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    ISSN 1756-851X
    28 August 2015
 

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EU: MED-CRISIS: AFRICANS TO BE ON "SAFE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN" LIST? The European Commissioner says list of "safe countries of origin" likely to include African countries, which means people cannot claim asylum and will be returned. This despite reports that migrants arriving in Lesvis, Greece have come from, for example, Eritrea and Somalia: "On the idea of a safe list, Timmermans was confident of convincing Balkan countries to accept the return of their citizens, but said that it would be “much more difficult” with African countries." (politico, link) and as to putting countries on a "save country of origin" list

"A list of ‘safe countries’ to which their citizens can be fast-tracked home following rejected asylum applications is being drawn up by the European Commission. The step is being taken in order to deal with the migrant crisis currently threatening to overwhelm government authorities in several EU countries. [First Vice-President] Timmermans explained that for countries to be added to the list the EU will “need agreement” from those countries, adding “with those in the Balkans it is not difficult, but with African countries it is.” (plus link to video interview: breitbart.com, link)

EU: When solidarity fails (IRR, link); In observations made at a side-meeting of the 87th session of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the IRR’s director warned that Europe’s mishandling of the refugee crisis is fuelling racism: "hough there has been a huge drive by ordinary European citizens to welcome refugees, to take a stand for human dignity, another trend is undermining it. The truth is that we face the possibility of a perfect storm unless those in power take cognisance of their positive duty to combat racism, rather than fuel it."

EU: DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: Chair of the Conference of the Data Protection Commissioners of the Federation and of the States [Lande]: The General Data Protection Regulation requires substantial improvement in crucial points! (pdf) "it is of outmost importance that in comparison with the existing legal status, the General Data Protection Regulation guarantees an improved, at least, however, a standard of the protection of fundamental rights which is equivalent to the current one..... Data transfers to authorities and courts in third countries require stronger control! In the wake of the recent data protection scandals, better protection of the European citizens’ personal data vis-à-vis third-country institutions is urgently required."

GERMANY-NSA: A Dubious Deal with the NSA (Zeit Online, link): "Internal documents show that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, received the coveted software program XKeyscore from the NSA – and promised data from Germany in return." and XKeyscore - the document: Document pertaining to the agreement between the NSA and Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV (link)

EU: MED-CRISIS: GREECE & ITALY: Commission close to disbursing 30 mln euros to Greece as refugee aid (Athens News Agency, link):

"The European Commission is very close to disbursing financial aid totaling 30 million euros to Greece to help the country deal with the refugee and migrant influx of recent months, Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the European Commission, said on Tuesday.... The spokeswoman also noted that the European Commission has identified two “hotspots” of migration one in Sicily and one in Piraeus. In the coming days, visiting staff from Europol, Frontex and the European Support Office (EASO) are expected to travel to these two towns to help authorities’ fast track actions which record, fingerprint and authenticate incoming migrants.

Asylum seekers will immediately go through an asylum procedure with support groups from EASO helping in the processing of asylum cases as fast as possible, she added. " [emphasis added]

Note: All the boats from the Greek islands bring migrants to Pireaus, the designated "hotspot".

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In Greece for at least six months this year what has been needed is humanitarian aid and the EU has been conspicuously absent and, until very recently, so to have been the international agencies. Help for those arriving has been dependent on NGOs, local and visiting volunteers. Now when 30 million euros of "aid" does arrive it is to be used for creating "hotspots", Europol and Frontex, fingerprinting and the "immediate processing of asylum cases as fast as possible."

EU: MED-CRISIS: (26.8.15): Italy hits back at Merkel in migrants row (The Local.it, link): "Italy's Foreign Minister has scathingly dismissed criticism from France and Germany over its handling of the tens of thousands of migrants arriving on its southern shores. "Italy is doing what it has to do ... and even much more by saving thousands of lives and by taking in refugees," Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in an interview published in Wednesday's Corriere della Sera, describing his country as a "a positive model on the international stage." and see: Italy saves lives even if it costs votes says Renzi (ANSA, link): "Commenting on the migrant emergency in the Mediterranean, where Italy is in the front line along with Greece, the premier said: "First we'll save human lives even at the cost of losing votes. "It's a question of civilisation." "

Czech finance minister: NATO should be engaged in guarding EU against migrants (FOX News, link): "The Czech Republic's finance minister has called for NATO to get involved in helping protect the European Union's external border against the influx of migrants. Andrej Babis says "we have to defend the Schengen (borderless) zone. We have to engage NATO." Talking on Czech public television on Tuesday, Babis called the migrants, most of whom are fleeing bloody conflicts, "the biggest threat to Europe.""

EU: MED-CRISIS: First step in coercive response to migrants crisis: Italy, Greece must act now on migrants says Merkel 'Set up registration centres by year's end' (ANSA, link):

" Italy and Greece must act as soon as possible to open migrant registration centres, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday. "We have established with the heads of government that there should be registration centres in the countries particularly hit by the first arrivals, like Greece and Italy," she said after a summit with French President Francois Hollande. "This must happen quickly, by the end of the year, we cannot accept delays," she said."

This will almost certainly involve: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)

LESVOS/Mytilene: A Good Samaritan in Greece: Papa Stratis needs oxygen pumped to his lungs but that's not stopping him from joining the ranks of Greeks helping refugees arriving in Europe (UNHCR Tracks, link): "Papa Stratis, along with other local volunteers in the village of Kalloni, has been helping refugees since 2007 through the NGO ‘Agkalia‘. In all these years he reckons that he has helped some ten thousand people, including a few locals fallen on hard times. But never before has he seen so many refugees looking for help.... With local authorities overwhelmed by the 64,000 refugee arrivals to Greece since the beginning of the year, local activists like Papa Stratis and the network of volunteers “Village All Together”, are often taking on the sole responsibility of caring for the refugees on the Greek islands. “We have no external funding,” he explains with a smile. “We depend completely on the generosity of the local people.”"

Migrant crisis: “Let’s not pretend Europe’s response is working” – UN rights expert warns (UNHR, link): "United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today called on the European Union to establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy* which makes mobility its central asset. “It is the only way in which the EU can reclaim its border, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants,” he said. “Let’s not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay,” Mr. Crépeau stressed. “Building fences, using tear gas and other forms of violence against migrants and asylum seekers, detention, withholding access to basics such as shelter, food or water and using threatening language or hateful speech will not stop migrants from coming or trying to come to Europe.” "

Greece: Mytilene (Lesvos): Chaos and squalid conditions face record number of refugees on Lesvos (AI, link): "Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are failing to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of people arriving on the island (33,000 since 1 August) and must rely on local volunteers, NGO activists, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and tourists to step into the massive breach. The vast majority are fleeing conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - 90% of those arriving in 2015 according to UNHCR." and

Help Refugees Arriving in Mytilene, Greece This list is for: Eric & Philippa Kempson: Dispatch to: Eric Kempson, Eftalou (Amazon, link): "All donations go directly to refugees arriving on the north coast of Mytilene. If you have other ideas (specific medical stuff, baby gear, toys, etc), feel free to add them to your shipment! People have access to food through other means, but other supplies for camping, long walks, general sun exposure all appreciated."

EU: PUTTING IN PLACE A RETURNS POLICY: Juncker: "In September, the Commission will thus submit a common list of safe countries of origin to the Member States." New Europe inteview, link) and see: Press release of Justice and Home Affairs Council on 20 July 2015 (pdf): "STRONGLY RECOMMENDS therefore that, without delay, Member States assess which third countries could be designated at national level as safe countries of origin."

And see: No need for new EU summit on immigration, says Juncker (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker dismissed calls for a new EU summit on immigration, saying member states should stop dragging their heels and implement existing agreements on the matter..... Juncker added that the European Union should draw up a uniform list of "safe countries" to which migrants could be returned." [Comment: All the evidence is that most migrants are coming from Syria and Afghanistan together with Eritrea, Somalia]

Germany: Halt on Dublin procedures for Syrians (AIDA, link): "The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has issued internal instructions suspending the Dublin procedure in respect of Syrian nationals. According to the instructions, dated 21 August 2015, Dublin procedures that have already been initiated in relation to Syrians are to be cancelled, in order for Germany to become the Member State responsible for processing their claims."

EU: MED-CRISIS: MACEDONIA: GREECE: UNHCR-MACEDONIA: Concern about developments at border with Greece (pdf): UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres spoke with FYR Macedonia Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki about the situation, and received assurances that the border will not be closed in the future. "UNHCR is particularly worried about the thousands of vulnerable refugees and migrants, especially women and children, now massed on the Greek side of the border amid deteriorating conditions," UNHCR said in a statement." and GREECE: FYROM loosens border as migrants get restless (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday relaxed a crackdown along the country’s border with Greece .... Authorities on Lesvos said there were some 11,000 migrants on the island on Friday."

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Macedonia: Thousands trapped and at risk of violence as border sealed (link): "A witness on the Greek side of the border told Amnesty International that Macedonia’s Rapid Reaction Unit, an anti-terrorist police unit, had been beating refugees and asylum-seekers who were trying to enter Macedonia, and firing over their heads. A local NGO confirmed the use of rubber bullets.... "Every country has the power to patrol its own borders, but this kind of para-military response is an unacceptable push-back in violation of international law. Macedonian authorities are responding as if they were dealing with rioters rather than refugees who have fled conflict and persecution.""

Macedonian riot police fire teargas to disperse thousands of migrants - video (Guardian, link) and Macedonian police fire tear gas to drive back migrants, refugees on border (Reuters, link): "Riot police behind barbed wire fired tear gas to drive back an angry crowd demanding passage into Macedonia and north to Hungary and the European Union's borderless Schengen zone, the Reuters reporter said." also: Macedonian Riot Police Use Teargas to Hold Off Migrants at Border With Greece. (Slate, link) and Irish Times Video (link): "“We expect the involvement of the army will bring two desired effects - it will increase security among our citizens in the two regions and will allow for a more comprehensive approach toward people expressing their interest in applying for asylum,” Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski was quoted as saying."

GREECE: Update on airlines offering free luggage with items for refugees (Help for refugees in Molyvos, link)

UK-FRANCE: CALAIS: Managing migratory flows in Calais: Joint Ministerial Declaration on UK/French Co-operation (pdf) and see: Commission: Joint statement by First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos on Calais and European migration priorities (pdf) And: 'Fences won't put anyone off': migrants dismiss new Calais security crackdown - People in New Jungle camp say Theresa May’s attempts to tackle crisis at French port will not deter those fleeing war from trying to reach UK (Guardian, link)

UK-EU: Compulsory fingerprinting of migrants: Government Explanatory Memorandum: EM: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD, 150-15) (pdf). The UK is not bound by this proposal but totally backs the compulsory fingerprinting of all, and observes that when faced with "non-compliance" there will be consequences: "including the use of detention or coercion to obtain fingerprints. In our experience the appropriate use of detention... can have the effect of bringing behavioral change" [emphasis added]

See: European Commission: Staff Working Document “on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints”(pdf) And: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)

EU: European Parliament Study: Enhancing the Commom European Asylum System and alternatives to Dublin (pdf): "It argues that as long as it is based on the use of coercion against asylum seekers, it cannot serve as an effective tool to address existing imbalances in the allocation of responsibilities among Member States.".

DENMARK: Danes publish pro-refugee advertisement (The Local.dk, link): "The initiative, which has over 18,000 followers on Facebook, ends the ad by saying that the group wants refugees to hear “another voice in Denmark - a voice representing peace, solidarity and human decency”. In response to:Denmark to run anti-refugee advertisements (link)

GREECE: Update: 19.8.15: "The situation is getting worse. Lot of the refugees have no tents, some have no shoes/clothes. There is not enough food and no soap. People have to stay here longer as there are no seats free on the ferry to Athens and some have waited for 7 days for papers."

Report: Kara Tepe, transit camp for refugees, Lesvos (Greece) Outline development proposals (pdf)

"While going from tent to tent, interacting directly with refugees in their shelters and listening to their stories, we have observed in detail the living conditions of refugees in Kara Tepe camp and noticed that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophic.

Depending on the boats coming every day from Turkey, Kara Tepe camp houses an average of 1,000 to 2,000 mainly Syrian refugees (and from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea). The stay in this transit camp is supposed to last until 2 or 3 days. Our findings on site, however, reveal that some refugees (in July) would have waited their papers up to 11 days.

Thanks to numerous discussions with refugees, volunteers, NGOs and the UNHCR, we have drawn up this paper and hope the recommendations presented here will be found worthy of consideration."

EU-MED-CRISIS: Hungary Plans to Impose Prison Terms for Border Fence Violators (bloomberg.com, link): " Hungary’s government wants to impose prison terms of as long as four years on those who damage a fence that’s being built along the Serb border to repel hundreds of thousands of migrants, a senior minister said. The government is calling for an extraordinary session of parliament to pass the legislation, which would also tighten penalties for smuggling people, Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s office, told reporters on Tuesday. The cabinet will send thousands of police to patrol a barbed-wire fence, that’s being built along the 175-kilometer (109-mile) border shared by Hungary and Serbia."

UK-EU: Home Affairs Select Committee report: Commission Communication: European Agenda on Migration and associated documents (72 pages, pdf) including European Agenda on Migration, European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean, Relocation of migrants in need of international protection. On EUNAVFOR MED the report comments: "unlike piracy, migration does not pose the sort of threat envisaged in chapter 7 of the UN Charter, and that there is thus a difficulty in finding an appropriate legal base; — successful anti-illegal migration operations in the Caribbean and Australasia are based on repatriation, which is not envisaged in the EU plan; — the EU plan addresses symptoms, not causes; — there is no internationally-recognised and domestically-accepted government in Libya"

See also: Five Reasons Why Militarising the EU Migration Plan Will Not Work (RUSI, link): "With news of regular tragedies involving migrants awash on Europe’s shores, the European Union is promising to respond to these through military means. But the political will just does not exist in Europe; neither can the hurdles be overcome easily." and Militarising the EU Migration Plan: A Flawed Approach (RUSI, link)

The Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) 5 Point Test For Hate Speech (link): "How can journalists determine what is hate speech? The EJN gives five points which media professionals should review before they publish."


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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