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November-December 2016           
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What's New archives:199920002001200220032004200520062007 2008200920102011201220132014 2015: Jan-Jun, July-Dec | 2016: Jan-Jun, Jul-Oct, Nov-Dec

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

December 2016

EU: Opening up secret trilogue decision-making awaits court decision

On 15 April 2015 Emilio de Capitani (Freegroup, link) applied to the European Parliament for documents summarising negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament in secret trilogue meetings... having been refused access to the requested documents Emilio de Capitani took the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) where the case is pending.

In response to the European Ombudsman the Council says it will not move on making trilogue four-column documents public until the CJEU rules in the Emilio de Capitani case.

See: Decision of the European Ombudsman on Own-initiative inquiry OI/8/2015/FOR concerning transparency of trilogues (LIMITE doc no: 15107-16, pdf) and Background: Statewatch Analyses:

Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit (September 2007, pdf)
European Parliament: Abolish 1st [and 2nd] reading secret deals - bring back democracy “warts and all” (pdf)
Proposed Commission changes to Regulation on access to documents fail to meet Lisbon Treaty commitments (pdf)
A missed opportunity to open up secret trilogue decision-making in the EU (July 2016).

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for: Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 15275-16, 72 pages, pdf) The Council developing its position on the infamous "Legal Migration" proposal. 152 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting on 14 December are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with […] ... "

Based on the Commission's: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM 2020-10, pdf)

"Demographic ageing is accelerating. As the baby-boom generation retires, the EU's active population will start to shrink as from 2013/2014. The number of people aged over 60 is now increasing twice as fast as it did before 2007 – by about two million every year compared to one million previously. The combination of a smaller working population and a higher share of retired people will place additional strains on our welfare systems."

Put forward just after the "Returns Directive" which aims to remove resident "illegal" migrants and refugees from the EU. This proposal seeks in the face of an ageing population and smaller workforce to recruit skilled labour from the global south to maintain the EU's standards of living through:

"A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ sets the objective of the Union becoming an economy based on knowledge and innovation, reducing the administrative burden on companies and better matching labour supply with demand. Measures to facilitate the admission of third-country national highly skilled workers have to be seen in that broader context....

in order to remain an attractive destination for talents and skills, Europe must compete in the global race for talent. Strategies to maximise the opportunities of legal migration should therefore be developed, including the streamlining of existing rules." [emphasis added]

New Italian government seeks migration crackdown (DW, link):

"Italy's leaders have launched a push to increase ID checks, deportations, and the construction of detention centers. The tough migration stance is the first major policy departure for new Prime Minister Gentiloni.

Italy has decided to ramp up checks on migrants and increase deportations in 2017, national media reported on Saturday. According to several of the country's leading dailies, police chief Franco Gabrielli sent a memorandum to Italian police stations calling on them to be extra vigilant in the new year.

Gabrielli is the director of public safety for a special Italian police unit called the Protezione Civil, which handles security for "exceptional" circumstances. In his directive, he reminds local officers of the importance of making routine checks "in the current crisis considering the increasing pressures of migration in an international context characterized by instability and which require maximum effort…to keep our territory 'under control.'"

USA: 450 churches prepare to act as Trump-era ‘underground railroad’ for undocumented immigrants (Raw Story, link):

"A network of 450 houses of worship across the country are stepping up to act as a kind of “underground railroad” for undocumented immigrants under the nascent Donald Trump administration.

The New York Times said that these churches, synagogues and mosques are all part of the Sanctuary Movement — an interfaith movement that began in the 1960s, but which has undergone a revival in recent years as the U.S. has stepped up deportation of undocumented immigrants."

Portugal to extradite CIA agent over Milan imam abduction (The Local.it, link):

" Portugal plans to extradite to Italy a former CIA agent convicted over the 2003 abduction of a radical Egyptian imam, a case that highlighted the controversial US secret rendition programme. Sabrina de Sousa, arrested at Lisbon airport in October 2015 under a European warrant, said Friday that the extradition procedure was due to start "after January 3rd".

De Sousa and 23 others were convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 over the kidnapping of Abu Omar from a Milan street in an operation allegedly led jointly by the CIA and the Italian intelligence services."

Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta (BBC News, link):

"Fifty Moroccan and five Spanish border guards were injured when 1,100 African migrants attempted to storm a border fence. The migrants were attempting to reach Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta.

Only two were successful, but both were injured scaling the six-metre (20 ft) fence and needed hospital treatment. One guard lost an eye, officials said. The attempt comes after more than 400 migrants succeeded in breaching Ceuta's fence in December."

Over 100 migrant arrivals recorded on Greek islands in 24 hours (ekathimerini.com, link):

"A total of 112 migrants and refugees landed on Greek shores in the first 24 hours of the new year, with 46 arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Chios and another 66 on Samos."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.12.16)

EU-EGYPT: European External Action Service "non-paper": how can we stop migration from Egypt?

A "non-paper" jointly produced by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission sets out possible policies the EU could adopt towards Egypt to make "efforts on today's migration" and "to address also the roots of potential future migration."

See: European External Action Service and European Commission, Options on developing cooperation with Egypt in migration matters, undated (pdf)

EU: A Europe of two narratives (OpenDemocracy, link):

""Everybody, it seems, is concerned about the rise of the radical right. In Europe this concern is tied to a recognition that the EU and the Eurozone face growing centrifugal forces. But any coherent response is crippled by the fact that there are two, almost diametrically opposed, narratives on this phenomenon.

The social narrative, which is mostly, but of course not exclusively, to be found in Southern Europe and on the Left of the political spectrum, argues that Europe is failing a large number of its citizens. Not only did they face the brunt of the crisis, but they have no confidence that they will participate in any recovery. European institutions are stuck in a pre-crisis time zone when the major problems were perceived to be inflation and fiscal irresponsibility.

(...)

The rules-are-rules narrative takes a very different view... The argument here is that the EU is based on rules and that changing those rules every so often can only undermine the credibility of the European Union and the Euro. Moreover citizens of the North are tired of “bailing-out” those in the South that either cannot or are unwilling to abide by the rules. There are limits to solidarity and any further weakening of the rules provides grist to the mill of the populists.""

"Data exploitation" by smart devices explained

A new short video by Privacy International explains the risks of data exploitation and what can be done to stop it. From the voiceover: "Do you remember the time when, if you wanted to be alone, all you had to do was draw the curtains and - bingo! - your own safe space, where you're in control and can limit what others see and know. Now, whether you're in the middle of a bustling city or apparently by yourself on top of a mountain, you're never really alone."

Watch the video: What is Data Exploitation? (Privacy International, link)

GREECE: Thirty one refugees arrested on Kastellorizo (ANA-MPA, link):

"Thirty one refugees from Syria (18 men, 6 women and 7 children) that arrived from the Turkish coasts were arrested on Friday on the island of Kastellorizo. The refugees were arrested for illegal entrance to Greece."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Police now tracking suspects with facial recognition (NL Times, link):

"From today the Dutch police can track suspects using facial recognition - faces of suspects, from surveillance camera footage for example, can now be compared with a large database filled with photos of people with criminal records, NOS reports.

At present the database contains more than 800 thousand faces of convicted felons, but also suspects who haven't been convicted yet. You end up on the database if you are arrested for a crime that carries a prison sentence of at least one year, police spokesperson John Riemen said to NOS. The photo is taken on arrest. If a suspect turns out to be innocent, his photo is removed. If you are convicted, your photo will be on the database for 20 to 80 years, depending on the crime.

But it isn't only criminals or suspected criminals that are compared to suspects, according to NOS. The police can also compare the faces of suspects to those of asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and people applying for a Dutch visa. This includes people who never came into contact with the law. To use this "foreigners database" the police need the permission of the Public Prosecutor."

GERMANY-AFRICA: German politicians want to return refugee boats to Africa

"As security and refugee debates heat up in Germany ahead of federal elections in 2017, politicians in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are looking to propose a drastic shift in how Germany, and Europe, handle migrant arrivals, according to a new position paper set to be unveiled next week.

The CSU will hold a party convention next week and are set to call for tens of thousands of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea to be sent back to North Africa, according to an internal policy paper obtained by the "Rheinische Post" newspaper."

EU: The Right to Privacy under Pressure (link to pdf) by Rikke Frank Jørgensen

A useful overview of current dilemmas for privacy and data protection, particularly with regard to the commercial gathering of personal data online as a mandatory requirement for using certain services or products. The author concludes:

"We are currently facing huge challenges with regard to online privacy. There are no binding international regulations, and the EU rules, which in global terms are the most well developed, are still based on consent as the central control mechanism. This is despite the increasing scepticism as to the value and effect of consent, especially for online services. There are alternative proposals for regulation of the area, not least Nissenbaum’s proposed contextual approach to data protection. The idea of a more differentiated regulation, based on analyses of standards in different situations, in contrast to a one-size-fits-all philosophy for privacy, seems to be a sensible response to the current challenges. However, as outlined above a number of unanswered questions remain, which make it difficult to see the model translated into practice."

Published in: Nordicom Review 37 Special Issue 2016 (link)

GREECE: Two arrested and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" for refugee transport effort denouncing EU policies

Two political activists from the Basque Country have been detained in Greece and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" after attempting to transport eight refugees out of the country, in an "initiative of solidarity in denunciation of unjust European migration policies and in defence of human rights."

UK-EU: If we win the fight to let refugees into Fortress Britain, the world will take note (The Guardian, link)

"There’s the side of the story we know: politicians scapegoating, talk of swarms and cockroaches in the press; a thundering Brexit vote followed by a spike in hate crime so sharp it gave the nation whiplash. But then there’s the other story, less often told: that well below the radar of the mainstream media, tens of thousands of people from all nations, of all ages, cultures and political persuasions, started giving up jobs, studies, relationships and reliable wifi and heading for the borderlands to do their part. They flooded in to do what politicians and aid agencies wouldn’t: from illegal ocean rescues and calling out police brutality to running art therapy classes, feeding thousands and sorting sky-high piles of donated clothes across the continent from Norway to Calais.

I feel enormously proud to have been part of that movement. I learned a lot as a solidarity volunteer in Greece. Some of those lessons were traumatic – I still have nightmares a year later – but I think I learned as much about politics in weeks in Camp Moria as I did in years at university. The most personally challenging and painful lesson was a simple one: it will never be enough. However many volunteers we have pulling 15-hour shifts, politicians in halls of power far away are doing more damage in a week than we could undo in a lifetime. For all their summits, resolutions and deals, in 2015 one in 269 people crossing to Europe died; this year it’s one in 88. With deprivation and incarceration systematically inflicted on people in the name of border control, when we say “refugees welcome” that is a commitment to campaign for radical change here at home – or it’s meaningless."

UK: Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE (BBC News, link):

"Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

...he added: "I headed the Panel's research team and was a consultant to the families' lawyers throughout the new inquests.

"I could not receive an honour on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive to the determined efforts of bereaved families and survivors to secure truth and justice."

(...)

Prof Scraton acknowledged his decision "might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me".

However, he added: "Finally, I could not accept an honour tied in name to the 'British Empire'.

"In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.""

Italy didn’t register Berlin terror suspect in database: German official (Politico, link):

"Italian authorities failed to register Anis Amri, the Tunisian man suspected of carrying out the December 19 Berlin Christmas market attack, in the EU’s fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers, a senior German official said.

Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), a subdivision of the interior ministry, told Bild newspaper in an interview published Friday “there was no information about Amri” on the Eurodac database.

(...)

After arriving in Italy in 2011, Amri was reportedly due to be deported in 2015 after serving time in an Italian prison and having had his application for asylum denied. However, he managed to make his way to Germany, where he filed another application, which was also rejected."

GERMANY: A man wrongly suspected of the Berlin terror attack is now living in hiding

"They let him go but within seconds had called him back. Before he knew it he was in the back of the car, its lights flashing as it sped through Berlin. His hands were bound behind his back. Later that night, he said, he was blindfolded and taken from “one police station to another place” about 10 minutes away. He recalls two police officers “digging the heels of their shoes into my feet”, and one of the men “putting great pressure on my neck with his hand”.

They undressed him and took photographs. “When I resisted, they started slapping me.” They took three samples of his blood. A 24-year-old Pakistani identified only as Naveed B was named by German police and the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, just hours after the deadly attack on a Christmas market on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, as their prime suspect.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian just over a week after being wrongly arrested for the attack which killed 12 and injured 48 others, Baloch is now in hiding, fearful for his life and no longer feeling safe in the country in which he sought refuge as a member of a secular separatist movement in Balochistan, a province that is a frequent target of religious extremists in Pakistan."

See: Man wrongly arrested over Berlin attack says he fears for his life (The Guardian, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: EUNAVFOR, CJEU Turkey challenges and W Africa "matrix"

EUNAVFOR and the collection of personal data on the "high seas": Council Decision amending Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 on a European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA) (LIMITE doc no: 14290-16, pdf): Covers:

"the context of the fight against trafficking in human beings or the arms embargo.... training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, and contributing to information sharing and the implementation of the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.... to exchange information with relevant third States and international organisations as necessary to meet the operational needs of EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA....

"EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA may collect and store, in accordance with applicable law, personal data concerning persons taken on board ships participating in EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA related to characteristics likely to assist in their identification, including fingerprints, as well as the following particulars, with the exclusion of other personal data: surname, maiden name, given names and any alias or assumed name; date and place of birth, nationality, sex, place of residence, profession and whereabouts; driving licenses, identification documents and passport data. It may transmit such data and data related to the vessels and equipment used by such persons to the relevant law enforcement authorities of Member States and/or to competent Union bodies...".

EU-Turkey "deal": Cases for annulment before the Court of European Justice (CJEU: LIMITE doc no: 14355-16, pdf) The Council has been asked by the General Court of the CJEU to provide answers to the following questions:

""The European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission are requested to state whether the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’ can be regarded as reflecting the existence of an oral/unwritten agreement or of a written agreement.

(a) if there is a written agreement, and without prejudice to Articles 103 and 105 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send that agreement to the General Court;

(b) in the absence of such an agreement, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send to the General Court (and possibly to be sent for that purpose) any document making it possible to determine the parties which agreed the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’."

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

The "Fontanot Group": West African "matrix": Management and maintenance of the matrix of technical assistance initiatives in West Africa (LIMITE doc no: 15532-16, pdf):

"The informal Fontanot Group is a French-led initiative that focuses on the coordination and deconfliction of Member States capacity building efforts in West Africa and is also a forum for discussing future project activity1. The group, consisting of representatives of the national departments for international relations from a number of Member States and third parties has been meeting informally twice a year or once a year since July 2008...

The current Policy Cycle 2014-2017 does not have the West Africa priority any more. Nevertheless, the informal Fontanot group keeps on developing its activities and meeting regularly (the last meeting took place in Dakar on 26 May 2016). One of the main tools to fulfil its objective continues to be the matrix, which has been regularly updated by the Council Secretariat.

In the light of the above, COSI Support Group agreed at its meeting on 12 December 2016 on assigning the maintenance and management of the matrix to the Fontanot group as of 1 January 2017, taking over this task from the General Secretariat of the Council.
" [emphasis in original]

See: Decision in 2010 (pdf) giving the task to the General Secretariat of the Council.

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements

The Council of the European Union's High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) is a highly secretive group. The "outcomes" (minutes of its meetings) are not only "partially accessible" (censored) they do not include document references to the matters discussed.

See for example: the publicly available Outcomes of the HLWG meeting on 6 December: Summary of discussions (15407-16, pdf) which is only four pages long because the document is: "DOCUMENT PARTIALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC (20.12.2016)." And the full version: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc on: 15407-16, pdf) which is 27 pages. The missing 23 pages are in the deleted Annex to the outcomes.

EU: Council of the European Union: Internal security and C-T report & Policy funding preferences

Internal Security: Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy and Counter-Terrorism Implementation Paper: Report on implementation in the second half of 2016 LIMITE doc no: 15277-16, 57 pages, pdf):

"This report gives an overview of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Renewed EU Internal Security Strategy (2015-2020), which is an overall priority for the Slovak Presidency. The NL-SK-MT Trio Presidency decided to follow the same structure for the implementation paper ISS as the one developed under the Luxembourg Presidency ... The implementation paper for the second half of 2016, which was endorsed by COSI at its meeting on 28 September 2016, contained a list of forty different measures and served as a living, non exhaustive work programme for the different Council preparatory bodies under the Slovak Presidency."

Future funding of the EU Policy Cycle: Strategic guidance on prioritization (LIMITE doc no: 15393-REV-1-16, pdf)

"Illegal"immigration tops the list of Member State preferences for funding.

EU-LIBYA: Deadly incident on the Mediterranean sea: Rescue organisation accuses Libyan coast guard

The private rescue organisation Sea Watch e.V. is pressing charges against the Libyan coast guard because of an attack during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea. According to the organisation 30 refugees died after their dinghy was damaged by a patrol boat on 21 October 2016. The rescue team rates this incident as an attack on maritime transport.

The coast guard's patrol boat with the registration mark '267' interfered with the rescue operation of the 'Sea-Watch 2', which was instructed by the sea rescue control centre in Rome. Pictures of the photographer Christan Ditsch, who was on board, show the coast guard pushing between a speed boat of the 'Sea-Watch 2' and the dinghy. The crew was prevented from providing the refugees with life jackets. A person in uniform then came on board of the dinghy and started hitting the passengers. According to the Sea Watch organisation he tried to take away the outboard engine.

Greek fishing village welcomes migrants, while others turn them away (PBS, link): Interviews, worth reading:

"Eighteen months into Europe’s refugee crisis, tensions have surfaced on the Greek island of Lesbos.

It wasn’t so long ago that the islanders there were being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize for their welcoming of refugees. But income from tourism, on which many islanders depend, has plummeted this year, and hostility towards refugees, and to the volunteers helping them, has only grown. From Lesbos, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive and Firearms Directive "deal" (compromise)

Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons (Limite doc no: 15261-16, pdf): Lots of Member State positions (51):

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency relating to Articles 1 and 3 to 12. Suggestions for modification are also made to certain recitals in relation to these Articles.

Suggested modifications are indicated in bold and […]. Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

Firearms Directive Proposal for a: Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (First reading) - Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 14974, pdf)

"Four trilogues and a number of technical meetings have been held since September. At the last trilogue on 5 December 2016, the Presidency and the EP Rapporteur reached an agreement on the text set out in Annex to this note."

EU: Council of the European Union: Istanbul & Council of Europe Conventions: Women and domestic violence plus women and asylum

State of play: Combatting Violence against Women and Girls - Istanbul Convention: the internal and external dimensions (LIMITE doc no: 14631-16, pdf):

"the Council Presidency is submitting to delegations the annexed paper drafted in collaboration with the EEAS and containing, inter alia, the state of play on the EU's proposed accession to the Istanbul Convention and questions for discussion."

CoE Convention: Combating violence against women and domestic violence (LIMITE doc no: 14756-REV-1-16, pdf): Redrafted proposal: "Changes compared to doc ST 14756/16 are highlighted: new text in bold, deletions as strikethrough."

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14756-16, pdf)

CoE Convention: Women and asylum: Council Decision on signing of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence with regard to Articles 60 and 61 pertaining to Genderbased asylum claims and Non-refoulement (LIMITE doc no: 14757-REV-1-16, pdf)

And see:
Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14757-16, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies’ cooperation in 2016 - Final report (EU doc no 15579-16, 64 pages, pdf): Includes the Joint conclusions of the Heads of Justice and Home Affairs Agencies meeting on 14 November 2016, Vienna and pages 33-64 contain a detailed Annex:

"A key challenge in the fields of both migration and security is enabling the interoperability of large-scale IT systems and aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities, while remaining fundamental rights compliant. JHA Agencies, together with the Commission and other EU institutions, will take this forward in 2017.

Internal and external security issues of the EU are increasingly linked, with internal security strongly depending on countering and managing external security threats. Within their mandates, relevant JHA Agencies and the European External Action Service, along with other Commission services, will work together on cooperation with third countries - especially in the areas of migration, asylum, border management, and the prevention of terrorism and organised crime."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.16): including: annual Mediterranean death toll likely to reach 5,000; refugee "ping-pong" in the Balkans; EEAS statement on EU-Mali agreement; let refugees help the EU.

EU: Restricted document gives overview of police efforts against "facilitated illegal immigration"

A recent report submitted by Europol to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) offers an overview of "the implementation of the 2015 and 2016 OAPs [operational action plans] on "Illegal Immigration". This annex was discussed during the National EMPACT [European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] Coordinators meeting held at Europol on 22-23 November 2016."

See: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (15212/16, RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED, 6 December 2016, pdf)

Interconnecting Europe's policing and border control databases: High-Level Expert Group interim report

An interim report by the chair of the European Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' sets out the group's work so far, along with "interim findings and possible ways forward" on the interconnection (or not) of EU justice and home affairs databases and information systems - for example the Schengen Information System (SIS); the Visa Information System (VIS); Eurodac; and the proposed Entry/Exit System and European Travel Information (EES) and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

See: High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability set up by the European Commission: Interim report by the chair of the high-level expert group (pdf)

EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the EU's European External Action Service seeks to clarify what exactly has been agreed between the EU and Mali in relation to cooperation on migration. Recent reports have suggested that the EU and Mali signed a readmission agreement, something that was subsequently denied by the Malian government.

EU: Peaceful European Union starts to fund military research (Nature, link):

"Faced with a changing world order and buffeted by a slew of political crises and terrorist attacks, the historically civilian European Union is bolstering its military capabilities. And that means making its first major investment in military research.

On 1 December, the European Parliament approved a €25-million ($26-million) fund dedicated to military research. It will form part of a proposed broader European Defence Fund, aimed at making military innovation more efficient and enlarging Europe’s industrial defence base.

The research portion of the fund will cover electronics, advanced materials, encrypted software and robotics. The European Commission, the EU’s policymaking arm, expects to invest a total of €90 million by 2020. It hopes the figure will rise to €500 million a year for defence research from 2021."

Schengen Information System: EU vows to mend terrorist data share failures (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission is promoting another set of measures to crack down on terrorism and crime as part of its so-called security union.

A trio of EU commissioners on Wednesday (21 December) said the latest legislative proposals will "strengthen", "reinforce", and "improve" efforts to fight terrorism financing and make an EU-wide law enforcement database, known as the Schengen information system (SIS), even better."

And: EU proposal would expand data collection at Schengen borders (EBL News, link)

"The European Commission proposed expanding its criminal data bank system on Wednesday to help countries exchange more information on terrorism, cross-border crime and undocumented migrants.

The proposed changes to the Schengen Information System (SIS) include facial imaging and palm prints to identify people entering the Schengen area and adding alerts on people denied entry and those whom EU member states say should be sent home."

See new proposals for the SIS with regard to: illegally staying third-country nationals (COM(2016) 811 final, pdf), border checks (COM(2016) 812 final, pdf) and police cooperation (COM(2016) 883 final, pdf)

EU-MALTA: The Right to Access to a Lawyer in Malta: a few steps forward, a few steps back (Fair Trials, link):

"Considering this rather unfortunate backdrop, the Criminal Code (Amendment No. 2) Act of 2016 brings with it some welcome modifications to the law. This Bill seeks to transpose Directive 2013/48/EU, as well as Directive 2016/343/EU in part. Whereas this Bill does represent a major step forward in the protection of the right to access to a lawyer in Malta, the State’s attempts to dilute the protection to be afforded to the individual can still be seen in some provisions of this Bill.

Particularly problematic is Malta’s take on the right to have a lawyer present during the interrogation. Whereas the Directive requires that the lawyer present at the interrogation must be allowed to effectively participate during the questioning, proposed Article 355AUA (8) (c) of the Maltese Criminal Code removes any possibility of that lawyer to effectively participate during the questioning, thus turning the lawyer into a mere silent observer."

Macedonia Court Rejects Wiretap Evidence Against Former PM (OCCRP, link):

"A Macedonian court on Friday rejected a wiretapped conversation as evidence in the trial of 14 people, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, OCCRP partner Nova TV reported.

The trial is one result of a massive investigation into allegations of high-level wrongdoing launched by the country’s Special Prosecutor after the revelation last year of tens of thousands of wiretaps allegedly ordered by Gruevski. Security service officials and senior members Gruevski’s former VMRO-DPMNE-controlled government are among those implicated.

Friday’s hearing concerned allegations that Gruevski and others were behind a violent 2013 protest against Skopje Center Municipality Mayor Andrej Zernovski. Gruevski allegedly ordered the protest to disrupt a meeting critical of controversial plans to redevelop Skopje’s downtown."

EU: The corporate wax nose (OpenDemocracy, link) by David Sogge:

"A fountain of noble intentions and good deeds, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has long been advertised as a sure-fire way to improve and extend the benefits of capitalism for society. But does it actually deliver on that goal? Judging by the results of recent research the answer is no, even if many followers of CSR seem unprepared to grapple with those findings.

(...)

In conclusion, there’s a lot of evidence that Corporate Social Responsibility is what the Dutch call a ‘wax nose’—a phony contrivance that’s used to beguile us or delude us completely. More than a flashy ornament, it serves as camouflage. As aspiring icons of CSR continue to fall from grace—HSBC, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Unilever and so many others—a rising tide of earnest CSR reports helps to cover the smell of corporate malfeasance.

Serious research efforts like that of the IMPACT Project may expose CSR’s essential vacuity, but because their findings are ignored it marches forward unperturbed. The dogs may bark but the caravan continues. The show must go on. Wax noses to the front."

Hungary's pro-Kremlin far right is a regional security threat (EUobserver, link) by Edit Zgut:

"The murder of a Hungarian policeman by an extreme-right paramilitary leader in October has shed light on the continuing radicalisation and destabilisation of central and eastern Europe by the Kremlin.

The Hungarian National Front (MNA) was dissolved after its leader Istvan Gyorkos shot the officer as his house was being searched on 26 October.

The neo-Nazi group’s relationship with Russian military intelligence members, which dates back to 2012, came to light during the murder investigation.

It emerged that Russian foreign military intelligence (GRU) disguised as diplomats joined MNA members in military-style exercises. Yet the Hungarian government has still not asked the Russian ambassador to explain.

MNA is one of the most radical elements in a larger Hungarian pro-Russian extreme-right scene, of which Jobbik, the main opposition party, is the epicentre."

UK: Brighton father gives up job to help refugees (The Argus, link):

"A FATHER gave up his career to help refugees.

Paul Hutchings, 49, gave up his life as a marketing consultant, has taken an unexpected direction

Paul, of Hollingbury Park Avenue, Brighton, who has two daughters and two stepsons left his job this year to give the most precious gift: his time.

He said: “I was watching the news 18 months ago and I was getting really frustrated because enough wasn’t being done to help the refugees.

“In September last year I saw an opportunity to go to Calais, so I hired a van for a long weekend and it ended that, going and coming between Calais and Brighton for about six months.

"So I got involved in an organisation there. Then, in April, someone who I was working with in Calais was really keen to do something in Greece, and I was keen to do something there as well.” "

European Parliament: Briefing: Smart appliances and the electrical system (pdf):

"Smart appliances could help shift demand away from peak periods, which is important for an electricity system that relies on variable renewable energy sources. Most of this move will have to be automated, with smart appliances communicating with the electricity system. However, this is contingent on solving issues regarding the interoperability necessary for coordinating multiple smart appliances and households. It will also require the roll-out of smart meters and dynamic electricity prices, as well as making 'demand response' possible in various energy markets.

While consumers seem to have a positive attitude to smart appliances, they are not willing to change their habits unless they achieve substantial financial savings, and are not inclined to deal with control interfaces that are too complicated. Studies show that they are worried about the reliability, privacy and security of these new technologies.

Use of smart appliances could significantly benefit the electricity system when it comes to matching supply and demand in the grid, short-term balancing of the system, and reducing consumption. It could reduce the need for fossil fuel back-up and be conducive to an increased use of wind power. While the benefits seem to be many, the costs are not always clear. The European Commission recognises the potential of smart appliances and advocates development of smart infrastructure. The European Parliament seems to agree, as long as this benefits the consumer and affords a high level of data and privacy protection." (emphasis added)

UK: Police Scotland trained Saudi & Bahraini officers without human rights checks (Reprieve, link):

"Scottish Police provided training to senior officers from the Saudi and Bahraini police forces without carrying out any human rights checks, Freedom of Information requests by international human rights organisation Reprieve and BBC Scotland have revealed.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both use the death penalty and torture against people accused of involvement in protests. The Saudi authorities have also sentenced significant numbers of children to death – at least three of whom are currently on death row and could face execution at any time.

Under UK Government policy, a formal assessment is meant to be carried out before justice or security assistance is provided to states where it could contribute to the death penalty. However, FOI requests to Police Scotland and the UK College of Policing, who provided the Saudi and Bahraini training, found that no information was held on such assessments."

UK-FRANCE: Declaration granted in Help Refugees Legal Challenge (Doughty Street Chambers, link):

"Help Refugees has won a significant victory in its judicial review of the Government's approach to s.67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment). The refugee NGO, represented by Laura Dubinsky, Alex Gask and Rowena Moffatt, instructed by Leigh Day, has been granted a declaration in the Administrative Court concerning the correct interpretation of s.67. The provision requires the Home Secretary, 'as soon as possible' to relocate and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other European countries. Help Refugees argued, successfully, that the Government was wrong to treat its new s.67 duties as principally met by compliance with its pre-existing obligations under European law (the Dublin III Regulation). The AIRE Centre acts as intervener, represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O' Byrne, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Other parts of the claim continue and will be heard in the new year."

Refugees fall victim to people “ping pong” in the Balkans (IRIN, link):

"In an abandoned warehouse at the back of a bus station in Belgrade, several hundred migrants and refugees, most of them young men from Afghanistan, spend their days trying to keep warm and talking about how they will leave Serbia and continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

Officially, since March, there has been no way for migrants and asylum seekers to travel north from Greece other than by successfully applying for family reunification or relocation. But there are options for those who can afford it. Smugglers are charging 1,500 euros to move people from Greece (usually Thessaloniki) to Belgrade, and the same amount again to get them to Western Europe.

But many only get as far as the Balkans before running out of money or encountering draconian government policies. Push-backs, detentions, and deportations are common throughout the region, with some activists describing a “ping-pong situation” in which people are endlessly pushed back and forth."

Two new shipwrecks may bring annual Mediterranean death toll to over 5,000, says IOM

"IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project http://missingmigrants.iom.int, with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children." (emphasis added)

See: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 358,403; Official Deaths at Sea: 4,913 (IOM, link)

EU-ITALY: The ongoing failure of the relocation scheme

"Since September 2015, 1,950 asylum-seekers (5% of the 39,600 target) were relocated from Italy to 18 European countries."

EU: Let refugees help the EU (EUobserver, link) by Mohammed Alsaud:

"We, Syrian refugees and diaspora, want to be part of the solution to the refugee crisis. This includes embracing our responsibility to work alongside our hosting European communities to protect and instil the values – democracy, freedom for all and rule of law – we have sought so desperately back in Syria.

Participation is a human right and a pillar to a pluralistic and democratic society.

We are eager and ready to do our part to address this crisis. We have solutions that reflect the concerns and political objectives of those who are affected most.

Syrians are best placed to determine policy about Syrians and Syrian refugees. This crisis is our day-to-day reality and our involvement at every stage of the decision-making process as partners and experts needs to be a priority.

With no immediate end in sight for the Syrian crisis, it is of utmost importance that the EU states carefully consider what they can do to protect, educate, and empower refugees, not only from Syria but from around the world, as experts and legitimate counterparts."

UK: Snooper's Charter is 'unlawful' and must be overhauled, Labour's Dianne Abbott says (The Independent, link):

"Labour’s Diane Abbott has called for a major rethink on Theresa May’s snooping laws, which the European Court has indicated are unlawful.

Ms Abbott slammed the Conservative legislation as a "serious erosion of our rights and liberties" and called for new exemptions. "

See also: Does the EU ruling really invalidate the Snoopers' Charter? (The Register, link):

"So there we have it. Like a legal analogy of Schrödinger's cat, European judgments resulting from appeals cases can't be considered to have an effect in the UK until a British judge has observed them.

For now, readers should know that the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) is still due to be commenced next Friday, 30 December, and even if some are suggesting that many of its provisions have been determined to be unlawful by yesterday's EU ruling, their interpretation will ultimately be decided upon by a domestic court in Blighty."

Background: European Court of Justice: 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)

EU-USA: European External Action Service: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue statement

"On the occasion of the third meeting of the EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue in Brussels on December
16, 2016, the participants jointly affirmed specific areas of cooperation as follows: International Security in Cyberspace... Cyber Capacity Building... Internet Governance... Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Online... Combatting Cybercrime... Cyber Resilience... Transatlantic cyber policy research cooperation"

See: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue (pdf)

EU and Switzerland agree on free movement (EUobserver, link):

"The EU approved a new Swiss law on Thursday (22 December) that will allow EU citizens to work in Switzerland, opening the way to solve a two-year crisis.?

An EU-Swiss joint committee, where all 28 EU states are represented, said that the law passed last Friday in the Swiss parliament would limit the effect of a 2014 referendum to introduce immigration quotas into the Swiss constitution.

One of the consequences of the referendum would have been to limit the free movement of EU workers to Switzerland, a member of the passport-free Schengen area."

UK: Chakrabarti pledges to end 'authoritarian arms race' over UK prisons (The Guardian, link):

"The shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, has pledged to end the “authoritarian arms race” to lock up more criminals as prison officers deal with the aftermath of the latest in a string of prison riots.

In remarks that are being seen as signalling an end to New Labour’s “tough on crime” mantra, Chakrabarti said prison overcrowding had contributed to “a crisis this Christmas in British prisons”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after riot officers ended a disturbance at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey, Chakrabarti said: “In my adult lifetime I have seen a doubling of the prison population and I think this was caused by an authoritarian arms race in British politics between the two parties. We are not in the arms race.”"

And see: Kicking Off… Why Prison Riots Happen (Prison UK: An Insider's View, link): " In reality, prison riots usually occur in very troubled prisons that have an extended history of poor management, as well as inmate discontent and frustration. It is rare that one single incident or decision by a governor leads directly to an explosion of rage by prisoners. There is almost always a whole series of issues and complaints that have gone unaddressed for weeks or even months."

Tusk rallies against ‘undermining of democracy’ in Poland as protests continue (EurActiv, link):

"European Council President Donald Tusk weighed in on Poland’s political crisis on Saturday (17 December), urging the ruling party to respect the constitution, the voters and the democratic process, as two days of anti-government protests spread from Warsaw to two other cities.

Demonstrators continued their protests outside the presidential palace and the parliament on Saturday over the government’s plans to limit journalists’ access to lawmakers.

A large spontaneous demonstration erupted Friday (16 December) outside parliament against the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Party’s policies under leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski."

And see: #ThisIsEurope: We Stand By Polish Protesters against Media Restrictions (European Alternatives, link): "Beyond far right forces and authoritarianism, beyond censorship and oppression, people in Poland and in many other countries, are demanding to be the ones taking the decisions affecting their lives. People protesting in Poland represent the Europe we want; they represent the importance of joining forces, of taking the streets and the squares without fear, defending democracy, freedom and our basic rights as citizens, that sometimes, are taken for granted."

Connecting unrelated events is a side effect of terrorism (EurActiv, link) by Dr. Marta Dominguez Diaz:

"Connecting unrelated atrocities as if they were part of an orchestrated scheme reveals one of the devastating effects terrorism is having in Europe and North America, a price our collective psyche is paying that will surely have secondary effects. Days like the 20th of December trigger a state of shared paranoia which, albeit difficult to control, is more dangerous than helpful. Actually, the only thing that the three cases evidently share by now is that they all seem to involve, in some capacity, Muslims. Yet it is likely that the similarities between the three stop there.

(...)

One may wonder whether a gun attack, injuring three people in Switzerland, would have reached the American public, Donald Trump included, if we could not hastily conclude that it was a ‘terrorist’ act. Would we have been concerned about the Muslim victim(s) if their murder had not coincided with the killings in Berlin? Would they have received the same media attention?"

AUSTRIA-ECJ: Questions on visa in the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code sent to ECJ

"On the 14 December 2016 the Austrian Administrative High Court referred the following questions to the Court of Justice in C-646/16 Jafari on the interpretation to be given to the term “visa” under the Dublin Regulation III and Schengen Borders Code:

1. Are Articles 2 lit m, Article 12 and Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013, hereinafter: Dublin III-Regulation, to be interpreted in conjunction with other legal acts related to the Dublin III-Regulation or are said provisions to be interpreted independently and autonomously?
If the provisions of the Dublin III-Regulation are to be interpreted independently and autonomously from other legal acts:

2. Is the de facto tolerated entry into a MS’ territory for the sole purpose of transiting a MS and applying for international protection in another MS to be regarded as “visa” as defined by Article 2 lit m and Article 12 Dublin III-Regulation in cases – like the present – which occurred at a time when the national authorities of the involved MS are confronted with an extraordinary high number of persons demanding transit through their territory?"

See: Austrian Administrative High Court refers preliminary questions to CJEU on the definition of visa under the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code (EDAL, link)

Warsaw sees in Brexit a political and economic opportunity (New Europe, link):

"Britain’s decision to leave the EU is an opportunity to return power from Brussels to national governments, Poland’s eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told Reuters on Thursday.

Kaczynski, 67, is not a cabinet minister but leads Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS), which enjoys an overwhelming majority in Parliament and also has control over the Presidency. He told Reuters that while Britain is a natural ally for Poland could lead to a new treaty that will redefine the EU as “an association of national states.” As for the economy, “we need far-reaching deregulation.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.12.16) including "Locking down Africa" and NGOs oppose transfers back to Greece

EU: Council of the European Union: Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no: 11800-REV-1-16, 391 pages, pdf):

"The manual aims to inform and facilitate practical day-to-day cooperation between different Member States' authorities involved in police information exchange at both national and international level, to serve training purposes and ensure that better informed decisions will be made when it comes to seeking and exchanging information across borders.

The manual contains an overview of all EU systems, legal bases and instruments of information exchange available to the law enforcement authorities of the Member States. This way, the user is fully informed of the available options when it comes to deciding how to seek or provide information across borders."

Locking down Africa (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"In the second part of her examination of EU deals with third countries to stop migration, Frances Webber examines the closure of Africa’s borders against migration, demanded by the EU as the price for development, trade and aid."

See also Part 1: Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (link)

European Parliament: "Winter Package" on security and defence, Cash Controls & Asylum Agency

Study: The 2016 “Winter Package” on European Security and Defence: Constitutional, Legal and Institutional Implications (pdf):

"This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines a series of constitutional, legal and institutional implications of the proposals endorsed by the December 2016 European Council for the further development of the Common Security and Defence Policy in the framework of the current Treaties."

Briefing: Controls of cash movements (pdf):

"In spite of a steady growth in non-cash payment methods, cash remains an important means of payment in daily life, mainly for payments of small amounts. Cash is, however, also widely used 'in the criminal economy and it remains the raw material of most criminal activity',2 including money laundering and terrorist financing. As these criminal activities often have a global impact, there are various international bodies, such as the rules of the UN Security Council, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or the Council of Europe, which have put rules in place targeting money laundering and terrorist financing...."

See also: Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 (COM 825, pdf)

Report: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum (pdf): The parliament's amendments to the Commission proposal.

EU-GREECE: NGO letter to Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President European Commission and Mr. Ioannis Mouzalas, Minister of Migration Policy, Greece: Letter to Commission: Joint Action Plan on EU-Turkey Statement and resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece (pdf).

Signed by ECRE, Greek Council for Refugees, AITIMA and Solidarity Now. Includes Annex on: Observations and concerns on the Joint Action Plan on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement and the Recommendation on the resumption of returns to Greece under the Dublin III Regulation:

"In its fourth report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, published on 8 December 2016, the European Commission has suggested a series of measures aiming at increasing the number of returns from Greece under this highly controversial and contested arrangement.

The undersigning organisations are particularly alarmed by the suggestions made in the Joint Action Plan elaborated by the EU Coordinator together with the Greek authorities on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement.

We believe that many of the proposed measures will result in depriving asylum seekers and migrants arriving on the islands from essential procedural safeguards to protect them from refoulement, from enjoying the right to family life and the right to asylum under Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and eventually undermine the rule of law."

UK-IRELAND: PITCHFORD Inquiry: Victims of Irish Police Spy Operaton Demand Inclusion in UK Inquiry (pdf):

"Three victms of a controversial police spying unit operatng in Ireland have fled legal acton to demand their inclusion in the ongoing Britsh Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). The spy unit has sparked controversy across Europe, while the Tánaiste has failed to support victms."

Thousands of refugees left in cold, as UN and EU accused of mismanagement - United Nations refugee agency and EU’s Echo aid department accused of failing to properly ‘winterise’ camps (Guardian, link):

"The UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund earmarked for the most vulnerable refugees in Europe, leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece.....

The EU aid department, known as Echo, has given UNHCR more than €14m since April to help prepare roughly 50 refugee camps for the winter in Greece, where an estimated 50,000 mainly Syrian refugees have been stranded since the adoption of new European migration policies in March. A further €24m has been given to UNHCR for other projects.

Both organisations stand accused by other aid groups of squandering this money, after failing to properly “winterise” or evacuate dozens of camps before snow fell in Greece earlier in December."

New ECJ ruling on data retention: Preservation of civil rights even in difficult times! (Freegroup, link) by Peter Schaar:

"The European Court of Justice has made a Christmas present to more than 500 million EU citizens. With its new judgment on data retention (C-203/15 of 21 December 2016) – the highest court of the European Union stresses the importance of fundamental rights. All Member States are required to respect the rights represented in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in their national legislation. The ECJ issued an important signal that can hardly be surmounted taking into account the current political discussions on internal and external threats and the strengthening of authoritarian political currents providing the public with simplistic answers to difficult questions."

And: Data retention and national law: the ECJ ruling in Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 Tele2 and Watson (Grand Chamber) (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today's judgment in these important cases concerns the acceptability from a human rights perspective of national data retention legislation maintained even after the striking down of the Data Retention Directive in Digital Rights Ireland (Case C-293/12 and 594/12) (“DRI”) for being a disproportionate interference with the rights contained in Articles 7 and 8 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR)."

Background: 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)

USA: Documents suggest Palantir could help power Trump's ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants - Training materials obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center show Palantir has played a role in a far-reaching customs system (The Verge, link):

"Palantir, the data-mining firm co-founded by tech billionaire and Trump transition adviser Peter Thiel, has provided largely secret assistance to the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in operating a system that tracks and assesses immigrants and other travelers, according to public records. Known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, the system draws from a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement databases that gather and analyze often-sensitive details about people, including biographical information, personal associations, travel itineraries, immigration records, and home and work addresses, as well as fingerprints, scars, tattoos, and other physical traits."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.12.16) including Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism plus SIS II and "returns"

EU:
PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure

The European Commission is offering €70 million along with technical support to try to ensure the swift construction and interconnection of the infrastructure required to implement the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of all air passengers in Europe by law enforcement authorities.

The Directive requires passenger data from all flights entering, leaving or travelling within the EU to be handed over from airlines to 'Passenger Information Units', run by national law enforcement authorities, so that it can be cross-checked against watchlists, databases and profiles for the purposes of "preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime."

Comment (Chris Jones, Statewatch): An anti-democratic farce:

"The Commission's recent staff working document highlights the questionable approach, in terms of democratic procedure, that some Member States have taken towards establishing their national PNR systems: they "first started to build the technical infrastructure needed… and only later engaged in the legislative process."

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) RULES OUT BLANKET DATA RETENTION: EU's highest court delivers blow to UK snooper's charter - Indiscriminate collection of emails is illegal, court rules in response to challenge originally brought by David Davis (Guardian, link):

“General and indiscriminate retention” of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU’s highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK’s new Investigatory Powers Act – the so-called snooper’s charter.

Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ’s bulk interception of call records and online messages."

See: 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)

EU: European Commission: "SIS" Package

Security Union: Commission proposes to reinforce the Schengen Information System to better fight terrorism and cross-border crime (Press release, pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "With today's proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders."

Report on the evaluation of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (COM 880, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying thirdcountry nationals (COM 881, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks (COM 882, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (COM 883, pdf)
Technical and operational updates of the Schengen Information System – Questions & Answers (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Security Union: Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders – Questions and Answers (pdf):

"The proposed Regulation will facilitate cross-border recovery of criminal assets and lead to more efficient freezing and confiscation of funds from illicit origin in the EU without cumbersome formalities. Recovered assets will be used for the compensation of victims, where national legislation allows it. It also provides additional funds to invest back into law enforcement activities or other crime prevention initiatives or it can be used for other public interest or social purposes."

And: Security Union: Commission adopts stronger rules to fight terrorism financing (Press release, pdf):

"Today, the European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the EU's capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime, delivering on the commitments made in the Action Plan against terrorist financing from February 2016. The proposals being presented by the Commission will complete and reinforce the EU's legal framework in the areas of money laundering, illicit cash flows and the freezing and confiscation of assets."  

Proposed Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM 819/2, pdf)
Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 {SWD(2016) 470 (COM 825, pdf)
Proposed Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law (COM 826, pdf)

And see: Third progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 831, pdf)

Statewatch Viewpoint: Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism (pdf) by Theodore Baird

"The EU is actively cooperating with authoritarian regimes to control international movement while ignoring the disastrous human rights records of these regimes....

Nowhere in the new Partnership Framework is there recognition that the main countries of cooperation are ruled by authoritarian or hybrid governments actively undermining human rights. The main countries of cooperation – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia – have either authoritarian or hybrid regimes according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2015 (with the exceptions of Senegal and Tunisia, which are flawed democracies)."

Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link):

"Mali's foreign minister on Monday denied an agreement had been reached with the European Union to take back migrants failing to get asylum.

The Dutch foreign ministry signed a joint declaration on the EU's behalf on December 11 which it said would tackle "the root causes of illegal migration" and "enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants".

But Abdoulaye Diop told a press conference: "At no point was there any question of signing an agreement that would allow the expulsion of countrymen (living) in Europe illegally."

Mali "does not intend to put a price on its dignity even if the EU is a development partner."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.12.16) including "Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (MEP) and Kos baker wins award for helping refugees.

UK: Cardiff activist, Deborah, speaks out for the first time (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"‘Deborah’ is bravely speaking out for the first time about the trauma she has suffered after having a relationship with Marco Jacobs, an undercover officer and the subsequent five year battle to find out the truth.

This week she gave a interview to Channel Four News, about her experiences, and to the Guardian talking about the effects of the delays in her legal action against the police. She has also written her story down in the form of a statement for Police Spies Out of Lives, which we share below.

Deborah is one of three of the people involved in her case, she has requested anonymity; this has been upheld by the courts. ‘Deborah’ is a pseudonym."

And: Helen Steel issues statement as former partner confirmed as undercover officer (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer and Helen Steel has issued a statement in response. It is contained here
:
The Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer the third officer confirmed in recent weeks. John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel, who until recently was suing the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology, the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ .

Helen Steels Statement: “While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago. Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser...."

Landmark Judgment: Khlaifia and Others v. Italy: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Holding of irregular migrants on Lampedusa and on ships in Palermo harbour (Press release, pdf):

"In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (application no. 16483/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
a violation of Article 5 § 2 (right to be informed promptly of the reasons for deprivation of liberty) of the Convention;
a violation of Article 5 § 4 (right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention);
no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) as regards the conditions in the Lampedusa reception centre);
no violation of Article 3 as regards the conditions on the ships in Palermo harbour; and
by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens);
unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken together with Article 3;
by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 13 taken together with Article 4 of Protocol No. 4.

The case concerns the holding, in a reception centre on the island of Lampedusa then on ships in Palermo harbour (Sicily), of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy in 2011 following the “Arab Spring” events in their country, and their subsequent removal to Tunisia."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunisians in 2011 (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico.

EU: Commission report on work in the Eastern Partnership countries, including security and borders

The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The report includes a section on "resilience" and "civilian security":

"The resilience of the Partner Countries will be strengthened through stronger cooperation in the area of civilian security. The aim is to support Partners, including through capacity building projects, to ensure the security of their population, to make them more resilient to security threats and to be better prepared to prevent and respond to conflict and crisis."
.

See: Joint Staff Working Document: Eastern Partnership - Focusing on key priorities and deliverables (EU doc no: 15625-16, pdf).

EU: Latest reports on cybercrime and law enforcement: including problems with encryption, jurisdiction, and obtaining evidence

EU: Yet another new European intelligence forum: the Paris Group (link):

"Intelligence service coordinators from 15 European countries are organising themselves in a new group, known as “G15”. Initial meetings have been held in Berlin and Rome. The attendees were meant to remain anonymous – but one of them has broken cover.

Rather unexpectedly, a number of European governments have initiated moves to set up yet another intelligence network, whose remit will go beyond cooperation among national agencies and is likely to involve foreign intelligence services as well. Early this year, the intelligence service coordinators from 15 countries formed the Paris Group, known in some publications as “G15”."

European Parliament: ACP-EU :"Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (Press release, pdf):

Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), EU Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) said at the opening of its 32nd session, in Nairobi (Kenya) on Monday:

"We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working", said Louis Michel. "The history of humanity is the history of migrations. Zero immigration has never existed and never will (…) because no coercive, repressive or security measure will ever be able to prevent a human being from trying his luck wherever he thinks he will be able to give his destiny the basic dignity to which any human being has a right.”

European Commission: Draft Revised Regulation on privacy and Electronic Communications (pdf)

The Commission is planning to present a revision of the Regulation in January - the latest draft is above. This will revise Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications which regulates the way in which telecommunication service providers have to manage the data of their subscribers.

The Commission is planning new rules that will force websites and browsers to switch from a default of allowing users to opt out of online advertising by asking them to opt in to view adverts based on their browsing history.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.12.16) including EU-Mali migration deal text; CoE urges Belgium not to resume detention of migration children; Keep squatted Athens refugee "hotel" open; and more.

Widespread ethnic profiling by police: a call for EU action (OpenDemocracy, link):

"These discriminatory practices are not only in breach of fundamental rights standards, they also have an extremely damaging impact on the minority communities targeted, leaving innocent individuals feeling fearful, humiliated and alienated. They also reinforce stigmatisation and criminalisation by the general public of entire groups of people and an ‘us-versus-them’ discourse.

In addition, ethnic profiling is an ineffective and even counter-productive security strategy. Discriminatory stops and searches in the context of counter-terrorism have produced few terrorism charges and no convictions. When police treat an entire group of people as suspicious, they are more likely to miss dangerous persons who do not fit the profile. Ethnic profiling also affects the trust of entire communities, and develops fear of law enforcement among youth and children. It makes the very communities whose support is necessary for fighting crime reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. Procedural justice research shows that when citizens see the police as more legitimate, they are more likely to comply with police directives and the law. For this to happen, citizens should be treated with dignity and respect and they should trust that the police are truly operating in their best interests."

Italy saved record number of refugees in 2016 (EUobserver, link):

"It has been a record year for Italy's coastguard, with nearly 180,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean. Around 170,000 people were rescued from migrant boats in 2014, with another 153,000 picked up in 2015 and nearly 180,000 this year, including 4,000 just last week, despite worsening weather at sea, AFP reports. The government says rescue operations at sea cost €1.5bn this year, with an extra €2.3bn spent on reception."

GREECE: Keep City Plaza Open. Refugee Hotel Athens (Youcaring, link):

"Where?

City Plaza is a refugee accommodation and solidarity space in the heart of Athens, Greece.

What?

Following the closure of the borders when the EU trapped almost 65,000 refugees in Greece, the Greek government created more than 49 detention centers, hotspots and camps. City Plaza offers a safe and dignified alternative to these places where the conditions are wretched, unclean and inhumane.

On the 22nd of April 2016 refugees, volunteers and solidarity activists occupied City Plaza Hotel which had been closed for 7 years.

126 rooms on 7 floors. A reception, bar, dining room, kitchen, storage, play ground, health care center, roof terrace, classroom and library.

CIty Plaza is supported exclusively through political solidarity and individual donations."

All migrants have rights - Our call to respect the rights of migrants in an irregular situation (Red Cross EU Office, link):

"Ahead of International Migrants’ Day, the Red Cross EU Office urges the EU and its Member States to take decisive action to protect the dignity of migrants in an irregular situation.

Migrants in an irregular situation are among the most vulnerable people in Europe. Yet many of their needs are not addressed as they often live in the shadows of society, for fear of being apprehended. They frequently live clandestinely, and face significant difficulties in accessing basic services and vital assistance like healthcare, education, or legal support. "Although the numbers are difficult to measure, we know that this group is growing, as people fall off the grid because they are either denied asylum, or choose not to apply in transit countries. Our members are concerned by the increasing vulnerability of the migrants they encounter through their work,” underlines Denis Haveaux, Director of the Red Cross EU Office."

EU: Counter-terrorism: alerts for temporary detention to be added to the SIS?

EU institutions, Member States and "various platforms and forums at the European level" are considering adding a new type of alert to the Schengen Information System (SIS) that woud allow "preliminary and temporary holding or detention in the context of the fight against terrorism," in order to "provide a solution going beyond information collection in situations in situations where there is a threat of terrorism."

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party for Schengen Matters (SIS/SIRENE): Fight against terrorism: Article 36 alerts (14651/16, LIMITE, 22 November 2016, pdf)

EU: How European databases failed to catch Freiburg murder suspect (Deutsche Welle, link):

"An Afghan asylum-seeker arrested for the murder of a student in Freiburg had already been convicted of a violent crime in Greece. Why wasn't he picked up in Europe's police search networks?"

And see: Asylum seeker convicted of attempted murder in Greece was released before raping and killing German student (The Independent, link): "The murder has stoked growing anti-migrant sentiment in the country, where the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party and far-right Pegida group have been capitalising on the killing.

...The German government appealed for calm as news of Hussein K’s arrest spread earlier this month, with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warning against “incitement”.

“Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here,” he said."

MEPs urge Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission should comply with EU law by temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, so as to encourage Washington to grant citizens of all EU countries visa-free access to the US, said a majority of MEPs in a debate in plenary on Wednesday.

Most speakers agreed that this is “a matter of principle” and stressed that EU rules require the Commission to present a delegated act to suspend an EU visa waiver if the country to which it was granted not offer full visa reciprocity to citizens of all EU member states. Some MEPs suggested that Parliament could bring this issue to the European Court of Justice."

EU-Mali migration declaration: full-text of the "common communication" signed on 11 December

The EU's approach towards making "deals" on migration with non-EU states continued with the signing of a "common communique" with the government of Mali on 11 December in Bamako. In the communique, the EU and Mali commit to drafting a 'Joint Roadmap' that will focus on the creation of employment for young people; the "reinforcement of coherent and robust civil registration systems"; the introduction of biometric passports; border "management" procedures and "better control of the territory"; countering trafficking and smuggling and returns from Europe to Mali.

See: Communiqué commun Mali – EU - À la suite du Dialogue de Haut Niveau sur la Migration- Bamako, le 11 Décembre 2016 (French only, pdf)

UK: Joint Human Rights Committee on the human rights implications of Brexit

"The process of withdrawing from the European Union will have a significant impact on the legal framework that protects human rights in the United Kingdom. A complete withdrawal from the EU would mean that the UK would no longer have to comply with the human rights obligations contained within the EU Treaties, the General Principles of EU law, which include respect for fundamental rights, or EU directives and regulations protecting fundamental rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter) would not apply and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) would most probably cease to have jurisdiction over the UK.

(...)

The EU rights in question are extensive. In this report, we have focused on:

i) rights capable of replication in the law of the UK following Brexit;
ii) rights enjoyed by UK nationals in other Member States of the EU which might be retained following negotiation with the remaining EU Member States;
iii) the extent to which individual rights currently protected under EU law are likely to be protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
iv) questions about the human rights obligations which might be included in any new bilateral trade agreements post-Brexit."

See: House of Commons-House of Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights: The human rights implications of Brexit (pdf)

Brexit and the Future of Human Rights Law in the UK (EU Law Analysis, link):

" What’s the future for human rights law in the UK after Brexit? The starting point in the debate is what happens to the Human Rights Act – the subject of Professor Gearty’s new book On Fantasy Island. It has a thorough grasp of detail, but also makes the case for the Act in its social, political and historical context. It has a command of the whole subject, but also demonstrates the importance of human rights cases to the individuals concerned.

In particular, On Fantasy Island demolishes the myth of a glorious past for human rights as part of the common law (see also his blog post on this theme). As Professor Gearty notes, it’s true that the Salvation Army had the right to march joylessly to demand that people endure grinding poverty with tedious sobriety. But many others were unsuccessful asserting such rights – or were subject to wrongful convictions which sometimes either turned into wrongful executions or would have done so if the death penalty were still applied."

BREXIT: What will happen to police and security cooperation when the UK leaves the EU?

"Losing access to European police and justice databases after Brexit could undermine public safety and harm the government’s ability to protect national security, a cross-party parliamentary committee has said.

Close cooperation with EU institutions such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Criminal Records Information System is “mission-critical for the UK’s law enforcement agencies” in fighting terrorism and serious crime, according to the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-committee."

See: Loss of EU security cooperation could make UK less safe, say peers (The Guardian, link):

Full report: House of Lords EU Home Affairs sub-committee: Brexit: future EU-UK security and police co-operation (pdf):

"In other cases, and especially with regard to what are likely to emerge as the UK’s top objectives in this area, there is either no precedent for the EU permitting access to its tools by non-EU or non-Schengen members, for example in relation to ECRIS or SIS II, or the precedents that do exist would not be sufficient to meet the UK’s operational needs, for example in the case of third-country agreements with Europol."

And see: May Needs Bespoke Brexit Deal to Keep Britain Safe, Lords Say (Bloomberg, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.12.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.12.16)

German spies 'can't be trusted': Relations between the UK and Berlin intelligence chiefs hit after comments by London (Mail Online, link):

• Germany's spy agency BND is being frozen out by GCHQ as well as in America
• Both believe insecure servers have led to Wikileaks taking classified documents
• Berlin officials are angry that secret intelligence data has not been handed over
• The freeze-out also applies to the Metropolitan Police and UK Border Force

COMET: New Council working party for terrorist listing and sanctions

A new working party within the Council of the EU with the acronym COMET has been set up to "examine and evaluate information" and "make recommendations" regarding persons and groups to be placed on the EU's terrorist lists. The meetings of the group will be held in secret, and dates, agendas and organisational details of meetings will be classified as RESTREINT/RESTRICTED.

SPAIN: Amnesty slams treatment of migrants in Spain enclaves (The Local, link):

"Amnesty International on Tuesday denounced conditions for migrants arriving in Spain's overseas territories of Melilla and Ceuta, where they said asylum rights were not always respected.

After interviewing some 50 people in both north African enclaves that neighbour Morocco, the group said migrants who arrived there had at times experienced police abuse, and vulnerable people such as homosexuals or victims of domestic violence were not given adequate protection.

Spain's interior ministry did not comment on the report."

Full report (Spanish only): En tierra de nadie: La situación de las personas refugiadas y migrantes en Ceuta y Melilla (link to pdf)

European Council, 15 December 2016: EU-Turkey deal backed, Brexit discussion

EU-TURKEY: Fearing consequences, EU leaders show commitment to Turkey deal (Daily Sabah, link): "Despite the EU's heavy anti-Turkey stance and Austria's calls to freeze accession talks with Ankara, leaders in the European Union have expressed their commitment to the migration deal with Turkey while the European Parliament's calls to halt Turkey's negotiations did not find support among the leaders.

Speaking at her arrival to the EU Leaders Summit in Brussels yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that her country stands by the EU-Turkey Agreement that was signed in March and that Germany intends to continue to support Greece with repatriation efforts."

See: on migration (including EU-Turkey), security, other issues: European Council meeting (15 December 2016) – Conclusions (EUCO 34/16, pdf)

Brexit: EU leaders discuss UK's exit without Theresa May (BBC News, link): "The EU's 27 other leaders have met without the UK's Theresa May to discuss their Brexit negotiation plans.

They met informally at the European Council summit in Brussels amid tensions over the handling of talks.

Downing Street said Mrs May had not sought to be present at that meeting and it showed the EU was facing up to the reality that the UK was leaving.

It comes as the UK government plays down a suggestion that negotiating a UK-EU trade deal could take 10 years."

See: Informal meeting of the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission Brussels, 15 December 2016 (pdf)

EC hones in on biometrics in action plan on document fraud (Planet Biometrics, link):

"The European Commission has adopted an action plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, stating that it is needed to improve breeder document standards and information exchange amid current tensions.

The 11-page “Action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud” notes that the need for improved travel document security comes as the issue is increasingly under the spotlight in the context of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and current migration flows."

And see: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers" (Statewatch News Online)

Turkey's crackdown propels number of journalists in jail worldwide to record high (CPJ, link):

"More journalists are jailed around the world than at any time since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping detailed records in 1990, with Turkey accounting for nearly a third of the global total, CPJ found in its annual census of journalists imprisoned worldwide.

Amid an ongoing crackdown that accelerated after a failed coup attempt in July, Turkey is jailing at least 81 journalists in relation to their work, the highest number in any one country at any time, according to CPJ’s records. Turkish authorities have accused each of those 81 journalists--and dozens more whose imprisonment CPJ was unable to link directly to journalistic work--of anti-state activity.

The global total of 259 journalists jailed on December 1, 2016, compares with 199 behind bars worldwide in 2015. The previous global record was 232 journalists in jail in 2012."

Statewatch Briefing: Eurodac: Member States want wider police access to biometric database despite most having never made use of it (pdf):

A European Commission proposal to expand the Eurodac biometric database has provided the perfect opportunity for national interior ministries to demand that police forces be able to obtain asylum-seekers’ and irregular migrants’ data more easily, despite the fact that half of all Member States do “not yet have experience with law enforcement access” to the system, according to an official document obtained by Statewatch. Proposed amendments simplifying and broadening law enforcement access now form part of the Council’s mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposed new Eurodac Regulation.

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (pdf):

Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission targeting migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean, has a "deterrence effect" that "by its presence alone, enhances security in the Mediterranean," according to an internal report by the Italian naval officer in charge of the deployment. Yet as people continue crossing the central Mediterranean, and increasing numbers of them die whilst trying to do so, the only reasonable question to be asked is: what deterrent effect?

EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast

According to a report in the Financial Times (link), EU border agency Frontex has accused NGOs of colluding with people smugglers operating in the central Mediterranean, stating in a confidential report that it has logged the: "“First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel”.

Similarly, in an internal report (pdf) drafted by the head of Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission against smuggling in the Mediterranean, NGOs are accused of making migrant smugglers' work easier by operating closer to the Libyan shore than the EU's vessels.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.12.16)

Council of Europe's anti-torture committee criticises inadequate safeguards for foreign nationals returned by air from Italy and Spain (link):

"In two reports published today on Italy and Spain, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) criticises the lack of adequate safeguards for foreign national returned by air from these countries, in particular concerning the way the individuals concerned are informed of their imminent removal and that appropriate medical examinations are not carried out before the flights.

The reports contains the CPT´s findings in respect of two return flights that it monitored: one from Rome to Lagos (Nigeria) on 17 December 2015 and the other from Madrid to Bogotá (Colombia) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) on 18 February 2016. The two joint removal operations of foreign nationals by air were co-ordinated by Frontex (now European Border and Coast Guard) and organized by Italy and Spain, with the participation of other countries. The responses of the Italian and Spanish authorities were also published....

Both reports also address specific recommendations to Frontex, in particular in relation to the need for developing more precise common rules on the use of means of restraint as different approaches by the respective national escort staff remained visible to the CPT’s delegations during the monitoring of the joint removal operations. Further, the CPT advocates for the creation of an effective complaints mechanism for the conduct of Frontex escort staff and remains unconvinced that the EU regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard provides for a rigorous complaints mechanism in terms of guarantees that the complaints will be dealt with in an effective, expeditious and thorough manner. " [emphasis added]

See CPT reports: Italy (pdf) plus Government response (pdf) and Spain (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

European Commission press release: EUTF for Africa and IOM initiative for Protection and Reintegration of returnees along the Central Mediterranean migration routes (pdf)

"The European Union, through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and with contributions from Germany (EUR 48 million) and Italy (EUR 22 million), has developed a joint initiative with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the efforts of partner countries in Africa to strengthen migration management and to respond to the urgent protection needs and unacceptable loss of life of migrants. The joint initiative will cover 14 countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Libya."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This is essentially a plan to create holding centres in Africa pending "returns" to the countries of origin or transit."

First wave of Afghans expelled from EU states under contentious migration deal (Guardian, link):

"Dozens of Afghans uprooted from Germany, Sweden and Norway as EU accord allowing deportation of Afghan asylum seekers comes into play...

For European countries, deportations are partly an attempt to deter migrants. Nearly 200,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe last year, most in Germany and Sweden.

However, the men who landed in Kabul on Thursday were not recent arrivals to Europe. Everyone the Guardian spoke to had lived in Germany for at least four years. They now returned to a country that has become more dangerous since they left....

Afghanistan is already straining under the weight of close to a million people returned or deported from Pakistan and Iran this year, according to the UN. The deportations from Europe are likely to compound unemployment and the economic crisis. Most returning migrants simply leave again."

Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 15 December 2016: EU leaders can save lives in winter if they change migration policies (ECRE, link):

"EU leaders can save lives this winter if they change migration policies

This week, European leaders meet in Brussels to discuss, amongst other things, progress on the EU-Turkey deal, the reform of the European asylum system, solidarity and responsibility sharing, and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. As humanitarian and human rights organisations working in Europe, we are gravely concerned that European policies are trying more and more to push people out of Europe, making it even harder to seek asylum, and leaving it to Member States of first entry, like Greece, to shoulder all the responsibility. Disregarding the realities on the ground and the human rights violations that the EU-Turkey Statement has led to, the European Commission proposes measures that will further exacerbate the situation."

EU-DENMARK-EUROPOL: Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Denmark to minimise the negative effects of the Danish departure from Europol, following the referendum in Denmark on 3 December 2015 (Press release, pdf): A similar arrangement would not be open to the UK under Brexit as:

"This arrangement would be conditioned on Denmark's continued membership of the European Union and of the Schengen area..."

UK: Met to apologise to woman after admitting officer stole dead son's identity (Guardian, link): "Police pledge to meet Barbara Shaw after officer used identity of Rod Richardson to pretend to be an anti-capitalist protester."

EU: E-evidence: Internet companies in the USA to facilitate direct enquiries by European authorities (link):

"When conducting digital investigations, authorities often run up against the problem that the data they are looking for is stored on servers abroad or that service providers do not respond to requests. The European Commission is therefore working to develop uniform standards. A number of companies are already cooperating in these efforts."

Interpol launches new facial recognition database (link)

"Law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on facial recognition systems. In addition to their use in identifying criminals, these might also be used in future to perform automatic matching against appropriate databases of everyone crossing an external border of the EU. Interpol is also considering searching through images on social networks."

Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots (euobserver, link):

"The EU is falling short of ensuring basic rights of children in its "hotspot" migrant camps in Greece and Italy, a new report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has said.

"The situation of children is a general concern in the hotspots; the one of unaccompanied children is a particularly burning one,” said Michal Nespor, an FRA official who presented the findings to the European Parliament's civic liberties committee on Thursday (8 December). The FRA is an EU watchdog agency in Vienna.

The hotspots were meant to facilitate EU assistance to Greece and Italy by concentrating asylum procedures and EU support in specific locations. But the idea is not working in practice, Nespor said. Lack of lawyers and other staff has caused logjams on asylum claims."

See FRA report: Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on fundamental rights in the ‘hotspots’ set up in Greece and Italy (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.12.16)

EU-USA Justice & Home Affairs December meeting

- "for the EU collectively more data, more variety of data and more tempo were needed."

EU and US Justice and Home Affairs Ministers met in Washington on 4-5 December 2016. The main points on the agenda were counter-terrorism, borders and migration and visa reciprocity.

See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting, Washington, 4 – 5 December 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 15062-16, pdf)

EU: European Parliament Studies: EPPO and Drug policy

- Towards a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, analyses the proposal for a Regulation establishing the EPPO. The evolution of the text is analysed through a comparison between the initial Commission proposal and the current version of the text (dated of 28 October 2016).

The paper assesses whether the EPPO, as it is currently envisaged, would fit the objectives assigned to it, whether it will have some added value, and whether it will be able to function efficiently and in full respect of fundamental rights. It focuses on the main issues at stake and controversial points of discussion, namely the EPPO institutional design, some material issues, its procedural framework, and its relations with its partners."

- A review and assessment of EU drug policy (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of the drug policies in international fora, at EU level, in seven Member States and in three non-EU countries. The study highlights the very different approaches taken and their varying level of effectiveness."

European Commission: report on the "Partnership Framework on migration"

In June 2016 the EU introduced new "Partnership" Frameworks - largely directed at African states - who are expected to sign up to "return" and readmission deals or suffer "the consequences" by losing trade and aid.

Commission reports on first deliverables under the Partnership Framework on migration with third countries (Press release, pdf):

"Concrete progress has been made under the Partnership Framework with third countries on migration, as presented in the second progress report today by the European Commission. The partnerships between the European Union and its Member States' and with the five priority countries, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal have been deepened and further developed."

Second Progress Report: First Deliverables on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 360, pdf)

Annex 1: High level visits and achievements (pdf)

Annex 2: Progress in priority countries (pdf)

See also: June 2016: Communication on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM(2016) 385 final)

EU-UK: BREXIT: House of Lords: Select Commitee reports:

- Brexit: UK-Irish relations (pdf):

"The implications of the 23 June referendum result for UK-Irish relations are often overlooked, at least on this side of the Irish Sea. Yet the consequences of Brexit are highly significant, not only for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and North-South relations between the two,1 but for the totality of relationships across these islands. Indeed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU as “arguably the greatest economic and social challenge for this island in fifty years.”

This report seeks to draw attention to the implications in key areas such as the Irish economy; cross-border trade; the Irish land border and the Common Travel Area; policing and security cooperation; the future of the Northern Ireland peace process; and North-South and East-West relations."

- Brexit: acquired rights (pdf)

"This report considers one of the most pressing issues to have arisen since the referendum result in June—what happens to the EU rights upon which so many of us rely when the UK leaves the EU?"

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Securing detainees’ access to lawyers (link):

"The Legal Affairs Committee underlined the importance of the right to the assistance of a defence counsel in criminal cases, as enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention. According to the parliamentarians, “it is crucially important for a detainee to have access to a lawyer from the outset of the detention in order to guarantee that the rights of defence are practical and effective”.

See: Report adopted (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.12.16)

GREECE: Serious problems in Greek asylum system persist, says NGO report

The Greek NGO AITIMA has published a mid-term report setting out the findings of its project monitoring the Greek asylum procedure, noting a number of serious issues including limited access to the procedure, delays in processing, lack of information for applicants and the "legally debatable establishment of Independent Appeals Committees.

See: Pilot Project on monitoring the asylum procedure (September 2016-March 2017) (pdf)

EU law-making: trilogues under fire for lack of transparency

"The EU is pushing more of its lawmaking out of public view.

Its stated motivation is to prove to an increasingly Euroskeptical public that it can move quickly when it needs to. Critics say it’s dumping oil on the Euroskeptic pyre.

Next week, the heads of the Commission, Parliament and the sitting president of the Council are expected to embrace “priority treatment” for about 40 draft laws, including the end to mobile roaming fees in Europe and eurozone budget reform.

In effect, that means legislators, under pressure from EU leaders, will be forced to agree on the most sensitive issues in closed-door “trilogues,” confirming a recent trend that has seen less public scrutiny of far-reaching legislation in parliamentary committees and the plenary.

Concerned about how key negotiations are being pushed into the shadows, transparency campaigners and corporate lobbyists have formed an unlikely coalition in response."

See: Where European democracy goes to die (Politico, link)

EU: Skype, WhatsApp face increased privacy regulation in Europe (PC World, link)

"Skype, WhatsApp and services like them could soon fall under the same European Union regulations as telephone calls and SMS text messages, a leaked legislative draft reveals.

Although Skype and WhatsApp can both be used to make voice calls and send text messages, they don't fall under existing EU communications privacy legislation because they are data services that run over the top of an internet connection, rather than native functions of the network like phone calls and SMS.

But legislators want to bring such "over-the-top" services within the scope of rules protecting users' privacy with their proposed Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation, a draft of which was obtained by Politico on Monday. The regulation is intended to replace the 2002 ePrivacy Directive."

See also: WhatsApp, Skype set to come under new EU security rules: draft (Reuters, link)

The draft of the proposed Regulation was originally published by Politico (link to pdf). Statewatch is hosting a copy with searchable text: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC ('Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation' (7.5MB, pdf)

CoE-POLAND-USA: Rendition: ministers want diplomatic assurances from USA on death penalty and Polish investigation stepped up

Representatives of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe have called upon the USA to provide assurances to the Polish authorities that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who the European Court of Human Rights ruled was subjected to rendition, secret detention and interrogation by Poland through its collaboration with the CIA, will not be subjected to the death penalty. He is currently held in Guantánamo Bay.

SCANDINAVIA: The Failure of The State And The Rise Of Fascism (Novara, link):

"Portrayed as dreamlands of equality and peaceful social democracy, the Nordic countries in recent years have seen a steep rise of the far right, both in party politics and on the streets. This is not as paradoxical as it sounds: the friendly welfare state has long hidden the ugly face of nationalism, opening a breeding ground for far-right ideas of the deserving ‘us’ and the undeserving ‘other’. To tackle fascism, we must question the very unit of the nation state and the ideology it was built on."

UK-IRELAND-EU: House of Lords: UK government must ensure relations with Ireland are not "collateral damage" of Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords European Union Committee (pdf) sets out the implications of Brexit for relations between the UK and Ireland, noting that they are "more profound than they are for any other Member State" and lead to "a series of complex and interconnected questions," which the Committee suggests are best resolved through "a unique solution... for the EU institutions and Member States to invite the UK and Irish Governments to negotiate a draft bilateral agreement, involving and incorporating the views and interests of the Northern Ireland Executive, while keeping the EU itself fully informed." The Committee warns that "UK-Irish relations and stability in Northern Ireland must not be allowed to become ‘collateral damage’ of Brexit."

EU: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers"

A European Commission Action Plan on dealing with travel document fraud, published on 8 December, includes a whole host of commitments from the Commission, including: "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers (facial image and/or fingerprints) in population registers, in full respect of EU data protection law and taking account of the national context in Member States."

No more EU deals to keep migrants out (EurActiv, link):

"It has only been a year since 193 of the world’s leaders agreed on the 2030 Agenda, where they agreed to facilitate safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility and ensure full respect for human rights and humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, write Jessica Poh-Janrell and Andrea Stocchiero of CONCORD.

Since then, more people than ever have been forced to leave their homes. At the same time, right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric has whipped up xenophobia and fear of refugees and migrants, for example ahead of the Brexit vote and now in the run up to the French election. With a world in turmoil, it is more important than ever that the leaders of Europe step up and show the world their real commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda and to stand up for international solidarity and everyone’s human rights.

The [European Council] summit this week (15 December) is the opportunity for our leaders to change direction, but instead the EU, together with its member states, are making one deal after another with countries many of whom have very bad human rights records. The intentions are all the same: keeping people out or sending them back. Along the way, peoples’ human rights and right to protection are being ignored."

EU: European Council, 15 December 2016: latest text of the draft conclusions

Statewatch has obtained the text of a copy of the draft conclusions being put together for the European Council meeting on 15 December, covering amongst other things: migration (reiteration of commitment to the EU-Turkey deal, need for financing for the Valletta Action Plan); internal security ("the European Council calls for effective cooperation with electronic service providers based inside and outside the EU," for example internet service providers and telecoms firms); external security and defence (the EU needs its own military forces); "economic and social development and youth"; Ukraine; and Syria.

UK: Far right group National Action to be banned under terror laws (BBC News, link):

"A British neo-Nazi movement is to become the first far-right group to be banned under terrorism laws in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said National Action was "a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation".

An order laid in Parliament to proscribe the group - making it a criminal offence to join or support it - is due to come into effect on Friday.

It will be the first time a group engaged in extreme right-wing activities has been proscribed.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be "concerned in terrorism"."

UK: What Do the Screws Want? (Jacobin, link):

"Of all the frontlines of struggle embroiling the British government, few would have expected prisons to be among the most urgent. A recent illegal strike by ten thousand prison officers took the government by surprise, and more could be coming. The government rumors that it was considering deploying armed forces to take control of the prisons.

This isn’t the first time such action has been taken. The New Labour government had to fight prison officers over pay back in 2007, and faced a similarly truculent workforce. But this time, it is a matter of workplace safety. It’s the soaring rate of violence in prisons, with a number of recent riots, that has officers demanding government action. Overcrowding and understaffing is blamed, by prison officers and the former chief inspector of prisons. The current chief inspector found conditions in Bedford Prison, before the riots, to fall well below “basic levels of decency.”"

Bargaining Chips No More: The Status of EU and UK citizens after Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today, the results of an inquiry into the status of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, set up by the NGO British Future, are released. I was a member of the panel of that inquiry, which sought to bring together supporters of both the Leave and the Remain side, from different political parties and from outside Parliament as well.

This blog post has three related objectives: a) to set out and defend the main recommendations of the inquiry regarding EU citizens in the UK after Brexit; b) to set out my own recommendations for what should happen to UK citizens in the EU after Brexit; and c) to discuss the idea (floated recently) of ‘associate citizenship’ of the EU for UK citizens after Brexit. Just to make clear, the second and third points were outside the remit of the British Future inquiry – but I think it makes sense to look at those issues in parallel today. Obviously, the comments here on the latter two points are mine alone, and my views on them are not necessarily shared by any of the other people on the panel."

AUSTRALIA: Mining company Rio Tinto wants to use drones and "smart infrastructure" to monitor workers

"In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition.

Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource – its own employees, for data.

Thousands of Rio Tinto personnel live in company-run mining camps, spending not just work hours but leisure and home time in space controlled by their employer – which in this emerging era of smart infrastructure presents the opportunity to hoover up every detail of their lives."

See: Revealed: Rio Tinto's plan to use drones to monitor workers' private lives (The Guardian, link)

EU: Police crackdowns on people smuggling networks continue

Europol and Eurojust have again been advertising their efforts to dismantle networks of migrant smugglers across the continent.

See: Europol supports dismantlement of Somali migrant smuggling network in France and the Netherlands (Europol, link):

"On 6 – 7 December 2016, law enforcement and judicial authorities from France and the Netherlands, supported on-the-spot by Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, took action against an organised crime network suspected of having smuggled some 500 migrants from Somalia to different destination countries in the EU along secondary routes. 8 suspects were arrested in France (Strasbourg, Modane, Paris) and one in the Netherlands (Geleen) as a result of this joint action.

This criminal syndicate, composed of Somali nationals residing mainly in France and Italy, was responsible for smuggling Somali migrants from Italy to different EU Member States, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Northern European countries. Some of these migrants were smuggled out of Italy by means of car, train or coach, while others were smuggled directly from Africa to Europe by flights transiting via Asian countries using fake travel documents."

On the same operation: Somali migrant smuggling network in Europe dismantled (Eurojust, link)

And: Suspected criminal network smuggling Iranian migrants into the UK tackled (Europol, link): "On 8 December, 24 people were arrested as several homes were searched in Greece as part of a joint investigation by Greece and the UK, supported by Europol."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.12.16)

EU-Mali readmission agreement marks first such deal with an African state

The EU has signed its first readmission agreement with an African state, after a deal was reached with the Malian government in Bamako on Sunday 11 December aimed at combating "the root causes of irregular migration" and "to encourage the return of Malian migrants from Europe". The deal marks a complete U-turn by the Malian government, which EU officials noted in February this year was "opposed to readmission agreements."

EU met only 5% of target for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy (The Guardian, link):

"European countries have relocated only one in 20 of the refugees they promised to shelter, amid continuing deep divisions over how the continent should help growing numbers fleeing war and persecution.

More than a year after the EU promised to disperse 160,000 refugees from overstretched Greece and Italy to other EU countries, only 8,162 people have been found a home, figures from the European commission show.

Although the EU has met only 5% of its goal, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner in charge of migration, declared it was possible to hit the target by September 2017."

Commission: over €1 billion of EU-Turkey deal money contracted for 34 projects

In an answer to a parliamentary question the European Commission has said that €1.252 billion of the €3 billion promised under the EU-Turkey deal has so far been contracted for 34 different projects on humanitarian aid, education and healthcare for refugees.

A further €60 million has been provided for "food, healthcare and accommodation for migrants returning from Greece to Turkey," and €20 million has gone towards a "contract to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard."

EU: New Asylum Agency must ensure EU countries respect common asylum rules, say MEPs (press release, pdf):

"The committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, and provide it with the means to assist member states in crisis situations, but also to monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation.

The new Agency will assess all aspects of the common asylum policy, such as reception conditions, respect for procedural safeguards, the right to legal aid and access to interpretation, and adequacy of financial and human resources. To do so, it will be entitled to make unannounced on-site visits to EU countries.

It would rely on an “asylum intervention pool”, formed by no less than 500 experts contributed by member states, who could be deployed in cases where the asylum and reception systems of an EU country are subject to “disproportionate pressure”."

EU: Visa suspension mechanism: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal (press release, pdf):

"According to the deal, visa requirements may be reintroduced for a non-EU country in one or more of the following cases:

a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country refused entry or
irregularly staying in the EU territory,
a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications, or a lack of cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants).

Visas could also be reintroduced in the event of threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned."

UK: White paper on prison safety unlikely to lead to prison safety

"Prison Safety and Reform was published in November 2016. Covering 61 often-repetitive, meagre pages, the White Paper theoretically provides a blueprint for the ‘biggest overhaul of our prisons in a generation’.

The prison crisis provides the incendiary context for White Paper. However, prisons have been in crisis since the end of the eighteenth century. The result has been an endless cycle of crisis/reform/crisis, which has been toxic for prisoners."

See: Prison safety and reform: When? (CCJS, link) and the Ministry of Justice white paper: Prison Safety and Reform (pdf)

SPAIN: Implementation of EU Directive leads to "groundbreaking decision" on secrecy in court proceedings

The implementation in Spain of the 2012 EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings has led to the Madrid Court of Appeals deciding to overturn long-standing provisions in Spanish law permitting documents to be withheld from the defence.

Over 900,000 Passed Through Serbia Since Refugee Crisis Began - Foreign Minister (Sputnik News, link):

"Over 900,000 migrants and refugees made their way through the Serbian territory since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Thursday.

He stressed that the state of affairs represented a heavy burden for Serbia."

Pale Shelter: Refugees in the UK (one small window, link):

"For those who manage to survive war, persecution, violence, gross human rights violations including torture and rape, who endure the perilous journey across deserts, mountains and seas, arrival on the shores of this green and pleasant land is often the start of a new ordeal, one that can be as humiliating and dehumanising as other parts of the refugee’s trajectory.

Like many other European countries, Britain’s twenty first century attitude to its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention has largely hinged on a policy of deterrence through the criminalisation of asylum seekers and refugees. Many asylum seekers arrive without identification documents to prove who they claim to be and are then subject to language testing for determination of origin which guesses their nationality based on language skills; a wrong assessment sees the asylum claim rejected. For many more others, their first glimpse of England is from within an immigration removal centre run by the prison service."

SPAIN: Initially offensive: student fined for the letters on his sweater

Following a protest in Bilbao on 26 October a 19-year-old carpentry student was walking to meet his friends at a bar when he was issued with a fine of up to €600 by the police for wearing a sweater with the letters 'ACAB' written across the front.

Two officers from the regional police force of the Basque Country, the Ertzaintza, argued that the letters - which are often used to represent the phrase "all cops are bastards" - were proof of a "lack of respect" towards state security officials, an act that since 1 July 2015 has been an administrative offence in Spain.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.12.16)

UK: Police: Orgreave files 'to be made public next year' (Guardian, link):

"Home Office files concerning events at the “battle of Orgreave” are due to be released next year among a cache of records relating to the 1984 miners’ strike.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the home affairs select committee the documents would be among 30 files planned for release to the National Archives.

The subject titles suggest at least one file relates to the clash between police and strikers in South Yorkshire that became one of the bloodiest events of the dispute. A further three files are said to be under consideration for release by the Home Office."

GREECE: Turkish Coast Guard in Greek waters?

"Just witnessed the Turkish Coast Guard picking up a boat full of refugees in Greek waters! While the Greek coast guard and frontex watched!! Is this a new European Commission policy to allow the Turkish authorities jurisdiction in Greek waters as a solution to the refugee situation?!!!"

See: Philippa Kempson (Efalou, northern Lesvos) on Facebook (link)

Council of Europe: Turkey had good reasons to declare the state of emergency but went too far with the emergency measures: Venice Commission (link):

"Venice, 09.12.2016 – An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts – the Venice Commission – concludes that Turkish authorities had been confronted “with a dangerous armed conspiracy” and had “good reasons” to declare the state of emergency, but that measures taken by the Government went beyond what is permitted by the Turkish Constitution and by international law.

(...)

Even though provisions of the Turkish Constitution on the declaration of the state of emergency appear to be in line with common European standards, the Government implemented its emergency powers through ad hominem legislation. Thus, “tens of thousands of public servants” were dismissed on the basis of lists appended to emergency decree laws. Those collective dismissals did not refer to verifiable evidence, related to each individual case. According to the opinion, the speed with which those lists appeared implies that the collective dismissals were not accompanied even by a minimum of procedural safeguards. Those dismissals apparently are not subject to judicial review by the ordinary courts, or, at least, the accessibility of the judicial review remains a matter of controversy. Such method of purging the State apparatus creates a strong appearance of arbitrariness."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-9.12.16)

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Concern about the situation of the media and journalists in many European countries (link):

"The PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media today highlighted the large number of cases of threats and attacks against journalists and media outlets reported to the Council of Europe through the Platform it set up in 2015 to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.

The report prepared by Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD) and adopted by the committee indicates that from April 2015 to November 2016, the Platform recorded 230 alerts in 31 member states – 95 of those alerts had received an official reply by the State concerned and 23 cases had been resolved, while a total of 16 journalists had been killed over the period."

See the report: Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe (pdf)

Job vacancy at the Institute of Race Relations (link):

"Are you passionate about racial justice?

Do you have good organisational and administrative skills? Would you relish the opportunity of working in a small team to help develop one of the UK’s leading educational charities creating and disseminating analyses and information? If so, we might have just the job for you. The IRR is looking for a dynamic person to help in the day-to-day running of its office and the promotion of its research and educational materials. Academic qualifications are not as important to us as initiative, organisational skills, administrative know-how, and a collective approach to working."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council,8-9 December, Brussels, 2016: documentation

- Final press release (pdf)
-
Main "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf)
-
"A" Points: legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf)
-
"A" Points: non-legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf) and Additional matters (pdf)
-
Background Note (pdf)

Human rights “under unprecedented pressure” world-wide (Scoop,link):

"“In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the ‘Deep Net.’ It is becoming part of normal daily discourse.” "

NSA-GCHQ: American and British Spy Agencies Targeted In-Flight Mobile Phone Use (The Intercept, link):

"the emergence of a new field of espionage that had not yet been explored: the interception of data from phone calls made on board civil aircraft. In a separate internal document from a year earlier, the NSA reported that 50,000 people had already used their mobile phones in flight as of December 2008, a figure that rose to 100,000 by February 2009. The NSA attributed the increase to “more planes equipped with in-flight GSM capability, less fear that a plane will crash due to making/receiving a call, not as expensive as people thought.” The sky seemed to belong to the agency."

See: Five Eyes: In-flight GSM (pdf)

Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"Anger is building at the return of refugees from Europe to war zones and the EU’s deals with dictators and torturers to prevent refugees from leaving their own countries. In the first of two articles, Frances Webber looks at the EU’s deals with Afghanistan and Turkey. The second article will examine the deals with African states."

EU: European Commission: Dublin returns to Greece to start for new arrivals from 15 March 2017

- Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration (press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes...

"The Commission therefore recommends that transfers to Greece should be resumed gradually, on the basis of individual assurances from the Greek authorities for each returnee, guaranteeing they will be received in dignity. In order to avoid that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece, the resumption of transfers will not be applied retroactively and will only concern asylum applicants who have entered Greece irregularly from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 under other Dublin criteria." [emphasis added]

- Eighth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 791,pdf)
-
Annex 1: Greece: Relocations in EU (pdf)
-
Annex 2: Italy: Relocations in EU (pdf)
-
Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)
-
Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)
-
State of play: Relocation and resettlement (pdf)

Amnesty International lambasts ‘hypocritical Brussels’ as pressure mounts on Greece (Malta Today, link):

"The European Commission wants Greece to start receiving back migrants from other member states whilst speeding up migrant returns to Turkey....

Amnesty International has lambasted the “hypocritical” position adopted today by the European Commission who wants Greece to start receiving migrants from other member states, in a bid to stop asylum seekers from moving north.

The European Commission today published a fourth report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and on relocation and resettlement schemes....

“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece. It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal, and compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people,” Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institution’s Office, said. "

EU: Agreement between Council and Parliament on mandatory database checks for all at borders

- Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (pdf) including:

"verification that a person enjoying the right of free movement under Union law is not considered to be a threat to the internal security, public policy, international relations of any of the Member States or to public health, including by consulting the […] Schengen Information System and other relevant Union […] databases. […] This is without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases.."

- Letter from Council to Parliament (pdf) The Civil Liberties Committee in the parliament is expected to adopt today (8 December)

The EU needs to make itself battle-ready (EUobserver, link):

"A week before Christmas, EU heads of state and government are set to discuss security and defence at their regular European Council meeting in Brussels. It may not be a typical pre-holiday topic, but its urgency makes us focus on it even in the time of family gatherings and last-minute Christmas shopping.

After all, this should be a time of peace, which is exactly the objective of the upcoming discussion."

EU: DNA profiles to be included in the Schengen Information System?

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels this year and last, EU and national officials began another round of discussions on how to increase information-sharing amongst law enforcement authorities across the continent. Amongst a flurry of proposals included in a new "roadmap" on information exchange is a suggestion to include DNA profiles in the Schengen Information System, the EU-wide policing and migration database.

The roadmap was drawn up in May 2015 within the Council and received political approval from national justice and interior ministers at the
JHA Council meeting in June 2016 (pdf): 'Theme 3' is "optimal use of European information systems", under which can be found item 11: "enhance the effectiveness of using the Schengen Information System (SIS)."

See: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area (LIMITE doc no: 13554-REV-1-16, pdf)

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator report: options for dealing with "foreign terrorist fighter returnees"

"Threat and risk analysis: Latest figures suggests that of the total number of European FTFs, around 15-20 % have died in theatre, 30-35 % have already returned and 50 % are still in Syria and Iraq (ie between 2.000 and 2.500 Europeans).... There are largely two categories of returnees: those in the majority that will drift back, and those who will be sent back on specific missions, which are of most concern.....

Given the changed Daesh communication focus in the West (no longer on building the Caliphate, territory, call not to travel to Syria or Iraq but instead staying home and committing attacks in the West), using returnees in our communication strategy to discourage future jihadi travellers from going to Daesh held territories may be less effective."

See: Council of the European Union: From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Subject: Foreign terrorist fighter returnees: Policy options (LIMITE doc no: 14799-16, pdf)

The report comes at the same time as one by Europol on a related topic: Islamic State changing terror tactics to maintain threat in Europe (Europol press release, link); full report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State (IS) revisisted (pdf)

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Scope of the principle of non-refoulement in contemporary border management: evolving areas of law (pdf):

"EU Member States’ contemporary border control activities raise difficult questions related to their non-refoulement obligations, calling for more legal clarity. This report scrutinises specific scenarios – within third countries, on the high seas, and at the EU’s borders – regarding which views differ as to whether they constitute refoulement. The analysis presents each scenario and the applicable legal framework, briefly sketches current practices, and outlines arguments that speak against, and in favour of, finding a violation of non-refoulement."

Europol joins forces with counter-terrorism experts to undermine online terrorist propaganda (link):

"1814 pieces of terrorist and violent extremist online content have been assessed for the purpose of referral to online platforms during a two-day concerted action coordinated by Europol, in collaboration with representatives from dedicated units in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Romania. The processed content was in nine different languages and hosted by 35 online platforms. The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the concerned service providers, taken in reference to their own terms and conditions."

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

UK to double armed drone fleet in deal with US Predator manufacturer (Guardian, link):

"Defense secretary Michael Fallon on Saturday announced a $125m (£100m) development deal with US arms manufacturer General Atomics under which the UK fleet of armed drones will double.

The maker of the Predator and Reaper drones used widely by the US will provide 10 drones to the Royal Air Force, bringing the fleet from 10 to 20, an increase announced last year by then prime minister David Cameron, as part of the strategic defence review.

The deal will also boost research into imagery and datalinks – communications from the ground with the drones."

And see: an earlier official document when the deal remained officially provisional: USA-United Kingdom – Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (pdf)

Council of Europe, OSCE voice serious concerns over changes to Polish laws on freedom of assembly (New Europe, link):

"European human rights officials have expressed serious concern over legal amendments passed last week in the Polish Sejm that could undermine the right to freedom of assembly if they become law.

Even inside Poland, the country’s ombudsman and human rights campaigners have criticised the bill, saying it will undermine Poles’ right to freedom of assembly by making it much harder to stage counter-demonstrations to rallies sponsored by the state or the church.

Lawmakers of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) approved the bill on its first reading, part of a wave of legislation the government says aims to strengthen traditional Catholic and national values.

The bill, which still has to clear a few hurdles before becoming law, would also transfer to government officials many powers now enjoyed by local governments on deciding whether to allow a public assembly to go ahead."

Commission 'shockingly passive' on Lithuania gay rights (EUobserver, link):

"A group of MEPs has accused the European Commission of ignoring clear discrimination against gay people in Lithuania.

The commission told Lithuanian activists last month that it would take no action over a 2013 law that claims to protect children from propaganda, but has been used to ban all kinds of material and crack down on LGBT groups.

The response angered a group of MEPs, who wrote to commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Frans Timmermans, in charge of audiovisual policy and fundamental rights respectively, to deplore that they shied away from acting on "a clear case of discrimination"."

EU-USA: Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting of 5 December 2016 (press release, pdf)

Including:

"Both sides confirmed the completion of their internal approval procedures for the EU-U.S. Data Protection "Umbrella" Agreement, and welcomed this important step for strengthening data protection in law enforcement cooperation across the Atlantic. On that basis, the U.S Attorney General will now make the necessary designations under the Judicial Redress Act to allow the swift entry into force of the Agreement....[and]

The European Union stressed the importance of achieving full visa reciprocity with the United States as soon as possible." [emphasis added]

EU: ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU (EUobserver, link):

"Everyone, including EU nationals, will have their IDs checked against police databases under new draft rules every time they enter or exit the EU.

Backed by MEP negotiators and their EU state counterparts on Monday (5 December), the move is the latest in a series of security measures aimed at catching people who fought alongside the Islamic State militant group.

But the plan, which amends the Schengen Borders Code, is also designed to provide the police much greater insight into people suspected of other crimes. " [emphasis added]

EU offers Denmark partial access to Europol database - sources (Reuters, link):

"The European Commission has offered Denmark partial access to Europol's database, following the Nordic country's vote to leave the cross-border police organization, government sources said on Tuesday.

In a precursor to the much more dramatic vote by the British in June to leave the European Union entirely, Danes last December rejected a government proposal for new laws needed to keep the country inside the European police agency."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.12.16)

EU: The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece: a study (press release, link):

"“This is an experiment, a pilot model of registration and identification at the points of arrival that selects between people seeking asylum and people to be returned. Yet the hotspots currently apply practices and standards that are inadequate and disrespect fundamental rights” says Aspasia Papadopoulou Senior Policy Officer at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). “What we are witnessing in Italy and Greece is the consequence of an EU pressure shifting responsibilities to the national level,” says Aspasia Papadopoulou. “If the hotspots are to become permanent then we would have to see fundamental improvements including standards and safeguards – there is a need for independent monitoring by international organisations, NGOs, or bodies like the Ombudsman.”

The study is part of a project led by the Dutch Council for Refugees, in partnership with ECRE, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and ProAsyl that aims to support monitoring of hotspots in Greece and Italy and the strengthening of legal assistance provision by local NGOs."

And see: Report (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Policies in the making: Exit-Entry System, EU Agency for Asylum & EURODAC and LEA access

- EES: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Preparation of further steps (LIMITE-14700-16, 157 pages, pdf): Council developing its position prior to trilogue meeting with the European Parliament:

"a number of issues remains outstanding at this stage, including in particular:

- the calculation of the duration of stay in Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis in full (Art. 3a);
- the conditions to grant access to the EES to law enforcement authorities (Chapter IV);
- the interaction between the EES and bilateral agreements (Art. 54) and
- the obligation/possibility of stamping travel documents in case of technical failure of the EES (Art. 19)"

"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 […].

- EU Agency for Asylum: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 (LIMITE doc no 14855-16, 93 pages, pdf): 136 Footnotes and a number of Member State positions:

"The objective of the Union's policy on asylum is to develop and establish a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), consistent with the values and humanitarian tradition of the European Union and governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility."

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 1 December 2016 are indicated with bold and […] as compared to the most recent version of the relevant provisions."

- EURODAC and LEA access: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints... and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes (LIMITE doc no 14710, 94 pages, pdf): Including Member States' positions: And includes: It's OK to use coercion on vulnerable persons and minors "if permitted under national law":

"Third-country nationals or stateless persons who are deemed to be vulnerable persons and minors should not be coerced into giving their fingerprints or facial image, except in duly justified circumstances that are permitted under national law.... [emphasis added]

Member States shall […] introduce administrative sanctions including the possibility to use means of coercion, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with providing biometric data...""

"The changes in the text of the draft Regulation as compared to the Commission proposal are indicated in bold and deleted text is marked in […], while amendments with regard to the latest text examined by the JHA Counsellors4 is indicated by underlining the insertion."

CoE: National human rights structures: protecting human rights while countering terrorism (Press release, link):

"states’ duty to prevent and combat terrorism should in no way be fulfilled at the expense of human rights standards and the common values in which European societies are grounded. This would be a mistake, since laws and policies that are human rights compliant preserve the values the terrorists are trying to destroy, weaken the pull of radicalisation, and strengthen the public’s confidence in the rule of law and democratic institutions.

In this context, national human rights structures (NHRSs) have a vital role to play."

And see: Counter-terrorism operations in the South East of Turkey caused widespread human rights violations (Press release, link):

"“Numerous human rights of a very large civilian population in South-Eastern Turkey have been violated as a result of curfews imposed and anti-terrorism operations conducted there since August 2015. I call on Turkey to stop using curfews in such a manner, investigate all allegations of human rights violations by state agents in an effective manner and put in place comprehensive schemes for redress and compensation. Failure to do so will further aggravate the initial violations” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a Memorandum published today. The Memorandum presents the findings of a visit that he conducted to Turkey (Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Ankara) from 6 to 14 April 2016, and a subsequent visit to Ankara from 27 to 29 September 2016."

See: Memorandum on the Human Rights Implications of Anti-Terrorism Operations in South-Eastern Turkey (pdf)

U.N. refugee chief warns EU against carrot-and-stick approach to migration (Reuters, link):

"Linking aid for countries in the Middle East and Africa to how they manage migration can create dangerous precedents, the United Nations top refugee official warned the European Union on Monday.

Overwhelmed by the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants in 2015, the EU has tightened its external borders and sought to strike deals with countries along main migration routes to contain the flow of people...

"Support to host and transit countries should be driven by solidarity, not strict conditionality," Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told a seminar in Brussels. "

UNHCR calls for stronger EU action on refugees (link):

"In a paper presented to the European Union (EU) today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, called for a far-reaching reform of Europe’s global engagement with refugees, including the European asylum system. UNHCR called on Europe to offer more strategic and targeted support to countries of origin, asylum and transit of refugees, to review its contingency preparations to respond to large refugee and migrant arrivals, and to put in place a more efficient and better managed asylum system. It also asked for greater investment by EU Member States in the integration of refugees, including housing, employment and language training.

“Last year, Europe failed to implement a collective, managed response to the challenges posed by the arrival of over a million refugees and migrants,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This resulted in scenes of chaos at borders, leading to a breakdown in the public’s trust in the capacity of governments to manage the situation and playing into the hands of those who wanted to turn refugees into scapegoats."

See: UNHCR report (pdf) and see: UNHRC says be prepared for more refugees (Antigua Observer, link)

Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to sustain growth (New Europe, link):

"Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to bridge labour market shortages according to the director of the National Employment Agency.

Speaking to the Swedish Television, director Mikael Sjöberg, said the country is lacking chefs, engineers, bus and train drivers. Failure to maintain a steady supply of immigrants could “stunt growth” Sjöberg said.

Public and private employers struggle to find employees with the necessary skills to cover shortages in the labour market. Other measures considered are encouraging young people to enroll in vocational courses and elderly workers to delay retirement. But, replenishing the labour market with immigrants is an important “part of the puzzle.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.12.16)

EU: European Parliament: civil liberties committee approves Europol-Georgia cooperation agreement

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has given its consent to an agreement that would allow the exchange of information, including personal data, between EU policing agency Europol and Georgia. The Parliament has previously called on the Council not to authorise negotiations with Georgia and a number of other countries, but in any case parliamentary consent is not required for the approval of the agreement, an issue raised in the committee's report.

EU: Military might: Commission proposes €5.5 billion per year for defence research and equipment

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (30 November) a €5.5 billion 'European Defence Fund' that would provide EU funds of €500 million per year for military research and development and €5 billion per year "from national contributions" for "Member States to develop certain assets together to reduce their costs." The Commission wants the EU to "demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security".

UK: PSPO Watch: Hometown Zeros (Liberty, link):

"Enfield Council intends to implement a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – those clumsy and dangerous tools that have let local authorities ban any activity they reckon has a “detrimental effect” on others’ quality of life.

This power is so vague it can turn pretty much any innocent activity into a crime overnight.

In Hillingdon it’s a criminal act to gather in groups of just two or more unless you’re waiting for a bus or going to or from a parked vehicle.

Salford City and Kettering Borough Councils have banned swearing – while it’s now a crime in both Bassetlaw and Lancaster to do anything annoying. Anyone who breaches a PSPO faces an on-the-spot fine of up to £100 – or a criminal record and a £1,000 penalty if they don't pay.

So you get an idea of how you might find yourself a whole lot less free if your council is the latest to catch the PSPO bug.

Enfield Council has consulted the public on plans to ban 18 separate activities – or has it? Depends how you define “public”. And “consultation”."

EU: New centralised sources of data on migration launched

"On 2 December 2016, the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) launched two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. These tools centralise migration related data, to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU."

Press release: Migration Data Catalogue and Dynamic Data Hub – EU migration data at a glance (EU Science Hub, link)

See: the Migration Data Catalogue (link), which "will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors"; and the Dynamic Data Hub (link), which "will validate information, highlight limitations and put migration data into context."

EU: The free space for data monopolies in Europe is shrinking (OpenDemocracy, link):

"[The] conditions created by a clash of jurisdictions, legal enforcements, and in particular slow political adaption to the fast-paced evolution of the Internet and new technologies, meant that the new primarily US-based tech companies grew on the European market. To an extend that they today not only hold the biggest troves of data on European citizens, but also occupy the seats as some of the biggest data business monopolies not only in Europe, but worldwide. This is a problem. Because in a time where data 'makes the world go round', sitting on too much of it with too much control, is a great risk to not only citizen rights but also equal market conditions."

But:

"The previously free space in the EU for US tech giants is shrinking by the hour. In addition to the discussions revolving around the new EU data protection regulation, several significant lawsuits prompting large-scale media debate and political discourse have in particular focused on US tech companies' treatment of European law and European legislators' enforcement of it (or lack thereof). The Max Schrems cases against Facebook, the EU Court of Justice infamous Right to Be Forgotten ruling - just to mention a few. Key questions have been raised as to the legal jurisdiction of these tech companies' practices. Which rules and laws should they follow, particularly in relation to the collection and processing of data?"

UK: The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Almost every utterance shouted alongside a specific racist attack was already a dominant ideological policy position. The hostile environment that Theresa May promised the country in 2012 has certainly become one on the ground.

Now, five months after the referendum, many organisations are in the business of explaining the horrific level of post-Brexit racial violence witnessed in the UK. That there was such a rise in violence is agreed on by everyone from newly created online forums like #postrefracism to police chiefs and home secretary Amber Rudd. What there is less agreement on is how to analyse and therefore combat such racism.

(...)

Individuals may have wielded the stick, politicians may have added during the Brexit debate to the toxic brew. Both have to be seen in a larger and historical context according to the radical think tank, the Institute of Race Relations. First, the IRR, which has collated a database of racial attacks in the UK since 2010, points out that though such violence indeed ‘spiked’ during the summer, it should not be seen as something new. Second, it warns against treating such violence as merely a law and order problem. Such a view in fact depoliticises the issue and lets the government off the hook."

See: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

UK: “Remove first, appeal later” provisions in force from today: new guidance published (Free Movement, link):

"The power under the Immigration Act 2016 to certify any human rights appeal, not just deportation appeals, for “remove first, appeal later” treatment came into force today, 1 December 2016...

Guidance has today been updated on how the power should be exercised by immigration officials: Section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. Amongst the general updating, a new part has been added on the “phased implementation for non deport cases”."

Under-representation of women in political life undermines democratic processes in the Eastern Partnership countries: new study (Council of Europe, link):

"Democracy should apply to all women and men equally, concluded participants at an international conference that took place in Kyiv on 1 December, where a new regional study on the situation in Eastern Partnership countries was presented.

The event focused on women’s political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus).. The new study reveals that in all the countries surveyed women are less likely to run for political office and to be elected both to national parliaments and to local government bodies. The study shows that women hold fewer than 20% of seats in parliament in all the countries with the exception of Belarus, where 30% of parliamentary seats are held by women. Stereotypical views and assumptions about the role of women in society are among major barriers to women’s political representation in all the countries examined. The study contains country-specific and general recommendations to politicians, parliamentarians and governments."

See the report: Council of Europe regional study: Women's political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 December 2016: background briefing

Thursday: National justice ministers to discuss progress with European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), fight against fraud regarding EU finance, "criminal justice in cyberspace" (which concerns encryption, evidence held in the "cloud", international police and judicial cooperation).

Friday: Home affairs ministers will examine Entry/Exit System progress, migration ("focusing on the situation on the ground and the implementation of measures already agreed"), terrorism and organised crime (including foreign fighters and the French-German proposal on "cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communications service providers"), common European asylum system.

See: Council of the European Union, JUSTICE and HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December in Brussels (pdf)

ISRAEL: All Israelis Must Join Biometric Database, Minister Says (Hareetz, link):

"All residents of Israel are going to have to join the biometric database, which will include high-resolution facial photos and the fingerprints from both index fingers, Interior Minister Arye Dery announced on Thursday.

Individuals will be able to choose whether to save their fingerprints in the database or only on their identity cards and passports. If they refuse to save their prints in the database, however, identifying documents currently valid for 10 years will be valid only for five.

To date, biometric passports or IDs have been issued to approximately one million Israelis, who agreed to join the database on a volunteer basis.

The Knesset will have to pass legislation to make the database permanent. A memorandum with an amendment was distributed by the Interior Ministry and the public has 10 days to comment. The ministry expects the legislation to be passed by March."

EU-USA: Transatlantic law enforcement data deal gets go-ahead from European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of the EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement' that, in theory, provides for the protection of personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes. Attempts left and liberal MEPs to have the text rejected and to seek the European Court of Justice's opinion on its compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights were rejected. The agreement is unlikely to provide what it promises.

EU: Major transnational operation against "mobile organised crime groups"

"Between 20 and 26 November 2016, law enforcement agencies from 10 European countries (the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, Germany and Greece), coordinated by the National Police of the Netherlands and with the support of Europol, conducted the operation TRIVIUM 7 targeting Mobile Organised Crime Groups (MOCGs) and their infrastructure across the EU."

UK: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid (The Conversation, link):

"The “Snooper’s Charter mark two” – or Investigatory Powers Act – which has recently passed into law demonstrates again how successful Islamist terrorism has been in changing British society into a secret state.

With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.11.16-1.12.16)

UK: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

In a pioneering study published today, the IRR takes a fresh look at the nature of racial hate crimes since the referendum. Through a detailed examination of cases on the IRR’s unique database it establishes a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators of such violence, the rhetoric and policy pronouncements of politicians over recent years and the stigmatising frameworks of the media.

‘It is convenient to condemn the “spike” in violence this summer, in which at least one person lost their life, as the acts of a thuggish minority. But an examination of over one hundred cases shows a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators and the rhetoric and policy pronouncement of politicians’, said IRR researcher, Dr. Jon Burnett.

StopTheDeal: We are helping to take the shameful EU-Turkey refugee deal to court, in a bid to save the life of one man and improve the lives of millions (Diem25, link):

"This is a shameful deal that sends a frightful message to the rest of the world: that men, women and children who managed to survive a perilous journey and the horrors of war, persecution and extraordinary vulnerability are not welcome in Europe. Furthermore, the deal has also led these people to take other, even more dangerous routes to our shores.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. As DiEM25 we are standing behind a unique legal action that could blow this deal up, potentially improving the lives of millions of people seeking to come to Europe in desperate need. How? By helping to save a man’s life.

A team of volunteers in Spain and Greece, headed by the eminent Spanish former anti-corruption prosecutor Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, is working to save Shabbir. On November 29, 2016, they filed a legal action to the European Court of Justice. It’s aim: to annul the EU-Turkey Agreement and prevent Shabbir and thousands of others from being deported.

But if this case is successful, it will do much more than save a man’s life: it could shatter the EU-Turkey deal once and for all."

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" Agreement Two votes added on seeking ECJ opinion on EU-US data protection deal (Press release, pdf)

"President Schulz announced that two motions for resolutions, seeking a European Court of Justice opinion on the compatibility with the Treaties of the EU-US deal on protecting personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes, will be put to the vote on Thursday, immediately before the vote on the recommendation drafted by Jan Philipp Albrecht."

EU: Secret Europol data on terrorism investigations leaked

"The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament has called on Europol director, Rob Wainwright, and Sir Julian King, the Security Union Commissioner, to clarify the facts related to a leaked report.

According to an ALDE press release, the leak relates to a breach in Europol’s security rules. The Dutch investigative television show Zembla reported that a Europol staffer took dossiers home and copied them to a backup drive that was linked to the internet.

“This is extremely shocking. Europol was aware of this security incident since September, yet its director decided not to inform the parliament during a joint meeting of the European parliament and the national parliaments on Europol scrutiny just two days ago,” Sophie in’t Veld, ALDE spokesperson for data protection, said."

See: ALDE on Europol report leak (New Europe, link)

Plus: ALDE press release (link) and: Secret Europol terror data found online (BBC News, link)

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf)

On migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On internal security, review progress on:

"systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

EU: Frontex takes first step towards creating European coast guard (pdf):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has called on EU member states and Schengen Associated Countries to provide officers for the newly adopted European Coast Guard Functions Officer profile, paving the way for the deployment of multi-national crews in the agency’s maritime operations."

GERMANY: New German bill to ‘massively’ limit privacy rights (New Europe, link):

"Data protection groups in Germany have criticised the government’s new draft law that will no longer give citizens the right to know what data about them is being collected.

The draft law, which was released by the German union for data protection (DVD), revealed that the interior ministry was proposing to drastically limit the powers of Germany’s data protection authorities, banning them from investigating suspected breaches of people’s medical and legal records, according to Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster.

Thilo Weichert, former data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein and now DVD board member, condemned the interior ministry’s plans as a “massive” erosion of privacy in Germany. “The limitation of data protection controls in the medical field, which was a focal point of the [data protection] authorities up until now, is simply a disaster,” Weichert said in a statement, adding that the ministry’s bill was “further proof” that “data protection is not currently seen as relevant by the government."

EU: Rights groups expose flaws in EU counterterrorism directive (euractiv, link)

"The European institutions reached an agreement yesterday (30 November) on a directive that is aimed at better equipping the EU with instruments to counter terrorism. But civil rights groups warned that it risks undermining fundamental freedoms.

A political agreement on the directive was reached by EU government representatives in the European Council (COREPER) yesterday, following negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament are expected to sign off on the 37-page text without changes later this month."

Also: EU terror law risks making protest a crime (euobserver, link); "A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists for its vague notions of terrorism. The bill borrows heavily from recent laws in France that allow the authorities to tell internet firms, without any judicial oversight, to block sites that "glorify" terrorism. "

And see background: Directive on combating terrorism (Statewatch, SEMDOC)

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

"In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Directorwho attended the court hearing said:

“This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”

Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling"

EU-TURKEY-SYRIA: Border between Syria and Turkey – the death zone

"The truth is that the crisis has shifted. The wall, the German chancellor Angela Merkel under no circumstances wanted to see at the German border, was erected at the border to Syria by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A concrete wall, several hundred kilometers long, three meters high is keeping migrants away. People are not dying in the Aegean sea anymore, as the number of boat crossings to Greece declined after the deal. Now, they die at the Turkish-Syrian border."

November 2016

European Parliament: EU-Turkey relations: “We are entering a new phase” (Press release, pdf):

"More than 10 years after EU-Turkey accession talks started, MEPs adopted a resolution on 24 November calling for the negotiations to be suspended until the Turkish government ended its disproportionate and repressive response to July's failed coup. Ankara replied by threatening to let thousands of migrants pass through to Europe. Greek EPP member Manolis Kefalogiannis, head of Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, commented: “We are entering a new phase in EU-Turkey relations”."

After Trump and Brexit, EU to launch defence research plan (euractiv, link):

"The European Union will unveil its biggest defence research plan in more than a decade on Wednesday (30 November) to reverse billions of euros in cuts and send a message to US President-elect Donald Trump that Europe wants to pay for its own security.

Part of a broader push to revitalise defence cooperation, the European Commission will propose a defence fund and seek to lift a ban on the EU’s common budget and its development bank investing in military research."

EU: 80% of Roma are at risk of poverty, new survey finds (euobserver, link):

"Widespread deprivation is destroying Roma lives. Families are living excluded from society in shocking conditions, while children with little education face bleak prospects for the future, a new report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows. The report analyses the gaps in Roma inclusion around the EU to guide Member States seeking to improve their integration policies."

See: Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey - Roma – Selected findings (FRA, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.11.16)

Turkey's death penalty plans are blueprint for future (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Turkey's government is pressing on with its plans to bring back the death penalty despite the risk of dashing EU accession hopes. Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul...

When Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) abolished capital punishment in 2004, the move was widely praised as evidence of the pragmatism and political maturity of the country's religious conservatives.

Turkey had not carried out a death penalty since 1984 but its legal abolition was hailed as a symbol of a break from the days of military rule under which figures such as former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was hanged in 1960, and prominent left-wing activist Deniz Gezmis in 1971.

Just 12 years later, the same ruling party is in the final stages of preparing to reinstate capital punishment as part of a radical set of changes to Turkey's constitution that supporters and critics alike say will be a blueprint for the country's future."

European Parliament: In Parliament this week: EU budget, EU-US data flows, access to online content across borders (pdf):

"With both committee meetings and a plenary session taking place, members have a busy week in store for them in Brussels. In plenary, MEPs are expected to seal the deal with member states on the EU budget for 2017, as well as vote on an agreement with the United States about protecting personal data transferred for law enforcement purposes. Rules on ensuring access to online content for people travelling abroad and a cap on wholesale roaming charges are to be put to a vote in committees."

UK: Home Office ‘To Integrate Surveillance Cams With Police Database’ (Silicon, link):

"The Law Enforcement Data Service is to include two existing police databases as well as the nationwide Automatic Number Plate Recognition system

The Home Office has been accused of operating a “burgeoning surveillance capability” outside of parliamentary oversight as it continues to expand the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)."

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Annual Report 2015/16 (pdf)

EU-UK: House of Commons: European Scrutiny Committee: Europol: opt-in Debate (pdf):

"Given this wider context, would opting into the new Europol Regulation be an anomaly at a time when the UK is seeking to loosen rather than strengthen its ties with EU institutions and agencies and to develop alternative methods of cooperation on policing and security matters? Conversely, would opting in help to bridge the gap between the UK’s existing security arrangements with EU partners and agencies and the equally strong ties which the Government intends to develop once the UK has left the EU?"

Data reform more complex than I thought, says EU commissioner (euobserver, link):

"The EU's ambition to allow data to freely cross borders could be more difficult to realise than it seemed, the EU commissioner for the digital single market has conceded.

“It seems it is more complicated than I thought,” Andrus Ansip told journalists on Friday."

EU pushes to finalise security laws (euobserver, link):

"The European commission is hoping to push through three bills on security before the end of the year, amid intensive lobbying and criticism from experts.

Julian King, the commissioner for security union, told MEPs on Monday (29 November) that the EU must respond to terrorism, cyber-crime and serious and organised crime "Neither terrorism nor organised crime respects national borders," he said.

A directive on combating terrorism, a directive on firearms, and an amendment to systematic ID checks for every EU national are on track to be finalised in the next few weeks."

UK: Investigatory Powers Act is UK's most extreme surveillance law (Open Rights Group, link)

"Digital rights campaigners, Open Rights Group has responded to the announcement that the Investigatory Powers Bill has received royal assent. Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“Amber Rudd says the Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation. She is right, it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. Its impact will be felt beyond the UK as other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance regimes."

GREECE: «We’ve managed to improve the provisions for all the people in the camp» (Papierlose Zeitung, link):

"The inhabitants of Oreokastro, the Greek refugee camp, have kicked out the NGOs responsible for them and have taken over the day-to-day running of the camp themselves: a small ray of hope that nevertheless can’t blot out the adverse conditions of life in Oreokastro."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.11.16)

IRAQ: Winter closes in on refugees fleeing Iraq's Mosul (Reuters, link):

"U.S.-backed Iraqi government troops and Kurdish security forces have launched the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to drive Islamic State fighters from Mosul, the militant group's last major bastion in the country, many times larger than any other city the fighters have held.

The United Nations is asking donors to fund winter kits for 1.2 million people -- preparing for a worst case scenario that much of the city's population may have to flee. Seventy-two thousand have fled so far, and winter has brought freezing temperatures.

The Kurdish authorities are requiring fleeing civilians to stay in camps even if they have family outside, so that males can be checked for ties to Islamic State. Relatives crowded out front, bringing blankets and pillows."

FRANCE: From CAO to PRAHDA (Passeurs d'hospitalités, link): "The PRAHDA (Asylum Seekers’ Hosting and Accommodation Program) began to to be talked about in relation to the incease in asylum seeker’s deportations with the Dublin procedure to the country responsible for their application for asylum (the Dublin III regulation is used to determine the European country responsible for an asylum application, usually the country of entry into the European Union), because one of its tasks as defined by the public tender was published: “the preparation of the transfer of persons under Dublin procedure and follow-up, where appropriate, people placed under house arrest in the scheme “.

But a deeper reading of the tendering process shows that the target audience is that of the CAO’s (Reception and Orientation Centres – see here, here, here and there), that is to say not only persons whose asylum procedure is ongoing"

And in French: Des CAO au PRAHDA (link)

EU: Resettled in the Baltics, refugees flee for wealthier lands (Reuters, link):

"In early November, 34 Syrian and Iraqi refugees boarded buses heading for Germany from Lithuania, the country where they had been resettled. No one expects them to return.

Only a tiny number of refugees from war in the Middle East have been sent to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, among the European Union's poorest countries. The Baltic states were nobody's first choice.

"When we left from Turkey to Greece, our final goal was Germany or Holland," said Mohamed Kamel Haj Ali, 52, once a shopkeeper in Syria, who for the time being still lives in Rukla in Lithuania.

"But the land route from Greece was already closed, so we had no choice but to enter the relocation program, which brought us here.""

GREECE: Refugee Tensions Spiral on Greek Island of Chios (VOA, link):

"CHIOS, GREECE — Transformed into a holding pen by the European Union, tensions are escalating on the Greek island of Chios as both residents and refugees pay a heavy price.

Just over a week ago, brewing frustrations culminated in clashes breaking out in Souda refugee camp, which is home to about 800 people.

For two nights running, huge rocks and - some claim - molotov cocktails were thrown from the ancient walls of a castle onto refugees in the tents below, while a small number of Greeks and some residents of the camp clashed.

And with some still too fearful to sleep in the camp, which is in the island’s main town, there are now concerns that more violence could follow."

EU: TRANSPARENCY: Access to information in Europe needs to be strengthened

"The surge in transparency laws over the last few decades does not mean it is a modern fad - it is important to remember it is a fundamental human right recognised by the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies and courts such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Access to information is also an instrumental right because it helps to facilitate citizen participation in decision making, hold public officials accountable, as well as to fight against corruption, defend civil liberties and guarantee freedom of expression. At the same time as being a right for everyone, it is an essential tool that enables journalists and civil society organisations to carry out their public watchdog functions as part of a democratic society.

(...)

Governments across Europe need to take seriously the duty to document information around decision-making processes; they should narrow application of exceptions to access and always taking into account any overriding public interest in full (or partial) disclosure of information. The proactive publication of information related to the decision-making process remains crucial, as the need to reduce the time taken to make information available to the public."

See: Europe: access to information in practice, not just on paper (Osservatorio balcani e caucaso transeuropa, link)

GREECE-TURKEY-FRONTEX: E.U. Border Agency Still Unaccountable on Refugees’ Rights (Refugees Deeply, link): "Last month, 10 Syrians boarded a flight organized and staffed by the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on the Greek island of Kos, believing their destination was Athens. Instead, they landed in the Turkish city of Adana.

The Syrians had wanted to seek international protection in Greece, and carried documents indicating their intention to initiate asylum procedures. They were never given deportation orders or offered an opportunity to mount a legal challenge to their deportation."

EU: Encryption: five Member States want Europe-wide laws, access to documents request shows

"Five EU countries said they want the European Commission to propose legislation that would make it easier for police to crack through encryption technology.

Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Hungary all want an EU law to be created to help their law enforcement authorities access encrypted information and share data with investigators in other countries.

Poland and Latvia want EU legislation to focus on making it easier to access data stored remotely in clouds, which are often operated by companies based in other EU countries or outside the 28-member bloc.

“One of the most crucial aspects will be adopting new legislation that allows for acquisition of data stored in EU countries ‘in the cloud’,” without forcing police to request data through official exchange agreements, Polish officials wrote."

See: Five member states want EU-wide laws on encryption (EurActiv, link)

And see: the documentation provided in response to an access to documents request: Input provided by MS on questionnaire on encryption in criminal cases (askthe EU.org, link). The request was made by Bits of Freedom (link).

UK: Project Servator: police expand scheme calling on public to act as "extra eyes and ears"

"Project Servator sees officers specially trained to deter, disrupt and detect crime using tactics developed and tested by security experts in partnership with the City of London Police. The scheme is now set to be rolled out across the country.

Project Servator deploys both highly visible and covert police officers alongside other resources such as dogs, horses, firearms, ANPR and CCTV in busy areas such as shopping centres and transport hubs. These deployments are unpredictable and intelligence-led and include officers trained to spot and resolve suspicious activity.

However, key to the success of Project Servator is the support of workers and visitors in and around crowded places, acting as extra eyes and ears to help make it even harder for criminals to succeed."

See: New police plan to mobilise communities and disrupt terrorists (National Police Chiefs' Council, link) and: Anti-terrorism patrols launch in London boroughs (BBC News, link)

UK: Growing recruitment of child soldiers, MoD statistics show

"New figures out this week show that 24 percent of British Army recruits are child soldiers. This is despite public opposition from the Quakers and other Christian and lay organisations campaigning to raise the age of enlistment. The Ministry of Defence released the UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics 2016. They show that the proportion of the Army's intake aged under 18 increased from 22.5 percent to 24.1 percent. The armed forces as a whole recruited 1,140 16 year olds and 1,250 17 year olds, from a total of 12,300 new recruits."

See: Peace groups voice concern as British Army increases recruitment of under-age soldiers (ICN, link). The relevant statistics are available in Table 8a of the spreadsheet hosted here: UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics: 2016 (gov.uk, link)

UK: Over 100,000 sign petition against Investigatory Powers Bill

"A petition demanding that the UK’s new sweeping surveillance powers are repealed has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, the level at which Parliament can debate it.

Theresa May’s controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, which have been described as the most extreme snooping laws in a Western democracy, were approved by the House of Lords earlier this month and are set to pass into law in the coming weeks.

They require internet providers to store customers’ web histories for 12 months and make those records available to police, and write computer hacking by spy agencies into law."

See: Petition to repeal new surveillance powers reaches 100,000 signatures (The Telegraph, link) and: Snoopers Charter and Section 40 costs threat set to push UK yet further down Reporters Without Borders press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-27.11.16)

Greek refugee lawyer targeted by police (DW, link)

"A Greek lawyer standing up for the rights of vulnerable groups such as refugees has found herself at the receiving end of police hostility. Omaira Gill reports from Athens....

On the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2016, several Syrian refugees aged between 13 to 16 were on their way to a cultural center to take part in a theatrical performance about their lives in Syria, carrying plastic toy guns as part of their costumes....

An activist began to highlight what was happening on Facebook, and human rights lawyer Electra Koutra was invited to become involved by assisting the parents and children in their reporting of what happened.

According to a statement on her own Facebook page, she said that the children were ill-treated by the police, separated from the adults, humiliated and forced to strip. When the youngest, aged 13, objected in tears to removing his underwear, he was thrown against a wall. They were forbidden from contacting their family members to let them know what was happening.

Sitting at her dinner table strewn with legal documents, she recalls what happened next. "I was prevented repeatedly from properly representing my clients. One child, who has received therapy for witnessing the torture of family members in Syria, was interviewed from 1:30 am until 4:30 am, not allowed contact with his father and me, despite the complaints we raised. Being forced to wait in the hall for hours in front of a guarded closed door, knowing that the rights of the child were being violated and not being able to do anything about it was a traumatic experience for me," she told DW...."

UK: Human rights watchdog asks UK to dampen divisive Brexit rhetoric - EHRC urges UK government to take a firm position against racist and homophobic attacks following the EU referendum (The Observer, link):

"The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the UK political parties asking them to tone down their Brexit rhetoric.

The EHRC suggests there needs to be a discussion about British values as the government looks to formalise the nation’s divorce from Brussels following the leave vote on 23 June. The commission states in the letter that racist, antisemitic and homophobic attacks that have taken place in the aftermath of the referendum are “all stains on our society”. “We are concerned that attacks on supporters of both sides of the Brexit debate have polarised many parts of the country,” the letter reads."

Eric Kempson from Lesvos, Greece: Fascists Ruining Tourism! 24/11/2016 (video link): Fascists are not being prosecuted.... and the "big Greek heart" needs to be portrayed in the media.

EU-AFRICA: The small African region with more refugees than all of Europe - Hunger follows displaced people around north-east Nigeria, as Boko Haram and climate change drive millions from their homes (Guardian, link):

"About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes – 2.6 million – than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.

The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe, according to UN data supplied privately to the Guardian.

“No matter how many problems Europeans have, it’s nothing like this,” summarises Modu Amsami, the informal leader of Monguno’s nine camps for internally displaced people (IDP), as he strolls past Kawu’s newly erected hut. “Please, I’m appealing to Europeans to forget their minor problems. Let them come here and face our major problems.”

EU: Ansip: No ‘black and white’ fix to help police crack encryption (euractiv, link):

"Andrus Ansip, the EU’s tech policy chief, insisted today that he is against laws that weaken encryption technology, but also that there is no “black and white” solution to help law enforcement authorities access secured data in investigations.

Ansip, a former Estonian prime minister who is now in charge of the European Commission’s flagship digital single market policies, has previously argued against weakening encryption. He rebuffed calls from Europe’s capitals to require so-called backdoors to bypass secured technology following Apple’s drawn-out fight with American investigators over an encrypted iPhone earlier this year."

EU: Kick-off meeting for the European Judicial Cybercrime Network (link)

"Mr. Branislav Bohácik, Prosecutor, General Prosecutor’s Office of the Slovak Republic stated: "The establishment of the EJCN is the fulfilment of a long-standing wish of practitioners. In this network, they will be able to share their experiences and expertise and work closely together with their colleagues from the EU Member States to deal with the many challenges that they face during investigations and prosecution of cybercrime and cyber-enabled crimes, such as encryption.”"

See also: Cybercrime, encryption, obtaining evidence from the "cloud": report on Eurojust seminar "Keys to Cyberspace" (Statewatch)

UK immigration centres record 218 hunger strikers in three months - Figures obtained through FoI requests lay bare scale of desperation among asylum seekers in UK, with 649 on suicide watch (Guardian, link):

"According to figures released following a Freedom of Information request, 218 people refused to eat in July, August and September this year. It is thought to be the first time data revealing hunger strikes in detention centres has been made public.

Human rights campaigners said some of those striking wanted to die from starvation, while others were refusing food to protest their incarceration or urge reconsideration of their immigration application.

The data was obtained by No Deportations, an organisation that provides signposting information to people who are subject to immigration controls, after a lengthy battle with Home Office, which had declined to release the information."

UK: Hillsborough families take 'cover up' fight to High Court (Liverpool Echo, link):

"“They allege that they suffered damage as a result of the anguish caused by the prolonged cover up...

A damages action brought by 465 people over the police “cover up” in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster has reached the High Court.

Their lawyers have applied for a group litigation order (GLO) as the most efficient and cost-effective way to manage the claim for misfeasance in public office against the chief constables of South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police.

The claimants are either relatives of the 96 Liverpool supporters who died as a result of the crush at the stadium in April 1989 - or those who were present and survived, or their family members."

BOOK: Against Elections by David Van Reybrouck (Bodley Head)

"Choosing our rulers by popular vote has failed to deliver true democratic government: that seems to be the verdict of history unfolding before our eyes. Cogently and persuasively, David Van Reybrouck pleads for a return to selection by lot, and outlines a range of well thought out plans for how sortitive democracy might be implemented.' [J M Coetzee]

'In compelling us to subject all our received ideas and deeply-held convictions to rigorous scrutiny, this fine iconoclastic work could not be more timely.' [Karen Armstrong]

Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis - and an ancient remedy.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.11.16)

GREECE: LESVOS: Death and riots at EU asylum hotspot in Greece (euobserver, link):

"A woman and her young child have died on Thursday (24 November) at an asylum detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, triggering riots and clashes with police.

The two were killed when a gas cylinder exploded while cooking at the Moria camp, a so-called hotspot initiated by the EU commission where asylum seekers are screened and registered.

The deaths provoked a protest among other asylum seekers who have been stuck at camps described as open-prisons. The police clashes injured six asylum seekers, according to Greek media."

See also: Mother and son in critical condition from Moria migrant camp fire (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Twenty large tents and over 100 smaller ones were destroyed in the blaze, as well as by fires started by migrants protesting living conditions at the overcrowded camp in reaction to the gas cooker explosion in the family tent that started the conflagration.

Police have arrested 15 Afghan men for starting the smaller fires and clashing with riot police dispatched to the scene. Between eight and 10 camp residents are also being treated at the Lesvos general hospital for burns and smoke inhalation."

EU-TURKEY: European Parliament: Freeze EU accession talks with Turkey until it halts repression, urge MEPs (Press release, link)

"MEPs want a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey. In a resolution voted on Thursday, they say Turkey should nonetheless remain “anchored” to the EU. They also pledge to review their position when the "disproportionate repressive measures" under the state of emergency in Turkey are lifted.:...

The resolution was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions."

And see: Turkey threatens to end refugee deal in row over EU accession - President Erdogan issues warning after European parliament vote urging ministers to freeze talks on Turkey joining the EU (Guardian, link):

"Turkey’s president has threatened to tear up a landmark deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe a day after the European parliament urged governments to freeze EU accession talks with Ankara.

The threat underlines how far relations between Turkey and the European bloc have deteriorated in recent months, particularly after a coup attempt in July.

“If Europe goes too far, we will allow refugees to pass from the border gates,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Friday at a women’s rights conference. “Do not forget, the west needs Turkey.” Erdogan’s statements, the most direct warning yet that Turkey could abandon the agreement, came in response to a symbolic vote in the European parliament on Thursday that demanded an end to the decade-long accession negotiations."

EU-USA: Data Protection: "Umbrella" Agreement: European Parliament: EU-US deal on law enforcement data transfers backed by Civil Liberties Committee (Press release, pdf):

"The EU-US data protection framework, known as the “Umbrella Agreement” was backed by a large majority in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday morning. The deal will ensure high, binding data protection standards for data exchanged by police and law enforcement authorities across the Atlantic.

The Umbrella Agreement covers the transfer of all personal data, such as names, addresses or criminal records, exchanged between the EU and US for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism....

[Vote in LIBE Committee]: 41 votes to 4, with 6 abstentions"

UK: Rotherham 12: the jury finds defendants not guilty (IRR News, link):

" We reproduce a statement made by the Rotherham 12 Campaign following not guilty verdicts on 16 November.

We want to thank the jury for delivering resounding Not Guilty verdicts for all the defendants in this case.

The verdicts are a game changer, and they will have immediate and long term consequences for race relations in the region and nationally..."

EU: European Parliament Studies

- The Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU institutional framework (pdf):

"looks into the role of the Charter in the legislative process; in the economic governance of the Union; in the work of EU agencies; in the implementation of EU law by EU Member States; and, in the external relations of the Union, both in trade and investment policies and in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also analyses certain gaps in the judicial protection of the Charter and identifies measures through which the potential of the Charter could be further realized."

- The Marrakesh Treaty (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request by the PETI Committee, provides an analysis of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Copyright Works for the Blind or Print-Disabled. It explains the background and movements that led to its proposal, negotiation and successful adoption. It then considers the Treaty’s current situation in relation to its content and issues around its ratification, particularly by the EU. It finally examines future developments around copyright reform and makes recommendations to EU institutions and Member States."

EU-USA: New leaks confirm TiSA proposals that would undermine civil liberties (EDRI, link):

"Today, on 25 November 2016, German blog Netzpolitik.org in association with Greenpeace published new leaked documents concerning the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a “trade” agreement that is currently being negotiated between 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the European Union.

The new leaks confirm the problems identified in previous leaks, including serious threats to freedom of expression and protection of personal data of European citizens."

EU Policies Put Refugees At Risk - An Agenda to Restore Protection (HRW, link):

"A lack of leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles are at the core of the European Union’s dismal response to refugee and migration challenges. The mismanagement and politicization of a surge in boat migration in 2015, when over one million migrants and asylum seekers traveled to the EU by sea, has led to a humanitarian and political crisis largely of the EU’s own making that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

If chaos characterized the response of the EU and its member states in 2015, wrong-headed and rights-abusing policies have defined 2016. Instead of providing for safe and orderly channels into the EU for asylum seekers and refugees and sharing responsibility for them equitably, the EU and its member states have endorsed policies designed to limit arrivals and to outsource responsibility to regions and countries outside of the EU. The deeply flawed deal with Turkey and problematic cooperation with the Libyan authorities reflect this approach."

UK Parliament Approves Unprecedented New Hacking and Surveillance Powers (The Intercept, link):

"“There is no other democracy in the world, possibly no other country in the world, doing this.”"

EU: High-Level Group on law enforcement information-gathering and exchange: second report released

Two months after it took place, the Commission has released the minutes of the second meeting of the 'High-Level Group on Information Systems and Interoperability', which is tasked with "developing a joint strategy" to improve "data management" for internal security and the "protection" of external borders by mid-2017. The aim is to establish what information is currently unavailable to law enforcement officials across the EU and then work out how to make it accessible. The potential implications for privacy and data protection are significant.

See: European Commission, High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability - Second meeting - 20 September 2016 - Report (pdf)

UK: Rotherham 12: the jury finds defendants not guilty (IRR News, link):

"Below we reproduce a statement made by the Rotherham 12 Campaign following not guilty verdicts on 16 November.

We want to thank the jury for delivering resounding Not Guilty verdicts for all the defendants in this case.

The verdicts are a game changer, and they will have immediate and long term consequences for race relations in the region and nationally.

The jury, as representatives of the local population, have understood the impact of race and religious hatred fuelled by far right groups on the Asian Muslim residents of Rotherham. They have also understood the need for communities under siege to defend themselves when facing intolerable levels of racist threats and violence. That the racist killing of Mr Moshin Ahmed was a death too many.

Apart from the actions of the far-right groups, our anger is reserved for South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The prosecution evidence clearly acknowledged that far-right groups were intent on causing community divisions and segregation, deliberate fear and intimidation and terror through perpetual acts of violence and murder. Instead of protecting the Asian Muslim community, the police too turned against us. It beggars belief, knowing what the police and the CPS knew, that the defendants were even arrested, never mind charged and dragged through a trial. On the day of the demonstration, 5 September 2015, the police led the local community towards danger and left them unprotected."

And see: Calls for inquiry after 10 Asian men cleared of violent disorder following Rotherham clashes (The Star, link):

"Ten Asian men who were cleared of violent disorder following clashes in the wake of two rival demonstrations in Rotherham have called for an inquiry into why they were prosecuted."

UK: Stand-off with prison profiteers at the Tower of London (Red Pepper, link):

"The Tower of London has been a tourist attraction for as long as anyone can remember. But on 15 November the infamous tower was back in action, opening its doors to host the European Custody and Detention Summit. Despite the talk of progressive reform, the £1,500 per head summit was a closed-door trade fair for private security corporations and their public partners."

EU Policies Put Refugees At Risk (Human Rights Watch, link):

"A lack of leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles are at the core of the European Union’s dismal response to refugee and migration challenges. The mismanagement and politicization of a surge in boat migration in 2015, when over one million migrants and asylum seekers traveled to the EU by sea, has led to a humanitarian and political crisis largely of the EU’s own making that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

If chaos characterized the response of the EU and its member states in 2015, wrong-headed and rights-abusing policies have defined 2016. Instead of providing for safe and orderly channels into the EU for asylum seekers and refugees and sharing responsibility for them equitably, the EU and its member states have endorsed policies designed to limit arrivals and to outsource responsibility to regions and countries outside of the EU. The deeply flawed deal with Turkey and problematic cooperation with the Libyan authorities reflect this approach."

See the press release: EU: Show Leadership in Global Displacement Crisis (Human Rights Watch, link)

Restrictions on legal aid in Belgium restrict access to justice

"A new law regarding legal aid in Belgium came into force on 1st September 2016. Fair Trials discussed its implications for criminal justice defendants and their lawyers with Crépine Uwashema, practising lawyer at Brussels-based law firm Jus Cogens and member of our Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP) network.

Fair Trials: So what has happened with legal aid in Belgium?

Crépine Uwashema: I find that this reform has made it harder for people to have access to legal aid. Resources have been cut down and especially for poor people it is very difficult now to access it."

See: Legal aid in Belgium: raising the bar for defendants and lawyers (Fair Trials, link)

BELGIUM: Yugoslav Spy Chief Convicted of Kosovo Dissident’s Murder (Balkan Insight, link):

"A court in Brussels on Tuesday convicted Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian criminal gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic, of the assassination of Kosovo rights activist Enver Hadri in the Belgian capital on February 25, 1990.

The investigation found that it was a political killing sponsored by UDBA, using the two gang members as the hitmen, Belgian media reported.

(...)

Two other suspects who allegedly participated in Hadri’s assassination, Andrija Lakonic and Darko Asanin, were murdered in Serbia in the 1990s.

Spasic, who was convicted of organising the killing of Hadri, is one of the most famous Yugoslav secret police operatives, working for the secret service from 1979 until 1993, when he suffered a heart attack."

And see: Kosovo Dissident’s Serbian Assassins Given Life Sentences (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Assize Court in Brussels on Wednesday sentenced Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian crime gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic to life in prison for the murder of Kosovo émigré rights activist Enver Hadri."

CROATIA: New National Security Strategy to Be Adopted in 2017 (Total Croatia News, link):

"The first session of the Commission for Drafting the National Security Strategy and Law on Homeland Security System, which was established by the government on 3 November and is chaired by Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic, was held this week, reports Jutarnji List on November 22, 2016.

The session was attended by Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence Igor Dragovan, representative of the Office of the President Željka Antunovic, and representatives of ministries, government bodies, and experts in the field of national security.

(...)

As head of both working groups, special adviser to the Defence Minister, retired General Dragutin Repinc, presented the timetable of activities. According to plans, the draft of the National Security Strategy will be ready by April 2017, when the public consultation period will be launched. Adoption of both documents in Parliament is expected in July 2017."

And see: Opposition Against Plans to Introduce Homeland Security Concept (Total Croatia News, link):

"Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security Ranko Ostojic (SDP) says that this is a very dangerous proposal. “The first draft which was shown, that army should provide security on the streets or something similar, that is something which is absolutely unacceptable in a country in which rules are defined and civilian services exist to carry out these tasks”, says Ostojic."

EU: Towards a EU strategy to promote civic space? (Vita International, link):

"The meeting was timely: our society is ever more polarised, discrimination, particularly against immigrants and ethnic minorities is on the rise and there is a growing distrust of citizens towards institutions at national and European level. At the same time civil society organisations face increasing restrictions to their civic freedoms in many countries across the world.

Participants discussed findings of an online survey that targeted civil society organisations in Europe during early 2016 in order to assess the perception of civil society organisations on key civic space freedoms (freedom of registration, assembly, expression), challenges and opportunities and their views on political trends in Europe.
Although the framework and legal conditions for civic space are well in place in European Union countries, the survey results confirmed some worrying developments in terms of the implementation of those rights.
"

And see: Europe-wide survey shows "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms" (Statewatch News Online)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.11.16)

UK: Thomas Mair guilty: Right-wing extremist convicted for MP Jo Cox murder in EU referendum run-up (The Indepenent, link):

"A white supremacist and "terrorist" has been found guilty of killing Labour MP Jo Cox in a “planned and pre-meditated murder” in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Thomas Mair was convicted by a jury of murdering the 41-year-old mother-of-two outside her West Yorkshire constituency surgery.

The quiet loner was jailed for a whole life sentence for what Ms Cox's widower Brendan branded "a political act and an act of terrorism"."

And see: Was Jo Cox's killer tried as a terrorist? (The Guardian, link):

"When Thomas Mair’s trial began, many people queried why he was not being prosecuted as a terrorist. A frequent comment, on social media, was that he would have been, had he been a Muslim.

The answer is that Mair was indeed prosecuted as a terrorist, and this was made clear during preliminary hearings. This is the reason that he was tried in London, rather than Yorkshire."

GERMANY: What living conditions are like for a Syrian refugee in Berlin (Vice, link):

"“There is no proper housing, no good life,” a Syrian refugee named Farouk told VICE News correspondent Milène Larsson in Berlin. “There is no good food, no work. Some people have to wait for a year to start learning German. People say it’s our fault, no.”

When the migrant crisis began to overwhelm Europe last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood out for her insistence on opening the country to newcomers. More than a million refugees moved in, and now Merkel’s popularity is waning.

“Our rooms are very cramped,” Farouk said. “No money, nothing that we can build a life with. There is nothing that gives us hope for tomorrow.”"

How economic migrants become refugees as they seek a new life (The Independent, link):

"As right-wing politicians across Europe call for “economic migrants” to be deported or even left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea, analysts say the term is divorced from the harrowing reality faced by many of the men, women and children risking their lives to reach safety.

The passage from Libya to Italy, the deadliest crossing in the world, is now the dominant route after the controversial EU-Turkey deal aimed to close the comparatively safer and shorter path over the Aegean Sea.

Libya has been a draw for people seeking work across Africa for decades and the prospect of high wages and abundant construction work is still luring migrants unaware of the chaos and violence that awaits.

Migrants and refugees are frequently kidnapped by gangs in exchange for ransoms, being beaten, raped and tortured in squalid makeshift prisons, while others are detained in labour camps or forced into prostitution until they pay their way out.

With routes out of Libya controlled by militias and many borders closed, the only escape is flimsy rubber boats sent into the Mediterranean Sea by smugglers, who threaten to shoot anyone attempting to resist being packed into the overcrowded dinghies."

The FBI Hacked Over 8,000 Computers In 120 Countries Based on One Warrant (Motherboard, link):

"In January, Motherboard reported on the FBI's “unprecedented” hacking operation, in which the agency, using a single warrant, deployed malware to over one thousand alleged visitors of a dark web child pornography site. Now, it has emerged that the campaign was actually several orders of magnitude larger.

In all, the FBI obtained over 8,000 IP addresses, and hacked computers in 120 different countries, according to a transcript from a recent evidentiary hearing in a related case.

The figures illustrate the largest ever known law enforcement hacking campaign to date, and starkly demonstrate what the future of policing crime on the dark web may look like. This news comes as the US is preparing to usher in changes that would allow magistrate judges to authorize the mass hacking of computers, wherever in the world they may be located."

EU: Organised crime group behind illegal immigration dismantled (Eurojust, link):

"Today, the Prosecutor’s Office - Anti-Mafia District Directorate of Salerno, Italy, in close cooperation with the Public Prosecution Office of Karlsruhe, Germany and with the support of Eurojust, carried out an operation concerning an organised crime group (OCG) involved in facilitating illegal immigration of non-EU citizens into Europe. A total of ten people have been arrested and three house arrests were carried out by the Italian police (Mobile Squad of Salerno). Simultaneously, the German authorities executed several searches and a European Arrest Warrant against the main suspect, a German citizen of Somali origin.

The investigation started in spring 2015, following the docking of the military ship ‘Chimera’ in the port of Salerno, carrying 545 Somali migrants, who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tripoli by the Italian navy. Some migrants were left for three days without water, food and medicines, and were affected by scabies and high fever. For this reason, the OCG members, all of Somali origin, are also accused of harassment and inhumane treatment of the migrants during the journey from the Libyan coast to Italy."

UK: Destitute migrant families: study assesses voluntary sector work

"This study explores the role played by voluntary sector organisations [in England] providing services such as advice and material support to migrant children and families who are destitute. It seeks to explain one of the findings of a recent study conducted by COMPAS on the responses of local authorities to destitute children and their families, which observed that voluntary sector organisations found this area of work particularly challenging. The study seeks to identify the causes of those challenges, and how those challenges could be addressed."

The executive summary (pdf) identities five main challenges: 1. Structural imbalance in the sector; 2. Funding constraints; 3. Narrative: the deserving and the undeserving; 4. Fear of media attention; 5. Misunderstanding on the legality of provision to migrants.

Full report available on the COMPAS website: Meeting the challenge: Voluntary sector services for destitute migrant children and families (link)

Interpol: Use biometric data to find extremist fighters (Phys.org, link):

"Interpol urged all countries on Tuesday to obtain biometric data from fighters for the Islamic State and other extremist groups to help law enforcement track them down, especially when they return home.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in an interview with The Associated Press that the international police organization only has biometric data—fingerprints, DNA, iris scans and the like—for about 10 percent of the 9,000 "foreign terrorist fighters" in its database.

Stock said Interpol is helping countries to develop biometric technology not only to identify fighters from extremist groups but criminals as well.

He cited the case of "a terrorist" who attacked a police station in France last year who had traveled across Europe using 20 different identities—something that could have been thwarted with biometric data."

EU: Meijers Committee note on EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement'

The Meijers Committee would like to welcome the Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences (further: the Umbrella Agreement) that has been submitted to the European Parliament for approval. However, with this note the Meijers Committee wants to express its concerns with regard to a number of issues. In addition to the comments expressed by the European Data Protection Supervisor, this note contains remarks on the effects of the Umbrella Agreement on existing agreements, judicial remedies and the legal basis. The Meijers Committee encourages the European Parliament to obtain clarifications on the following points.

See: Note on the EU-US Umbrella Agreement (pdf)

MACEDONIA: Special Prosecutor Investigates Secret Service for Illegal Wiretapping (OCCRP, link):

"Macedonia’s Special Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday it is investigating 10 current and former members of the Balkan country’s secret service for taking part in the illegal wiretapping of nearly 6,000 citizens between 2008 and 2015.

Fatime Fetai, the deputy head of the office, said the officials from the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (UBK) were under investigation for carrying out the wiretaps without court orders, thereby breaching “fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.”

Between 2008 and 2015, the Macedonian secret service allegedly intercepted the communications of at least 4,286 people without court orders ever being issued, OCCRP partner Nova TV reported. Another 1,541 citizens' communication devices were monitored, with court orders only being issued later."

EU: New counter-terror powers coming after hasty, secret negotiations on EU Directive completed

Less than a year after it was proposed, agreement on the EU's new counter-terrorism law has been reached following the seventh and final secret "trilogue" meeting on 17 November between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The final text of the new Directive (14673/16, LIMITE, pdf) is little-changed changed from a previous version published by Statewatch on 14 November.

The broad scope of the new Directive - which counts the criminalisation of "travel for terrorist purposes" amongst a number of new offences - has been criticised by civil society organisations and legal experts.

UK: Identity checks for healthcare?

"Patients could be told to bring two forms of identification including a passport to hospital to prove they are eligible for free treatment under new rules to stop so-called health tourism."

UK police chiefs hide ‘high-risk’ Gulf training (Reprieve, link):

"The National Police Chiefs’ Council has refused to publish details about UK training provided to officers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, despite admitting the work poses human rights concerns. “Human error” had resulted in some information being released earlier this year about these projects that should not have been made public, it added.

In the 18 months from January 2015, UK police chiefs approved ten projects to train foreign forces where they identified that the work carried a human rights risk. The list includes countries that use the death penalty, with three applications for work in Saudi Arabia and two for Bahrain.

Police chiefs are refusing to release the documents about their training for Saudi and Bahraini police, claiming that publishing them under the Freedom of Information Act might damage Britain’s diplomatic ties with the Gulf."

EU-TURKEY: MEPs intensify push to halt Turkey talks (EUobserver, link):

"The EU wants to maintain membership talks with Turkey but MEPs are calling for them to be suspended, amid an intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the EU parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (22 November) that any move to annul Turkey's membership to the EU would be a lost opportunity.

"If the accession process came to an end I believe we would both find ourselves in a lose-lose scenario," she said.

But Erdogan has hinted that he would support the reinstatement of the death penalty, a move that Mogherini has set as a red line for the EU.

The EU parliament will vote on a non-binding resolution on Thursday to freeze accession talks, given the government-led purge in Ankara against so-called terrorists and state saboteurs."

And see: How Erdogan’s purge hit the EU and NATO (EurActiv, link): "The European Parliament will this week vote on whether to suspend Turkey’s EU membership bid. Andrew Duff explains how the Turkish military has reacted to Erdogan’s power grabbing and how NATO fits into the equation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.11.16)

EU: Frontex to begin collecting personal data in Greece on suspected criminals (Press release, pdf):

"Starting today, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, will begin collecting personal data of persons suspected of people smuggling, terrorism and other cross-border crimes collected as part of its operation in Greece."

Note: according to Article 2(16) of the new Frontex Regulation (pdf), "cross-border crime" means "any serious crime with a cross-border dimension committed at or along, or which is related to, the external borders." There is no specific definition of "cross-border crime" in the Regulation but such activities "necessary entail a cross-border dimension," for example "trafficking in human beings or smuggling of migrants" (preamble, paragraph 19).

European Parliament Studies:

- Towards a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (pdf):

"The evolution of the text is analysed through a comparison between the initial Commission proposal and the current version of the text (dated of 28 October 2016).

The paper assesses whether the EPPO, as it is currently envisaged, would fit the objectives assigned to it, whether it will have some added value, and whether it will be able to function efficiently and in full respect of fundamental rights. It focuses on the main issues at stake and controversial points of discussion, namely the EPPO institutional design, some material issues, its procedural framework, and its relations with its partners."

- Knowledge and Know-how: the Role of Self-defence in the Prevention of Violence against Women (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request by the FEMM Committee, examined research on the effectiveness of self-defence and its place in policies at EU and Member State levels.

It concludes that there is a growing evidence base that feminist self-defence can be effective in preventing violence. Whilst references to self-defence are present in the EU and Council of Europe policy documents, they are not substantial and yet to be developed into a coherent approach. Self-defence should be considered a promising practice and be better promoted and supported. More space should be made for it in policy, financing and research."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime - November 2016 (link):

"Asylum seekers and migrants face various forms of violence and harassment across the European Union (EU). As this month’s report on the migration situation underscores, such acts are both perpetrated and condoned by state authorities, private individuals, as well as vigilante groups. They increasingly also target activists and politicians perceived as ‘pro-refugee’. "

See Report: Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime (pdf)

HUNGARY: Only state-run radio to broadcast nationally in Hungary from today (Budapest Beacon, link):

"Hungary has reached another new milestone. As of Sunday, only four radio stations will broadcast nationally in Hungary, all of them state-run. Not since 1991 has radio been so one-sided..."

Refugee 'crisis'? Try 'crisis in the European press' (Open Democracy, link):

"A new study finds some disturbing trends in the European press coverage of refugees and the purported consequences of their arrival...

The emerging narrative strongly links negative consequences to 'real', tangible developments in European countries, while very few positive aspects go beyond moral obligations....

This all leads to problematic signals coming from the media, whose vulnerability and lack of resources become particularly evident in coverage of complex stories like this. A lack of context given to the refugee plight, low diversity of standpoints, and little mention of wider historical circumstances behind 'the crisis' result in simplistic framing: us versus them, the good versus the bad, refugees worthy of saving versus sneaky/dangerous migrants. Finally, no voice given to refugees or even citizens makes it impossible to develop a sense of togetherness or solidarity in Europe. The 'refugee crisis' label is controversial, but there is no doubt we are experiencing a crisis of journalism and ethics."

Hungarian prisoners complete part of new anti-migrant fence (EurActiv, link):

"Hungarian prisoners have finished building the first part of a second anti-migrant fence on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, state television reported yesterday (21 November).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced last August plans for a second fence line in August to reinforce the existing barrier erected last year along the 175-kilometre-long border."

EU terror bill casts wider net, raising rights issues (EUobserver, link):

"The EU is pushing ahead with sweeping legislation to fight terrorism that could limit rights and be abused by unscrupulous state authorities....

Dr Marloes van Noorloos, assistant professor of criminal law at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, says the bill's definition of terrorism could be interpreted to include left-wing protests and animal rights activism.

"This will include extreme left terrorism, extreme right terrorism, animal rights actions, also groups like that and how will the state make a distinction between leftists activism and extreme left terrorism?," she said.

"Any glorifying remark you could make about Nelson Mandela or Che Guevara, in principle, it is part of the definition," she noted."

UK: Home Office ordered to review policy on torture survivors (Guardian, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers who are detained in UK immigration centres could be released after a high court judge ordered the government to review its policy on incarcerated torture survivors.

Justice Duncan Ouseley ruled on Monday that the Home Office must immediately provide “relief” to detainees at an interim hearing, releasing survivors of torture from countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

Human rights lawyers, representing an initial 20 cases, had launched a legal challenge against the Home Office’s new definition of “torture” introduced in September, arguing that an unreasonably strict interpretation of the word meant that “potentially hundreds” of people have been illegally detained after claiming asylum in the UK."

Chios Greeece: Dep. Migration Minister Vows to Close Refugee Camp in Souda Following Days of Violence (Greek Reporter, link):

"Deputy Migration Policy Minister Ioannis Balafas said the government wants to close the camp in Souda on the Greek island of Chios and transfer refugees and migrants in a new camp outside the town....

The UN Refugee Agency and Amnesty International condemned the serious violence that broke out in the municipality-run refugee camp at Souda, when tents were burned and two activists beaten by suspected extreme-right supporters. A Syrian refugee at the camp was seriously injured on Friday, when a stone thrown down from the walls surrounding the camp hit him on the head."

Is the EU Gradually Renouncing its Fundamental Values in Order to Better Protect its External Borders? (ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org,link):

"Criticism by a number of NGOs and policy commentators about the European Union’s wavering observance of some of its core fundamental values has been mounting over the past few months. One strategic area in which such criticism has been most acute has been the EU’s evolving immigration and border security policy....

The outsourcing of the EU’s border security strategy to third countries with a potentially poor human rights record and an often discretionary use of rule of law has not been confined to Turkey alone."

Europe’s migration campaign pivots to Africa (politico, link):

"Having reduced the number of crossings from Turkey to Greece, European leaders are now looking to northern Africa...

“Tunisia could be the first country in North Africa to benefit from an ambitious visa facilitation agreement,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration. “At the same time, the conclusion of a readmission agreement will help to avert the risk of irregular immigration from Tunisia, and manage its consequences.”"

UK-USA: $1 billion deal for up to 26 new armed drones

"The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft, equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $1.0 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 16, 2016.... "

The UK is a close ally and an important partner on critical foreign policy and defense issues. The proposed sale will enhance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the UK's capabilities to provide national defense and contribute to NATO and coalition operations."

See: USA-United Kingdom – Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (pdf)

US anti-terror legislation risks eroding international sovereignty (euractiv, link):

"Anti-terrorism legislation in the United States risks undermining the sovereignty of other countries, despite opposition by the current president, legal experts and numerous international governments including the EU, writes Abdulrahman S. Alahmed.

Abdulrahman S. Alahmed is Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and head of his country’s mission to the EU.

On 28 September, the US Congress enacted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in a bipartisan vote, in spite of vigorous protests from President Obama, US national security officials and experts, the EU and numerous foreign governments and business leaders. President Obama used his prerogative to veto the bill, but for the first time in his administration, Congress overrode the presidential veto."

EU: November deadly for migrants crossing Mediterranean, IOM says (Reuters, link)

"At least 365 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this week in six sinkings, bringing the death toll so far this year to 4,636, already 1,000 more than in all of 2015, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.

Migrants, mainly from West Africa, are taking to the sea from Libya in flimsy rubber boats, trying to reach Italian islands and Europe, where they have little hope of being granted asylum, IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said.

"This is really a calamity in plain sight," Doyle told a news briefing. "We are seeing really tragic scenes of rubber rafts going under the seas in the middle of winter in the Mediterranean.""

See latest figures from: the UN (17 November, pdf) which records 4,518 dead or missing people in the Mediterranean in 2016; and the IOM (18 November, pdf) which reports 4,621 dead or missing.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Public inquiry confirms the identities of more police spies (The Guardian, link):

"The judge-led public inquiry examining the undercover infiltration of political groups has confirmed the identities of two more police spies in recent weeks.

In brief announcements, the inquiry - headed by a senior judge, Lord Justice Pitchford - confirmed that the pair - who used the fake personas of “Carlo Neri” and “Marco Jacobs” - were undercover officers.

...It means that the number of undercover officers embedded in political groups whose identities have been officially confirmed has risen to five."

See: Update on anonymity applications – N104 (“Carlo Neri”) (pdf) and: UK: Undercover Policing Inquiry confirms that "Marco Jacobs" was a police officer (Statewatch News Online)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-21.11.16)

EU: Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 18 November 2016: Final press release (pdf): European Travel Information and Authorisation System; information exchange and interoperability; Joint Action Days 2016; counter-terrorism programme; EU Internet Forum; PNR.

See: Provisional agenda: "B" Points for discussion (14272/16, 17 November 2016, pdf); List of 'A' items (non-legislative, adopted without discussion) (14273/16, pdf) and Background Note (pdf)

EU: ECRE Comments on the proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation (ECRE, link)

"ECRE has published its Comments on the Commission proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the EU. The proposal aims to transform the Asylum Procedures Directive into a Regulation. This means that rules laid down in the Regulation for conducting asylum procedures become directly enforceable in EU Member States’ national legislation.

The proposal’s very detailed approach, including the definition of the duration of administrative and first level appeals procedures and time limits for lodging appeals, reveals a highly ambitious mind-set with considerable impact on Member States’ practice.

While the introduction of measures such as the mandatory provision of free legal assistance and representation at all stages of the asylum procedure constitute an important safeguard for asylum seekers, ECRE is still highly concerned about the mainstreaming of mandatory safe country and admissibility concepts and about the extremely short deadlines for applicants to comply with often onerous procedural requirements in the proposed common procedure."

See: Comments (link to pdf)

EU: Entry/Exit System: latest Council position

"Delegations will find in the Annex to this Note compromise suggestions submitted by the Presidency on the draft Regulation setting up the Entry/Exit System. The compromise suggestions reflect the discussions and the relevant contributions by delegations put forward during the previous readings of the draft Regulation, as well as the Council Legal Service opinion (doc. 13491/16).

The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12176/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data and refusal of, entry data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of Member States of the European Union and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes and amending Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 and Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 (13962/16, LIMITE, 10 November 2016, pdf)

And: Annex (13963/16 ADD 1, pdf): logos for border crossing points, stamping rules, border check procedures for Member States not yet connected to the EES.

EU: Draft Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU

The Council is drawing up a set of conclusions on the integration of legally-residing third-country nationals in the EU, as a follow up to the Commission's recent Action Plan on the topic. See: Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU (14096/16, LIMITE, 10 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Systematic checks at the external borders: Council drafts final compromise text

The latest - and potentially final - version of the proposed Regulation on the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders: "The Permanent Representatives Committee is invited to give the Presidency a mandate to negotiate an agreement with the European Parliament on the draft Regulation, on the basis of the compromise text in the Annex."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (first reading) (14270/16, LIMITE, 14 November 2016, pdf)

How to Hold Algorithms Accountable (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Algorithms are now used throughout the public and private sectors, informing decisions on everything from education and employment to criminal justice. But despite the potential for efficiency gains, algorithms fed by big data can also amplify structural discrimination, produce errors that deny services to individuals, or even seduce an electorate into a false sense of security. Indeed, there is growing awareness that the public should be wary of the societal risks posed by over-reliance on these systems and work to hold themaccountable.

Various industry efforts, including a consortium of Silicon Valley behemoths, are beginning to grapple with the ethics of deploying algorithms that can have unanticipated effects on society. Algorithm developers and product managers need new ways to think about, design, and implement algorithmic systems in publicly accountable ways. Over the past several months, we and some colleagues have been trying to address these goals by crafting a set of principles for accountable algorithms."

And see: Principles for Accountable Algorithms and a Social Impact Statement for Algorithms (FAT/ML, link)

European Parliament: What if I had to put my safety in the hands of a robot? (pdf):

"Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are currently found in a wide range of services and applications, and their numbers are rapidly increasing. CPS are intelligent robotic systems linked to the Internet of Things. They make decisions based on the ability to sense their environment. Their actions have a physical impact on either the environment or themselves. This is what sets CPS apart: they are not solely smart systems, but rather, they have physical aspects to them. These robots are likely to infiltrate our everyday lives in the coming years. Due to this, we must look at what impact they will have on citizens’ safety and security. The question remains, how safe are these technologies?"

UK:-FRANCE: Charities criticise Home Office for UK ban on teenage refugees (Third Force News, link):

"Charities have hit out at the Home Office after it revealed most unaccompanied children over the age of 12 will not be allowed to enter the UK from the demolished Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp.

Representatives from Citizens UK, Calais Action, Refugee Action and Help Refugees say the government is breaking its promises after guidance was issued which means unaccompanied teenage refugees who do not have family in the UK and are from countries other than Syria and Sudan will not be allowed entry except in exceptional circumstances.

The guidance on how to implement the Dubs Amendment – passed by Lord Alf Dubs in April this year – that committed the government to taking 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, means that children as young as 13 and 14 from countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Eritrea will be barred from being transferred to Britain."

See: Government must not backtrack on commitment to protect refugee children from Calais (Refugee Action, link) and: Home Office Guidance: Implementation of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 in France (pdf): contains the new eligibility criteria.

EU: Civil liberties committee: more funding for "on-going migration, refugee and security crisis" needed

"The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgets, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution...

Acknowledges that the financial impact of the current internal security crises, as well as of the humanitarian and migratory challenges, were not accounted for when the current MFF was adopted in 2013... Emphasises that, even with the systematic mobilisation of the totality of the Flexibility Instrument under heading 3 in the coming years, the financial resources available will not be sufficient to tackle the increased needs; considers as essential, therefore, a fair distribution of funding according to priorities, in full transparency and accountability".

See: OPINION of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument to finance immediate budgetary measures to address the on-going migration, refugee and security crisis (2016/2120(BUD)) (pdf)

And: European Parliament Legislative Observatory: Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument: financing immediate budgetary measures to address the ongoing migration, refugee and security crisis (link). The report to be drawn up by the Committee on Budgets is expected to be the subject of a plenary vote on 30 November.

POLAND-BELARUS: A road to nowhere for asylum-seekers

"On 2-5 October 2016, we conducted a monitoring visit as representatives of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in order to investigate the situation at the Brzesc-Terespol (Brest-Terespol) border crossing between Belarus and Poland. The purpose of our monitoring was threefold: (1) Uncovering the general situation of those of the foreign nationals present in Brest who express intention to seek international protection in Poland, and specifically the scale of the phenomenon, types of problems and aid actions taken on-site; (2) Observation of access to the procedure of filing an application for international protection at the Terespol border crossing point; (3) Conducting interviews with foreign nationals present in Brest with the purpose of exploring the expressed reasons for them seeking international protection and their experiences in contacts with Polish Border Guard (Straz Graniczna)."

See: A road to nowhere (Helsinki Foundation, link) and the report: A road to nowhere. The account of a monitoring visit at the Brest-Terespol border crossing between Poland and Belarus (link to pdf)

And see: Inaccessible? Polish asylum procedure at the border crossing between Poland and Belarus (ECRE, link)

UK: Freedom from Torture says Home Office mistreats expert medical evidence of torture (EIN, link):

"Freedom from Torture has said in a report released today that Home Office asylum caseworkers are disregarding or mistreating expert medical evidence of torture.

...The report provides a detailed analysis of how a cohort of 50 expert medico-legal reports documenting physical and psychological evidence of torture were treated by Home Office asylum caseworkers.

Freedom from Torture's Sonya Sceats told the BBC that the report found that caseworkers were too often dispensing with the expert views of doctors when considering evidence of torture and were instead substituting in their own views, despite being entirely unqualified to make such judgements.

Freedom from Torture says this goes against a clear Home Office policy."

See the report: Proving Torture: Demanding the impossible: Home Office mistreatment of expert medical evidence (link to pdf)

USA: Police are spending millions of dollars to monitor the social media of protesters and suspects (The Washington Post, link):

"Hundreds of local police departments across the United States have collectively spent about $4.75 million on software tools that can monitor the locations of activists at protests or social media hashtags used by suspects, according to new research.

The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit organization focusing on criminal justice issues, aims to take a comprehensive look at the fast-growing phenomenon of social media-monitoring by law enforcement. Using public records, the Brennan Center tracked spending by 151 local law enforcement agencies that have contracted with start-ups that siphon data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites, largely out of the public eye."

Erdogan says Turkey doesn’t need EU (New Europe, link):

"Turkey does not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and can become part of a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations. So said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on November 20.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn’t say ‘for me it’s the European Union at all costs’. That’s my view,” Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling reporters on his plane on the way back from a visit to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

“Why shouldn’t Turkey be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to [Russian President] Mr Putin, to [Kazakh President] Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said. “I hope that if there is a positive development there, I think if Turkey were to join the Shanghai Five, it will enable it to act with much greater ease.”

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Nato member Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations. European leaders have been critical of its record on democratic freedoms, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension."

European Court of Human Rights: Judgment confirms right to information from public authorities

"In a landmark decision, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the case of Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v. Hungary that there is a right to information from public authorities under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK’s Supreme Court had previously found that the Strasbourg court’s case law had not established this – but the new decision clearly does so."

BULGARIA: Helsinki Committee report on the detention of migrants and possible alternatives

A new report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee examines the detention of migrants and possible alternatives: "The purpose of this report is making an analysis of the efficiency of the national practice in applying administrative detention of foreign nationals and the potential new alternatives to detention which, when put in place, would both improve the efficiency of immigration control and lower its financial and human costs."

The report: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee: Program for Legal Protection of Refugees and Migrants: Detention Mapping Report (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 18 November 2016: Final press release (pdf): European Travel Information and Authorisation System; information exchange and interoperability; Joint Action Days 2016; counter-terrorism programme; EU Internet Forum; PNR.

See: EU Ministers Back Changes to Security Database to Better Track Terror Suspects (Wall Street Journal, link): "European interior ministers backed planned changes Friday to the bloc’s main security database aimed at better tracking and catching terror suspects.

The changes—which still have to be finalized by the bloc’s executive by the end of the year—are aimed at preventing the sort of security blunders that led up to and immediately followed the Paris attacks a year ago. But they also emphasize how slowly the European Union machinery moves to plug gaps in its counterterrorism armory."

Background: JHA Council: travel authorisation system tops the agenda (Statewatch News Online)

UK: Extraordinary judgment rubber-stamps unfounded link between anti-fracking and extremism (Netpol, link):

"The Information Commissioner, in rejecting an appeal by Netpol over the refusal of the police to release details of a programme to ‘deradicalise extremists’, has endorsed unfounded and unsubstantiated links between anti-fracking protests and the threat of terrorism.

... There is no reason for Prevent officers to target anti-fracking events for extremist activities and no reason for a police presence at anti-fracking events “as a Prevent priority”.

... Instead, there is an urgent need for greater transparency about the false conflation of opposition to fracking – and increasingly other campaigns – with terrorism and a threat to national security."

TURKEY: 123 Migrants Flee Center in Turkey After Fire Breaks Out (ABC News, link):

"Turkey's interior ministry says that 123 migrants being held at a repatriation center in Istanbul have fled in the chaos that ensued after a fire broke out.

The ministry said in a statement that Saturday's fire was set by some of the migrants.

All rooms were vacated and the inmates were brought to an assembly area, from where 123 people fled during the ensuing chaos."

GREECE: Far-right group attacks refugee camp on Greek island of Chios (The Guardian, link):

"Dozens of people have been driven out of a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios after two successive nights of attacks by a far-right group.

At least two people were wounded after attackers threw Molotov cocktails and rocks as big as boulders from elevated areas surrounding the Souda camp, activists said.

Three tents were burned down and three others were hit by rocks. A 42-year-old Syrian man was assaulted, while a Nigerian boy was hit by a rock.

Fearing a third attack on Friday night, about 100 former occupants refused to re-enter the camp, instead taking shelter in a nearby car park. “We do not have any kind of protection,” Mostafa al-Khatib, a Syrian refugee, told the Guardian. “No one cares about us.”"

And see: Chios tense after unrest at migrant camp (Ekathimerini, link)

BELGIUM: Council of Europe: Conditions in Belgian prisons during strikes "intolerable"

"Strasbourg, 18 November 2016 – In its report published today, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) describes the disturbing situation it found during its visit in May 2016 to Huy, Ittre and Jamioulx prisons, as well as in the social defence establishment (EDS) in Paifve in the context of industrial action by prison staff."

GERMANY-EU: Major challenges ahead for German police (Deutsche Welle, link):

"At the autumn conference of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office the main topic was Global migration and its consequences. Holger Münch [president of Germany's Federal Criminal Police] talks to DW about jihadists, right-wing terror and new police digital equipment."

One topic of conversation is the adding of biometric data to the EU's Schengen Information System: "One of the main initiatives will be making the Schengen information system biometric, meaning that fingerprints will be able to be automatically retrieved... It won't take a long time. We are talking about a pilot project that Germany will also take part in. It will begin next year. After that, further changes will follow."

UK: 'Extreme surveillance' becomes UK law with barely a whimper (The Guardian, link):

"A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby."

ITALY-IRAN-INTERPOL: Fair Trials and Italian lawyer join efforts in fighting abusive INTERPOL Red Notice against Iranian activist (Fair Trials, link):

"Criminal justice cooperation mechanisms such as INTERPOL are an important tool in the fight against serious crime. However, these tools have been exploited by authoritarian regimes across the world to restrict domestic dissidents. At Fair Trials, we have been campaigning for simple changes to improve INTERPOL’s ability to filter out such abuses.

In Europe, we rely on the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), an EU-wide network of lawyers, academics and activists with expertise in criminal justice and fair trial rights, to maximise the impact of our work and the assistance we can provide to wanted people. Very recently, we have helped LEAP member and Italian defence lawyer Nicola Canestrini in the case of Iranian activist and political refugee Saied (not his real name), who was arrested in Italy under a Red Notice. Here is what he told us about the case."

UK: LONDON: MPS orders extra Tasers (Police Professional, link):

"The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has ordered an extra 180 Tasers to provide a “less lethal option” for firearms officers in the face of terrorist incidents.

It follows a strategic review of London’s terror level, which found the officers were “short in terms of capability”.

The MPS has more than 4,000 Taser-trained officers as part of Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s programme to provide a Taser response across London. All 32 London boroughs now have officer teams trained in the use of Taser."

Turkey failed coup: Officers 'seeking Nato asylum' (BBC News, link):

"A number of Turkish officers posted to Nato have sought asylum since the country's failed military coup in July, Nato's secretary-general has said.

Jens Stoltenberg said the officers had requested asylum in the countries where they had been posted but gave no names, numbers or reasons for the requests.

The countries involved will consider the cases individually."

EU: European Asylum Support Office: Country reports on Western Balkans and Turkey published

"The Country Focus reports at hand cover the most important topics related to the above-mentioned criteria for safe country of origin designation, namely: state structure (Constitution, Executive branch, Legislative Branch, Administration), socio-political landscape (Political parties, Elections, Civil society, Media), rule of law and state protection (Law enforcement, Judiciary), security situation and human rights situation (Legal context, Freedom of expression/religion/assembly, Detention, Situation of specific groups – ethnic or religious minorities, journalists, human rights activists, women, children, LGBTI persons, victims of trafficking, returnees)."

USA: EPIC Sues FBI Over Biometric Data Program (EPIC, link):

"EPIC has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation for information about the agency's plans to transfer biometric data to the Department of Defense. The FBI maintains one of the world's largest biometric databases, known as the "Next Generation Identification" system, but the FBI has resisted maintaining privacy safeguards. The Bureau previously proposed to exempt the database from many of the safeguards in the federal Privacy Act, which EPIC opposed. Then EPIC, following a FOIA lawsuit, obtained documents that revealed an error rate up to 20% for facial recognition searches in the FBI database. Now EPIC has filed an open government lawsuit to obtain a secret document that details the transfer of personal data in the FBI system to the Department of Defense."

See: EPIC press release: EPIC Sues FBI for Details on “Next Generation Identification” - Privacy Organization Says FBI Director Shows “Reckless Disregard” for Privacy Rights of Americans (pdf)

EU: What chances for a real European Common Security and Defense Policy? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"Over the past few weeks, calls for more integration and coordination in EU Defense policy were raised from several powerhouses. The election of Donald Trump as US President is likely to trigger a shift of paradigm in how the Americans see the defense of Europe, ie. the message being that Europeans should prepare to rely more on themselves. Along with Brexit, this new development seems to be spurring momentum for going forward with defense integration plans, which have been stalled for decades.

But what are the real chances of this project? We have measured the level of support among the political forces across the EU and the balance of power between proponents and opponents."

EU-POLAND: The EU and Poland: Giving up on the Rule of Law? (Verfassungsblog, link):

"A little more than a week ago, Jean-Claude Juncker gave up on the rule of law.

Speaking in an interview with Belgian newspaper Le Soir (english summary here), the European Commission President suggested that there was nothing the European Union could do to halt the slide toward authoritarianism in EU Member States such as Hungary and more recently, Poland...

Juncker’s response reveals how little the Commission feels that it bears responsibility for enforcing the European treaties. If the Commission cannot enforce basic EU values in the face of a meltdown of constitutional government in two of its Member States, then the Commission is violating its own solemn obligation under the treaties and calling the rule of law into further question. It is important in our opinion to stress that the Commission’s job is not to uphold the rule of law only when its President is of the view, rightly or wrongly, that a number of national governments may not support the Commission’s activation of Article 7 against Poland."

And see: Juncker: EU powerless against authoritarian slide in Poland, Hungary (Europe Online, link): "The European Union is powerless to act against the slide towards authoritarianism being seen in Poland and Hungary, the head of the bloc‘s executive, the European Commission, admitted in a Saturday interview."

UK: Investigatory Powers Bill: 'Snoopers Charter 2' to pass into law, giving Government sweeping spying powers (The Independent, link):

"Despite criticism from almost every major technology and internet company – including usually reticent ones like Apple – and from senior parliamentary committees the legislation has received little opposition in parliament. Early on, the only amendment that the bill received from MPs was a measure that stopped themselves being spied on, and while Labour has raised objections to the sweeping spying powers it has not voted against the bill.

Those opposing the bill argue that it has been hastily written and is being pushed through parliament too quickly to ensure that it doesn't receive full scrutiny. That has led to the bill including measures that are still undefined and so could be used by the government to force companies to do almost anything, tech firms have argued."

EU: Asylum in the EU: Presidency "non-paper" calls for scrapping relocation in favour of "tailored solidarity contribution"

A "non-paper" on EU asylum policy drafted by the Slovakian Presidency of the Council suggests that Member States should be able to decline relocating asylum-seekers in favour of a "tailored solidarity contribution" such as "financial contributions to the Member State under pressure," contributions of asylum staff and border guards, and support with returns operations.

See: Slovakian Presidency "non-paper": Effective Solidarity: a way forward on Dublin revision (pdf)

EU: JHA Council: travel authorisation system tops the agenda

The recent proposal from the European Commission for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which would require non-EU nationals who do not require a visa to enter the EU to instead pay and apply for "travel authorisation", tops the agenda of today's Justice and Home Affairs Council. The system would gather the personal data of millions of people for "screening" against "specific risk indicators" to determine whether they "pose an irregular migration, security or public health risk".

Also on the agenda are recent EU-wide policing "Joint Action Days", information exchange and the interoperability of databases, counter-terrorism, the work of the EU Internet Forum and the implementation of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) travel surveillance Directive.

See: Provisional agenda: 3501st meeting of the Council of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs) (14272/16, 17 November 2016, pdf); List of 'A' items (non-legislative) (14273/16, pdf) and: background briefing (pdf)

European Parliament: EU-US "Umbrella" Agreement on the exchange of personal data

Draft Recommendation to the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE, pdf) by Rapporteur: Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP.

Yesterday the following Amendments (pdf) were proposed:

Delete: "Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement" replace with "Declines to give its consent to conclusion of the agreement" proposed by Marina Albiol Guzmán, Cornelia Ernst, Barbara Spinelli, Marie-Christine Vergiat on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group:

Justification: "The agreement does not meet the requirements of the Charter and EU law. The wording is ambiguous regarding core DP provisions and does not provide effective judicial redress as the Charter requires. Furthermore, the agreement will serve as a form of adequacy decision, creating a false legal presumption of compliance of the US with EU data protection standards. Finally we regret that the committee did not wait for the ECJ ruling on the EU-Canada PNR agreement."

Another amendment to the same effect from Sophia in 't Veld: Justification: "While the Umbrella Agreement strengthens the data protection safeguards regarding existing law enforcement data transfers to the U.S, serious legal concerns persist and there is no guarantee that the level of protection afforded by the Agreement is fully consistent with EU law. The Agreement is deemed to fulfil the requirements of 'appropriate safeguards' as in Article 37 of the new Data Protection Directive (DPD), allowing for transfers under this Article to be automatically authorised. Furthermore, the US is not likely to (fully) implement the Agreement.""

See: European Commission: Proposed Council Decision (COM 237-16,pdf) and Annex: Text of Agreement (pdf)

Investigatory Powers Bill passed by Parliament with powers to secretly grab journalists' call records intact (Press Gazette, link)

"The House of Lords has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill meaning that is likely to be in force in a matter of weeks.

The Bill has already been passed by the House of Commons and codifies a system under which the state can deploy a variety of electronic snooping tactics to fight crime, including widespread collection of electronic data...

Internet and phone companies will be required to store comprehensive records for 12 months and enable law enforcement bodies to access those records on demand.

It also allows police and other bodies to hack into and bug computers and smartphones with the approval of the home secretary."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.11.16)

EU: Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 18 November 2016: Background Note (pdf)

EU-AFGHANISTAN "DEAL": NGOs Concerned About EU-Afghanistan Deal (pdf):

"The NGOs noted that:

The agreement may violate the principle of non-refoulement, and may hinder the protection against collective expulsions and the right to asylum;

The deal between EU and Afghanistan may cause an increase in returns of children with their families and unaccompanied minors;

The EU is wrongly presenting Afghanistan as a ‘safe country’ for return, whereas the situation on the ground is still dangerous, “as provinces such as Helmand and Kunduz fall into the hands of armed groups yet again.”

The open letter was signed, among others, by Médecins du monde, Save the Children, International Federation for Human Rights, Amnesty International, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, Emergency, Terre des Hommes, Pro Asyl."

Euro MPs cancel Turkey trip over coup criticism (euractiv, link):

"Top EU lawmakers yesterday (16 November) cancelled a visit to Turkey after Ankara refused to see one of the MEPs because of her criticism of Ankara’s massive crackdown following July’s failed coup, a parliament source said."

Sweden announces new prosecutor to relaunch Palme murder probe (DW, link)

"Sweden says it will appoint prosecutor Krister Petersson to lead a new probe into the 1986 murder of the Swedish prime minister. Petersson also investigated the 2003 killing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh."

EU: ETIAS proposal: European Commission:

- Security Union: Commission proposes a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Press release, pdf):

""We need to know who is crossing our borders. By November, we will propose an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here." – President Jean-Claude Juncker, 2016: State of the Union Address."

- Regulation: establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf)

- Annex (pdf)

- Feasibility Study for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (7 MB, pdf)

See also: Statewatch story: European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS): the EU's next border control database

And: European Commission, 'High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability: Subgroup on new systems – meeting of 14 September: Report' (Ares(2016)5744990, 4 October 2016, pdf) also: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (first reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14270-16, pdf):

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.11.16)

EU: Stockpiling, layering and carrying out profile-based searches: implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data (link):

"The PNR directive obliges air carriers to collect a whole host of data and pass it on to the border authorities in advance of all flights. This information includes registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses. PNR passenger information units (PIUs) in the Member States then analyse the information to identify “suspects and anomalous travel patterns”.

Turkey says it’s tired of ‘two-faced’ EU attitude (euractiv, link):

"Turkey is “fed up” with European Union condescension in talks over its application to join the bloc, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said yesterday (15 November), reflecting Ankara’s exasperation with EU criticism over human rights.

Çavusoglu’s blunt comments, made as visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier looked on, also highlighted Turkey’s frustration with the fact that, after 11 years of negotiations, its prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever....

The EU is treading a fine line in relations with Turkey: it needs Ankara’s continued help in curbing a huge flow of refugees and migrants, especially from Syria, but is alarmed by Turkey’s crackdown on opponents since the failure of a coup attempt in July.

Referring to an issue that could spell the end of Turkey’s accession bid, Çavusoglu said that the Turkish people would decide whether or not to reinstate the death penalty."

EU to mull new defence post at commission (euobserver, link):

"The EU should have a commissioner dedicated to defence and security to ease the burden on foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, according to an MEP who has written a report on setting up a European defence union.

"I am clearly convinced that in the European Commission there should be a special commissioner on defence and security," Urmas Paet, an Estonian liberal MEP, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (15 November). Paet said Mogherini was overstretched with too many portfolios. "She is doing everything, the whole world, all the foreign policy, all the conflicts, all the defence, security and so on," he said.

His report, if adopted next week, will shape the European Parliament's political direction in terms of defence and security for years to come."

EU: The European Parliament want a "humanitarian visa" - the Council and the European Commission are opposed: Regulation on the Union Code on visas (Visa Code) (recast) (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14262-16, pdf): State of play:

"1) the Council and the Commission want to stick to the recast rules (possibility for the co-legislators to amend only the parts highlighted in grey in the Commission's proposal). However, as the EP has tabled amendments concerning the white and the grey parts, the Rapporteur pleaded during the last trilogues for a pragmatic approach and advocated widening the scope of the recast exercise.

2) the humanitarian visa: EP strongly insists to include this element and considers that it would be the key added value of the proposed Regulation...

 At the last trilogue on 11 October 2016, views remained strongly opposed regarding in particular the issue of the humanitarian visa...

The humanitarian visa is the main outstanding issue in the file and constitutes at the same time a red line for the EP, the Member States and the Commission.." [emphasis added]

See also: External processing of applications for international protection in the EU (EU Law Analysis, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.11.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: First Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf): Contains the admission that:

"More concrete progress has been made in the recent months than previously achieved over many years, including on return and readmission."

Is this an admission that 11 years of GAMM (Global Approach to Migration and Mobility), which is not mentioned at all, has been a failure?

UK to remain in Europol for now (euobserver, link);

"The British government has decided to opt in to a new regulation for Europol, ensuring it will still be part of the EU police agency after May 2017 despite negotiating UK's EU exit.

"The UK is leaving the EU but the reality of cross-border crime remains," minister for policing Brandon Lewis told MPs on Monday (14 November), while announcing the government's decision.

He said that "Europol provides a valuable service to the UK and opting in would enable us to maintain our current access to the agency, until we leave the EU."

Britain had until the end of the year to choose whether to opt in to the new regulation, which will enter into force on 1 May 2017."

UK Govt buried plans to weaken FOI on day Trump elected (Reprieve, link):

"The British Government published its response plans to weaken the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on the same day as the result in the US Presidential election was announced, it has emerged.

The statement was published on Wednesday 9 November as part of an 18-page document entitled ‘Government Response to the Justice Committee’s Second Report of session 2016/17.’

In it, the Government announces that “a number of recommendations” of a widely-criticised review of FOI undertaken by a panel including former Home Secretaries Jack Straw and Michael Howard “are being carefully considered.”

The recommendation referred to is that “legislation should be introduced to remove the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.” This would significantly weaken the ability of those making FOI requests to overturn decisions made by the Government not to disclose information, where those decisions have been supported by the Information Commissioner."

EU: Council of the European Union: Global Strategy - Security & Defence and Security and Defence Plan

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted the following on 14 November:

- Council conclusions on implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence - Council conclusions (14 November 2016 (pdf):

"The Council is committed to strengthening the Union’s ability to act as a security provider and to enhance the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) as an essential part of the Union’s external action. This will enhance its global strategic role and its capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary and with partners wherever possible....

Invites Member States, working through the EDA and in close coordination with the EU Military Committee (EUMC), to specify and complement the identified preliminary capability priorities.

"Civilian and military rapid response, including military rapid response operations inter alia using the EU Battlegroups as a whole or within a mission-tailored Force package;" [emphasis added]"

EDA (EUropean Defence Agency)

- Implementation Plan on Security and Defence (pdf):

"This Implementation Plan sets out proposals to implement the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) in the area of security and defence. It is presented by the HRVP / Head of the Agency for consideration and decision at the FAC in November and the European Council in December 2016.

It forms part of a wider package including the Commission’s European Defence Action Plan and the follow-up of the Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of NATO."

And including inteeligence-sharing: "EEAS to take stock of capabilities at hand in INTCEN and EUMS INT and develop short-, mid- and long-term proposals for Member States' consideration for upgrading such capabilities in line with the level of ambition. Reinforce links between INTCEN/EUMS INT with other EU and Member States’ entities providing situational awareness in order to further support the development of a European hub for strategic information, early warning and comprehensive analysis."

INTCEN (Intelligence Centre based in the External Action Service) and EUMS INT (Member States' intelligence agencies)

See also: Divided Austria unites in opposition to EU army (euractiv, link): "Calls for an “EU army” to be set up have increased since Donald Trump’s US election victory, but neutral Austria, at least, is handling the issue very carefully."

CoE: Migrants in limbo in Europe have the right to live in dignity (Commissioner for Human Rights, link):

"In some countries, they call them “invisible persons”, in others – “ghosts”. Throughout Europe there are many migrants, primarily rejected asylum seekers, who live in a state of protracted legal and social limbo without any long-term prospects. The authorities refuse to regularize them or to grant them any kind of legal status, but often, they cannot go back to their countries of origin for various reasons, most often, fear of persecution.

These desperate persons tend to live in substandard conditions, completely excluded from society, lacking residence permits and the means to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, health or education. In essence, they are deprived of any opportunity to live in dignity."

European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS): the EU's next border control database

It is expected that on Wednesday the Commission will publish a proposal to establish yet another EU "migration management" database - the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Based on systems in place in the USA (ESTA), Canada and Australia (ETA), the Commission's idea is to ensure an "additional layer of systematic control" for nationals of countries that have a visa waiver agreement with the EU - currently some 1.4 billion people.

See: European Commission, 'High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability: Subgroup on new systems – meeting of 14 September: Report' (Ares(2016)5744990, 4 October 2016, pdf)

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Public inquiry into police spies issues appeal to bereaved parents (The Guardian, link):

"The public inquiry examining the undercover infiltration of political groups is making an appeal to bereaved parents to get in contact.

Lord Justice Pitchford, the senior judge leading the inquiry, is investigating how undercover police officers stole the identities of dead children and adopted them to create their fake personas.

He wants to hear from parents who wish to know whether police used the identities of their dead child.

The police have previously been forced to apologise for stealing the identities of dead children following a public outcry about a technique that has been criticised as being “ghoulish and disrespectful”."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.11.16)

EU: Turkey is not safe for children: 56 MEPs call on EU to stop sending back migrants

A letter signed by 56 MEPs addressed to numerous officials from the European Commission, the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration highlights the abysmal educational and living standards for children in Turkey and calls for "the cessation of readmissions and returns of migrants to Turkey, especially of vulnerable categories such as children." Of particular concern is the fact that many Syrian children are employed in Turkish textile factories where they "work in painful conditions, in very close contact with a wide range of toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances such as hydrochloric acid."

See: Letter concerning the situation of refugee children in Turkey (pdf)

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator on information-sharing with Europol and Eurojust

"Sharing information to counter terrorism is high on Member States' political agendas. This is also reflected at operational level by the significant increase in information exchanged via the different mechanisms over the last year. Moreover, a number of Ministers of the Interior have become personally involved in boosting their Member States' information sharing at EU level, which is making a real quantitative and qualitative difference. This is based on a recognition of the importance of using EU information-sharing channels to support operational success."

See: NOTE from: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to: Permanent Representatives Committee/Council: Information-sharing in the counter-terrorism context: Use of Europol and Eurojust (9795/16, 7 June 2016, pdf)

And see: previous version (9201/16, 31 May 2016, pdf)

EU: Salzburg Forum: "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow" must not happen again

A recent statement by the Salzburg Forum, a central European security initiative, emphasises that the "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow along the Eastern Mediterranean-Western Balkans route, which Europe has faced over the last two years, must not be repeated in the future." The "priority goals" for achieving this are findings ways to "strengthen the migration management and the control of the EU external border," and ensuring "the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference, Prague (14274/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

FRANCE: What Can We Learn from the Existence and Eviction of the Calais Jungle? (Novara Media, link):

"To challenge the mainstream media portrayal of the Jungle as only a muddy, desperate environment without basic facilities or official authority, it is important to highlight what was built there, and to recognise the strength, resilience, and determination of people to create homes, an economy, and hold onto their autonomy in the worst possible conditions.

There have been refugee camps in the Calais region since the early 1990s, and after each eviction people have always come back, to rebuild and start again. Calais and Jungle residents alike are unanimous in the belief there will always be migration at the border, that people will continue to arrive and try to cross to the UK. In light of this, the eviction does not appear to be a sustainable solution; rather, with the upcoming elections in France, this reflects on political, not practical interests.

...as the Jungle comes to an end it is also crucial that we do not just write it off as a terrible by-product of EU border policies, but rather see what can be learnt from the camp and how can this can be integrated into the way Europe supports refugees and asylum seekers."

EU-UKRAINE-RUSSIA: Ukraine's annexed territories: Council ponders mutual legal assistance problems

The EU is examining ways to undertake "mutual legal assistance cooperation with the illegally annexed territories in Ukraine, both with regard to civil and criminal matters," with some Member States in favour of "a common EU standard as regards their cooperation with the illegally annexed territories of Ukraine." A recent paper from the Dutch Presidency of the Council explores the options.

See: Mutual legal assistance between the EU Member States and Ukraine (13954/1/16 REV 1, 11 November 2016, pdf)

EU: European Agency for Asylum: Council Presidency compromise text for five chapters of proposed Regulation

"Delegations will find in Annex Presidency compromise suggestions for Chapters 7 and 12 to be examined at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 16 November. Changes to the previous text, as it appeared in doc 13306/16 are indicated in bold and […]."

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Delegations (14293/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Cybercrime, encryption, obtaining evidence from the "cloud": report on Eurojust seminar "Keys to Cyberspace"

"The Strategic Seminar “Keys to Cybercrime” was held on 2 June in The Hague. The Seminar was jointly organised by the Netherlands Presidency of the EU and Eurojust.

This Outcome Report presents the summary of the main topics discussed by the participants in the Strategic Seminar, consisting mainly of national judicial authorities specialised in cybercrime, representatives from the European Commission and Council, the Council of Europe, Europol and the Eurojust Task Force on Cybercrime."

See: Strategic Seminar "Keys to Cyberspace" - Outcome Report (13982/16, 4 November 2016, pdf)

Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information (FRA, link):

"Protecting the human rights of individuals subject to criminal proceedings is an essential element of the rule of law. Persons who are suspected or accused of crimes in countries other than their own are particularly vulnerable, making appropriate procedural safeguards especially crucial. This report reviews Member States’ legal frameworks, policies and practices regarding the important rights provided in these directives, including with respect to individuals whose needs may require additional attention, such as persons with disabilities and children."

Full report: Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information (pdf)

See also: JUSTICIA - European Rights Network (link): monitoring the adoption and implementation of the EU's procedural rights "package": "Recent developments under EU law to protect the rights of victims of crime, in addition to measures to protect the rights of accused and suspected persons in criminal proceedings, will have a significant impact on domestic criminal law, policy and practice throughout the European Union. More information about these measures and their impact within Network Member Organisations’ Member States can be found here."

EU: Europe Struggles to Harden Security in Wake of Attacks (The Wall Street Journal, link):

"PARIS—Shortly after the terror attacks here a year ago, European leaders pledged to close a legal loophole that militants could exploit to pass through border crossings without security checks.

A year later, negotiators in Brussels are still quarreling over how to change the problematic law, which forbids border guards from conducting systematic security checks on European citizens. France and some other governments, fearing the return of European-born jihadists from Syria, have grown increasingly exasperated.

“We have been quite irritated at the pace,” said one European diplomat involved in the talks."

Online freedoms decline worldwide for sixth consecutive year: report

"Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests."

EU: Internal security: Council documents on information exchange, foreign fighters, counter-terrorism, internet, PNR, organised crime

On 8 November the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) met to discuss the development and implementation of a host of new and existing measures: information exchange and interoperability between EU and national databases; counter-terrorism efforts; the 'EU Internet Forum' and Europol's Internet Referral Unit; the EU policy cycle on organised crime; and the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive. Here we provide the majority of documents discussed by participants in the meeting, along with other relevant information.

EU: Torture goods: Council adopts amending regulation (Council of the EU, link):

"On 14 November 2016, the Council adopted an amending regulation concerning goods that can be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The agreement will enable regulation 1236/2005 to be amended in the light of developments since it entered into force in 2006. It provides for modifications to the current rules on export controls, for new controls on brokering services and technical assistance, for a ban on advertising of certain goods and for amendment of the definition of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The aim is to prevent EU exports from contributing to human rights violations in third countries.

A ban on torture and ill-treatment is enshrined in United Nations conventions on human rights. At EU level, the Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits capital punishment and provides that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The EU also promotes respect for fundamental rights around the world."

See: REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (pdf)

And see: Civilizing the torture and execution trade (pdf) by Steve Wright

FRANCE: The Risks of France’s Big New Database (The New York Times, link):

"The government of President François Hollande has moved to combine existing information on at least 60 million French citizens into a single sprawling database. The government says the goal of merging data from French passports and national identity cards is to prevent identity fraud. But the measure risks opening the door to mass government surveillance of the entire country and increases the danger that private information about citizens could be hacked.

The new Secure Electronic Documents database, known as T.E.S., will contain biometric information — like fingerprints and eye color — ID photos, names, addresses and marital status. One big issue is that the database could easily be checked against information, like video footage, collected by intelligence agencies. While the government claims the new database will be used only to confirm identities, it rejected a proposal for individual data chips in passports and identity cards that would serve the same purpose without compromising citizens’ rights to privacy.

...As a French senator, Gaëtan Gorce, warned: The database would “offer to a future government the technical possibility to modify it to its ends,” an ominous possibility given the rising fortunes of the far-right National Front."

See: France to collect personal data of 60 million with controversial database (France 24, link)

EU: Drones: new EU rules to ensure safety and privacy (European Parliament, link):

"Drones are used for many things, from filming and taking photos to inspecting gas pipelines and spraying crops. But these small unmanned aircraft could also pose a risk to airplanes and be used to invade people’s privacy. On Thursday 10 November the transport committee approved changes to EU aviation safety rules that would also include basic safety measures for drones...

Drones that weigh less 150 kilos are currently regulated at the national level, however having different safety and technical standards for each country is proving a headache for manufacturers and complicates cross-border cooperation.

MEPs would like to see basic requirements for civil drones weighing less than 150 kilos enshrined in EU legislation to ensure clarity and coherence, especially concerning safety and privacy. This includes the mandatory registration of drones that weigh more 250 grammes."

And see: press release: Aviation safety: transport MEPs back draft EU rules on drones and emerging risks (pdf)

Plus: USA: Consumer drone business stumbles, but commercial markets beckon (Reuters, link): "The fledgling drone industry is in the throes of change as weak consumer demand and falling prices drive startups to shift their focus to specialized business applications."

EU: Human Rights and the European Arrest Warrant: Has the ECJ turned from poacher to gamekeeper? (EU Law Analysis, link):

"From its panicked conception in the febrile months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has been the flagship of EU criminal law. Replacing traditional extradition law with a fast-track system which scraps most of the traditional restrictions on extradition, it has alarmed critics concerned by miscarriages of justice, but thrilled supporters who welcomed the speedier return to justice of a greater number of fugitives.

Despite qualms by national constitutional courts, the ECJ has long been insouciant about the human rights critique of the EAW... However, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, this staunch approach has been mitigated by the adoption of six new EU laws on various aspects of fair trial rights – five of which also confer procedural rights on fugitives challenging the application of an EAW... the ECJ in the last eighteen months has begun to show a striking concern for ensuring at least some protection for human rights within the EAW system."

Biometric data on terrorists needed to activate global tripwire says INTERPOL (INTERPOL, link):

"BALI, Indonesia – The lack of biometric data being shared on terrorists at the international level is creating a dangerous security gap for exploitation by returning foreign terrorist fighters.

With at least 15,000 fighters still estimated to be within the conflict zones of which an unknown number could return home to engage in radicalization or covert cell operations, the INTERPOL General Assembly has emphasised the urgency with which this threat needs to be addressed.

...The role of biometric information focused on unique identifiers, such as fingerprints and DNA, is pivotal in this context. Although INTERPOL currently holds information on nearly 9,000 foreign terrorist fighter – including from within the conflict zone – less than 10 per cent of these files include biometric data or high resolution images which could be used for facial recognition."

EU: New counter-terrorism Directive: Council text finalised

The EU is coming to the final stages of approving a new Directive on countering terrorism, which expands the scale and scope of the previous Directive (passed in 2002 and amended in 2008). Following the sixth secret "trilogue" meeting between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament on 10 November, the Council produced a "consolidated text" of the Directive and aims to conclude negotiations "at the trilogue on 17 November 2016," before presentation to the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER, EU Member States' officials) on 30 November. Following final agreement on the text, it will also have to be approved by a plenary session of the Parliament.

See: Council of the EU: Consolidated text (14238/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.11.16)

EU: Council of the EuropeanUnion: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 14260-16, pdf):

"This report covers progress against the conclusions on counter-terrorism (CT) agreed by the Members of the European Council on 12 February 2015. It takes into account the CT related conclusions of the European Council of 17 and 18 December 2015 and the JHA Council of 20 November 2015 and the Joint statement on the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March 2016."

Read with: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-ADD-1-16, pdf): 50-page detailed summary

And see previous version of 14260-16: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-16, pdf)

ITALY-SUDAN MOU: ASGI/Italy: Memorandum of understanding between the Italian public security department and the Sudanese national police. A reading guide (pdf):

"The repatriation of around 40 Sudanese refugees on the past 24 August 2016 - taken from Ventimiglia, transported to the Hotspot in Taranto (Apulia) and then led, always by force, to the airport terminal in Turin - has uncovered the existence of an agreement between Italy and Sudan which has been vigorously criticised by the Tavolo Nazionale Asilo [a consultation group on asylum comprising Acli, Arci, Asgi, Caritas italiana, Casa dei diritti sociali, Centro Astalli, Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati, Comunità di S. Egidio, Federazione delle Chiese Evangeliche in Italia, Medici per i Diritti Umani, Medici Senza Frontiere, Senza Confine].

In a reply handled through an interview with [the newspaper] Avvenire on 29 September, the chief of police, prefect Gabrielli, explained that the Memorandum in question is merely one of 267 agreements underwritten by Italy with other countries for the purpose of perfecting police cooperation and, hence, it does not require any parliamentary oversight....

The Italian-Sudanese memorandum entails the distortion of the guarantees provided by the legal order in the field of returns, which are already weak as things stand."

Golden Dawn rallies on Chios, Lesvos fuel concerns (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Rallies scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on the the eastern Aegean islands of Chios and Lesvos have placed local authorities on alert, fearing outbreaks of violence as counter-demonstrations are also expected to take place.

According to flyers distributed across both islands by party loyalists, the events will discuss Golden Dawn’s proposals on the refugee crisis."

Alongside Amnesty International - 44 NGOs sign up in supportlongside Amnesty International - 44 NGOs sign up in support

Associazione Diritti e Frontiere (ADIF):

"We address the following appeal to all the associations, social and political forces and sections of civil society which consider the attack against Amnesty International unacceptable and intend to continue to advance any effort to shed light on what is happening to the migrants who arrive in Italy."

Barbara Spinelli MEP writes to the President [of the Council of Ministers], Renzi: an independent inquiry into ill-treatment in hotspots is necessary

Barbara Spinelli MEP has sent a letter to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - and in copy to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and to the Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking to know the truth about the ill-treatment in Italian hotspots reported in the Amnesty International report published on the 3 November 2016.

See also: AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hospot system

EU: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM (EES): Council of the European Union:

- 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 (LIMITE doc no: 13963-16, pdf) Full-text of Council "compromise" position prior to entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament:

"Delegation will find attached a Presidency compromise text of the above Proposal. The compromise suggestions reflect the discussions and the relevant contributions by delegations put forward during the previous readings of the draft Regulation...

The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12178/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

- As above: ADD 1 (LIMITE doc, pdf) with travel document logos

- Annex to proposed Regulation (LIMITE doc no: 13962-16, pdf): With near final text on registration of third country nationals from visa-exempt states (eg: the USA), the restrictions on visa holders' movements and the Member State they can exit through.."The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12176/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

The Annex says: "Four fingerprints of visa exempt third country nationals should be enrolled in the EES... The facial image of both visa exempt and visa holding third country nationals should be registered in the EES.."

Background: EU-USA visa row on the cards

Turkey halts activities of 370 groups as purge widens (Reuters, link):

"urkey has halted the activities of 370 non-governmental groups including human rights and children's organizations over their alleged terrorist links, the government said as it widens purges following a failed coup in July.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus defended the ban on the activities of the NGOs operating across the country, which was announced by the Interior Ministry late on Friday.

"The organizations are not shut down, they are being suspended. There is strong evidence that they are linked to terrorist organizations," Kurtulmus said."

USA: Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee (CNN Politics, link):

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for the creation of a new House Committee on Un-American Activities, invoking the infamous "Red Scare"-era congressional body as a blueprint for weeding out American ISIS adherents and sympathizers."

Privacy experts fear Donald Trump running global surveillance network - Concerns raised that current US and UK surveillance system is ‘ripe for further abuse under an autocratic, power-obsessed president’ (Guardian, link):

"Privacy activists, human rights campaigners and former US security officials have expressed fears over the prospect of Donald Trump controlling the vast global US and UK surveillance network...."

EU: German and French interior ministers demand EU discussion on undermining encryption

The latest step in government efforts to give the authorities access to encrypted messages comes in the form of a letter from the German and French interior ministers to EU officials that calls for "solutions that allow for effective investigation into encoded [encrypted] data linked to potential terrorist attacks or organised crime." The letter demands that the issue be put on the agenda of the forthcoming Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, to be held in Brussels next Friday (18 November).

See: German-French letter concerning cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communication service providers (14001/16, 7 November 2016, pdf)

What Happens After Deportation? Human Stories Behind the Closed Doors of Europe (Border Criminologies, link):

"It is important that what happens after deportation does not go unnoticed. A better examination of the human costs of forced returns and the political responsibilities of European states for post-deportation risks is called for. Only by listening to the human stories behind the closed doors of Europe, can we engage in an informed discussion about the security effects of European migration policies in a comprehensive manner."

When It Comes to the Refugee Crisis, the Numbers Game Matters (Refugees Deeply, link):

"As part of our “This Age of Migration” series, Paul Currion, a former aid worker focused on Afghans returning from Pakistan in the early 2000s, argues that better data and improved understanding of statistics are essential for an informed debate on the refugee crisis."

Europe’s anti-immigrant leaders are taking Trump’s show on the road (The Washington Post, link):

"BRUSSELS — Europe’s far-right leaders on Wednesday heralded Donald Trump’s victory as a sign that they were on the verge of a historic sweep through Western nations to upend the post-Cold War globalized world order.

From Viennese cafes to hard-luck coastal French towns to the ex-Communist flatlands of eastern Germany, anti-immigrant Europeans with views similar to Trump’s said they could no longer be ignored by a political and media elite that unites conventional wisdom on both sides of the aisle. They exulted in their power to win their nations’ highest offices in a marathon of elections that starts next month with the Austrian presidency and circles across some of Washington’s most important partners."

EU: Implementing the commons in Europe (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The European economic crisis has been exacerbated by the lack of leadership in the continent. In addition to the financial turmoil, Europe has lost its ethical vocation inside and outside its limits.

We are living in times where the privatisation of basic common goods is the norm, and where reclaiming access to fundamental resources seems to be either utopian or radical. In this sense, the new political parties springing up across Europe can do a lot, both in regard to raising consciousness, and in the promotion of a new type of social and political values.

However, their lack of capacity for working transnationally to influence and change the political agendas prevents them from implementing practices of self-management of common goods. In order to restructure the model, it is necessary to inject new ideas and visions into it."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.11.16): France opens new centre after street camp clearance; European Parliament briefing on new EU reception Directive; Europol operations against migrant smuggling; Turkey promises to extend state of emergency as necessary.

News Digest: round-up of news stories from across the EU (11.11.16)

EU-EGYPT: Italy trains Egyptian judges despite death sentences and torture (Reprieve, link):

"The Italian government has been supporting the Egyptian justice system as part of an EU project that risks complicity in abuses such as mass trials and the death penalty.

Italy’s highest judicial body, the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, is one of four contractors involved in the €10 million EU project in Egypt, named ‘Support to the Modernization of the Administration of Justice’.

Human rights organization Reprieve has unearthed documents showing that the project includes training Egyptian judges who oversee death sentences; providing steel bars and a metal cage to a juvenile court, and video technology for ‘interview rooms’."

EU: Europol press release: More than 100 arrests in major international migrant smuggling operation (pdf):

"On 21 October 2016, the Spanish National Police, together with the Polish Border Police, joined forces with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) in Operation Kolso to dismantle a transnational criminal organisation implicated in the smuggling of Ukrainian citizens into the United Kingdom and Ireland.

This extensive investigation was initiated in autumn 2015 as a result of bilateral cooperation between the Polish Border Guard and the Spanish National Police, but soon developed into an international investigation with links in several countries. In 2016, the operation concluded with more than 100 individuals being arrested for forgery of administrative documents and the facilitation of illegal immigration."

The new European Migrant Smuggling Centre, set up as part of the EU's response to the large-scale arrival of migrants and refugees over the last two years, has been keen to promote its work. The press release on the Poland-Spain-Europol operation follows one issued yesterday: Action day in the Balkans: Europol supports Hungarian Police (pdf)

UK: Undercover Policing Inquiry confirms that "Marco Jacobs" was a police officer

The Undercover Policing Inquiry set up in the wake of the scandal surrounding police infilitration and surveillance of activist and campaign groups has confirmed that "Marco Jacobs", who was involved in the anarchist movement in Bright and Cardiff, was a police officer. His real identity remains unknown.

EU: Europe-wide survey shows "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms"

A Europe-wide survey of 300 civil society organisations has highlighted significant concern over a "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms", with respondents from central and eastern Europe keen to highlight limitations on the freedom of association and a general decline in respect for democratic principles.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Spycops Stealing Dead Children’s Identities (COPS, link):

"Parents who want to know if their dead child’s identity was stolen by undercover police officers have been invited to ask the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Anyone whose child was born between 1938 and 1975 can do it, as long as they have somehow stumbled across the invitation (www.ucpi.org.uk > Preliminary Issues > Deceased Children’s Identities > scroll to the bottom of a list of 16 PDFs > click the last one) .

The issue came to light when activists exposed their comrade ‘Rod Richardson’ in 2013. The people who had unmasked Mark Kennedy had become suspicious of someone else they had known who now appeared to have been Kennedy’s predecessor. They found that the real Rod Richardson had died as a baby."

EU foreign policy chief speech at NATO-industry forum sets out military ambitions

A recent speech by the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini set out the EU's military ambitions in "this new phase of our global politics" in which there will be "a growing request for a principled global security provider." The speech was made the day it was announced that Donald Trump would become the next President of the United States of America.

UK: Vintage secrecy: court withholds publication of century-old police informant files

"Is it plausible that information over a century old could be withheld under FOIA on the grounds of national security and/or endangerment of health and safety? The answer is evidently ‘yes’. That was the outcome of a request for information on informants in the Jack the Ripper investigations... A request for information on police informants involved in Irish secret societies over the period 1890-1910 has met the same outcome."

Turkey vows to extend state of emergency ‘until threat is fully eradicated’ (Hurriyet, link):

"The Turkish government has signaled a long-term implementation of the state of emergency, with EU Minister Ömer Çelik saying it will continue throughout the struggle against coup plotters and describing it as the only mechanism to “fully eradicate the threat posed by the Gülenists.”

“We have no luxury to take risks and leave the issue be resolved on its own. It’s clear that we should continue until we are sure they are fully rooted out. The state of emergency is an essential mechanism to this end. You can’t fight them with any other mechanism,” Çelik told journalists accompanying him on his trip to Athens on Nov. 2 and 3.

Ankara declared a state of emergency right after the July 15 coup attempt and extended it after the initial three months. The existing state of emergency will expire in late January 2017, but Çelik’s words indicate the government’s plan to extend it for an indefinite period of time."

UK: Still privatised, still undervalued: new court interpreting contract from 31 October (IRR, link):

"The government’s stated rationale for privatising court interpreting services is to improve efficiency and save money. Whether either of those has been achieved remains debatable. Unsubstantiated savings of £38 million under the first contract do not include the cost of rescheduling court cases, holding defendants on remand for extra time or the unquantifiable distress to parties. Changes to the publication of statistics on language services may also make it difficult to track significant differences between the two contracts.

Access to the courts and justice is increasingly a privileged sphere. Migrants and the disabled – the communities served by court interpreters –– are already adversely affected by austerity measures and public service cuts. With the language of court proceedings a challenge for many monolingual speakers of English, demanding that foreign language speakers learn English is irrelevant; language ability is simply a further disadvantage. The discourse around Brexit and foreign workers and nationals in the UK also places interpreters, many of whom are foreign nationals, at a disadvantage.

Many professional foreign language interpreters have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the new contract, which offers them little incentive or professional recognition. A strike is due to take place on Monday 14 November."

GREECE-TURKEY: Can Greece Extradite the 8 Turkish Military Officers to Turkey?

"On the night of the failed coup in Turkey, eight Turkish military officers fled to Greece. They applied for political asylum, arguing that they were afraid for their lives, if returned to Turkey. They insist that they had no involvement in the attempted coup and they claim that they were transporting injured people in Istanbul when they came under fire by police.

Following their arrest, they received a two-month suspended prison sentence for illegal entry into Greece. While they remain in administrative detention, the asylum applications of seven of them were recently rejected. The issue of the eight has given rise to a diplomatic row between Greece and Turkey. In August 2016 Turkey officially requested the extradition of the “traitors”.

It is well established that Greece must deny extradition, if there are substantial grounds to believe that the eight will run a real risk of a fragrant denial of justice if returned to Turkey. The declared state of emergency and Turkey’s official derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights dramatically increase this risk.

However, substantiating the “flagrant denial of justice” claim in extradition cases is subject to an exceptionally high threshold. The European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court) has found only once that the applicant proved the existence of such a risk."

See: Can Greece Extradite the 8 Turkish Military Officers to Turkey? The Real Risk of a Flagrant Denial of Justice in Post-Coup Turkey (Fair Trials, link)

UK-ETHIOPIA: URGENT: Theresa May must take action now to save Andy Tsege (Reprieve, link): An open letter to Theresa May calling on her to take action to save the live of Andy Tsege, a British man who has been detained on Ethiopia's death row since he was kidnapped and rendered by the Ethiopian government to face a death penalty against him that was handed down in absentia.

Human rights organisation Reprieve continues to work with Andy's family to secure his release. See: Foreign Office loses contact with British dad ‘in fear for his life’ on Ethiopian death row (Reprieve, link)

FRANCE: Paris opens migrant centre after clearing street camp (RFI, link):

"Paris opened its first reception centre for migrants and refugees in Thursday, a month later than expected. Temporary shelter and basic services will be provided.

The "humanitarian centre" is in a disused railway yard on a busy boulevard in northern Paris. It can lodge up to 400 people and take in 50-80 new arrivals each day.

The yellow and white inflatable reception hall stands in stark contrast to the concrete, industrial zone that surrounds it.

Behind the reception hall, a 10,000-square-metre hangar contains dormitories, bathrooms, a canteen and a games area.

Only men can stay in this centre; another for women and families is to open in January, while unaccompanied minors will be sent to existing children's shelters in Paris."

Asylum in the EU: European Parliament briefing on renewed reception Directive

A new briefing by the European Parliamentary Research Service examines the "recast" Directive on reception conditions for applicants for international protection, setting out the context; the requirements of existing legislation; the changes that the new Directive would introduce; and the views of the Parliament, various NGOs and other "stakeholders".

See: Briefing: Reception of asylum-seekers – recast Directive (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.11.16)

Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hotspot system (pdf) by Alessandra Sciurba:

"When I read the “Hotspots Italy” report, which I knew was due to be published because I was part of one of the groups that was interviewed to produce it, I was speechless because I recognised exactly the same details which I knew so well, which I had not specifically spoken to Amnesty about and which, in general, I had not found the way to make known more widely."

UK: Institute of Race Relations interview with Against Borders for Children

"The Against Borders for Children campaign started with two aims – to stop the Department for Education collecting country-of-birth and nationality data on 8 million school pupils aged between 2 and 19; and to encourage and assist tens of thousands of parents, teachers and schools to boycott the government data collection scheme.

We came together as a group of concerned individuals in response to the announcement of the new questions and the open admission that the policy was designed to assess the impact of immigration on the schools sector, in the wake of a review into ‘education tourism’ called by Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening’s predecessor as secretary of state for education. The policy was announced before the EU referendum took place, but many of us, especially after the result, were concerned about the implications that it might have for immigration enforcement."

See: Interview with Schools ABC (IRR, link) and: Against Borders for Children (link): "Our aim is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy, effective from September 2016, to collect country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children in England."

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Outstanding questions on the full text (LIMITE doc no: 13459-16, pdf)

The Council developing its negotiating position before the trilogue with the European Parliament starts. Full-text of draft position (153 pages) and 91 Footnotes including Member State's positions:

"With the outcome of the discussions in Council (JHA) on 14 October 2016, a broad conceptual support has now been reached on all the Articles in the draft Regulation. The main remaining task for the Council is to find solutions to outstanding reservations.. Some of these outstanding issues are of political nature and will be addressed at political level, and some issues that concern only one or two Member States will first be addressed by bilateral talks..."

See also earlier draft position: LIMITE doc no: 11350-REV-1-16 (pdf)

CoE: European court rules against Hungary in free expression NGO human rights dispute (link):

"Human rights judges say Hungarian authorities were wrong in their decision to refuse to provide a NGO with information relating to the work of ex-officio defence counsel.

The European court declared this refusal a breach of the right of access to information."

See: The Hungarian authorities’ refusal to provide an NGO with information relating to the work of ex officio defence counsel was in breach of the right of access to information (ECHR press release, pdf)

EU: Turkey backsliding on rights and rule of law, says EU (euobserver, link):

"The EU commission says accession talks with Turkey to join the European Union hang in the balance following a backsliding on the rule of law and fundamental rights. The negative prognosis, issued Wednesday (9 November) in a 102-page annual report, risks stoking further tensions between the two sides.

"We are gravely concerned about the degradation of the rule of law and democracy unfolding in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt. In its own interest, Turkey urgently needs to stop moving away from the EU," he said in statement.

Hahn had previously backed opening two key negotiation chapters on fundamental rights and the rule of law as part of accession negotiations. "I have to admit, today I am not quite sure if this is still possible," he told reporters in Brussels. "

See: Turkey 2016 Report (SWD 366-16, pdf): This sets out again the measures Turkey has to put in place for the EU to consider a visa waiver system. Turkey will not consider a readmission agreement until the waiver system is in place.

"Turkey should in particular:

- continue implementing the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March

¨ implement the EU-Turkey readmission agreement in all its provisions

- align the legislation on personal data protection with European standards and accordingly negotiate an operational cooperation agreement with Europol

¨ revise its legislation and practices on terrorism in line with the ECHR, the ECtHR case-law and the EU acquis and practices, without reducing the capacity of Turkey to fight terrorism. The proportionality principle must be observed in practice."

What it will take for President Trump to deport millions and build the wall (Washington Post, link):

"If Donald Trump sticks to the immigration pledges that helped drive his presidential election victory, he will begin a clampdown on illegal immigration that would be unprecedented in American history and would require an exorbitantly expensive — and logistically difficult — operation to remove millions from the country while fortifying the border."

And see: Europe's leaders cannot hide their nerves amid Trump congratulations (Guardian, link):

"In Europe, the uncertainty bubbled up beneath the ritual dispatch of congratulations. The German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, gave her gut reaction soon after the outcome of the election became clear, admitting her surprise....

the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, framed her congratulations in the conditional, suggesting Berlin would get on with Washington as long as it continued to share core values.

“Germany and America are linked by values such as democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and the dignity of men, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender or sexual orientation,” Merkel said. “On the basis of these values, I offer US president-elect Donald Trump our close cooperation.”"

CANADA: RCMP intelligence centre compiled list of 89 Indigenous rights activists considered “threats” (APTN National News, link):

"Rattled by Idle No More and Mi’kmaq-led anti-shale gas demonstrations, the RCMP compiled a list of 89 individuals considered “threats” as part of an operation aimed at improving the federal police force’s intelligence capacity when facing Indigenous rights demonstrations, according to an internal intelligence report."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.11.16)

Refugee crisis: European Commission (9.11.16):

- Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to sustain efforts to deliver on commitments (Press release, pdf):

"Today the Commission adopted its latest progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 28 September 2016." [emphasis added]

And: "The Commission says that "the lower number of transfers in October (779, of which 549 from Greece and 230 from Italy) reflects in particular the low number of pledges made during the month of August, which has had a knock on effect in terms of lower transfer rates".

- Seventh report on relocation and resettlement (COM 720, pdf)
-
Annex 1: Greece (pdf): Relocations: Pledged:11,305, Carried out: 5,376 and Places needed: 63,302
-
Annex 2: Italy (pdf): Relocations: Pledged: 4,954, Carried out: 1,549 and Places needed: 34,953
-
Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)
-
Relocation and Resettlement - State of Play (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-ADD-1-16, pdf): A useful 50-page summary covering: "Detailed description of recent and planned CT/CVE related activities" [Countering Violent Extremism]: Includes 31 references to refugee "hotspots".

See also: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-16, pdf): The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator's recommendations.

European Parliament Study: Smart Borders Revisited: An assessment of the Commission’s revised Smart Borders proposal (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, appraises the revised legislative proposals (‘package’) on EU smart borders adopted by the European Commission on 6 April 2016. It provides a general assessment of the package, focusing in particular on costs, technical feasibility and overall proportionality, and a fundamental rights check of the initiative."

Czech Republic: Interior min: EU officials' words on CzechRep, migrants are scandalous (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec yesterday labelled scandalous the words of some EU politicians who have described the Czechs and the other Visegrad Four (V4) states as unreliable in tackling migration, and he warned that such attacks might foment anti-EU moods in the states concerned.

"In recent days, some European politicians and also EC officials have intensified their efforts to describe the Czech Republic and other V4 states as countries that fail to fulfil their duties in tackling illegal migration. The offensive includes open extortion, or threats to reduce the subsidies we receive from structural funds, unless we start accepting migrants from Italy and Greece at a pace that would make the two countries satisfied,"

Juncker tells Turks to blame Erdogan if visa-free deal fails (euractiv, link):

"The European Union stepped up criticism yesterday (8 November) of Turkey’s crackdown on opponents and alleged plotters behind a failed coup, drawing a sharp retort from Ankara, which accused Europe of failing to grasp the threats it faces.

But neither seems ready to take the kind of active reprisal that might completely damage a delicate relationship of mutual dependence. Brussels needs Ankara to keep stopping migrants reaching Europe and Turkey, seeing its currency hit record lows on instability fears, wants to keep access to European markets."

Syrian families held in Greece sue Ireland, EU over rights breaches (Irish Times, link):

"Case says migration deal, which allows for return of migrants to Turkey, goes against European law .

Members of two Syrian families detained in Greece after fleeing the beseiged city of Aleppo have taken an unprecedented action in the Irish courts against the European Council, EU and Ireland over alleged breaches of their human rights.

The core claim of the families is that the EU-Turkey deal on migration agreed on March 18th by the European Council - the 28 EU Heads of State including Taoiseach Enda Kenny - was made outside the EC’s powers and breaches EU law. The deal allows Greece return to Turkey “all new irregular migrants” arriving there since March 20th. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.11.16)

France to collect personal data of 60 million with controversial database (France 24, link):

"France’s government last week announced the creation of a highly controversial new database that will collect and store personal information on nearly everyone living in the country who holds a French identity card or passport."

And see: French privacy row over mass ID database (BBC News, link)

See: Conseil National du Numerique: Fichier TES : le CNNum appelle le Gouvernement à suspendre sa mise oeuvre et s’autosaisit pour examiner des alternatives techniques plus modernes et respectueuses des droits et libertés ('The National Digital Council calls on the government to suspend its work and to examine alternative, more modern technology that respects rights and freedoms', pdf)

"The French Digital Council is an independent advisory commission. Its remit was redefined and expanded by presidential decree on 13 December 2012, following its presentation on 12 December to the Council of Ministers by Fleur Pellerin, Minister Delegate with responsibility for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy. The Council's members were appointed on 8 february 2013 by presidential decree. The Council was set up in April 2011.

The Council issues independent opinions and recommendations on any question relating to the impact of digital technologies on economy and society. The government can consult the Council on new legislation or draft regulations."

USA: Congressional Research Service (CRS): Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law (pdf):

"Criminal law is usually territorial. It is a matter of the law of the place where it occurs. Nevertheless, a number of American criminal laws apply extraterritorially outside of the United States. Application is generally a question of legislative intent, express or implied. There are two exceptions. First, the statute must come within Congress’s constitutional authority to enact. Second, neither the statute nor its application may violate due process or any other constitutional prohibition."

ECHR: Court rejects claim by the National Democratic Party of Germany (pdf):

"In its decision in the case of Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) v. Germany (application no. 55977/13) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerns a political party, the NPD, and its complaint about being referred to and stigmatised as being both far-right and unconstitutional. In particular, the party alleged that there had been a wide range of infringements of its legal rights in Germany (amounting to a de facto ban), and that it had had no means to redress these. Examples of alleged violations included the dismissal of its members from jobs in public service; the inability of the party to open bank accounts; and the prevention of its candidates from standing in elections. The Court held that sufficient remedies had been available."

 

INTERPOL has a chance to crackdown on Red Notice abuse: will it act? (Fair Trials, link):

"The 85th INTERPOL General Assembly is currently underway in Bali, Indonesia, and on Wednesday INTERPOL will have a crucial opportunity to publicly reaffirm its commitment to safer and fairer working practices, when it announces the conclusions of its Working Group on the Processing of Information. The Working Group will make public the outcomes of its review, following recommendations submitted by Fair Trials which are intended to make it harder for countries to abuse “wanted person” Red Notice alerts for political ends."

Hungary migrant ban narrowly fails in parliamentary vote (Guardian, link):

"Vote on proposal to bar migrants from being resettled in the country falls just short of two-thirds majority needed.

Hungary’s parliament has narrowly failed to pass a plan proposed by the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to ban the resettlement of migrants in the country.

The proposed constitutional amendment got 131 votes in the 199-seat parliament – a majority of 65.8% but just short of the two-thirds majority needed to make the change. Opposition parties boycotted the vote."

EU:
New EU counter-terrorism law: worrying provisions remain in text as secret negotiations continue

Negotiations on a new EU counter-terrorism law are pressing ahead, with the sixth secret "trilogue" meeting between the Council and Parliament due to take place this Thursday, 10 November. A document obtained by Statewatch contains the Council's current preferred text, which contains a number of provisions that threaten to undermine fundamental rights.

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Delegations: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism - Consolidated text (13686/16, 26 October 2016, pdf)

Turkey: Where Will Repression End? (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 7 November 2016 – EuroMed rights expresses utmost concern after several members[1] from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested on 4 November, on charges alleging support of terrorist activities.

Amongst those arrested are two HDP co-chairs Figen Yüksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, both democratically elected leaders and our trusted and valued interlocutors.

Other members of Turkey’s Parliament from the HDP were also arrested. EuroMed Rights deplores this, as in a democratic system, MPs represent people’s sovereignty, particularly so given that HDP is the third political party in Turkey’s Parliament.

These arrests come in a context of continued severe crackdown that the Turkish authorities are engaging against a very wide spectrum of Turkey’s society, including human rights activists, peaceful demonstrators, political opponents, journalists, academics and intellectuals…

To-date, over 130 journalists are being detained, dozens of media outlets closed, tens of thousands of public servants arrested and jailed, hundreds of academics dismissed, thousands of teachers and policemen suspended from duty."

EU: The privatisation of migrant detention: major new study by Migreurop

"In the decade influenced by the September 11 attacks, a “migration security market” sprang up, as the interests of European political leaders willing to militarize EU borders progressively converged with those of the main defense and security service providers. Within this market, immigration detention – at borders and within the EU – plays a growing role. By presenting the various facets of privatisation of immigration detention in Europe (United-Kingdom, France and Italy), this report aims to provide a tool to decode the issues around these “outsourcing” realities, both in terms of the detainees’ living conditions and treatment and in terms of the symbolic and political consequences of these choices."

Full report: Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business (link to pdf)

UK: How an army of ‘super recognisers’ could help spot criminals and missing persons (The Conversation, link):

"While most of us find it easy to recognise highly familiar faces such as those of family and friends, identifying faces that we have only briefly encountered is much more difficult. In fact, some research suggests that even experienced passport control officers make a large number of errors when matching faces to identity documents. Yet, recent work reveals that a small number of people may have extraordinary face recognition skills, outperforming typical people on a range of face recognition tasks.

...Interestingly, all of the super recogniser participants displayed heightened configural processing on at least one task. We also monitored their eye movements as they looked at faces. While control participants mostly looked at the eyes, super recognisers spent more time looking at the nose. It is possible that this more central viewing position promotes the optimal configural processing strategy.

We also examined the potential causes of super recognition, finding no evidence that these people have higher intelligence levels or excel at all visual or memory tasks. In fact, their superior ability is restricted only to the recognition of faces. It currently seems that some people are simply predisposed to developing this skill, and there is increasing evidence that face recognition skills are heritable. Twin studies report a higher correlation in face recognition ability for identical compared to non-identical twins, and disorders of face recognition – prosopagnosia or face blindness are known to run in families, too.

...The possibility that there are different subtypes of super recognition is particularly important when considering the applied value of this research. Passport control is one clear candidate for the use of super recognisers, and many policing scenarios would also benefit."

UK: Facial Recognition Technology Raises Privacy Concerns (NBC News, link):

"A new immersive experience for moviegoers is highlighting privacy concerns surrounding facial recognition technology that's being deployed by governments and the private sector.

"RIOT" by British filmmaker Karen Palmer simulates a protest scenario, employing facial recognition technologies to determine how a user would react in a real-world situation.

"If you're walking down the street, you can look around and see if there's a cop," Palmer said. "But how can you fight facial detection from a device across the street? It's so invisible. I'm using the same toolset to teach you how to empower and understand yourself better.""

USA-PAKISTAN: Saving Prisoner 650: Dr Aafia Siddiqui (one small window, link):

"Women and children are also prisoners of the US-led “war on terror”. In March 2003, Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her three young children “disappeared” in Karachi, on their way to the airport to travel to the capital city Islamabad.

The Pakistani government said she had been arrested. She was not seen again until July 2008. It is widely believed that she had been “rendered” by the Pakistani authorities to the US military and was held by the US at its military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, along with her children, where she was tortured. The US denies this.

Upon discovery, she was detained in Ghazni, Afghanistan. Conflicting stories exist as to what happened when the US military came to interview her on 18 July 2008; nonetheless she and possibly US military personnel were injured. She was hospitalised and shortly thereafter charged with attempted murder and assault of US nationals and military personnel.

She was taken to the US, and following a two-week trial in 2010 which she refused to take part in, considering it a sham, she was convicted of all the charges against her and sentenced to 86 years in prison. She is currently being held at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, a facility for female prisoners with special medical and mental health needs. An appeal was filed but Dr Siddiqui withdrew it in October 2014. Her family claims she was pressurised into dropping it.

...I recently put some questions to her older sister neurologist Dr Fowzia Siddiqui about the current situation."

And see: Observatory on "rendition"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.11.16)

Unaccompanied child asylum-seekers: European Court of Human Rights: Written Submissions on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervenor in the case of Sh.D and others v Greece, F.Y.R.O.M, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia (Application No: 14165/16, pdf): The Statewatch Intervention invites the Court to find that:

"States party to the decision to close the Western Balkans route knew or ought to have known about the continued serious systemic deficiencies in the Greek state in respect of asylum seekers, and particularly in respect of the reception, guardianship and processing of claims of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Non-admission at the border along the Balkan and neighbouring states of unaccompanied asylum seeking children seeking access to the territory violates non-refoulement obligations under international refugee and human rights law and is incompatible with Article 3, ECHR."

The Intervention finds that:

"In view of the widely reported continuing serious deficiencies and significant delays in practice for reception (and use of prolonged de facto detention), guardianship and access to asylum processes by UN and EU agencies and non-governmental organisations, the Intervener submits that there remains no evidential basis that could lead this Court to reach a different conclusion to that which has prevailed to date, namely that the omissions to date of the Greek authorities in implementing a system of monitoring, supervising, assisting and safeguarding the best interests of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children persist at a level of severity of degrading treatment such as to amount to a breach of the state’s obligation under Article 3, ECHR." and:

"The Intervener therefore submits that while every country has the prerogative to control its borders, action by the Balkan states and neighbouring states to push back at the border or reject refugees and asylum-seekers based on their nationality and without any possibility of claiming asylum or otherwise having their individual circumstances taken into account violates the nonrefoulement obligations. The direct consequence of the decision to close the West Balkans route is to knowingly expose individuals – and in particular unaccompanied children, acknowledged to be a most vulnerable category of persons - to “the risk of proscribed ill-treatment” 75 in breach of Article 3, ECHR." [emphasis in original]

EU: Council of the European Union: IT and border management & Japan MLA

- Information Technology (IT) measures related to border management (LIMITE doc no: 12661-16, pdf)

a) Systematic checks of external borders, b) Entry/Exit System (EES), c) Evolution of the Schengen Information System (SIS), d) EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), e) High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability = Progress report:

"the Presidency is fully committed to pursue work on the current and upcoming files on information technology measures related to border management. In this vein, it presents to the Council the below progress report on these items with a view to allowing the Ministers to take stock of the work that is under way and of the ensuing challenges."

- JAPAN-MLA: Summary of replies to the questionnaire on the application of the 2009 EU-Japan Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance (10783-REV-1-16, pdf): Member States' experience of this Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with Japan and some of the problems.

Austria Postpones Presidential Election Re-Run Due to Faulty Postal Ballots (Press Project, link):

"The Austrian election plot thickens. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka announced on Monday that the re-run of the presidential election scheduled for next month has been delayed after some postal voters came forward with complains of faulty seals on ballot papers ...

After the new issue was reported, the probable dates for the presidential election are either November 27 or December 4, Mr. Sobotka told reporters in Vienna, adding he was open to extending the vote to citizens who had reached the voting age of 16 since the spring. Postponing the re-run will require a change to Austria's electoral law.

Back in May, Austria came close to become the first western European country to elect a far-right head of state since World War Two. Norbert Hofer of the anti-migrant Freedom Party (FPO) lost by some 31.000 votes, which stands for less than one percentage point, to independent Alexander Van der Bellen, a former leader of the Green Party."

UK refused access to British father ‘in fear for his life’ on Ethiopia’s death row (Reprieve, link):

"The British Foreign Office (FCO) has failed for a week to confirm the safety and wellbeing of a British father held on death row in Ethiopia, despite having received reports last weekend that his life was in danger.

Last Saturday (28th), the family of Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, from London, were told by British officials in Ethiopia that Mr Tsege had indicated that he was ‘in fear for his life’, following disturbances at the prison where he is held. Mr Tsege has been imprisoned unlawfully in Ethiopia since 2014, when he was kidnapped at an international airport and rendered to the country. He is held under an illegal sentence of death, which was imposed in absentia in 2009 in relation to his vocal criticisms of Ethiopia’s ruling party....

UK: Philosopher’s talk cancelled due to passport rules (Times Higher Education, link):

"A philosopher has said he is shocked after he was prevented from speaking at a UK university for failing to provide a copy of his passport.

Jonathan Webber, reader in philosophy at Cardiff University, said that he was stunned after a guest lecture that he was due to give at the University of Hertfordshire was cancelled when he refused to show the document.

“I have given many talks all over the country and have never been asked for any documentation like this,” said Dr Webber, who is president of the British Society for Ethical Theory.

The UK academic, who has held lectureships at the University of Sheffield and the University of Bristol, said that he had refused to hand over a copy of his passport on principle.

“They do not have the right to ask for my passport – they are not my employer; so why should I have to hand it over?” Dr Webber told Times Higher Education."

Austria: EU must prepare borders for end of Turkey migrant deal (DW, link)

"Austria's defense minister has said the European Union's migrant deal with Turkey is dead. The EU must now prepare to strengthen its external borders, he added.... Austria's defense minister has said the European Union's migrant deal with Turkey is dead. The EU must now prepare to strengthen its external borders, he added.

The European Union should bolster its border defenses against another influx of migrants in anticipation of the possible collapse of the bloc's refugee deal with Turkey, Austria's defense minister said Saturday.

"I have always said that the EU-Turkey deal should only be a stop-gap measure until the EU is in the position to effectively protect its external borders and thereby stem the flow of migrants," Hans Peter Doskozil told the German daily "Bild" in an interview.

"The time to organize for that is ever closer," he said, adding that he invited defense ministers from Central European states to Vienna early next week to discuss joint measures and the situation in Turkey."

IRELAND: State fails to respect privacy of sexual violence survivors (The Irish Times, link):

"Late last Thursday, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) took the decision to notify Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, that we believed they were putting the privacy and data protection rights of survivors of sexual violence at risk.

We also told Tusla that unless they responded substantively to our concerns, we would have no choice but to notify the Data Protection Commissioner and explicitly reserved our right to apply to the High Court for whatever additional remedies were needed to protect survivor privacy rights, including injunctive relief. We didn’t take this step lightly. But it is our core belief that survivors must be able to access Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs) with confidence their details – including critically sensitive personal data – will not be unlawfully disclosed."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.11.16)

EU: Money laundering and terrorist financing: Commission assessment of new proposals lacking quality, says Parliament briefing

"This initial appraisal concludes that, while this impact assessment is generally based on useful information and data, the fact that it was apparently prepared under severe time constraints has affected the overall quality of the analysis, which as a result does not entirely meet the quality standards set out in the Better Regulation Guidelines. The structure of the IA itself, organised in two parts, but amending one piece of legislation, does not provide a fully coherent picture of the issues at stake and does not necessarily facilitate the co-legislators' understanding of the reasoning. Quality weaknesses appear to apply particularly to the second part of the IA, which was added as a direct consequence of the Panama Papers revelations."

See: Briefing: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment: Prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (pdf) and For the Commission's proposal and the accompanying Impact Assessment see: New counter-terrorist financing rules: the "threat has grown and evolved recently" (Statewatch News Online, 11 July 2016)

Council of Europe: Exchange of letters with the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic on the human rights of Roma and persons with disabilities (Council of Europe, link):

"Today Commissioner Muižnieks published a letter he addressed to Mr Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, focusing on certain issues pertaining to the human rights of Roma and of persons with disabilities.

In his letter the Commissioner notably reiterates his recommendation to establish an extra-judicial mechanism for compensating Roma women who were victims of forced sterilizations and stresses the need to improve Roma’s access to inclusive education and to adequate housing. He also calls on the government to redouble its efforts to combat and eradicate anti-Gypsyism. In this context, he urges the authorities to remove the pig farm from the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Lety, so as to provide a dignified memorial for the Roma murdered there.

Lastly, whilst welcoming the latest changes of the Civil Code concerning legal capacity of persons, Commissioner Muižnieks calls on the Czech Republic to take resolute action in favor of de-institutionalization of persons, including children, with disabilities in order to enable them to live independently and be integrated in their communities."

See: The letter from Nils Muižnieks to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (pdf) and: the reply by Mr Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (pdf)

BELGIUM: Grounds for Concern: Belgium’s Counterterror Responses to the Paris and Brussels Attacks (Human Rights Watch, link)

"Human Rights Watch’s analysis indicates that at least six of the government’s newly adopted laws and regulations threaten fundamental rights. A law allowing the stripping of Belgian citizenship from dual nationals could create perceptions of a tier of “second-class” citizens based on their ethnicity and religion. An amendment to the penal code that criminalizes the act of leaving Belgium “with terrorist intent” contains vague language that could restrict the travel of people without evidence that they intend to commit or support extremist armed acts abroad. A measure empowering the government to suspend or withhold passports and national identity cards for up to six months lacks the important protection of prior judicial review.

A data retention law that compels telecommunications firms to provide the government with information about their clients upon demand raises serious privacy concerns. A provision that reduces the evidentiary requirements for placing terrorism suspects in pre-trial detention could disproportionately restrict the right to liberty. And a broad measure criminalizing indirect incitement to terrorism could stifle freedom of expression.

A policy that places all prisoners accused or convicted of terrorism-related offenses in prolonged solitary confinement—35 detainees at time of writing—is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and may amount to torture. In one case that Human Rights Watch documented, the prison authorities held a detainee in isolation for 10 months even though by the third month he had tried to slit his wrists. In another the authorities held a prisoner in isolation for eight months despite warnings from prison-appointed psychiatrists that the detainee was “talking to walls.”"

HUNGARY: Six years of Orbán, 600 laws and measures: EU "must show it is serious" about democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary

International human rights organisation FIDH has published a new report detailing the Hungarian government's attacks on democratic standards and fundamental rights and calling for the EU to "act and prove its commitment to defending its own founding values and the obligations that derive from EU membership by promptly addressing the situation through appropriate means and reacting to documented abuse and a systemic threat to these values in Hungary."

UK: Deputy leader of Britain First guilty over verbal abuse of Muslim woman (The Guardian, link):

"The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in front of her four young children.

Jayda Fransen, 30, was fined nearly £2,000 at Luton and South Bedfordshire magistrates court for wearing a political uniform and shouting at Sumayyah Sharpe during a “Christian patrol” of Bury Park in Luton on Saturday 23 January.

Fransen admitted telling Sharpe that Muslim men forced women to cover up to avoid being raped “because they cannot control their sexual urges”, adding “that’s why they are coming into my country raping women across the continent”.

But she denied the words were intended to be offensive."

EU: 725 More Mediterranean Migrant Deaths Than This Period Last Year (IOM, link):

"An estimated 725 more migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far in 2016 compared to the same period (January to 4 November) in 2015. This is after 240 migrants went missing and are presumed dead after two shipwrecks on Wednesday (02/11) in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy.

These latest tragedies bring the grim tally of migrant deaths in 2016 to 4,220, making this already the deadliest year ever recorded. In 2015 some 3,770 migrants and refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean."

UK-EU: Access to European security databases post Brexit is 'mission critical' (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"Britain's access to information in Europe-wide security databases is "mission critical" in efforts to protect the public, a senior counter-terrorism officer has said.

Helen Ball, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, highlighted the issue of returning Islamic State fighters as she discussed law enforcement arrangements with the EU following the Brexit vote.

The future of a number of tools and arrangements has come under scrutiny following the outcome of the referendum in June."

Unlawful immigration curfews under government review (BBC News, link):

"The Home Office has been forced to review curfews imposed on people after they leave immigration detention centres, a BBC investigation has found.

It comes after the Court of Appeal ruled in March that it had imposed the curfews unlawfully.

The law firm that took the Home Office to court says potentially thousands of people may be entitled to compensation.

Those subject to curfews cannot leave their home for up to 12 hours at a time.

The curfews are not directly linked to time served in prison, but some immigration detainees have committed a crime. Others have overstayed their visas or are seeking asylum."

Turkey blocks access to Twitter, Whatsapp: internet monitoring group (Reuters, link):

"Access to social media sites Twitter and Whatsapp was blocked in Turkey on Friday, an internet monitoring group said, following the detentions of 11 pro-Kurdish lawmakers in the mainly Kurdish southeast overnight.

Access was being blocked by throttling, an expert from the monitoring group Turkey Blocks said, a method of slowing certain websites to the point where they are unusable."

UK: Report highlights ‘chilling effect’ on freedom to protest against fracking (Netpol, link):

"Drawing extensively on discussions with anti-fracking campaigners, as well as our own observations at prospective fracking sites, the report covers our

We have argued that the way policing operations are planned for anti-fracking protests, the scale of intrusive surveillance against campaigners and ‘zero tolerance’ attitudes towards civil disobedience has a cumulative ‘chilling effect’ on freedoms of assembly and expression"

See the report: Protecting the Protectors: Monitoring the Policing of Anti-Fracking Protests since 2014' (link to pdf)

Federal Court of Canada: Security Intelligence Services' data retention is illegal

"The Federal Court of Canada has faulted Canada’s domestic spy agency for unlawfully retaining data and for not being truthful with judges who authorize its intelligence programs. Separately, the court also revealed that the spy agency no longer needs warrants to collect Canadians’ tax records.

All this has been exposed in a rare ruling about the growing scope of Canadian intelligence collection disclosed by the court on Thursday. At issue is how the federal domestic spy service has been pushing past its legal boundaries in the name of collecting data, in hopes of rounding out the holdings of a little-known Canadian intelligence facility dubbed the “operational data analysis centre.”"

See: In scathing ruling, Federal Court says CSIS bulk data collection illegal (The Globe and Mail, link)

And see: the judgment ("public" version i.e. censored, pdf) and: summary (pdf)

New EU network of judicial authorities to combat the “challenges stemming from encryption” (Andrej Hunko, link)

"The European Union intends to simplify investigative authorities’ access to encrypted content. This emerged from the replies to a questionnaire that was circulated to all Member States by the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council. After a “reflection process”, efforts in this area are, according to the summary of the replies, intended to give rise to a framework for cooperation with Internet providers. It remains unclear whether this will take the form ofa recommendation, regulation or directive.

The replies to the questionnaire are now being examined by the Friends of the Presidency Group on Cyber Issues (FoP Cyber), which also held discussions on “increasing tendencies to exploit encrypted communication in order to hide criminal activities, identities and crime scenes”. Those taking part included the European External Action Service, the European Defence Agency and other EU institutions. FoP Cyber’s recommendations will then be addressed at the meeting of the next Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels."

And see: Tackling encryption: law enforcement agencies favour practical, effective solutions for access rather than new legal powers? (Statewatch News Online, October 2016)

UK: Abolish Prevent, says new study on "counter-terrorism" programme's effects in healthcare and education

The UK government's 'Prevent' programme, which is supposed to "stop people becoming terrorists or becoming drawn into terrorism" has been heavily criticised again, this time in an in-depth report published by the Open Society Justice Initiative examining how Prevent functions in the healthcare and education systems.

The report, published on 19 October, argues that "the current Prevent strategy suffers from mutiple, mutually reinforcing structural flaws, the foreseeable consequence of which is a serious risk of human rights violations," and calls for the "repeal of the Prevent duty with respect to the health and education sectors."

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: The Pitchford Inquiry must ensure openness and transparency from the police

Eveline Lubbers and Dónal O'Driscoll of the Undercover Research Group examine and critique attempts by the Met Police to maintain anonymity for former undercover officers through the use of two anonymous intermediaries only known in public by their codenames 'Jaipur' and 'Karachi'.

Migrant crisis: 'Hundreds dead' in shipwrecks off Libya (BBC News, link):

"More than 200 migrants are believed drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya, migration officials say.

The UN refugee agency was told the news by survivors brought ashore on the Italian island of Lampedusa, spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said.

Twelve bodies have been recovered."

Travelling to and living in the EU: how would a "hard Brexit" affect UK nationals?

"The purpose of this briefing note is to outline what a so-called hard BREXIT will mean for British citizens seeking to visit, live and work in the EU. Assuming that no specific transitional arrangements are made and no special access is negotiated for British citizens after the UK leaves the EU this note sets out the current state of EU law on how British citizens will be treated. It covers nine specific areas which are covered in order of the length of time and activities which British citizens may want to stay and do in the 27 remaining EU states. This note is written on the basis that a hard BREXIT will result in no special treatment for British citizens’ access to the EU. At the moment we cannot know whether this will be the case but for the sake of clarity in writing, this is the assumption. If the UK does obtain more preferential treatment for British citizens to access the territory and labour market of the EU the rules set out below may not apply or not in full."

See: Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA) Position Paper: After a hard BREXIT - British citizens and residence in the EU (3 November 2016, pdf)

FRANCE: After Calais, police move in to clear encampments in Paris

"French police begun Friday a major operation to move thousands of migrants who have living on the streets of northeastern Paris, just over one week after thousands more were moved from a larger camp in Calais.

Officers backed by riot police converged early on Friday morning on the streets around Stalingrad subway station, where an estimated 3,000 migrants and refugees had been living rough.

A total of eighty-two buses were used to transport them to eighty different temporary shelters around the French capital."

See: French police clear thousands of migrants living rough on streets of Paris (France 24 link) and: Paris Is the New Calais, With Scores of Migrants Arriving Daily (The New York Times, link): "In a pattern that has not varied for months, the migrants establish themselves on the sidewalks of Paris, their numbers gradually swell over a period of weeks, and then the police come to clear them out."

BULGARIA: Over the Line: Bulgaria Welcomes Refugees With Attack Dogs and Beatings (The Intercept, link):

"Bulgaria’s border police are engaged in a game of questionable legality, both when they force asylum seekers out and when they let them in. They routinely use violence — not only to send particular asylum seekers away, but to make sure that the larger stream of refugees turns elsewhere. Unless the refugees pay.

...The land border between Bulgaria and Turkey is about 160 miles long, and currently only the western half of it is fenced. This side consists of rolling, arid farmland. The unfenced, eastern part spans nearly 50 miles of low, forested mountains whose thick, tall trees are intercut with winding trails. Refugees and smugglers call this “the jungle.”

Sometimes, the smugglers explained, groups of refugees would try to cross through the jungle without paying the police. Sometimes, the smugglers would deliberately not pay, having kept the passengers’ money for themselves. If the passengers were caught crossing without paying, they said, Bulgarian police would always return the group to Turkey, often violently.

That, the two smugglers said, was official policy."

And see: Frontex: Joint Operational Flexible Operational Activities 2015 Land: South Eastern borders operational area: Serious Incident Report: Alleged violation of fundamental rights: censored and uncensored (pdfs)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.11.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: European Asylum Support Office and Entry-Exit: Limited extension of stay

Confidential Council of the EU documents on two major proposals currently under discussion. The first concerns a new legal basis for the European Asylum Support Office, which the EU hopes to give an expanded remit and more powers. Many Member States do not accept the principle of a permanent international protection relocation scheme in the EU which is still in the Commission's plans. The second document relates to a proposal from the Commission to ensure that "aliens" present in the EU on extended touring visas can only leave the bloc through the country which issued the extension, in part to "maximise the benefit" of the proposed Entry/Exit System.

- EUROPEAN ASYLUM SUPPORT OFFICE: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 (LIMITE doc no: 13306-16, 94 pages, pdf): With 250 Footnotes including Member State positions

- ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM: Duration of short-stay in the Schengen area - Extension of that duration under bilateral agreements concluded by Member States with third countries - Draft regulations on Entry/Exit system and Touring visa (LIMITE doc no: 13397-16, pdf): After an extension of stay the "alien" must exit the Schengen area from the Member State agreeing to the extension.

UK: Brexit court defeat for UK government (BBC News, link) and Judgment full-text (pdf):

"Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, the High Court has ruled. This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - beginning formal exit-negotiations with the EU - on its own.

Theresa May says the referendum - and existing ministerial powers - mean MPs do not need to vote, but campaigners called this unconstitutional. The government is appealing, with a further hearing expected next month."

Turkey threatens to cancel EU Migration Deal unless “visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by end of the year” (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Turkey has threatened to end the EU migration deal unless visa-free travel is granted to Turkish citizens this year. But Brussels said Turks will need to get visas until Ankara addresses EU concerns on the rule of law.

Turkey will cancel a migration deal with the European Union if the bloc doesn’t grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens by the end of the year, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, a day after a top EU official suggested any visa deal was a long way off."

Long Read: Shipwreck Survivors Stranded by a Faltering Deal (Refugees Deeply, link):

"As an E.U.–Turkey agreement on refugees nears collapse, Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis report from the Greek island of Lesbos on how the deal never fully stopped the deadly voyages and has left survivors of such tragedies in agonizing limbo."

CoE: Anti-torture committee critical of treatment and conditions of migrants and refugees in Hungary (link):

"In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) welcomes cooperation of Hungarian authorities during its visit last year to detention centres and police detention facilities for foreigners, but also points out shortcomings.

The committee finds that the majority of detained foreign nationals interviewed stated that they had been treated correctly by police and prison officers or armed guards. However, it also finds that a “considerable number” of foreign nationals complained of ill treatment by police and discovered wanting conditions in some detention centres."

See: CoE: CPT Report (pdf), Summary (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

AI: Italy: Refugees and migrants slapped and subjected to electric shocks to force fingerprinting (Press release, link):

"Police in Italy have subjected refugees and migrants to serious ill-treatment, including beatings, electric shocks – and have even used pliers on one man’s testicles - to force them to be fingerprinted under an EU-sponsored scheme to process refugees and migrants in the country. In some cases, this treatment may amount to torture.

These shocking claims are revealed in a new Amnesty report into the so-called “hotspot approach”, introduced last year and designed to identify and fingerprint newly-arrived refugees and migrants at the point of entry to the EU. The scheme aims to swiftly assess the protection needs of new arrivals and either process their asylum applications or return them to their country of origin."

See: AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and see: Amnesty: Italian police tortured migrants to meet EU target (euobserver, link)

CoE: Turkey: Jagland expresses concern over freedom of expression and state of emergency measures (link):

"Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has expressed his concern at the media crackdown underway in Turkey. “It is highly questionable if the raid against Cumhuriyet can be justified as a proportionate measure, even under the state of emergency,” he said.

“I am also concerned about the closure of 15 Kurdish media outlets through a decree-law.

“I should like to recall that the European Convention on Human Rights continues to apply in Turkey even during the state of emergency. Careful distinction must be made between violent or terrorist acts and expressions of opposition or strong criticism to the Government. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. “If the state of emergency is used too excessively, Turkey risks a flood of cases at the European Court of Human Rights.”

Turkish return to death penalty would be ‘KO’ to membership dreams (euractiiv, link):

"In one week, the European Commission will present its progress report on Turkey. But Erdogan’s policies continue to rub Brussels up the wrong way....

arrests of top staff at Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, the arrest of Kurdish mayors and Erdogan’s proposal to bring back the death penalty may prove to be the straws that broke the camel’s back.

The EU has so far held back in providing an official opinion, but an official at the Commission’s Neighborhood and Enlargement Directorate-General told EurActiv.de that the death penalty reintroduction could prove to be a “KO” in terms of continued negotiations. This is a view that was shared by EU leaders during the summer. The Parliament has also clarified that any countries that implement capital punishment preclude themselves from EU accession talks."

GREECE: How can we overcome the dead-end situation on the refugee issue in Greece? (pdf) by Spyros Rizakos, Head of Ngo AITIMA:

"The period when refugees massively transited Greece on their way to central and northern Europe was succeeded by the gradual closure of the Balkan route and the implementation of the policy marked by the EU-Turkey Joint Statement. Thus, since last March the approximately 60.000 refugees who had already entered and continued entering Greece with the aim of moving on to other European states suddenly realized that they had to stay in Greece. Most of the refugees who had come to Greece before March 20 – approximately 50.000 persons – are now staying in the mainland, whereas the other 10.000 who crossed our borders after 20 March are obliged by the authorities to stay on the islands.

Today, seven months after these developments, the situation that has been formed raises serious concerns."

UK-EU: DPP warning over post-Brexit criminal justice cooperation (Law Society Gazette, link):

"The European arrest warrant has helped the UK extradite suspects quicker and more cheaply, the director of public prosecutions said today, highlighting potential challenges with international criminal justice cooperation after the UK leaves the EU. Alison Saunders told the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-committee that up to 150 extraditions to the UK over recent years would not have been possible without the European arrest warrant (EAW)."

Human Rights Begin At Home, Hungary - Election Onto UN Human Rights Council Chance To Improve Record (HRW, link):

"There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the human rights situation in Hungary. So its recent election to the United Nations Human Rights Council may seem surprising. Hungary was elected to one of two seats allocated to the region along with Croatia, with Russia failing in its bid to win a seat.

However, its election does present a good opportunity for the government to clean up its own human rights record, and for other governments to scrutinize Hungary a little more closely. And there’s lots to scrutinize. "

Populist anger is ‘a gift wrapped in barbed wire’ - Belgian author attempts to make sense of voters’ mounting sense of frustration.(Politico, link):

"The Flemish author and poet David Van Reybrouck has spent his career writing about those whose voices are only rarely heard. His books include a travelogue set in post-apartheid South Africa and an award-winning “Epic History of a People” about the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In his latest work, however, he has turned his attention to a group of “voiceless” people much closer to home: voters in Europe and the United States."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.11.16)

EU: Council of the European Unon: Cyber issues WP, IMS, Will mapping & Possession of weapons

- Establishment of a Horizontal Working Group on Cyber Issues - Terms of Reference (LIMITE doc no: 11913-16, pdf):

"Delegations expressed their views addressing matters of general, but also of organisational nature, referring in particular to the need to ensure a clear definition of the Group's scope of activities and a name that properly reflects that scope as well as to preserve the possibility of having certain meetings specifically dedicated to either capital or cyber attaches level.

On the basis of the views expressed during the meeting and the written contributions received within the set deadline (14 October 2016) the Presidency prepared a new revised version of the Terms of Reference. In order to ensure a sufficient visibility of those changes the new additions are bold and underlined whereas deleted text is stricken through...

The Working Party will ensure the strategic and horizontal coordination of cyber policy issues in the Council and can be involved in both legislative and non-legislative activities. It will bring issues to the attention of COREPER and Council in order for the latter to ensure coherence.."

- Renewed Information Management Strategy (IMS) - 5th action list - State of play (LIMITE doc no: 13258-16, pdf):

"Upon proposal from DAPIX, the Council approved Conclusions on a renewed Information Management Strategy (IMS) on 18 December 20141 . This Strategy is aimed at managing and exchanging law enforcement information across borders in a coherent, professional, efficient and cost-effective way....

The 5th IMS action list with a 18 months life span starting on 1 July 2016 contains nine actions. These actions are referred to in the Internal Security Strategy (ISS) Implementation paper as well as in the Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area."

See: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area (LIMITE doc no: 9368-REV-1-16, pdf)

And also: EU: Implementing the Internal Security Strategy: planning documents (Statewatch database)

- MAPPING EVERY FAMILY IN THE EU? Interconnection of Registers of Wills - Final report (LIMITE doc no: 13228-16,pdf): e-Justice Expert Group Interconnection of Registers of Wills Final Report:

"Delegations will find attached the final report from the Estonian delegation on the work carried out in the context of the expert group on interconnection of registers of wills....

The overall goal of the ICRW project was to contribute to the implementation of the e-Justice Action Plan by exploring and enhancing the possibilities for exchanging succession related information and documents electronically between the Member States in order to improve and fasten the cross-border communication in succession matters."

- Draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons - follow-up to the fourth technical meeting and preparation of the second informal trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 13249-16, pdf): 4-column trilogue document.

Alarm over effectiveness of EU-Turkey refugee deal grows in Brussels (euractiv, link):

"Some seven months after the European Union and Turkey struck an agreement to turn back the tide of Syrians fleeing west, very few refugees have been sent back from Greece, and Brussels is losing its patience as overcrowded camps grow violent.

The agreement reached in March was designed to reduce the number of migrants crossing into Europe from Turkey, after more than a million people arrived in Europe last year, most reaching Greek islands by boat and continuing by land to Germany....

Balkan countries along the land route north closed their borders, so that migrants who once poured across Greece to reach other parts of Europe are now trapped there and prevented from pressing on."

And see: EU Commission is losing patience with Greece as overcrowded refugee camps there grow violent (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"What a self-deluding arrogance. The EU is apparently losing patience with Greece as “overcrowded refugee camps that turn violent” and Athens do not keep the terms of the EU Turkey deal to send refugees back to Turkey....

Migrants, refugees all in one bag, in the same bag with ‘cruel bureaucracy’, shortage of ‘interpreters’ and ‘asylum experts’ and ‘overcrowded camps’ and lots of ‘inefficient Greeks’, but I read no word about the EU Commission funds allocated to NGOs and the UNHCR, neither do I see a sentence mentioning the xenophobic EU-member-states stubbornly refusing to take refugees from Greece AND Italy in their countries."

And also: Refugees languish in Greek limbo as alarm grows in Brussels (Reuters, link)

Frontex’s Prison Island Lesvos: Apartheid in the tourist paradise (w2eu, link):

"Since 2013, Welcome to Europe (w2eu) and Youth Without Borders (JOG) organise journeys for young refugees, to make it possible for them to return to the place where they had first reached Europe: The Island of Lesvos/Greece. This year, the ‘back to the border’ journey turned into a horror trip, especially, for all of us who were without European identity cards...

This year we returned to Lesvos to support the more than 6,000 people who are stuck, since months, in the prison labelled nicely “Hot Spot” in EU-jargon and in Kara Tepe, an open tent camp run and controlled by the local government. These people cannot leave the island due to the dirty EU-Turkey deal and simply because they are humans who do not possess the right papers.

Nowadays, all those travellers who are not white and not European are being subjected to racist controls. Even a member of the European Parliament, who is black was controlled for two hours recently. Lesbos Island was turned into a prison since March 20th and has become as a whole a border with heavy controls and high fences, which is the opposite of a cosy and beautiful tourist attraction."

UK: Orgreave inquiry campaigners say the gloves are off (Guardian, link):

"Campaign considers bid for judicial review of Amber Rudd’s refusal to investigate clashes between police and miners..

Campaigners for an inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” have declared that the gloves are off as they step up calls for a judge-led investigation into brutal clashes between police and mineworkers during the 1984 miners’ strike.

In a defiant press conference at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) hall in Barnsley, campaigners said they were considering mounting a crowdfunded bid for a judicial review of Amber Rudd’s decision not to hold any kind of inquiry into the episod."

UK must build cyber-attack capability, chancellor says (Guardian, link):

"The UK must strike back at hostile states in cyberspace and be capable of mounting sophisticated cyber-attacks of its own in place of military strikes, the chancellor has said.

Philip Hammond said that unless the UK could match the cyber-attack abilities of foreign rogue states, the alternatives would only be to ignore digital attacks on Britain’s infrastructure or use military force.

Launching the government’s £1.9bn national cybersecurity strategy, Hammond said the UK had to develop “fully functioning cyber-attack capability”.

He said: “If we do not have the ability to respond in cyberspace to an attack that takes down our power networks, leaving us in darkness, or hits our air traffic control system, grounding our planes, we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek and ignoring the devastating consequences or resorting to a military response.”

See:
National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021 (pdf)


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