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    ISSN 1756-851X
    28 October 2016

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Observatory : Refugee crisis in the Med and in the EU

EU: Tackling encryption: LEAs favour practical, effective solutions for access rather than new legal powers?

- In answer to a Questionnaire Member States' responses showed: "the need for practically orientated measures prevailed over the need for adoption of new legislation on EU level."

The Council of the European Union is considering ways for law enforcement agencies to get access to encrypted messages. There are different laws and practices in Member States and it appears that a majority of them favour the better exchange of knowledge and practices to get access rather than a harmonised EU law. Many national laws prescribe that: "a prior judicial order is often required."

See: Council of the European Union: Encryption of data: Mapping of the problem - orientation debate: LIMITE doc no: 13434-16 (pdf)

European Parliament: European volunteering: remove remaining barriers, urge MEPs (Press release, pdf):

"The EU needs a better coordinated policy on volunteering, to give volunteers a proper legal status and help them join programmes, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. Almost 100 million EU citizens have taken part as volunteers in education, culture or arts, sport events, humanitarian and development aid work. Young people should take advantage of volunteering schemes to develop skills and acquire experience that helps them to find jobs afterwards, stresses the text....

People of all ages should be encouraged to take advantage of volunteering to improve their skills and understanding of other cultures, and thus improve their chances of finding a job, say MEPs."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Experience in Greece during the refugee crisis provides a number of lessons. First, NGOs and volunteers should not be required to register with the state. Second, activities of NGOs should not be placed under the direction of state agencies who they may liaise with but not be under their control. Third, journalists and lawyers should be automatically recognised via their national rules and bodies. Fourth, NGOs, volunteers and local people should be protected against attacks by racists and fascists."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.10.16)

ITALY-SUDAN "COLLECTIVE" DEPORTATIONS: Letter from 25 MEPs to Italy (pdf):

"We are contacting you with reference to the forced return of 40 Sudanese asylum-seekers, which took place on the 24th of August 2016. They were arrested in and around Ventimiglia and then brought to the airport of Torino-Caselle where they were boarded on a charter flight to Khartoum.

This collective expulsion, whose legitimacy has been criticised by several NGOs and Members of the Italian Parliament, revealed the existence of a Memorandum of Understanding with Sudan, signed on the 3rd of August 2016 in Rome by the Head of the Italian State Police...

This agreement, which was kept secret for long time and has never been discusses or ratified by the Italian Parliament, provides for collaboration between the two Countries in the fight against crime and in particular the management of migratory effects and borders."

Privacy group launches legal challenge against EU-U.S. data pact (Reuters, link):

"A widely expected legal challenge has been filed by an Irish privacy advocacy group to an EU-U.S. commercial data transfer pact underpinning billions of dollars of trade in digital services just two months after it came into force, sources said.

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield was agreed earlier this year after the European Union's highest court struck down the previous Safe Harbour agreement over the transfer of Europeans' personal data to the United States, on concerns about intrusive U.S. surveillance.

The new agreement gives businesses moving personal data across the Atlantic - from human resources information to people's browsing histories to hotel bookings - an easy way to do so without falling foul of tough EU data transferral rules."

MIGREUROP: A Europe united against refugees (link):

" the promotion of a world of camps and walls is not just the project of the Hungarian leader. It is also the dominant feature of migration policy pursued by the EU and its member states for 20 years, and the consequences are now apparent." And in French (link)

And see: Map of camps 2016 (French, pdf), English (pdf link) and Arabic (pdf, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.10.16)

EU: Can the EU reconcile its commitment to maintaining fundamental rights and its ongoing practices?

European Parliament: MEPs call for EU democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights watchdog (Press release, pdf): "To end the current “crisis-driven” approach to perceived breaches of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in EU member states, the EU Commission should set up a binding EU mechanism to monitor and report annually on their records in these fields, say MEPs in a resolution passed on Tuesday. This mechanism should include objective benchmarks and lay down a gradual approach to remedying breaches, they add.

“We have provided the European Union with the instruments to enforce all the other policy areas - competition policies, police and justice cooperation, foreign policies (...), but our core values are not protected by instruments that are sufficiently strong to make sure that the values are upheld throughout the European Union”, said lead MEP Sophie in’t Veld (ALDE, NL), in the debate ahead of the vote. Her legislative initiative was passed by 405 votes to 171, with 39 abstentions."

See Resolution: Full-text: 25-10-16 (pdf) and: also: An EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights European Added Value Assessment accompanying the legislative initiative report (Rapporteur: Sophie in 't Veld) (pdf).

Algeria: the new migrant staging post for Europe (IRIN, link): "Gerwinio is one of a growing number of sub-Saharan Africans coming to Algeria, although exact numbers are hard to come by. The Algerian government claims there are 25,000 such migrants in the country, but local NGOs say the true number is at least four times higher. “It is way more visible lately that there is more sub-Saharan migration,” said Pascal Reyntjens, mission chief for the International Organization for Migration in Algiers....

A progress report on the Partnership Framework published last week focuses on five countries identified by the EU as “the first priorities for action” – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mali. Algeria is mentioned only as a country requiring 'particular attention'. No further details were provided, but a recent analysis by strategic forecasting company, Stratfor, describes the country as “one of the trickiest North African nations with which to increase cooperation”."

SPAIN: Squeezed by the spooks: attempt to recruit activist as informant caught on tape: A series of recordings captured earlier this year in Barcelona have exposed an attempt by two men claiming to work for "state security" to recruit a political activist as an informant.

Their target, Quim Gimeno, has filed an official complaint against the "modus operandi of the Cuerpo Nacional de Policia" (CNP) and the actions of the two men, who offered him monthly payments and the possibility of intervening in a court case involving terrorism charges (which was later dismissed due to lack of evidence).

One of the two men has subsequently been exposed as a senior officer known as 'Jordi' who works for the CNP's 'Provincial Information Brigade Group 6' (Grupo VI de la Brigada Provincial de Información), known for its surveillance and intelligence-gathering on social movements.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.10.16)

Commission recommends extending temporary internal border controls for a limited period of three months (Press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today proposed a Recommendation, to be adopted by the Council, to prolong proportionate controls at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, where controls already take place – according to the Council Recommendation of 12 May – for a period of a further three months. Despite the progressive stabilisation of the situation, the Commission considers that the conditions of the "Back to Schengen" Roadmap allowing for a return to a normally functioning Schengen area are not yet fully fulfilled.... The prolongation, which the Commission is recommending for a further period of three months, concerns the same internal borders as that recommended on 12 May:

- Austria: at the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian land border;
- Germany: at the German-Austrian land border;
- Denmark: in Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border;
- Sweden: in Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge;
- Norway: in Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."

See also: Commission Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 711-16, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: European Public Prosecutor's Offce (EPPO): Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (LIMITE doc no: 12687-16, pdf): Copuncil discussing its position: Revised Preamble: Following the examination of the draft preamble in COPEN on 8 September and the work on a number of Articles in view of the Council of 14 October, the Presidency has partly redrafted the preamble in line with the discussions. All modifications in relation to document 11350/1/16 REV 1 are indicated in underlined or strikethrough." See also other recent Council documents: European Public Prosecutor's Office

Refugees and terrorism must not be conflated, says UN Special Rapporteur

A new report by the UN's Special Rapporteur on terrorism and human rights calls for an end to the conflation of migrants and refugees with acts of terrorism: "in the clear majority of cases, refugees and migrants do not pose a risk, but are in fact at risk, fleeing the regions where terrorist groups are the most active," says the report, which was presented to the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday 21 October.

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.10.16): Calais demolition underway, Syrian child refugees stitich British fashion in Turkey, fire and protest at Moria detention centre on Lesvos.

UK: DEATHS IN CUSTODY: Annual rally and procession, Saturday 29 October 2016

"The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a national coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals in the UK.

Assemble 29 October 12Noon at Trafalgar Square for a silent procession along Whitehall followed by a noisy protest at Downing Street."

See: UFFC Annual Rally & Procession 2016 (UFFC, link)

Statewatch Analysis: Civilizing the torture and execution trade (pdf) by Dr Steve Wright (Reader in Applied Global Ethics, Leeds Beckett University):

Earlier this month, the European Parliament and Commission finally agreed to outlaw the export, brokering and promotion of torture and execution equipment from Europe. Such equipment includes guillotines, hanging ropes, lethal injection drugs, multi-barbed steel ‘sting sticks’, electroshock batons and tools familiar to torturers of old, leg irons and wall cuffs to hang prisoners from walls and ceilings, thumbscrews, neck chains and other medieval paraphernalia....

Can we further civilize the security trade? I believe so, but only region by region. The 21st century has already become the epoch of the torturer. Only civil society can civilize state security practices further - as if people mattered.

UNHCR: (22.10.16): 319,826 arrivals in the Med in 2016: 168,873 in Greece, 145,982 in Italy. 3,654 dead/missing. Greek Ministry statistics: 21.10.16 number of refugees/"guests" in camps and their capacity (pdf): Greek islands: 15,378 refugees/"guests* and capacity 8,030. Voluntary" returns in 2016: 5,010 and Departures to Turkey 2016: 724.

Council of Europe: "Combating anti Gypsyism: Congress calls for better access to social rights and legislative measures"

"Strasbourg, 20 October 2016 At their 31st Session in Strasbourg, France, the memmbers of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities examined, on 20 October 2016, a report on the situation of Roma and Travellers, presented by John Warmisham (United Kingdom, SOC) and highlighting the context of rising extremism, xenophobia and the refugee crisis, which is worsening discrimination against them and stirring anti-Gypsyism." See: Report (pdf)

EU: European Parliament Study: Turkey: How the pre-accession funds have been spent, managed, controlled and the monitoring system? (pdf): "This study follows up on the European Court of Auditors Special Report 16/2009 ‘The European Commission's management of pre-accession assistance to Turkey’. The European Commission has undertaken actions addressing the recommendations of the report but it is unclear how effective these actions have been, or are likely to be, in addressing the underlying concerns expressed in the report. In particular, understanding of the effectiveness and impact of European Union funding to Turkey is still very limited." [Emphasis added] See: European Auditors report (link)

UN: Press release: Special Rapporteur warns that situation for civil society remains ‘precarious’

“Unless there is renewed commitment from the world’s leaders, away from fear and control of their own people, and toward respecting the dignity of all, the situation will remain precarious for civil society globally,” the UN expert said.

EU: European Council offers approval for migration deals with African states

"European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to step up their efforts to curb illegal migration from African countries with the aim of replicating their success in halting inflows from Turkey over the past year..."  See: European Council conclusions on migration, 20 October 2016 (pdf) plus earlier Draft conclusions (11226/16, LIMITE, pdf)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.10.16): including Council of Europe report on situation in Calais and Grand-Synthe camps.

UK-IRELAND: Undercover policing: fresh questions over Mark Kennedy's activities in Ireland

"GARDA CHIEFS and Scotland Yard commanders allowed British undercover policeman Mark Kennedy to spy on environmental groups in Ireland, including the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo. Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan wants Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to get some long-overdue and straight answers from her British counterpart when she meets Home Secretary Amber Rudd this month..."

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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