accessible to EU citizens via Judicial Redress Act."

EU: European Council adopts declaration on cooperation with Libya amidst human rights warnings

The European Council meeting in Malta has issued a declaration on the "external aspects of migration", primarily focusing on the "Central Mediterranean Route" and cooperation with Libya.

There are no major changes in the content compared to the draft declaration published by Statewatch yesterday, although an affirmation of a "determination to act in full respect of human rights, international law and European values" has been moved to the first paragraph.

However, these warm words are not backed up elsewhere in the text, for example by including a committment to "a significant expansion of opportunities for safe pathways such as resettlement and humanitarian admission, among others, to avoid dangerous journeys," as called for by the UNHCR and IOM.

ITALY-LIBYA: New Memorandum of Understanding on "illegal immigration" and border security signed

Italy and the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord yesterday (2 February) signed a new Memorandum of Understading on "development, countering illegal immigration, human trafficking, smuggling and on strengthening border security".

See: Memorandum d'intesa sulla cooperazione nel campo dello sviluppo, del contrasto all'immigrazione illegale, al traffico di esseri umani, al contrabbando e sul rafforzamento della sicurezza delle frontiere tra lo Stato della Libia e la Repubblica Italiana (pdf)

EU commission drops anti-corruption report (EUobserver, link):

"The EU commission scrapped plans to publish a report on anti-corruption efforts throughout EU states.

When pressed to explain why, EU commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Thursday (2 February) refused to speculate.

"For the commission, the fight against corruption is not in any way an attempt to interfere or offer value judgments within the political life in a member state," Schinas told EUobserver."

EU-USA: EU party leaders team up to reject Trump ambassador (EurActiv, link):

"The three major “pro-European” groups in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and the ALDE liberals, have taken the position that the EU should reject Ted R. Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, and Guy Verhofstadt, his colleague from ALDE, co-signed a letter to Council President Donald Tusk yesterday (2 February), proposing that the EU rejects Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Separately, S&D leader Gianni Pittella sent a letter, in which he says he tells Tusk and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini that Malloch would not be an acceptable choice and should be declared a ‘persona non grata’."

USA: My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it's not Orwell, he warned, it's Brave New World (The Guardian, link):

"Over the last year, as the presidential campaign grew increasingly bizarre and Donald Trump took us places we had never been before, I saw a spike in media references to Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book written by my late father, Neil Postman, which anticipated back in 1985 so much about what has become of our current public discourse.

(...)

The central argument of Amusing Ourselves is simple: there were two landmark dystopian novels written by brilliant British cultural critics – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – and we Americans had mistakenly feared and obsessed over the vision portrayed in the latter book (an information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state) rather than the former (a technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble). "

EU: Europol announces new network of experts on "the online crime attribution gap"

"European Network of Law Enforcement Specialists on CGN created at Europol to address a little known but major capability gap in law enforcement’s attempts to identify offenders online.

On 31 January 2017, a meeting of European law enforcement cybercrime specialists was held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. This meeting addressed the increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by internet service providers (ISPs). The meeting included presentations from industry experts, to broaden law enforcement understanding of the way in which internet service providers (providing access to the internet) and electronic content providers (websites and communication platforms) operate with regards to CGN."

See: Closing the Online Crime Attribution Gap: European law enforcement tackles Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN) (Europol press release, pdf)

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

UK-ERITREA: Politics before protection: the story of Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK (Right to Remain, link):

"The front page news in the Guardian last week, that “Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers” will not surprise those who have been following the debacle of Eritrean asylum claims in the UK for some time.

The Public Law Project managed to obtain internal Home Office documents that evidenced UK government efforts to seek more favourable descriptions of human rights conditions in Eritrea. This evidence confirms what has been clear for some time – that the UK’s priority has been reducing migration, irrespective of the deaths, torture and persecution that might entail.

Back in Refugee Week 2015, Right to Remain joined 500 Eritrean asylum seekers who marched swiftly and beautifully through the streets of Liverpool to protest the UK Home Office’s treatment of their cases.

It seems like a good time to recap on the what has happened over the last couple of years, and what the legal situation is now."

And see: Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers (The Guardian, link)

Trump’s Yemen raid killed newborn baby and scores of civilians (Reprieve, link):

"An attack on a village in Yemen ordered by President Trump on Sunday caused the death of a newborn baby, alongside as many as 23 civilians, human rights organization Reprieve has discovered.

The Trump Administration oversaw a series of drone strikes and a ground raid on the village of Yakla, Yemen, on Sunday (29th). The Administration initially downplayed reports of civilian casualties, including the death of an eight-year old girl. Yesterday, however, US officials conceded that civilians were “likely killed.”

Reprieve has obtained evidence that many as 23 civilians were killed in the US raid, including a newborn baby boy, and ten children. The heavily pregnant mother was shot in the stomach during the raid, and subsequently gave birth to an injured baby boy, according to local reports. The baby died on Tuesday 31st."

EU: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms

The green light has been given for the approval of the EU's new Directive on Combating Terrorism after confirmation from the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURE) that the legal basis for the new law is acceptable. The European Parliament's plenary meeting on 16 February will vote on the text, which was agreed in secret negotiations and contains a series of highly controversial provisions that have been condemned by civil society groups and legal experts.

See: Letter from Pavel Svoboda MEP, JURE chair, to Claude Moraes MEP, LIBE chair (pdf)

UK: Report on the legality of the EU sanctions calls for procedural improvements and continued cooperation post-Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords' EU Committee says that while sanctions against individuals, companies or institutions in non-EU states "serve an important foreign policy objective in persuading States and regimes to change behaviour," are a number of improvements that need to be made to the "listing" process, in particular regarding transparency and standards of proof.

See: House of Lords European Union Committee: The legality of EU sanctions (pdf)

EU: Police action against migrant smuggling: report on Italian investigations and Europol press release on safe house "bust"

An article published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project highlights how the Italian police have adopted methods used against the mafia in their efforts against migrant smuggling networks operating from sub-Saharan African countries, while a recent Europol press release highlights the "busting" of a "migrant safe house" in Budapest during harmonised operations in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Travel surveillance and profiling: the Indian government wants to join the PNR party

"Airlines will now be required to share passenger reservation data with customs department in advance.

The government has proposed an amendment to the Customs Act for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country. The changes in the rules will bring India in line with countries like Australia, Canada, United States and the European Union which have similar norms in place.

(...)

In case an airline company fails to furnish the information to the customs, it could result in a fine of up to Rs 50,000, according to the Finance Bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

At present, many airlines in India are required to share the passenger information, in advance with immigration authorities prior to departure or arrival, but this is limited to details like passenger name, nationality, passport number etc. Other countries also require airlines to share similar information known as advance passenger information (API)."

See: Now, govt wants aceess to airlines passenger reservation data in advance - This is for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country (Business Standard, link)

EU: Asylum: European Parliament briefing on proposed EU list of "safe countries of origin"

"As part of the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed a regulation on 9 September 2015 to establish a common EU list of safe countries of origin, initially comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The aim is to fast-track asylum applications from citizens of these countries, which are considered 'safe' in full compliance with the criteria set out in the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU and the principle of non-refoulement. Currently, lists are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications, and thus create incentives for secondary movements and asylum-shopping."

See: Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf)

EU: Operation Sophia begins training more Libyan Coast Guard and Navy officials

"On 30 January 2017 the second package of the training conducted by EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia for the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy starts in a maritime training centre in Crete (Greece). Twenty Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy trainees will receive training in areas including maritime legal aspects, Human Rights and raising gender awareness, as well as Search and Rescue operations. Package 2 is the next step from the application of basic seamanship delivered in Package 1. The second package will be delivered throughout 2017 in a variety of locations in the Mediterranean area. The trainees are senior officers at the rank of Captain or Commodore."

See: EEAS press release, 30 January 2017: Operation SOPHIA: package 2 of the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy training launched today (pdf)

Background: Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (December 2016, pdf) and: Working document of the European Union External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED Op SOPHIA - Six Monthly Report 1 January - 31 October 2016’ (Council document 14978/16, RESTRICTED, 30 November 2016, pdf)

GREECE: Death in Greek Camps (Infomobile, link):

"Five refugees dead in Greek camps since last week due to inadequate reception conditions. Several others tried to commit suicide. Does life still matter in Europe?"

UK: Film tells asylum seeker stories of alleged G4S intimidation (The Ferret, link):

"A new film The Asylum Market features testimony from asylum seekers, including a victim of human trafficking, alleging intimidation and bullying by employees of security giant G4S, as well as claims of sordid housing conditions.

The film was due to be aired on 31 January 2017 on BBC prime-time current affairs show Victoria Derbyshire, to coincide with the release of Westminster’s cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee report on asylum accommodation contracts, which concluded that the provision was “shameful”.

However, the film was pulled from the programme although the BBC did robustly challenge G4s in its package."

And see: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation (pdf):

"Since 2012 accommodation has been provided to asylum seekers via six regional Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services contracts, known as COMPASS... Although the system of three Providers looks straightforward on the surface, below it lies a complex network of contractors, sub-contractors and hundreds of private landlords."

Turkey, Hungary and Romania drive 23% rise in ECHR applications (The Guardian, link):

"Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the attempted coup in Turkey along with poor conditions in prisons in Hungary and Romania have driven a 23% year-on-year rise in the number of applications to the European court of human rights.

In its annual report, the court noted a “very large number of applications” from Turkey in late 2016 after the attempt to topple Erdogan, contributing to the biggest increase in applications in five years.

Turkey declared a state of emergency in July and gave notice of a derogation under article 15 of the European convention on human rights. Such a move releases a government of its obligations to uphold some, but not all, human rights, when a state is faced with a public emergency that threatens “the life of the nation”.

The other two signatory states to fuel the large increase in applications to the ECHR, Romania and Hungary, have struggled with overpopulation in their prisons for a number of years, but the statistics appear to suggest the situation is worsening."

See: European Court of Human Rights: Annual Report 2016 (pdf)

NETHERLANDS: Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin (Buro Jansen & Janssen, link):

"Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story.

We received this story from a person who wants to remain anonymous. We conducted an investigation to the existence of this person and confirmed their existence. The person did not want to answer additional questions about the conversation held with the Dutch secret service (AIVD for its initials in Dutch) and wanted to remain anonymous. We respect this. We publish this account because we think the story is important both for the hackers community and beyond. The person has written the story in English, which we have edited without changing the contents. We have also translated it into Dutch with some slight clarification in relation to some comments, again without changing the contents."

EU flirts with hypocrisy in criticising Trump's refugee ban (EUobserver, link) by Nikolaj Nielsen:

"The EU rightly spoke out against Donald Trump's entry ban on asylum seekers from Syria. But its own track record leaves much to be desired.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday (30 January) that the EU would continue to host refugees.

"It's our identity: we celebrate when walls are brought down and bridges are built," she said in a tweet.

Her comments appeared the same day a young man from Pakistan suffocated to death in a tent at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. He was trying to keep warm. It was the third death at the camp in a week.

...the fact that the world's richest nations are unwilling to properly care for the thousands stranded in Greece and on its islands is a disgrace. The task has largely been delegated to volunteers, NGOs and international aid organisations."

EU: Marine Le Pen: Deadline passes for National Front leader to repay EU funds (BBC News, link):

"A European Parliament deadline for France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen to return more than 300,000 euros (£257,000; $321,000) it says she has misspent, has passed.

The presidential candidate had until midnight to repay the money, but said she had no intention of doing so.

The parliament says she wrongly used the funds to pay an aide at the National Front's headquarters in Paris.

She says she is the victim of a politically motivated vendetta.

If she does not repay the money, the parliament could now respond by withholding as much as half of her salary and allowances, which her opponents say total almost €11,000 a month."

EU: Report from the 2016 'JHATech' conference hosted by the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA)

The theme of the October 2016 'JHATech' conference of the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA) was 'Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security'. The report from the conference gives an overview of speeches from numerous high-level officials discussing the use of technology in EU justice and home affairs policy, covering issues such as border security, biometrics, interoperability between databases and information systems, and PNR.

See: eu-LISA, JHATech 2016: Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security (pdf)

GERMANY: Constitutional Court: neo-Nazi National Democratic Party not illegal as it is "entirely impossible" it will suceed in its aims

The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) advocates a concept aimed at abolishing the existing free democratic basic order. The NPD intends to replace the existing constitutional system with an authoritarian national state that adheres to the idea of an ethnically defined “people’s community” (Volksgemeinschaft). Its political concept disrespects human dignity and is incompatible with the principle of democracy. Furthermore, the NPD acts in a systematic manner and with sufficient intensity towards achieving its aims that are directed against the free democratic basic order. However, (currently) there is a lack of specific and weighty indications suggesting that this endeavour will be successful; for that reason the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court, in its judgment pronounced today, unanimously rejected as unfounded the Bundesrat’s admissible application to establish the unconstitutionality of the NPD and its sub-organisations (Art. 21 sec. 2 of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG).

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-2.2.17)

Italy: Deaths at the Border. Control and Repression Replacing Reception (Migrantsicily, link):

"“Four survivors from a ship packed with 193 people”. “The numbers of missing are imprecise, but in the hundreds.” “Eight bodies but a massacre feared”. By now we do not speak about the dead, but those who did “not survive”, making calculations by exclusion. It is increasingly difficult to know how many people continue to lose their lives at sea. Understanding how many victims our borders have claimed is simply too shameful. Since the beginning of 2017, 240 people have already died crossing the Canal of Sicily, and we are only half way through January.

And yet the journeys of death, violence and disappearance unfold before our eyes every day, the stories of those struck down by a rationality of closure and inhumanity of countries like ours where wealth is gathered and consumed but rarely produced, and so our own economic interests have to be defended by force."

Greece: Interventions in a Crisis – Working with Refugees on Samos Island (Samos Chronicles, link): Long thoughtful piece by Chris Jones, Samos:

"Our work with refugees on Samos has been rooted in our common humanity and informed by mutual respect, solidarity and empathy. In Samos we have come to recognise that these human qualities are shaped by where you stand with the refugees. If you stand shoulder to shoulder as brothers and sisters it nearly always followed that relationships formed where people connected, despite massive differences in background and experience. Even 2015 when the average stay of the refugees on Samos was between 2 to 3 days it was astonishing to see so many friendships made between the refugees and the local activists who met them on the beaches and helped provide clothes and food. Even 2 years later many of these connections have endured....

We have come to expect nothing of value and benefit to the refugees coming from the top whether it be an NGO or governmental welfare agency. They are part of the problem and certainly not the solution, On the other hand we have seen the power and effectiveness of interventions which work with and alongside the refugees as people ‘just like ourselves’. But if it is be more compelling we must recognise that we must also shed light on these darkest of places. It is a huge challenge. But it is necessary if the barbarism of the system is to be halted."

Italy: Police instructed to target Nigerians

There's a charter plane to fill and interviews with Nigerian authorities have already been agreed

A telegram sent by Giovanni Pinto, the director of the Italian interior ministry's public security department's central directorate for immigration and border police on 26 January 2017 to all the questure [police headquarters] in Italy concerning the scheduling of a deportation flight and interviews with Nigerian authorities, explicitly instructs police services to target Nigerians. Its contents are troubling although they fall within the measures announced by the chief of police and the interior minister since December 2016, which called for new detention centres to be opened, for an intensification of activities to track down irregular migrants and to increase the number of deportations.

UK-EU: BREXIT: UK to seek a deal on continued cooperation on crime, policing and terrorism

As indicated previously by Ministers the UK will seek to "deal" on future cooperation with the EU:

"As we exit, we will therefore look to negotiate the best deal we can with the EU to cooperate in the fight against crime and terrorism. We will seek a strong and close future relationship with the EU, with a focus on operational and practical cross-border cooperation. We will seek a relationship that is capable of responding to the changing threats we face together. Public safety in the UK and the rest of Europe will be at the heart of this aspect of our negotiation."

See: White Paper on BREXIT: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

EU: Malta Summit, 3 February 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"Since the start of the migration crisis the EU has managed to reduce significantly the number of irregular migrants entering Europe. Preliminary data from Frontex indicate a 72% decrease in detections in 2016 across the whole of the EU compared to 2015. By far the largest share of this reduction was recorded along the Eastern Mediterranean route, following the EU decision to fully apply the Schengen Border Code (end the wave-through approach) and the EU - Turkey Statement."

UK mosque wins apology over 'terrorism' database listing (Middle East Eye, link)

"FInancial information company Thomson Reuters on Wednesday apologised to a north London mosque and agreed to pay damages for falsely linking it to "terrorism" in a database used by most of the world's biggest banks.

Finsbury Park Mosque had its banking facilities withdrawn by the HSBC bank in 2014 as a result of the listing on the World-Check database, which is used by banks to assess customer risk."

And see: London mosque case exposes pitfalls of 'terror list' database (Middle East Eye, link)

Police Militarization in the Trump Era (Just Security, link):

"Since his swearing in, President Donald Trump has issued a flurry of controversial Executive Orders. One frequently overlooked yet dramatically important issue that has yet to be addressed by Trump concerns the militarization of the police and the fate of Obama’s Executive Order No. 13688....

As we come to grips with the Trump administration and the global trend that it reflects, we need to discuss the limits of state power on a principled level – precisely since it seems that those principles might be giving way to “alternative facts” and an “anything goes” form of instrumentalism. This is true in general, and much more so in the context of the limits on policing, as the ultimate instrument of state coercion. Law and order should not be conflated with a presumption of threat and the construction of policed communities as domestic enemies."

See also: The Case Against Police Militarization (pdf)

EU: Malta Summit on external aspect of migration

The Maltese Council Presidency is hosting a Summit of the heads of all EU Member States on 3 February to discuss external aspects of migration. As a follow up to a " Coreper breakfast (19 January)" the Presidency drew up a Note summarising possible initiatives: Malta Summit - External aspects of migration (pdf). The Draft Council Conclusions (pdf) do not take up most of the points raised but the Note shows what is under the table for future consideration.

EU head calls Trump a 'threat' to Europe

Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, has described US president Donald Trump as a “threat” to Europe alongside Russia and China. He sent an "Open letter" to EU leaders ahead of the Malta Summit on 3 February, referring to “worrying declarations by the new American administration”.

See: Open letter (pdf)

EXCLUSIVE: EU migrant policy in Africa built on incorrect Niger data (IRIN, link):

"The European Union has been touting a faulty figure for migration reduction through key transit country Niger as it looks to expand a policy of giving more development aid to African nations if they crack down on people smuggling and migrants, IRIN can exclusively reveal.

When the International Organization for Migration released figures in early December showing a dramatic drop in the numbers of migrants transiting through northern Niger to reach Europe the previous month, EU officials seized on them as evidence that its strategy of partnering with African countries to curb irregular migration was working.

On the back of EU funding specifically for the purpose, IOM has been monitoring the movements of migrants through Niger since February. Between then and the end of November 2016, the agency recorded more than 417,000 migrants transiting through northern Niger en route to Algeria and Libya, with movement peaking during the summer months...."

MALTA SUMMIT: Editorial: Disintegrating the integrated (Times of Malta, link):

"Times of Malta, The Malta Independent and MaltaToday have joined forces to call on the Maltese government to review Malta’s arbitrary system of ‘temporary humanitarian protection’ and to regularise the position of detained migrants whose looming ejection from the island appears to be guided by opportunistic politics rather than reasoned policy.

Malta has to accept a reality of ‘non-returnable’ migrants who have been subject to return procedures but who cannot be returned for legal or logistical reasons, due to no fault of their own."

EU: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus

An EU-funded project in Belarus is providing €7 million to establish "a fully-fledged irregular migration management strategy," including the construction of a series of 'Migrants' Accommodation Centres' throughout a country perhaps best-known for being Europe's last remaining dictatorship.


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