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    07 February 2016
 

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JUNE 2016: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary

Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU - a humanitarian emergency: Daily news and document updates


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-7.2.16)

EU: PERMANENT RELOCATION PROPOSAL - LATEST DRAFT: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a crisis relocation mechanism and amending Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person (pdf) 44 Member State's positions.

"During previous discussions, a number of delegations underlined their wish for a thorough assessment of the functioning of the emergency relocation schemes and stressed the need to address the shortcomings in their implementation. Some delegations expressed their preference for linking the discussions on this proposal with the efforts which should lead to effective border controls and proper management of migratory flows and insisted on the voluntary nature of the proposed mechanism. Furthermore, several delegations were in favour of addressing this proposal as part of a broader package on asylum ("Dublin IV")."

"The following delegations have general scrutiny reservations on the text appearing in the Annex: AT, BG, EL, FI and SI.BE, CZ, EE, ES, FR, HR, HU, LT, LV, PL, PT, RO, SI and SK have general reservations on the substance of the proposal; HU and SI have also parliamentary scrutiny reservations."

GREECE: Hot spot work intensifies as Greece agrees to recognize Turkey as ‘safe’ country (ekathimerini.com, link)

"Greek authorities agreed on Friday to recognize Turkey as a “safe third country,” which means migrants for whom Turkey is a country of transit, not of origin, can be returned there. The decision was announced after a meeting in Athens between Greek Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis and his French and German counterparts, Bernard Cazeneuve and Thomas de Maiziere... He added that Germany is sending 100 police officers and two coast guard vessels to Greece...

As of yesterday, 94 prefabricated structures had been delivered to the site in Chios and 87 on Leros. Construction work was under way on Samos, where an old army firing range is being converted. On Kos, riot police who had been sent to the island from Athens fired tear gas to deter some 100 locals who tried to force their way into a disused army camp that is being turned into a hot spot.

European Union sources told Kathimerini they are hopeful that at least three of the five centers will be ready in the next few days given that the army is now coordinating the work..."

The EU, Turkey and the Refugee Crisis: What could possibly go wrong? (EU Law Analysis, link)

" The key non-EU country in the EU’s ongoing refugee crisis is Turkey: the host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, and a transit country for many asylum-seekers. An increasing number of them have been making the journey from Turkey to the Greek islands, leading to a significant rise in the number of would-be asylum-seekers in the EU over the last year. Tragically, many have died making this crossing....

the Samsom Plan proposing the systematic return of all asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey in exchange for increased refugee resettlement in Europe, appears to be not only very difficult to implement (due to both legal and practical obstacles), but also based on the doubtful presumption that Turkey may be (soon) considered a safe third country for refugees and asylum-seekers.

Furthermore, it is unfortunate that the EU and Turkey did not agree to fully apply the Geneva Convention for Turkey, and that there are no mechanisms of accountability in place for the EU institutions to report either in general upon Turkey’s compliance with international human rights standards or in particular to explain exactly how the EU’s money is being spent."

See also: Common Understanding establishing a Governance and Conditionality Framework for the Refugee Facility for Turkey, the "Facility", Hereinafter referred to as "the Common Understanding" between EU Member States (hereinafter the "Member States") and The European Commission (hereinafter the "Commission") (pdf) There is no mention of ensuring human rights protection.

EU: DATABASE checks on people entering and leaving the EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (LIMITE doc no: 5753-16, pdf):

"Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders... The Presidency submits to the JHA Counsellors this new compromise, which it believes could accommodate most of the remaining concerns of the delegations and could constitute a basis for a compromise at Council level on this proposal. It is noted that the changes vis-à-vis the previous compromise suggestions (including the deleted parts) are depicted in bold (and underline).

The Presidency believes that the only essential outstanding issue is whether the air borders (along with the land and sea borders) should be included in the scope of possible cases of targeted checks of persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law, in order to address a disproportionate impact on the traffic flow emanating from the systematic consultation of data bases for these persons. The Presidency is of the opinion that this issue should also be resolved in the prism of the need to find a balance between security priorities and the economic impact of the new measures on border controls that this draft Regulation is expected to bring about. "

Includes database checks, advance passenger information (API and/or PNR) and the checking of biometrics (facial images and fkngeprints), at least one biometric must be checked against the travel documents or identity card of the traveller.

The measure will not apply to the UK or Ireland.

EU: Council of the European Union: Directive on combatting terrorism:

- Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism - Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5720-16, pdf): "Delegations are invited to examine the modified text of the proposed Directive, as set out in this document. Discussions at the next meeting on 8 February 2016 will focus on these drafting suggestions, including recitals." In part concern the two documents from Sweden and Italy below.

- As above:Examination of the revised text (LIMITE doc no: 5467-16, pdf)

- As above: Swedish Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-1-16, pdf): Human rights clause and "An possibility to exempt one’s own citizens travelling home"

- As above: Italian Delegation - drafting proposals (LIMITE doc no: 5467-add-2-16, pdf): "Investigative tools" and "Exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences"

See also: Statewatch Briefing: Directive on combating terrorism

Desperate EU to Criminalize Humanitarian Assistance in Greece - Leaked Docs (Sputnik News, link)

"A European Commission report, detailing a plan to criminalize volunteers rescuing refugees from drowning, has been revealed by UK civil liberties group Statewatch. The EU is desperate and is therefore making bad decisions, the group’s director told Sputnik.

Statewatch, a London-based civil rights watchdog, has published a confidential report by the European Commission, which reveals the Council of Europe’s plans to pass a new law, criminalizing volunteers who rescue refugees, stranded off the coast of Greece, from drowning.

The new proposals would penalize NGO’s, local people and volunteers -- all providing humanitarian assistance to refugees arriving in the EU - and would remove their exemption from being considered people smugglers.

"The EU has failed, they’re desperate. They’re trying to take over operations [in Greece] to take control of everything," Tony Bunyan told Sputnik.

"I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have never seen anything like it. The EU is in a complete mess. They failed to respond quickly to what happened last spring. The volunteers and smaller NGOs have been helping refugees since the crisis began. Where was the EU then? They only tuned up in November [2015] and by that time already 700,000 people had landed in Greece.""

Turkish PM warns of new wave of refugees from Syria (Hurriyet, link): "Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned of a new wave of Syrian refugees totaling as many as 80,000 after people began to move toward Turkey due to increased airstrikes in the country’s northwest.

“Some 10,000 new refugees are waiting at Turkey’s border [with Syria] due to the airstrikes in Aleppo. Some 60,000 to 70,000 people, who are in camps north of Aleppo, are moving toward Turkey,” said Davutoglu during a donor conference entitled “Supporting Syria and the region” at the QEII center in central London on Feb. 4.
"

And see: Avramopoulos: Detention and removal centres are also needed (EurActiv, link)

The British want to come to America — with wiretap orders and search warrants (The Washington Post, link): "If U.S. and British negotiators have their way, MI5, the British domestic security service, could one day go directly to American companies like Facebook or Google with a wiretap order for the online chats of British suspects in a counter­terrorism investigation."

German judges issue damming indictment of TTIP (New Internationalist, link): "A group of German judges have just dealt a serious blow to the European Commission’s desperate TTIP ‘compromise’. They’ve issued a damning indictment on the proposal for an ‘international investment court’, which the EU Commission hoped would get them out of the deep mess that the TTIP negotiations are in.

(...) A primary concern of the judges, and one shared by campaigners, is that ‘the creation of special courts for certain groups of litigants is the wrong way forward.’ Creating special legal privileges for big business and other investors (who can already afford more access to the law than ordinary people), is clearly the path to further inequality in our already deeply unequal society."

See: Opinion on the establishment of an investment tribunal in TTIP - the proposal from the European Commission on 16.09.2015 and 11.12.2015 (pdf)

European Commission: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis (1.2.16, pdf).

Little change but see: Hotspots: State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf): Biggest change of the week is the build up of hotspot staff and capacity in Greece (Italy unchanged): In Lesvos reception capacity up from 1,480 to 2,709 and Frontex officials up from 178 to 184. In Chios reception capacity up from 110 to 2,250 and Frontex from 93 to 99. In Samos reception capacity up from 250 to 650 and Frontex from 40 to 53. Leros Frontex up from 29 to 31 and on Kos capacity up from 0 to 290 and Frontex up from 41 to 54 officials.

See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing since September 2015: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.2.16)

Spain: Launch of book marks the tenth anniversary of the events leading to the '4F Case'

Today a book launch will mark a decade since the events that led to what is known as the '4F Case' (Caso 4F) took place, in which four people were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. Three of them were tortured by the police during their detention and one subsequently committed suicide.

On 4 February 2006, the Guardia Urbana (municipal police) arrived at a party in a squatted theatre in Barcelona. A flowerpot was thrown from a balcony, seriously injuring a police officer. The response from the authorities, unable to find the guilty party, was "to mount a case blaming innocent people who were not in the house and some not even in the vicinity."

Four people were subsequently sent to prison, one of whom, Patricia Heras, committed suicide in April 2011. Three of the four were tortured whilst in police custody, events which were subsequntly taken up in an Amnesty report. [2] The two police officers who served as key witnesses in the 4F case were subsequently found guilty, in a seperate case, of torture, false testimony and planting evidence. No-one has been punished for their part in the 4F case.

Transparency in the EU: citizens' right controlled by the elite (journalismfund.eu, link): " Fifteen years with access rules and still no register over documents to look for. Not only citizens, also governments are kept in the dark by the Commission, a new study on EU transparency shows."See: Transparency through tinted windows - On the conditional openness in the European Commission (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Observatory on Freedom of Information in the EU

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.16)

Greek military to oversee response to refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Tuesday heralded the creation of a central body to oversee and improve Greece’s response to the migration and refugee crisis and ensure the country safeguards its position in the Schengen passport-free area, noting that the new body will be led by a senior military official.

Greece’s military is to have the oversight of the “Central Coordinating Body for the Management of Migration” until the Migration Ministry and the Hellenic Police gain the necessary know-how and experience to tackle the problem independently, Kammenos indicated at Tuesday’s press conference....

The center, which is to be operational by February 15, is to be based at the Defense Ministry headquarters and coordinate with the Hellenic Police, Coast Guard, Migration Ministry and nongovernmental organizations working with migrants and refugees.

The aim is to increase the efficiency of transferring migrants from the islands to the mainland, to improve the provision of food as well as medical and healthcare to migrants, and to monitor the creation of five screening centers, or hot spots, for migrants on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.... The screening and relocation centers are to operate in a similar way to the central body, under a local military official who is to coordinate with police and coast guard officers."

EU: European Commission: Commission adopts Schengen Evaluation Report on Greece and proposes recommendations to address deficiencies in external border management (Press release, pdf)

"The recommendations seek to ensure that Greece applies all Schengen rules related to management of external border correctly and effectively. Recommendations are made in a number of areas such as the improvement of the registration procedures, including ensuring a sufficient number of staff and fingerprint scanners for registration and verification of migrants and their travel documents against SIS, Interpol and national databases. Greece should provide the necessary facilities for accommodation during the registration process and launch return procedures for irregular migrants who are not seeking asylum and who are not in need of international protection. Border surveillance should be improved, including the establishment of a risk analysis system and increased training of border guards.

Improvements should also be made to infrastructure and equipment at the border crossing points. In order to ensure compliance with these recommendations, the Commission may, in addition, recommend that Greece takes certain specific measures under Article 19a of the Schengen Borders Code, given the serious deficiencies noted in the Schengen Evaluation Report."

See also: Eighth biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area: 1 May - 10 December 2015 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.2.16)

Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunisians in 2011: Commission’s plans for readmission agreements and summary returns contravene the ECHR (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

This judgment outlaws much of what is being planned and implemented in the context of the EU's migration plans and especially the so-called "hotspot" approach.

The court's decision that the deportation of Tunisians amounted to a violation of Art. 4 of the 4th protocol to the ECHR and has important repercussions on the Commission's plans because readmission agreements circumvent the need for individual examination of the positions of people from certain nationalities. What the judgment has described as a "collective refoulement" lacking the necessary safeguards is the process which is being introduced in hotspots whereby nationality appears to be the key management principle for dealing with migrants.

Further, the idea appears to be that if an agreement is in place with a non-EU state there is no need for further formalities concerning nationals of a given country. The recent deal between Italy and Gambia mentioned in the Italian hotspots Progress report is an example of this, and it states that operative protocols are preferable to either treaties or readmission agreements in relation to the principle of "effectiveness", which shows that there is increasing intolerance of any formal limits or regulatory frameworks to mass deportations.

UPDATED: Refugee crisis: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - and in Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted The Council of the European Union is preparing plans to equate the concept of migrant "smuggling" with migrant "trafficking" and potentially criminalise or marginalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who for months have been welcoming and helping refugees and migrants arriving in the EU.

See: The Draft Council conclusions on migrant smuggling (LIMITE doc no 5481-rev-2-15, pdf)

Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, comments: "'This document fails to acknowledge the crucial role played by Greek islanders and volunteers in rescuing and caring for migrants who cross the Mediterranean in unsafe vessels. The EU should amend its anti-smuggling laws as soon as possible to confirm that no-one giving such vital humanitarian assistance should ever be penalised for it'.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "The Council proposals would criminalise NGOs, local people and volunteers who have worked heroically to welcome refugees when the EU institutions did nothing, while other plans would incorporate those who "register" with the police to work under state structures. In a humane and caring EU it should not be necessary to "register" to offer help and care to people who have suffered so much already.

Civil society, volunteers and all those throughout the EU who are seeking to help refugees as they arrive having fled from war, persecution and poverty should unite to oppose the Council's plans. Criminalising NGOs and volunteers working to help refugees has no place in a democracy worthy of the name."

LESVOS, GREECE: On the ground in Lesvos NGOs and volunteer groups - who have been working to help refugees from this time last year - are facing increasing hostility from reactionary local forces on the island and in some instances from large International NGOs seeking to take over their role of helping refugees on the landing beaches and giving immediate help and aid. Yesterday the following messages were posted on Facebook from a local volunteer group:

"The medical station at Eftalou has been attacked for the third time (post Philippa Kempson 30 January 2016). Will the people who did this be punished? Or just those offering humanitarian help on the beaches?" and a second post: "Last night the medical tent in Eftalou was attacked for the third time this week but this time they finished the job and burnt it to the ground!!!!!!" and see: Decency And Respect! 30/01/2016 (Eric Kempson. link): On the Hope Centre, the attack.and the EU's shameful role.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.1.16)


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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