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    30 May 2016
 

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25 JUNE 2016, London: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary
Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU - a humanitarian emergency
Europol to cooperate with new European intelligence service center (digit.site36.net, link):

"European intelligence services are establishing a „Counter Terrorism Centre“ in the Dutch city The Hague. The centre belongs to the „Counter Terrorism Group“ (CTG) that was founded by the so called Club of Berne in 2001. It consists of domestic intelligence services from all European member states plus Norway and Switzerland. France and Italy are participating with two different authorities. ....

The proposal for the intelligence centre, which according to a Europol report will start its services on the 1st of July, came up after the Paris attacks from 13th November last year. A few days later the heads of the services met for an extraordinary session and concluded to set up a common „platform“ in The Hague...."

See: Enhancing Europol’s counter terrorism capabilities: European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) at Europol (LIMITE doc no: 8881-16, pdf)

Council of Europe: PACE condemns human rights violations during peaceful protests (PACE, link): "The PACE Standing Committee, meeting today in Tallinn, expressed its concern at the frequent use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and at the recent legal restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly in several member States, in particular:

- in Turkey, where a security law was enacted, extending police powers and allowing them to use fire arms;
- in Spain, with the adoption of a law on citizen’s security, which institutes heavy fines against organisers of spontaneous protests;
- in the Russian Federation, with an amendment to the law on public gatherings which permits the detention of any person participating in an unauthorised public assembly.
It is also concerned at the lack of legislation on freedom of assembly in some countries, for example Ukraine.
"

And: Resolution 2116(2016): Urgent need to prevent human rights violations during peaceful protests (pdf)

GREECE: Idomeni evacuation: process denounced, consequences and next steps

Major NGOs and numerous independent voices have criticised the clearance of the Idomeni camp in northern Greece, whilst others have highlighted the consequences of the decision and the Greek government makes plans to clear the Elliniko camp in Athens next.

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.5.16)

EU: Rethinking security... or not

The Ammerdown Group, which "brings together peacebuilding practitioners and academics concerned about the effects of geopolitics on the security of people worldwide," argue in a new discussion paper that a "more secure future for all depends on finding new answers to fundamental questions: what does ‘security’ mean, whom should it benefit, how is it achieved, and whose responsibility is it?" Meanwhile, the 2016 edition of the EU's annual Security Research conference is coming up soon, displaying very little - if any - sign of the type of discussions that the Ammerdown Group argue are necessary.

SPAIN: Andalucian Association for Human Rights confirms an increase in arrivals and deaths at the southern border during 2015

Last month the Andalucian Association for Human Rights released a report, 'Human Rights at the Southern Border 2016', which documents and analyses the situation for migrants and refugees at the southern borders of Spain. The organization condemns the increasing number of deaths "resulting from the immoral migration policies than confine people in countries immersed in war and hunger."

UK: Unlawful imposition of curfews on migrants overturned by courts

"Officials for the Home Office said during the case that they had “assumed” they had the power to impose curfews. When it was shown that they don’t have this power, they instigated a change in policy while the case was ongoing, by which they would ask the judge in the bail hearing to impose the curfew. However, it is not clear if the Home Office ever did this in practice. Now that the judgment in Gedi has been handed down, it has confirmed there is no legal authority to impose curfews as part of bail conditions."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs info exchange and cyberspace investigations

Leaked documents from the Council of the EU show detailed plans for enhancing justice and home affairs information exchange - including by possibly inserting DNA data into the Schengen Information System - as well as ongoing plans for ensuring "effective operational cooperation in criminal investigations in cyberspace".

Electra reports (link) Idomeni clear-out: volunteers denied access to their equipment, tents etc bulldozed

"This is OUTRAGEOUS! I guess that's the Greek Government's way of saying 'thanks' to volunteers... By destroying the humanitarian material and belongings thousands fundraised for... Volunteers in Idomeni, who were told that if they approach the camp during the - priorly unanounced - eviction they would be arrested, return to the field, just to find all their tents, belongings and humanitarian material smashed under the bulldozers: "Despite liaising with authorities to recover resources all of our resources and the ngo resources have been destroyed by the authorities. This includes thousands of euros of medical equipment all the NGO tents and hundreds of thousands of euros other infrastructure."

Idomeni clear-out (read more)

Eric Kempson
on Facebook posted this report today (26.5.16):: "This post was put on by Phoebe Ramsey a must to read. This what has happened in the last 36 hours, summarized to the best of my ability in my present exhausted, sad, and angry state.

At present, there are only a couple of hundred people left in Idomeni. There has been no major resistance or violence. It seems everyone was resigned and complied in the face of the enormous presence of riot police. As the tents have been emptied, bulldozers have come in to flatten them. Just over 2,000 people were moved yesterday, and about 1,000 today. Given that there were at least 7,000 people in Idomeni two days ago, this means that about 4,000 people are 'unaccounted' for. They have either tried to go to the major cities, or made a panicked rush for the border-hundreds and hundreds of people headed west into the woods last night. This is in convenient conjunction with today's reported announcement by police that from now on, anyone caught and returned by FYROM (pushbacks) from an illegal border crossing will be arrested in Greece, and have any existing asylum claims canceled.......

Sudan and Eritrea crackdown on migrants amid reports of EU incentives (IRIN, link):

"Authorities in Sudan have launched a crackdown on Eritrean migrants - arresting those living in the capital, Khartoum, and intercepting hundreds travelling north through the country towards Libya, the launching point for smugglers’ boats heading for Europe.

Reports that 900 Eritreans were rounded up in Khartoum on Monday and that a further 400 arrested en route to Libya have been deported to Eritrea, come amid recent revelations in the British and German media that the EU is planning to deepen its cooperation with a number of African countries, including Sudan and Eritrea, to stem migration towards Europe."

European Parliament Study: Cross-border placement of children in the European Union (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee, explores the range and nature of problems linked to the cross-border placement of children and to the application of article 56 of the Brussels IIa Regulation. Based on an analysis of the practice in 12 Member States and European case law, it identifies a number of shortcomings in the current legislative framework. Looking ahead to the recast of Brussels IIa, the study sets out recommendations to remedy some of the weaknesses, such as clarifying the respective tasks of the Member States involved in cross-border placement cases and facilitating the recognition and enforcement of cross-border placement orders."

SPAIN: Fined with the Gag Law for carrying a bag with the face of a cat and the abbreviation A.C.A.B.

Belén Lobeto was returning to her house in Madrid last Sunday when she was stopped by two police officers who asked for her documentation and subsequently said they were going to fine her. The motive: a black fabric shoulder bag bearing the face of a cat and the abbreviation A.C.A.B, along with the words "All Cats Are Beautiful". The police's report stated that the abbreviation signifies "All Cops Are Bastards".

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: Model clauses in jeopardy with Irish DPA referral to CJEU (The Privacy Adviser, link):

"International data flows between the U.S. and EU may have taken yet another hit late Tuesday with news that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner is planning to refer a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether Facebook can use standard contractual clauses, also often called model clauses, to transfer data out of the EU....

According to a press release from Europe-v-Facebook the Max Schrems-led group that brought both the Safe Harbor and current complaint to the Irish DPA, “Under current CJEU case law, it is highly unlikely that Facebook Ireland could … continue sharing data with the U.S. authorities.”

See: Press Release: Facebook & NSA-Surveillance: Following “Safe Harbor” decision, Irish Data Protection Commissioner to bring EU-US data flows before CJEU again (pdf): "Yesterday night, we were informed that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is planning to refer to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to determine if Facebook can continue to transfer data from the EU to the US after the invalidation of the “Safe Harbor” system by the Court on October 6th 2015 and given continues application of US mass surveillance laws."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.5.16) including: Is the EU-Turkey deal dead or will the EU, in desparation, simply cave in?

UK: Hillsborough: how one academic kept the ‘truth’ from being hidden (bellacaledonia.org.uk, link) by Margaret Malloch and Bill Munro:

"How can academics put their research at the service of correcting great injustices? Phil Scraton and his work for the Hillsborough campaign offers a powerful example, write Margaret Malloch and Bill Munro.

There has been a justifiable amount of attention on the recent outcome of the inquests into the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives as a direct result of events at Hillsborough Football Ground on 15 April 1989. However, claims that ‘at last’, the truth ‘is out’ leave us somewhat troubled.

The ‘truth’ of what happened on that day has always been known – not least by the bereaved families, the survivors and many more besides. That ‘truth’, until now, has been officially erased, or at least hidden and replaced by a carefully constructed and long maintained lie."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.5.16) including EU navies to help Libyan coastguards stop refugees

Moving Europe: Updates from the eviction in Idomeni (link): "Moving Europe is writing live updates on the situation in Idomeni and on the unacceptable conditions in the camps where people are being brought to. As journalists and indepedent observers are not allowed into the area around Idomeni, the updates are based on observations and information from people in the camp. The page will be updated constantly, please spread!

As journalists and independent observers are not let into the area of the camp in Idomeni, on this site we are constantly collecting observations and information which residents of the camp send to us. Follow us as well on Twitter "

Greek authorities begin evacuation of Idomeni refugee camp (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greek authorities began an operation at dawn Tuesday to gradually evacuate the country’s largest informal refugee camp of Idomeni on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), blocking access to the area and sending in more than 400 riot police....

Journalists were barred from the camp during the evacuation operation, stopped at a police roadblock a few kilometers (miles) away. Twenty buses carrying various riot police units were seen heading to the area while a police helicopter observed from above. An estimated 700 police were participating in the operation."
[emphasis added]

EU: Counter Terrorism: Council of the European Union: Strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism threat analysis (LIMITE doc no: 8409-16, pdf): There is concern about the legal basis for sharing intelligence:

"The discussion showed divergences between Member States as to which role to give the EU in view of national positions and Article 4(2) TEU, in particular in relation to the sharing of intelligence information. Many delegations were positive towards the idea, whereas a number of delegations requested additional information and more details on a number of issues, such as the legal basis for such a joint threat assessment, methodology and which personal data would be exchanged. Others underlined the importance of avoiding duplication. The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC) supported the idea of a joint threat assessment."

and also where to draw the line between intelligence-gathering, analyses and operational roles: See EU INTCEN (pdf):

"EU INTCEN is the exclusive civilian intelligence analysis function of the European Union... EU INTCEN is not an operational agency and does not have any collection capability. The operational level of intelligence is the Member States’ responsibility. EU INTCEN deals only with strategic analysis...".

at the same time EU INTCEN "compliments" Member States' input by monitoring open sources:

"EU INTCEN deals only with strategic analysis. Its analytical products are mostly based on information provided by Member States’ security and intelligence services, but can also be complemented by open sources (media, websites, blogs etc.), diplomatic reporting, consular warden networks, international organisations, NGOs, CSDP missions and operations, the EU Satellite Centre, visits and field trips." [emphasis added]

See also:
EU to enhance terrorism "threat assessments" as Counter Terrorist Group moves towards "real time information exchange"

EU navies to help Libya coastguard stop migrants (euobserver, link): "EU navies are to start training the Libyan coastguard amid concern that the summer could see huge numbers of migrants try to cross the Mediterranean. Foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (23 May) agreed the new task for Sophia, the EU's anti migrant-smuggling naval operation."

See: External aspects of migration - Council Conclusions (23 May 2016) (pdf) : "Regarding the Central Mediterranean route, the Council highlights the need to use the broad range of tools available to manage flows in cooperation with third countries of origin and transit as part of an EU regional approach to migration, including via CSDP instruments. In particular, it highlights the importance of the work to be undertaken at the request of and in partnership with the Libyan Government of National Accord on a comprehensive approach to manage migration, which includes the fight against smugglers and traffickers, as well as capacity building and training of Libyan coastguard and Navy as one of the two further supporting tasks to be implemented by EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. Work will be carried forward to this end to amend the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia as well as the possible setting up of an increased civilian CSDP presence in Libya, including on border management assistance, in addition to existing EU funded capacity building projects."

European Parliament: MEPs assess refugee camps in Greece and call for smoother implementation of EU-Turkey deal (Press release, pdf): "A delegation from the civil liberties committee visited Greece last week to assess refugees' situation at the EU's external borders and the implementation of the EUTurkey deal to manage the influx of migrants and refugees. The delegation was led by Hungarian S&D member Péter Niedermüller. Members also met with representatives from the Greek authorities, international organisations and nongovernmental organisations.

According to Frontex, 1.83 million illegal crossings were detected at the EU's external borders last year. Southern European countries were responsible for dealing with most of these migrants, but the sharp increase has proved challenging. The delegation aimed to see how Greece was coping."

Statewatch comment: Unfortunately the Press release cites Frontex (in January) stating: "In all of 2015, there were 1.83 million illegal border crossings detected at EU’s external borders." By its own admission Frontex figures are inflated by the double-counting of refugees. UNHCR states: "UNHCR’s latest figures show that some 1,000,573 people had reached Europe across the Mediterranean, mainly to Greece and Italy, in 2015."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Data protection for the digital generation: the countdown to the GDPR begins (Press release, pdf): "Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: "The GDPR is one of the EU's greatest achievements in recent years and a document of which it should be proud. However, our job is not yet complete. We must ensure that the GDPR is fully and effectively implemented and that we close the package with equally effective agreements on Regulation 45/2001 and the ePrivacy Directive. Only then will we be able to ensure that the EU upholds its promise of effective data protection for the digital age." and Annual Report 2015 (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.5.16): supporting Sudan's post-Valletta Summit projects; condemnation of Germany's parliamentary voting for Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria as safe countries; ongoing ramifications of the EU-Turkey deal; and more.


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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