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    ISSN 1756-851X
    14 October 2019
 

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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-14.10.19) including:

  • European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants
  • New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text
  • Hungary: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention
  • Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months
  • Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp

Catalonia leaders jailed for sedition by Spanish court

"Spain's Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017."

Greece calls for more NATO ships to patrol Aegean Sea following Turkey’s Syria offensive (euractiv.link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on NATO to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea on Thursday (10 October) after a threat by Turkey to open Europe’s doors to more than three million migrants.

“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states to strengthen their presence…in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said in a press conference after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Athens yesterday.(...)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria."

EU: Joint press release of the Palermo Charter Platform Process on the results of the EU Summit of Home Affairs Ministers on 23 September in Malta and the consequent negotiations on 8 October in Luxembourg (pdf):

"The Malta Agreement ("agreement on temporary reception and distribution mechanism") is not a hard-won solution, but nothing more than a partial emergency relief. We, European civil society initiatives and networks, mayors of European cities and search and rescue non-governmental organizations, demand a real solution that is adequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

See: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

Commission starts negotiations with the USA on exchange of e-evidence

- talks start even though EU legislation not yet adopted
- CJEU questions the legality of proposed EU measure
- Commission says deal must include content and non-content data

On 25 September 2019 the Commission started negotiations with the USA on: E-evidence - Negotiations for EU-U.S. Agreement on cross-border access to evidence - report on state-of-play (RESTRICTED doc no: 12318-19, pdf)

ECHR: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Szurovecz v. Hungary (application no. 15428/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned media access to reception facilities for asylum-seekers.

The applicant in the case, a journalist for an Internet news portal, complained about the authorities’ refusal of his request to carry out interviews and take photographs at the Debrecen Reception Centre, thus preventing him from reporting on the living conditions there."

See: Judgment (pdf)

EU: JHA Council, 7-8 October

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October. Issues under discussion include e-evidence negotiations between the EU and the USA; EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights; right-wing extremism and terrorism; and the implementation of the EU's plans to interconnect its migration and policing databases. Council documents published here indicate that this latter project is running into trouble.

Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months (InfoMigrants, link):

"Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maion presented a new asylum decree intended to cut the time it takes for decisions on whether a migrant should be repatriated to four months: "It was a team effort," Di Maio told reporters at a press conference at the foreign ministry last week."

UK: Counter-terror police running secret Prevent database (The Guardian, link):

"Counter-terror police across the UK have been running a secret database containing details of thousands of individuals referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation Prevent programme, the Guardian can reveal."

Greece needs to face reality about asylum seekers (euobserver, link):

"The Greek islands are under the spotlight again, as a new wave of tragic events has hit asylum seekers trapped there. On 29 September, a big fire broke out in Moria - the notorious camp on the island of Lesbos - killing one woman, and injuring at least nine more people, including a baby, the health ministry reported.

On 24 September, a truck killed a five-year-old Afghan boy who was playing just outside Moria.(...)"

Comment: The latest government figures show (3.10.19) that a total of 30,664 refugees are present on the Greek islands. Including 14,930 on Lesvos with places for 3,000 and 6,028 on Samos with places for 648.

Sea Watch migrant rescue captain Carola Rackete criticizes EU lawmakers (DW, link):

"The Sea Watch 3 captain, who memorably defied Italy's landing ban, chastised EU lawmakers for the situation in the Mediterranean. She said rescuers were legally compelled not to return migrants to Libya as it is unsafe.

"The EU member states have engaged in a policy of externalization of their responsibilities and a practice of pushbacks and omissions of rescue, delegating interventions to a country at war, Libya, in breach of international law," Rackete said Thursday to both applause and jeers."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: PACE to Europe’s governments: ‘It is your duty not to let people drown in the Mediterranean’ (link):

"While welcoming the commitment of NGOs to carrying out sea rescues, the Assembly has insisted that “it is the duty of States not to let people drown in the Mediterranean.

States should also allow NGOs to carry out their life-saving missions in the Med, and refrain from “stigmatising” their work. The captains of all such rescue vessels should be able to disembark migrants and refugees in the nearest port of safety, as provided for in international maritime law."

See: Adopted Resolution (pdf)

EU: 'Moria is hell': asylum seekers protest conditions at Greek camp (Reuters, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers protested conditions at Greece’s biggest migrant camp on Lesbos on Tuesday after a woman was killed in a fire there, marching towards the island’s capital before being halted by police."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.9.19) including:

  • Greece: Deadly fire triggers protests at Moria refugee camp
  • EU: 'Inhumane' Frontex returns going unreported
  • The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

EU drone operations: Israeli military firm Elbit amongst maritime agency's subcontractors

Seven EU member states have been provided with drone "services" by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) since 2018, and EMSA has also "supported the [European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex] in 2018 and 2019 with surveillance along the Portuguese coast."

Spanish-Moroccan borders upgraded with new cameras, facial recognition and a barbed wire 'swap'

The Spanish government is seeking a 50% reduction in illegal immigration and to achieve this goal is deploying new surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology at its borders with Morocco in Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish government also plans to remove the barbed wire fences at those borders - but the Moroccan government is constructing its own.

EU: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

Germany, France, Italy and Malta have drafted a declaration (pdf) establishing a "predictable and efficient temporary solidarity mechanism" aimed at ensuring the "dignified disembarkation" of people rescued at sea in the Mediterranean. If those rescued are eligible for international protection they will be relocated to a participating EU member state within four weeks, while ineligible persons will be subject to "effective and quick return."

UK: Supreme Court: Suspending Parliament was unlawful, judges rule (BBC News, link):

"Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Mr Johnson suspended - or prorogued - Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, saying it was to allow a Queen's Speech to outline his new policies.

But the court said it was wrong to stop Parliament carrying out its duties in the run-up to the Brexit deadline on 31 October."

Judgment Full-text (pdf)

Report: Lost at border (lesvos.w2eu)

"We want to give back a piece of dignity, to those who died – right here – into the senselessness of the European borders – and we want to thank those who risk their lives to rescue.

All of these dead people have a face, a name. All of them leave behind relatives and friends. Besides the bodies also their hopes and dreams are lost."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-23.9.19)


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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