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    ISSN 1756-851X
    04 March 2015
 

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EU: European Ombudsman: Letter to Claude Moraes MEP, Chair of the LIBE Committee, concerning the Opinion of the European Parliament's Legal Service concerning Europol and refusal of US authorities to give the Ombudsman access to a document concerning the TFTP Agreement (pdf) Emily O'Reilly, the EU Ombudsman, says:

"In my decision, I therefore suggested that Parliament might wish to consider the various issues raised in this case. These include whether it is acceptable for arrangements to be agreed with a foreign government which have the consequence of undermining mechanisms established by or under the EU Treaties for the control of EU executive action....

I also understand that Parliament's Legal Service nevertheless takes the view that Europol was entitled to refuse to allow me to inspect the relevant document without the consent of the American authorities. I do not find this at all convincing. In my view, the Ombudsman's Statute clearly gives the Ombudsman the right to inspect documents like the one at issue in the Europol case....

It appears inconceivable to me that, in a union based on the rule of law, certain areas of the activity of the EU administration should be exempt from any external control whatsoever. If one were to accept the opinion put forward by the Parliament's Legal Service, which I do not, it would be a matter of real urgency to address the need to ensure that an agency such as Europol (or any other agency claiming it could not cooperate with the Ombudsman) is subject to external supervision." [emphasis added]

UK: A BAD DAY FOR DEMOCRACY: Civil liberties campaigners claim Supreme Court judgment gives Police ‘extraordinary discretion’ to compile database - Campaigners express disappointment after Supreme Court rule that collation of data on 91-year-old campaigner was lawful (link):

"The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), a national civil liberties organisation, has expressed great disappointment to a Supreme Court judgment handed down today which found that the Metropolitan Police’s ‘domestic extremist’ database was lawful....

Netpol, which monitors police conduct and challenges unfair and discriminatory policing, intervened in the case of peace campaigner John Catt which was heard by the Court in December last year. The Metropolitan Police had brought the Supreme Court challenge against a Court of Appeal ruling in March 2013, which found that the gathering and retaining information on Mr Catt was unlawful.

Mr Catt, who is 91 with no criminal history, was known for making sketches at anti-arms trade protests in Brighton called by the ‘Smash EDO’ campaign.

Speaking today, following the verdict Kevin Blowe, a coordinator for Netpol said: "This ruling allows the police extraordinary discretion to gather personal information of individuals for purposes that are never fully defined. “The Supreme Court has accepted that no further justification is apparently required other than investigating the ‘links between protest groups’ and their ‘organisation and leadership’. “This Judgment represents judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements."

See: Court Press release (pdf) and Full-text of judgment (pdf)

EU: Europol report: Exploring tomorrow's organised crime (6MB, pdf):

"A decline of traditional hierarchical criminal groups and networks will be accompanied by the expansion of a virtual criminal underground made up of individual criminal entrepreneurs, who come together on a project basis. These people will lend their knowledge, experience and expertise as part of a ‘crime-as-a-service’ business model. Such dynamics can already be seen in the realm of cybercrime, but in the future these will extend to the domain of ‘traditional’ organised crime, governing crime areas such as drugs trafficking, illegal immigration facilitation and counterfeiting of goods."

EU: Court of Justice of the European Union: Statistics concerning judicial activity in 2014: The institution brought 1 685 cases to a close: an increase in productivity of 36.9% in five years (Press Release, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: VIS rollout, Combating Radicalisation, PRUM & JPO TENT-IT

VISA INFORMATION SYSTEM: VIS - time frame concerning the roll-out in the last regions - Approval of the final compromise (LIMITE doc no 5731-15, pdf) Detailed plan for implementation.

French delegation: Combating terrorism and radicalisation: further strengthening the protection of the citizens of the European Union (LIMITE doc no 5507-15, pdf) Detailed proposals

Implementation of the "Prüm Decisions" regarding fingerprints - Search capacities (EU doc no: 5019-rev-2-15, pdf): "Member States shall submit declarations to the General Secretariat of the Council in which they lay down their maximum search capacities per day for dactyloscopic data of identified persons and dactyloscopic data of persons not yet identified."

Italian Delegation: To: Law Enforcement Working Party: Final report on the JPO TENT-IT (LIMITE doc no: 5667-15. pdf): "The aim of the operation organised under the IT Presidency was to perform road traffic security controls on European and trans-European road networks for security purposes, through widespread activities including national and joint controls and checks of heavy vehicles (trucks and tractortrailers) carrying goods including hazardous and particularly hazardous goods, and of vehicles transporting people (coaches and buses)....12 Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) participated"

UK-GCHQ: British refusal to cooperate with spy inquiry causes row in Germany - Committee under pressure to censor disclosures about UK activity after Downing Street threatens to break off intelligence-sharing with Berlin (Guardian, link): "the Bundestag’s inquiry into the NSA controversy is being jeopardised by Britain’s refusal to cooperate and its threats to break off all intelligence-sharing with Berlin should the committee reveal any UK secrets.... David Cameron had written to Peter Altmaier, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, refusing all requests for help in the inquiry and warning that Britain would cease supplying terrorism-related intelligence to the Germans unless Berlin yielded.... Information already available to the committee from German sources is said to reveal operational details of UK activities, encryption methods, codes and decoding techniques."

UK: Parliamentarians call for "very radical shift in thinking" on immigration detention

An inquiry conducted by MPs and Lords from the UK's three major political parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative) has concluded that "a very radical shift in thinking" is required on immigration detention. The report makes four "key recommendations":

  • "There should be a time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention" (currently, the UK has an indefinite detention period, meaning that some people are detained for years);
  • "Detention is currently used disproportionately frequently, resulting in too many instances of detention. The presumption in theory and practice should be in favour of community-based resolution and against detention";
  • "Decisions to detain should be very rare and detention should be for the shortest time possible and only to effect removal";
  • "The Government should learn from international best practice and introduce a much wider range of alternatives to detention than are currently used in the UK."

Between July and October 2014 the inquiry, launched by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, received 182 submission of written evidence and held three oral evidence sessions. Members of the inquiry also visited detention centres and the Swedish Migration Board.

See: All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, 'The Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom' (pdf), 3 March 2015. And also: Immigration centres: Act now to overhaul Britain's 'shocking' detention of migrants indefinitely and in appalling conditions, say MPs (The Independent, link) and MPs call for immigration detention cap (BBC News, link).

Statewatch: EU proposed new Directive on the exchange of personal data between law enforcement agencies EU: Observatory on data protection and law enforcement agencies

the protection of personal data in police and judicial matters (2005-2008) and new proposals from 2011 ongoing
full-text documentation on all the secret discussions in the Council - Updated 3 March 2015

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Leading by Example: EDPS Strategy 2015-2019 (Press release, pdf) and Full-text: Strategy 2015-2019 (pdf): "Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “This is a crucial moment for data protection, a period of unprecedented change and political importance, not only in the EU but globally. Our aims and ambitions for the next five years build on our strengths, successes and lessons learned. Together with our legal and technological expertise, we are uniquely placed to assist the EU to find effective, practical and innovative solutions that will respect our fundamental rights in the new digital world. Our goal is for the EU to speak - in full cooperation with colleagues at national level - with one voice on data protection, a voice which is credible, informed and relevant.”

EU: European Ombusdman: Ombudsman calls on EU institutions to adopt whistleblowing rules (pdf):

"The European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, has found that seven out of the nine EU institutions questioned by her office have still to comply with a January 2014 obligation to introduce internal whistleblowing rules. While an inter-institutional committee is examining a common approach, she urges the committee to complete its work as quickly as possible.":

Inside story of Edward Snowden: FILM: CITIZENFOUR (Channel 4 News, link): ""An eye-opening, Oscar-winning expose of the dangers of government surveillance. You will never again think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser or profile." Available to watch on the Channel 4 website for five more days."

Revealed: How Britain benefits from torture (Independent on Sunday, link)

"According to a source close to the East Midlands bomb operation, the British officials “would have made sure they were not actually in the room” where the torture was allegedly taking place, but there was “no way” the intelligence that thwarted the bombing “wasn’t procured under duress”. “It is a fair inference to say he was being tortured. He wasn’t volunteering the information, that’s for sure,” the source said. “Of course we use intelligence from torture. We take it from wherever we can get it, but we are never, ever going to say ‘we don’t want that’. Or ask too many questions about where it has come from. It is the difference between intelligence and evidence.”

UK: INQUEST Report: "Stolen lives and missed opportunities": The deaths of young adults and children in prisons (link) and see: Sixty five young adults and teenagers have died in prison in last four years, report finds (Independent, link)

EU-USA TRADE DEAL (TTIP): Transatlantic trade deal text leaked to BBC (BBC Scotland, link) and see: Document: European Union Trade in services and investment: Schedule of specific commitments and reservations (pdf)

UK: Institute of Race Relations: Fighting for the soul of the voluntary sector - Everyone should read a recent report by the National Coalition of Independent Action (NCIA) on the ways in which neoliberal policies are destroying the purpose and politics of voluntary groups (IRR, link): "The cost of not facing up to this situation, and taking a stand, will, the report concludes, be very high indeed. Fight or Fright is not a passive critique of the sector but a call to arms."

Israel's Africa policies 'an exercise in cynicism' - South African intelligence accuse Israel of "fuelling insurrection", selling arms and "appropriating" African resources (Aljazeera, link): "Secret documents obtained by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit expose a deep disdain by South Africa's spies for their Israeli counterparts, with intelligence assessments accusing Israel of conducting "cynical" polices in Africa that include "fuelling insurrection", "appropriating diamonds" and even sabotaging Egypt's water supply." See: Document 1 (36 MB, link) and Document 2 (60MB, link)

CSE monitors millions of Canadian emails to government: Critics question how long data is stored and what it's used for (CBC News, link): "Canada’s electronic spy agency collects millions of emails from Canadians and stores them for “days to months” while trying to filter out malware and other attacks on government computer networks, CBC News has learned. A top-secret document written by Communications Security Establishment (CSE) analysts sheds new light on the scope of the agency’s domestic email collection as part of its mandate to protect government computers."

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU): The Court of Justice clarifies the conditions in which a third-country national who has deserted may be granted asylum in the EU (Press rlease, pdf): clarifies if USA soldier opposed to Iraq war can get asylum in EU:

"In August 2008, an American soldier, Andre Shepherd, sought asylum in Germany. He had left his unit, which had been stationed in Germany since April 2007, after receiving an order to return to Iraq. Mr Shepherd believed that he should no longer participate in a war he considered unlawful and in the war crimes that were, in his view, committed in Iraq. See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

EU: Frontex, poison or antidote to the tragedies in the Mediterranean? (Migreurop, link): "As Malta receives millions of Euros to fund maritime border control operations in collaboration with Frontex, members of the FRONTEXIT campaign denounce the security obsession blinding Europe and leading to increasing numbers of deaths."

UK: Six years and still waiting: the legal implications of blacklisting (The Justice Gap, link): "The construction industry blacklist has appeared regularly in the media since it was discovered in 2009 following a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Over 40 of the UK’s largest contractors held a covert database of trade unionists who had complained about unpaid wages or safety on building sites through an organisation called The Consulting Association." And see: “Every Man a Capitalist”: The long history of monitoring ‘unsuitable’ workers in the UK (Statewatch database)

Frontex budget: €17 million increase puts agency on "cruising speed"

The 2015 budget of EU border agency Frontex has been increased by 16%, from €97 million to €114 million, with the largest share of the extra funding going towards Joint Operations at Sea Borders. According to the agency's Work Programme for 2015, published in December 2014, the budget is on "cruising speed".

'Joint Operations and Pilot Projects at Sea Borders' receives the largest share of the €114 million budget, with €31 million or 27% of the total. In 2014, Joint Operations at Sea Borders was allocated €25 million. According to the Work Programme: "Strengthening the Member States' operational capacity to cover increased operational areas and implementation periods will enhance the tackling of irregular migration on routes identified by risk analysis."


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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