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    05 December 2016
 

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Observatory : Refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU


Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5-12-16)

Greece: “Transfers To Mainland Against EU-Turkey Deal” (News That Moves, link):

"From Ta Nea: Greek Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas stressed that the EU-Turkey deal does not include an option for transferring asylum seekers on the islands to the mainland and if the government does so it may lead to the agreement failing.

When asked why asylum claims take so long to process, the Minister replied, “We have 13,000 asylum applications in the islands, 50,000 applications on the mainland. We have a new asylum service that has existed for only three years in Greece, while the same services in France and Germany have fifty years of experience. I do not claim that our asylum service operates perfectly, but we are making progress.”

EU-USA: Transatlantic law enforcement data deal gets go-ahead from European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of the EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement' that, in theory, provides for the protection of personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes. Attempts left and liberal MEPs to have the text rejected and to seek the European Court of Justice's opinion on its compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights were rejected. The agreement is unlikely to provide what it promises.

UK: The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Almost every utterance shouted alongside a specific racist attack was already a dominant ideological policy position. The hostile environment that Theresa May promised the country in 2012 has certainly become one on the ground."

See: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

UK: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid (The Conversation, link):

"With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?"

EU: Military might: Commission proposes €5.5 billion per year for defence research and equipment

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (30 November) a €5.5 billion 'European Defence Fund' that would provide EU funds of €500 million per year for military research and development and €5 billion per year "from national contributions" for "Member States to develop certain assets together to reduce their costs." The Commission wants the EU to "demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-16 and 1-12-16)

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf) :

On Migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On Internal Security: Review progress on: "systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

EU: Rights groups expose flaws in EU counterterrorism directive (euractiv, link)

"The European institutions reached an agreement yesterday (30 November) on a directive that is aimed at better equipping the EU with instruments to counter terrorism. But civil rights groups warned that it risks undermining fundamental freedoms.

A political agreement on the directive was reached by EU government representatives in the European Council (COREPER) yesterday, following negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament are expected to sign off on the 37-page text without changes later this month."

Also: EU terror law risks making protest a crime (euobserver, link); "A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists for its vague notions of terrorism. The bill borrows heavily from recent laws in France that allow the authorities to tell internet firms, without any judicial oversight, to block sites that "glorify" terrorism. "

And see background: Directive on combating terrorism (Statewatch, SEMDOC)

Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link):

"In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Directorwho attended the court hearing said: “This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.” Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling"

EU: ALDE on Europol report leak (New Europe, link):

"The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament has called on Europol director, Rob Wainwright, and Sir Julian King, the Security Union Commissioner, to clarify the facts related to a leaked report. According to an ALDE press release, the leak relates to a breach in Europol’s security rules. The Dutch investigative television show Zembla reported that a Europol staffer took dossiers home and copied them to a backup drive that was linked to the internet.

“This is extremely shocking. Europol was aware of this security incident since September, yet its director decided not to inform the parliament during a joint meeting of the European parliament and the national parliaments on Europol scrutiny just two days ago,” Sophie in’t Veld, ALDE spokesperson for data protection, said."

See: ALDE press release (link) and also: Secret Europol terror data found online (BBC News, link)

EU-Turkey: European Parliament: EU-Turkey relations: “We are entering a new phase” (Press release, pdf):

"More than 10 years after EU-Turkey accession talks started, MEPs adopted a resolution on 24 November calling for the negotiations to be suspended until the Turkish government ended its disproportionate and repressive response to July's failed coup. Ankara replied by threatening to let thousands of migrants pass through to Europe. Greek EPP member Manolis Kefalogiannis, head of Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, commented: “We are entering a new phase in EU-Turkey relations”."

UK: Home Office ‘To Integrate Surveillance Cams With Police Database’ (link):

"The Law Enforcement Data Service is to include two existing police databases as well as the nationwide Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. The Home Office has been accused of operating a “burgeoning surveillance capability” outside of parliamentary oversight as it continues to expand the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)."

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner - Annual report (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.11.16)

EU-UK: House of Commons: European Scrutiny Committee: Europol: opt-in Debate (pdf):: "Given this wider context, would opting into the new Europol Regulation be an anomaly at a time when the UK is seeking to loosen rather than strengthen its ties with EU institutions and agencies and to develop alternative methods of cooperation on policing and security matters? Conversely, would opting in help to bridge the gap between the UK’s existing security arrangements with EU partners and agencies and the equally strong ties which the Government intends to develop once the UK has left the EU?"

GREECE-TURKEY-FRONTEX: E.U. Border Agency Still Unaccountable on Refugees’ Rights (Refugees Deeply, link): "Last month, 10 Syrians boarded a flight organized and staffed by the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on the Greek island of Kos, believing their destination was Athens. Instead, they landed in the Turkish city of Adana.

The Syrians had wanted to seek international protection in Greece, and carried documents indicating their intention to initiate asylum procedures. They were never given deportation orders or offered an opportunity to mount a legal challenge to their deportation."

EU: Encryption: five Member States want Europe-wide laws, access to documents request shows

"Five EU countries said they want the European Commission to propose legislation that would make it easier for police to crack through encryption technology.

Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Hungary all want an EU law to be created to help their law enforcement authorities access encrypted information and share data with investigators in other countries."

See: Five member states want EU-wide laws on encryption (EurActiv, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-27.11.16)

Greek refugee lawyer targeted by police (DW, link)

""I was prevented repeatedly from properly representing my clients. One child, who has received therapy for witnessing the torture of family members in Syria, was interviewed from 1:30 am until 4:30 am, not allowed contact with his father and me, despite the complaints we raised. Being forced to wait in the hall for hours in front of a guarded closed door, knowing that the rights of the child were being violated and not being able to do anything about it was a traumatic experience for me," she told DW...."

EU-AFRICA: The small African region with more refugees than all of Europe - Hunger follows displaced people around north-east Nigeria, as Boko Haram and climate change drive millions from their homes (Guardian, link):

"About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes – 2.6 million – than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.

The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe, according to UN data supplied privately to the Guardian.

“No matter how many problems Europeans have, it’s nothing like this,” summarises Modu Amsami, the informal leader of Monguno’s nine camps for internally displaced people (IDP), as he strolls past Kawu’s newly erected hut. “Please, I’m appealing to Europeans to forget their minor problems. Let them come here and face our major problems.”

Eric Kempson from Lesvos, Greece: Fascists Ruining Tourism! 24/11/2016 (video link) Fascists are not being prosecuted.... and the "big Greek heart" needs to be portrayed in the media.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.11.16)

GREECE: LESVOS: Death and riots at EU asylum hotspot in Greece (euobserver, link):

"A woman and her young child have died on Thursday (24 November) at an asylum detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, triggering riots and clashes with police.

The two were killed when a gas cylinder exploded while cooking at the Moria camp, a so-called hotspot initiated by the EU commission where asylum seekers are screened and registered. The deaths provoked a protest among other asylum seekers who have been stuck at camps described as open-prisons. The police clashes injured six asylum seekers, according to Greek media."

See also: Mother and son in critical condition from Moria migrant camp fire (ekathimerini.com, link): "Twenty large tents and over 100 smaller ones were destroyed in the blaze, as well as by fires started by migrants protesting living conditions at the overcrowded camp in reaction to the gas cooker explosion in the family tent that started the conflagration.

Police have arrested 15 Afghan men for starting the smaller fires and clashing with riot police dispatched to the scene. Between eight and 10 camp residents are also being treated at the Lesvos general hospital for burns and smoke inhalation."

EU-TURKEY: European Parliament: Freeze EU accession talks with Turkey until it halts repression, urge MEPs (Press release, link)

"MEPs want a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey. In a resolution voted on Thursday, they say Turkey should nonetheless remain “anchored” to the EU. They also pledge to review their position when the "disproportionate repressive measures" under the state of emergency in Turkey are lifted.:...

The resolution was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions."

And see: Turkey threatens to end refugee deal in row over EU accession - President Erdogan issues warning after European parliament vote urging ministers to freeze talks on Turkey joining the EU (Guardian, link): "Turkey’s president has threatened to tear up a landmark deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe a day after the European parliament urged governments to freeze EU accession talks with Ankara. The threat underlines how far relations between Turkey and the European bloc have deteriorated in recent months, particularly after a coup attempt in July.

“If Europe goes too far, we will allow refugees to pass from the border gates,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Friday at a women’s rights conference. “Do not forget, the west needs Turkey.” Erdogan’s statements, the most direct warning yet that Turkey could abandon the agreement, came in response to a symbolic vote in the European parliament on Thursday that demanded an end to the decade-long accession negotiations."

EU-USA: Data Protection: "Umbrella" Agreement: European Parliament: EU-US deal on law enforcement data transfers backed by Civil Liberties Committee (Press release, pdf):

"The EU-US data protection framework, known as the “Umbrella Agreement” was backed by a large majority in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday morning. The deal will ensure high, binding data protection standards for data exchanged by police and law enforcement authorities across the Atlantic. The Umbrella Agreement covers the transfer of all personal data, such as names, addresses or criminal records, exchanged between the EU and US for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism....

[Adopted in LIBE Committee]: 41 votes to 4, with 6 abstentions"

EU: European Parliament Studies

- The Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU institutional framework (pdf): "looks into the role of the Charter in the legislative process; in the economic governance of the Union; in the work of EU agencies; in the implementation of EU law by EU Member States; and, in the external relations of the Union, both in trade and investment policies and in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also analyses certain gaps in the judicial protection of the Charter and identifies measures through which the potential of the Charter could be further realized."

- The Marrakesh Treaty (pdf): "This study, commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request by the PETI Committee, provides an analysis of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Copyright Works for the Blind or Print-Disabled. It explains the background and movements that led to its proposal, negotiation and successful adoption. It then considers the Treaty’s current situation in relation to its content and issues around its ratification, particularly by the EU. It finally examines future developments around copyright reform and makes recommendations to EU institutions and Member States."


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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