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    ISSN 1756-851X
    27 May 2016
 

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25 JUNE 2016, London: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary
Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU - a humanitarian emergency
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.5.16) inc Outrageous and disturbing reports from the Idomena "clear-out"

Electra reports (link) Idomeni clear-out: volunteers denied access to their equipment, tents etc bulldozed

"This is OUTRAGEOUS! I guess that's the Greek Government's way of saying 'thanks' to volunteers... By destroying the humanitarian material and belongings thousands fundraised for... Volunteers in Idomeni, who were told that if they approach the camp during the - priorly unanounced - eviction they would be arrested, return to the field, just to find all their tents, belongings and humanitarian material smashed under the bulldozers: "Despite liaising with authorities to recover resources all of our resources and the ngo resources have been destroyed by the authorities. This includes thousands of euros of medical equipment all the NGO tents and hundreds of thousands of euros other infrastructure."

Idomeni clear-out (read more)

Eric Kempson
on Facebook posted this report today (26.5.16):: "This post was put on by Phoebe Ramsey a must to read. This what has happened in the last 36 hours, summarized to the best of my ability in my present exhausted, sad, and angry state.

At present, there are only a couple of hundred people left in Idomeni. There has been no major resistance or violence. It seems everyone was resigned and complied in the face of the enormous presence of riot police. As the tents have been emptied, bulldozers have come in to flatten them. Just over 2,000 people were moved yesterday, and about 1,000 today. Given that there were at least 7,000 people in Idomeni two days ago, this means that about 4,000 people are 'unaccounted' for. They have either tried to go to the major cities, or made a panicked rush for the border-hundreds and hundreds of people headed west into the woods last night. This is in convenient conjunction with today's reported announcement by police that from now on, anyone caught and returned by FYROM (pushbacks) from an illegal border crossing will be arrested in Greece, and have any existing asylum claims canceled.......

Sudan and Eritrea crackdown on migrants amid reports of EU incentives (IRIN, link):

"Authorities in Sudan have launched a crackdown on Eritrean migrants - arresting those living in the capital, Khartoum, and intercepting hundreds travelling north through the country towards Libya, the launching point for smugglers’ boats heading for Europe.

Reports that 900 Eritreans were rounded up in Khartoum on Monday and that a further 400 arrested en route to Libya have been deported to Eritrea, come amid recent revelations in the British and German media that the EU is planning to deepen its cooperation with a number of African countries, including Sudan and Eritrea, to stem migration towards Europe."

European Parliament Study: Cross-border placement of children in the European Union (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee, explores the range and nature of problems linked to the cross-border placement of children and to the application of article 56 of the Brussels IIa Regulation. Based on an analysis of the practice in 12 Member States and European case law, it identifies a number of shortcomings in the current legislative framework. Looking ahead to the recast of Brussels IIa, the study sets out recommendations to remedy some of the weaknesses, such as clarifying the respective tasks of the Member States involved in cross-border placement cases and facilitating the recognition and enforcement of cross-border placement orders."

SPAIN: Fined with the Gag Law for carrying a bag with the face of a cat and the abbreviation A.C.A.B.

Belén Lobeto was returning to her house in Madrid last Sunday when she was stopped by two police officers who asked for her documentation and subsequently said they were going to fine her. The motive: a black fabric shoulder bag bearing the face of a cat and the abbreviation A.C.A.B, along with the words "All Cats Are Beautiful". The police's report stated that the abbreviation signifies "All Cops Are Bastards".

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: Model clauses in jeopardy with Irish DPA referral to CJEU (The Privacy Adviser, link):

"International data flows between the U.S. and EU may have taken yet another hit late Tuesday with news that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner is planning to refer a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether Facebook can use standard contractual clauses, also often called model clauses, to transfer data out of the EU....

According to a press release from Europe-v-Facebook the Max Schrems-led group that brought both the Safe Harbor and current complaint to the Irish DPA, “Under current CJEU case law, it is highly unlikely that Facebook Ireland could … continue sharing data with the U.S. authorities.”

See: Press Release: Facebook & NSA-Surveillance: Following “Safe Harbor” decision, Irish Data Protection Commissioner to bring EU-US data flows before CJEU again (pdf): "Yesterday night, we were informed that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is planning to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to determine if Facebook can continue to transfer data from the EU to the US after the invalidation of the “Safe Harbor” system by the Court on October 6th 2015 and given continues application of US mass surveillance laws."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.5.16) including: Is the EU-Turkey deal dead or will the EU, in desparation, simply cave in?

UK: Hillsborough: how one academic kept the ‘truth’ from being hidden (bellacaledonia.org.uk, link) by Margaret Malloch and Bill Munro:

"How can academics put their research at the service of correcting great injustices? Phil Scraton and his work for the Hillsborough campaign offers a powerful example, write Margaret Malloch and Bill Munro.

There has been a justifiable amount of attention on the recent outcome of the inquests into the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives as a direct result of events at Hillsborough Football Ground on 15 April 1989. However, claims that ‘at last’, the truth ‘is out’ leave us somewhat troubled.

The ‘truth’ of what happened on that day has always been known – not least by the bereaved families, the survivors and many more besides. That ‘truth’, until now, has been officially erased, or at least hidden and replaced by a carefully constructed and long maintained lie."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.5.16) including EU navies to help Libyan coastguards stop refugees

Moving Europe: Updates from the eviction in Idomeni (link): "Moving Europe is writing live updates on the situation in Idomeni and on the unacceptable conditions in the camps where people are being brought to. As journalists and indepedent observers are not allowed into the area around Idomeni, the updates are based on observations and information from people in the camp. The page will be updated constantly, please spread!

As journalists and independent observers are not let into the area of the camp in Idomeni, on this site we are constantly collecting observations and information which residents of the camp send to us. Follow us as well on Twitter "

Greek authorities begin evacuation of Idomeni refugee camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities began an operation at dawn Tuesday to gradually evacuate the country’s largest informal refugee camp of Idomeni on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), blocking access to the area and sending in more than 400 riot police....

Journalists were barred from the camp during the evacuation operation, stopped at a police roadblock a few kilometers (miles) away. Twenty buses carrying various riot police units were seen heading to the area while a police helicopter observed from above. An estimated 700 police were participating in the operation."
[emphasis added]

EU: Counter Terrorism: Council of the European Union: Strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism threat analysis (LIMITE doc no: 8409-16, pdf): There is concern about the legal basis for sharing intelligence:

"The discussion showed divergences between Member States as to which role to give the EU in view of national positions and Article 4(2) TEU, in particular in relation to the sharing of intelligence information. Many delegations were positive towards the idea, whereas a number of delegations requested additional information and more details on a number of issues, such as the legal basis for such a joint threat assessment, methodology and which personal data would be exchanged. Others underlined the importance of avoiding duplication. The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC) supported the idea of a joint threat assessment."

and also where to draw the line between intelligence-gathering, analyses and operational roles: See EU INTCEN (pdf):

"EU INTCEN is the exclusive civilian intelligence analysis function of the European Union... EU INTCEN is not an operational agency and does not have any collection capability. The operational level of intelligence is the Member States’ responsibility. EU INTCEN deals only with strategic analysis...".

at the same time EU INTCEN "compliments" Member States' input by monitoring open sources:

"EU INTCEN deals only with strategic analysis. Its analytical products are mostly based on information provided by Member States’ security and intelligence services, but can also be complemented by open sources (media, websites, blogs etc.), diplomatic reporting, consular warden networks, international organisations, NGOs, CSDP missions and operations, the EU Satellite Centre, visits and field trips." [emphasis added]

See also:
EU to enhance terrorism "threat assessments" as Counter Terrorist Group moves towards "real time information exchange"

EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants (euobserver, link): "EU navies are to start training the Libyan coastguard amid concern that the summer could see huge numbers of migrants try to cross the Mediterranean. Foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (23 May) agreed the new task for Sophia, the EU's anti migrant-smuggling naval operation."

See: External aspects of migration - Council Conclusions (23 May 2016) (pdf) : "Regarding the Central Mediterranean route, the Council highlights the need to use the broad range of tools available to manage flows in cooperation with third countries of origin and transit as part of an EU regional approach to migration, including via CSDP instruments. In particular, it highlights the importance of the work to be undertaken at the request of and in partnership with the Libyan Government of National Accord on a comprehensive approach to manage migration, which includes the fight against smugglers and traffickers, as well as capacity building and training of Libyan coastguard and Navy as one of the two further supporting tasks to be implemented by EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. Work will be carried forward to this end to amend the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia as well as the possible setting up of an increased civilian CSDP presence in Libya, including on border management assistance, in addition to existing EU funded capacity building projects."

European Parliament: MEPs assess refugee camps in Greece and call for smoother implementation of EU-Turkey deal (Press release, pdf): "A delegation from the civil liberties committee visited Greece last week to assess refugees' situation at the EU's external borders and the implementation of the EUTurkey deal to manage the influx of migrants and refugees. The delegation was led by Hungarian S&D member Péter Niedermüller. Members also met with representatives from the Greek authorities, international organisations and nongovernmental organisations.

According to Frontex, 1.83 million illegal crossings were detected at the EU's external borders last year. Southern European countries were responsible for dealing with most of these migrants, but the sharp increase has proved challenging. The delegation aimed to see how Greece was coping."

Statewatch comment: Unfortunately the Press release cites Frontex (in January) stating: "In all of 2015, there were 1.83 million illegal border crossings detected at EU’s external borders." By its own admission Frontex figures are inflated by the double-counting of refugees. UNHCR states: "UNHCR’s latest figures show that some 1,000,573 people had reached Europe across the Mediterranean, mainly to Greece and Italy, in 2015."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Data protection for the digital generation: the countdown to the GDPR begins (Press release, pdf): "Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: "The GDPR is one of the EU's greatest achievements in recent years and a document of which it should be proud. However, our job is not yet complete. We must ensure that the GDPR is fully and effectively implemented and that we close the package with equally effective agreements on Regulation 45/2001 and the ePrivacy Directive. Only then will we be able to ensure that the EU upholds its promise of effective data protection for the digital age." and Annual Report 2015 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.5.16): supporting Sudan's post-Valletta Summit projects; condemnation of Germany's parliamentary voting for Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria as safe countries; ongoing ramifications of the EU-Turkey deal; and more.

Europol report on the work of the European Counter Terrorism Centre

A report on the "state of play" of the European Counter Terrorism Centre, which started work in January this year. The report highlights the political background and context and moves on to the activities of the ECTC: a "continuous" increase of information on "foreign fighters" being inserted into FP Travellers and into the Europol Information System (EIS), along with an increased number of users (MI5 and the FBI are both highlighted as new users of the EIS); and 15,572 leads stemming from the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme between 2015 up to April 2016.

The report also discusses: operational support activities (Taskforce Fraternité, EU Internal Referral Unit (IRU), Joint Liaison Team, secondary security checks in the migration hotspots in Greece); and "key strategic issues".

See: NOTE from: Europol to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security: Enhancing Europol's counter terrorism capabilities: European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol (8881/16, 13 May 2016, pdf)

EU: Migration and border security top INTERPOL European meeting agenda (INTERPOL press release, link): "Addressing the border security challenges posed by an unprecedented number of migrants travelling to Europe is a key issue for senior law enforcement officials gathered at the 44th INTERPOL European Regional Conference."

See: MIGRANT SMUGGLING NETWORKS Joint Europol-INTERPOL Report (pdf) and speeches from the conference: Opening address by Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General (pdf) and Closing speech by Mr Alexander PROKOPCHUK, INTERPOL Executive Committee Delegate for Europe (pdf)

UK: Home Affairs Select Committee: Report: Police diversity (pdf):

"Urgent and radical action needed to tackle police service’s “consistent failure” on diversity .

In a report published today, Saturday 21 May 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) says “urgent and radical action” is needed to tackle the gross under-representation of black and minority ethnic people in the police forces of England and Wales, which police have “consistently failed to address” over several decades."

Syrian refugee wins appeal against forced return to Turkey (Guardian, link): "Decision by Greek independent asylum service to overturn deportation order throws EU-Turkey migration deal into chaos

The EU-Turkey migration deal has been thrown further into chaos after an independent authority examining appeals claims in Greece ruled against sending a Syrian refugee back to Turkey, potentially creating a precedent for thousands of other similar cases. In a landmark case, the appeals Committee upheld the appeal of an asylum seeker who had been one of the first Syrians listed for deportation under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal.

In a document seen by the Guardian, a three-person appeals tribunal in Lesbos said Turkey would not give Syrian refugees the rights they were owed under international treaties and therefore overturned the applicant’s deportation order by a verdict of two to one. The case will now be re-assessed from scratch.

The committee’s conclusion stated: “The committee has judged that the temporary protection which could be offered by Turkey to the applicant, as a Syrian citizen, does not offer him rights equivalent to those required by the Geneva convention.”"

and see: Migrant deal at risk as Turkey deemed unsafe by Greek court (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The committee of judges on Lesvos refused to reject an asylum application by a Syrian refugee and send him back to Turkey, because it ruled it unsafe and said that the case should be examined further – meaning the implementation of the deal will face even further delays as it will take more time to process thousands of applications of stranded migrants.

The decision could form a precedent and deal a devastating blow to the agreement signed in late March, as it could put on hold the return of Syrian refugees to Turkey and, essentially, render the agreement toothless. The asylum court on Lesvos has so far examined 174 applications by Syrians, of whom 100 have been granted asylum. The remaining applicants, who were rejected, have lodged appeals requesting the re-examination of their cases."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.5.16)

African Civil Society condemns the hunt for migrants on the continent (pdf):

"African civil society condemns these hunting policies for migrants that grow everywhere on the African continent with the support of the European institutions under the guise of the fight against "irregular" migration. The current situation in Libya is a sad illustration with anti-immigration brigade heavily armed, with the support of the European Union, which tracks day and night the sub-Saharan migrant workers cram in detention centers instead of effectively combating traffickers and Libyan smugglers...

The lure of European financial aid to fight against migration transforms the African political authorities in real persecutors of their brothers and sisters who are looking for work to live and feed their families. This could recall the time of slavery abolished there only two centuries. The European Union, at the expense of its humanist values, and shamelessly, in African countries outsources its security migration policy.

African civil society calls for the African Union commission, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and all African heads of state to listen to the voice of their people and engage resolutely in a real regional integration process. Only a true African integration could prevent our countries to always be the instrument of European policy and will prevent brave young hope of tomorrow's Africa, being killed in other countries on the continent seeking win their daily bread."

Signed by: The West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM), The Pan African Network for the Defense of Migrants' Rights (PANiDMR), Caritas - Migration and Development Network (MADE) – Africa, Moroccan Transnational Network on Migration and Development (RMTMD), Samir ABI, Visions Solidaires.

Greece: Campaign for Access to Asylum: Open Letter to the Asylum Service (pdf)

"The great difficulty in access to the asylum procedure was the reason why our campaign was founded in 2012. Today, four years later, not only hasn’t this problem been solved but it has greatly deteriorated....

The problem has now reached alarming levels, given that:

- the refugee population is a much-afflicted population (because of the sufferings from the war and persecutions, the difficult journey towards our country and also the severe deficiencies of our country regarding their reception) which is in a state of great uncertainty.

- a great number of those people belong to particularly vulnerable groups (40% chlidren, a great number of sick people and people with disabilities).

- the documents of a large number of those people have already expired and as a result they are in risk of arrest, detention and deportation, as they are in state of legal uncertainty."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 May 2016: Final press release (pdf): including:

"Council expressed support for Greece's designation of Turkey as a safe country for return of irregular migrants"

"B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points (legislative, adopted without discussion) and "A" Points (non-legislative, adopted without discussion). See Background Note (pdf)

Among the "non-legislative" items to be adopted without discussion are: the EU-USA data protection "Umbrella Agreement" on the exchange of personal data - the Scope (Art 1): covers: "The purpose of this Agreement is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information and enhance cooperation between the United States and the European Union and its Member States, in relation to the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offenses, including terrorism."

Note: the Scope covers all crimes however, minor.

- 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 offenses (Full-text, pdf) - Draft Council Decision - Adoption (pdf) - Council Decision (pdf)


Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan


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