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    03 May 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 (30 April to 2 May 2016)

The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (INYT, link):

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at the Door” is published with Polity Press....

I don’t believe there is a shortcut solution to the current refugee problem. Humanity is in crisis —- and there is no exit from that crisis other than the solidarity of humans. The first obstacle on the road to the exit from mutual alienation is the refusal of dialogue: that silence that accompanies self-alienation, aloofness, inattention, disregard and indifference. Instead of the duo of love and hate, the dialectical process of border-drawing needs to be thought therefore in terms of the triad of love, hate and indifference or neglect that the refugee, in particular, continues to face."

Greenpeace: TTIP Leaks (links): "Greenpeace Netherlands has released secret TTIP negotiation documents. We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty. This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US."  Download All (RESTRICTED documents, ZIP file)

"ANOTHER DODGY DEAL" LITTLE OR NO PROTECTION FOR EU CITIZENS: EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: "UMBRELLA AGREEMENT": Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of an 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 (pdf) and Annex (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Observatory: EU-USA general agreement on data protection and the exchange of personal data

EU: Legal Aid proposal: From Justicia Network: To: Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament Council of the European Union, and the Presidency European Commission, DG Justice (pdf):

The JUSTICIA European Rights Network, which brings together 19 civil society organizations from 18 EU member states, believes that an effective system of legal aid is vital to ensure that everyone, regardless of economic status, is treated fairly by the law.

The Directive on Legal Aid is the last in a series of groundbreaking directives that collectively have the potential to bring about significant improvements on defence rights across the EU. We are encouraged by the progress made on this file under the Dutch Presidency. As you enter the final stages of the trilogue negotiations we urge you to continue to work towards a strong and comprehensive Directive."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.4.16)

OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture: Greece: Ongoing crackdown on civil society providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers (pdf):

"The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing crackdown on civil society actors providing humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Greek islands, even including judicial harassment against several groups and NGOs acting to protect migrants' rights, of Team Humanity Denmark....

on February 21, 2016 a last minute amendment was made to a Law voted by the Greek Parliament, in violation of several provisions of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedures. The new provision assigns the supervision and coordination of services provided to migrants and asylum seekers to the Greek Army and Minister of Defence, in newly established army-run facilities. This provision has led to a coordinated effort to stop civil society activities in camps that are not run by the army, through extensive threats of arrest and prosecution]. Moreover, several journalists and NGOs, including the Hellenic Action for Human Rights “Pleiades”’, are often not allowed access to army-run facilities....

The Observatory strongly condemns this crackdown on civil society actors in Greece, calls on the Greek authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise NGOs and volunteers working in the country in the field of humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers or otherwise prevent them from carrying out their work and urges them to lift the ban on civil society activists and journalists to enter army-run camps."

See also: Council proposals on migrant smuggling would criminalise humanitarian assistance by civil society, local people and volunteers - Greece: NGOs and volunteers have to "register" with the police and be vetted (Statewatch) and NGOs and volunteers helping refugees in Greece to be placed under state control (Statewatch)

EU: After the 18 March EU-Turkey "Statement", the "Letter" of assurances from Turkey, yet another set of "letters": What is the legal basis on "non-binding" documents?

Council of the European Union: Standard Operating Procedures implementing the mechanism for resettlement from Turkey to the EU as set out in the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016 - Endorsement (LIMITE doc no: 8366-16, pdf)

"Once endorsed by the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein meeting in the margins of COREPER, the Standard Operating Procedures will be formalised by way of an exchange of letters between the Commission and the Turkish authorities."

The following are excluded or NOT eligible:

"The person does not constitute a threat to public policy, internal security and public health;
A candidate who has refused admission to a particular Member State is no longer eligible;
Priority will be given to eligible persons who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly"

Fascism and the far right in Europe: country by country guide – part one (dream deferred, link)::

"Europe is witnessing a dangerous revival of fascist and racist populist parties and organisations. Over the next few weeks we are going to publish a series of articles analysing the scale of this threat.

We will focus on the countries where fascist and racist parties have made significant electoral and/or organisational breakthroughs. There are small fascist groups operating in several other countries, but with very small numbers and little impact. We intend to look separately at the situation in Russia at a later date and have not included it here."

Pro-Nazi nostalgia flourishes under new Croatia government (euractiv, link):

“Nostalgia” for a pro-Nazi past, spurning of ethnic minorities and pressure on the press: Croatian activists say an alarming climate of intolerance is taking hold under a new conservative government.

Since the ruling coalition took power in the European Union country in January, critics say authorities have turned a blind eye – and even contributed to – concerns over a far-right right surge. Last week, in response, angry Jewish, ethnic Serb and anti-fascist groups refused to attend a ceremony remembering tens of thousands who died at Jasenovac, the most notorious concentration camp under Croatia’s pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during World War II.

The boycott was a “brave and correct decision in the face of the wave of neo-fascist Ustasha nostalgia which is sweeping Croatia”, said Efraim Zuroff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish rights organisation".

UNHCR Daily report (28.4.16):

"In Greece, Alternate Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has agreed to the permanent presence of lawyers in two accommodation centers (Elaionas in Athens, and Moria on Lesvos island), following a meeting with the head of the Athens Bar Association.

The Ministry said the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) has also expressed an interest in offering legal aid to refugees in Moria." [emphasis added]

Statewatch Comment: Does not the Ministry know that under the Asylum Procedures Directive refugees have the right to legal aid? Why is it not ensuring that it is available to all?

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.4.16) inc: EU-Turkey a balanced partnership "without renouncing our principles"

EU-TURKEY "Dodgy deal": Legal concerns met?

UNHCR reports (27.4.16):

"In a letter to the European Commission sent on Tuesday, 26 April, the Turkish government pledged to bolster legal protection to non-Syrians upon return to Turkey as part of the EU-Turkey Agreement. This follows previous assurances concerning Syrians and the fact that all returned Syrians could be granted or re-avail themselves from temporary protection. These pledges aim to support the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement by addressing the remaining legal concerns hampering its full implementation." [emphasis added]

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"If this "letter" addressees legal concerns about the EU-Turkey "dodgy deal" why has it not been published? Does it commit Turkey to fully signing up to the Geneva Convention? If not it is worthless.

First we had the EU-Turkey deal in a "Statement" (18 March) and now an unpublished "letter" - neither of which are legally binding. In their desperate haste to shut the borders the EU is neglecting the basic tenets of lawful decision-making"

European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos to the Committee on Federal and European Affairs of the Bavarian Parliament on 26 April (pdf)

"To paraphrase an old saying information is security. We will respond to the terrorist threat effectively when we make our information systems interconnected, interoperable, and searchable..."

The Commissioner argues for a "Single Search Interface" where: "all data is searchable with just one click" - this requires major changes to laws on the book where acess is limited or prescribed. And see: Statewatch Analysis: Commission proposals on migration and internal security databases: a new list of old “needs” (pdf)

"Both the EU and Turkey need each other, as equal partners. This is a balanced partnership, one where we aim for each side to deliver on its commitments, but without renouncing our principles or conditions."

Many would argue that the EU wanted a deal at any price - even if it means tearing up all human rights and asylum law adopted since 1945.

"We must remember an element of political context: while we are working on these issues, we are witnessing the worrying rise in left and right wing violent extremism."

In context "right wing violent extremism" is carried out by extreme nationalists, racists and fascists. While what is characterised as "left wing violent extremism" is anti-racist and anti-fascist responses to the former - which is a piece of perverse logic.

Council of Europe: Thorbjorn Jagland: Europe's human rights and security are at risk through populist nationalism (Press release, pdf) and Annual Report: State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law: A security imperative for Europe (pdf):

"“Europe is currently struggling with many serious challenges, including terrorism, migration andconflict. This is being successfully exploited by nationalists and populists in many places, and trustin national and European institutions is dwindling,” said the Secretary General.

“At the same time, we still see many important gaps in the laws and practices that our memberstates have in place, and basic human rights including free speech, freedom of assembly and theright to privacy are increasingly being restricted."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon hit out 'increasingly restrictive' EU refugee policies (dailysabah.com/europe, link):

""I am concerned that European countries are now adopting increasingly restrictive immigration and refugee policies," Ban said in a speech to the Austrian parliament.

"Such policies negatively affect the obligation of member states under international humanitarian law and European law." His comments came a day after the Austrian parliament adopted one of Europe's toughest asylum laws, as the country's political leaders struggle to halt the surging far-right which is leading in presidential polls."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Ensuring justice for hate crime victims: professional perspectives (pdf)

"The 2012 Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime acknowledges that hate crime victims are particularly vulnerable and stresses their right to protection in accordance with their particular needs. EU Member States should strive to improve access to justice for such victims, both by supporting victims in reporting their experiences to the police and by improving the police and judiciary’s responses. This report aims to encourage such efforts."

Austria: Drastic, Unjustified Measures against Asylum Seekers (HRW, link):

"The key feature of the package of special measures is a fast-track admissibility procedure for asylum seekers at Austrian land borders. Austrian police officers will examine applications solely for the purposes of determining whether individuals can be returned to the neighboring country from which they came. Only people who argue successfully that their lives would be in danger or that they face a real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment in a neighboring country, or who have a nuclear family member already in Austria, will be allowed to formally apply for asylum. Appeals against returns will only be possible after the return has taken place. The law increases the amount of time people can be detained pending return from five to 14 days."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.4.16)

NATO to blockade Libyan coast this summer to stop central Mediterranean migrant flows (Independent.mt, link):

"NATO is planning a naval blockade of the Libyan coat this summer to close off the central Mediterranean migration route, as the numbers of migrants using the route, which features Malta as a central point, are expected to surge.

The military alliance is reportedly just three months away from launching the mission, according to Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, who revealed the plans as the leaders of the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy met in Hanover, Germany yesterday..

The plan will also incorporate parts of a broader Italian strategy to repatriate migrants found to have no claim for asylum, in other words, purely economic migrants, back to their home countries.... The repatriation plans have been heavily criticised by human rights groups and even Pope Francis, since they make an arbitrary distinction between genuine asylum seekers and economic migrants."

and see:Italy says NATO three months from Libya coast mission (France 24, link): "NATO is already operating a naval force in the Aegean Sea to stop migrant boats reaching the Greek islands from Turkey.But an operation off Libya would be more complicated and potentially dangerous given the country's instability and the presence in some coastal regions of militants allied to the Islamic State group. Turning migrant boats back to Libya would also be hugely controversial given the unstable situation there."

Greece: Are You Syrious (26.4.16) link):

"Important information for refugees in Greece and volunteers to inform them:

The new asylum procedure is to have an interview about the admissibility of their claim for asylum in Greece first, before the substantive interview. Most people having their asylum claims rejected now are being rejected on inadmissibility by the government claiming that Turkey is a Safe Third Country for them.

Three of the absolutely key legal criteria for a Safe Third Country are-

1) that there is no risk of refoulement (forcible repatriation to their country of origin or any country or area where they have a well-founded fear of return to) and
2) that they have fully legal access to have their substantive claims for asylum examined in that third country, and
3) that they can get recognition of Refugee Status and effective protection in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Convention 1951 in that third country.

The Turkish governor of Izmir has explicitly said that non-Syrians will be detained for immediate deportation if returned from Greece, i.e. no access to asylum procedures and no chance to have their substantive claim examined or to receive effective protection.and this is in fact what has happened to all non-Syrian returnees so far."

UK: Lords try again to overturn Tory refusal to help child refugees in Europe (Guardian, link):

"Peers hope to win over Conservative MPs after voting to set a quota on total unaccompanied children allowed into UK.. The plight of child refugees stranded in Europe has become the centre of a battle between the House of Commons and the Lords, after peers voted in support of a second proposal urging the government to take action.

Peers voted by 279 to 172, a majority of 107, for an amendment to the immigration bill calling on ministers to relocate and support a specified number of children in the UK. MPs, who narrowly rejected an earlier call by Lord Dubs for 3,000 unaccompanied children to be given homes in the UK, will now be asked to consider this “softer” proposal, which some Tories say they will back."


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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