Statewatch Observatory
Archive 2006: EU asylum and immigration policy


EU: Documentation - update: Visas and trafficking:

- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (as at 20 December 2006) plus EU doc no: 16229/06 (covering negotiations with the European Parliament, dated 6 December 2006)

- Action Plan on trafficking in human beings (December 2006)

EU: German Council Presidency:

- Council meetings timetable
- Provisional agendas for Council of ministers meetings - Justice and Home Affairs, pages 24-30
-
Programme on Police and Judicial Co-operation - the centrepiece is the incorporation into the EU acquis of the Prum Convention agreed in secret by the governments of Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Austria (the five original Schengen states plus Spain and Austria). Their national parliaments could not change a "dot or coma" nor will the other 18 EU parliaments be able to. As the UK House of Lords observed:

"if the Convention does become part of the legal framework of the EU, that framework will for practical purposes have been imposed by seven Member States on the other eighteen"

For background on Prum Convention see:

- Behind closed doors - policy-making in secret intergovernmental and international fora
- House of Lords report:
Behind Closed Doors
- Statewatch:
Some remarks on Schengen III (the Prum Convention)
-
The “principle of availability” Statewatch analysis.
- and the
Prum Convention (full-text, pdf)

EU: Update (the first for several years) concerning Member States' application of the EC's visa list Regulation (pdf)

EU: Commission Recommendation establishing a common "Practical Handbook for Border Guards (Schengen Handbook)"
to be used by Member States' competent authorities when carrying out the border control of persons
(COM 5186/2006, 81pages)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor Opinion on: Common Consular Instructions (pdf) The EDPS underlines that it is a political decision rather than a purely technical one to determine from which age fingerprints shall be collected. This should not be based entirely on arguments of feasibility. Especially the mandatory fingerprinting of all children aged 6+ raises also ethical questions. The EDPS moreover recalls that all biometric identification systems are inherently imperfect and that the system therefore must provide for adequate fallback solutions. See: Statewatch coverage: EU:Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on: Spain taking fingerprints and facial images from children at birth; Czech Republic taking fingerprints from 5 and facial images from birth; Latvia and France in favour of fingerprints from 6 and facial images from birth. EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: Council Presidency proposed in June 2006 that there should be the compulsory fingerprinting of children from the age of 12 year old.

EU: Draft Council Resolution on "information exchange on the expulsion of radical preachers inciting violence and racial hatred" (EU doc no: 15664/06). While the title of the Council document speaks of "radical preachers" the text in clause 1 refers to an "expelled third country national(s)" who are to be denied re-entry by all EU states. This covers people expelled: "on the grounds of behaviour linked to terrorist activities or constituting acts of explicit and deliberate provocation of discrimination, hatred or violence" against specific groups - clearly this is intended to exclude permanently those expelled against whom criminal charges could not be brought.

New Statewatch publication: Border Wars and Asylum Crimes by Frances Webber. When the Statewatch pamphlet "Crimes of Arrival" by the same author was written, in 1995, the title was a metaphor for the way the British government, in common with other European governments, treated migrants and especially, asylum seekers. Now, a decade on, that title describes a literal truth: Order publication (£10, 36 pages, A4)

"The exclusionary imperatives of reduction of numbers arriving and an increase in those removed are driving European asylum policy steadily to a penal model. This had its beginnings in the early 1980s, and in 1992, the Ad Hoc Committee formulating EU asylum policy pre-Maastricht stated its view that intercontinental movement to seek asylum was 'unlawful'. Now, the whole panoply of criminal powers, including the regular use of the criminal law, segregation from society, mass detention, fingerprinting and electronic tagging, is brought to bear on asylum claimants. Immigration police have all the powers and none of the accountability of 'normal' police. Private sector guards on minimum wages are recruited to keep asylum claimants in order and to deport them, and may use 'reasonable force' in doing so.

There is a frightening continuity between the treatment of asylum claimants and that of terrorist suspects. In the name of the defence of our way of life and our enlightenment values from attack by terrorists or by poor migrants, that way of life is being destroyed by creeping authoritarianism, and those values - amongst which the most important is the universality of human rights - betrayed."

Friends of Statewatch launched - support our work A message from our chair, Gareth Peirce:

"In routinely placing complex policies and increased state powers in the public domain, Statewatch performs a function that no other organisation fulfils. One is driven to wonder what it could have accomplished, and could accomplish in the future, were it to have even a tiny percentage of the resources enjoyed by other organisations.

It is clear that Statewatch's only and continuing priority is to remain faithful to its raison d'etré, namely to be principled, proactive and honest. In this age of heightened and increasingly repressive consolidation of state powers, there is no alternative than to have in place an experienced organisation which regards its duty to monitor and to give voice, constantly, to what it observes."

EU: Commission Green Paper on: Diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries COM (2006) 712

EU: Commission Communication on: Reinforcing the management of the European Union's Southern Maritime Borders COM(2006) 733 final

EU: Council Presidency report on: Report on the review of The Hague Programme

EU: Commission Communication on: The Global Approach to Migration one year on: Towards a comprehensive European migration policy COM(2006) 735

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 4-5 December 2006: Press release (pdf)

Background Note (pdf) plus

- 18-month programme on asylum, immigration, visa and border policy

- Council draft proposal on the Fundamental Human Rights Agency (29 November), Draft proposal (10 November with member state positions) and see: European Voice (link)

- Draft conclusions on the Hague programme

- Visa list amendments

EU: The European Commission adopted changes to the SIRENE manual on 22 September. This governs the transfer of data/files from national Sirene offices after a search on the Schengen Information System (SIS):

Commission Decision: 757/2006
Commission Decision: 758/2007

Shetland: An accolade for the local community (Shetland News, link) 17 November 2006. The community led campaign to prevent the deportation of Lerwick man Sakchai Makao back to his native Thailand was honoured last night at a ceremony in Glasgow. See also: Young Shetland man of Thai origin wins appeal against deportation under Home Office crackdown: Shetland News (link)

Malta: British High Commission issues first (real) biometric visa (press release) Background

‘Seeking asylum alone’ – Unaccompanied Children and Refugee Protection in the UK (press release)

EU-G6 Conclusions of Interior Ministers meeting 25-26 October 2006. G6 is comprised of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK. For background see: G6-G8-Prum: Behind closed doors - policy-making in secret intergovernmental and international fora and "Behind Closed Doors: the meeting of the G6 Interior Ministers at Heiligendamm": House of Lords EU Committee report

EU: The age at which childrens' fingerprints will be compulsorily taken for visas has been lowered from 12 year olds - as proposed by the Council Presidency in June - to 6 year olds and above under the latest draft of the EU Regulation on Common Consular Instructions (CCI) - this sets the standards for issuing visas to visit the EU under the proposed Regulation on the Visa Information System (VIS) database.

Source: Draft Regulation amending the Common Consular Instructions (CCI) on visas for diplomatic and consular posts in relation to the introduction of biometrics including provisions on the organisation of the reception and processing of visa applications (EU doc no: 13610/06, dated 23 October 2006).

Statewatch coverage: EU:Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on: Spain taking fingerprints and facial images from children at birth; Czech Republic taking fingerprints from 5 and facial images from birth; Latvia and France in favour of fingerprints from 6 and facial images from birth. EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: Council Presidency proposed in June 2006 that there should be the compulsory fingerprinting of children from the age of 12 year old.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"All the discussions by EU governments in the Council about the age at which children should be subject to compulsory fingerprinting to get a visa are based on the technological possibilities - not on the moral and political questions of whether it is right or desirable.

In special cases the taking of fingerprints where a child is "at risk" in order to ensure their safety is necessary. But this does not in any way justify submitting all young children to this intrusive process.

There was a big, and public, debate over the age for taking the fingerprints of children for EURODAC of asylum-seekers and 14 years olds and above was agreed. If it becomes technologically possible to take the fingerprints of children at birth will this become the norm for EU visas, passports and identity cards?"

Visa Information System (VIS): Latest draft of the Regulation showing the original Commission proposal and the current draft Council positions: EU doc no 14359/06, dated 25 October 2006. VIS will become one of the world's biggest fingerprint database growing to an estimated 70 million people in the first ten years. The Commission has adopted an implementing decision which sets out Strasbourg and an Austrian town as sites for the VIS. This follows a decision to place the VIS in the same location as the SIS, and to provide also for the creation of an agency to manage the VIS in future (just like the SIS).

Standing committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee): Note on the recent proposal by the Commission to amend the EC Visa Regulation (pdf) Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor, January 2006 and EU Data protection working party criticise proposals on VIS

EU: Standing committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee): Proposal for a Regulation establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 as regards that mechanism (COM (2006) 401 final) See background: Council discussions on Articles 1-4 First Council discussion: EU doc no 13137/06 and Commission proposal

EU-USA: Today, 26 October 2006, the USA requirement that EU passports - to qualify for the Visa Waiver Scheme - have to have "biometrics" came into force. In fact, the "requirement" means that all new passports issued from today have to have the normal passport photo "digitised", that is copied onto an RFID chip (radio frequency identity) - so-called "face-maping technology". This is not a biometric. Digitised photos are only useful for "one-to-one" checks, not "one-to-many" (ie: against a large database).

The taking of a biometric requires the individual to be present in person at an enrolment centre where biometrics are taken from them - fingerprints, iris scan or facial scan (1,840 unique points on their face). The taking of real biometrics will start next year in some member states (for new applicants, then renewals) and will be in force throughout the EU from 2008. With this in mind it is interesting that in the UK in the last year the number of new passports issued has risen from the norm of 5 million per annum to 6.5 million for 10-year passports.

In order to confirm the EU's compliance with US demands the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union put out a document on 24 October listing the EU states who have introduced these so-called "biometric passports": EU doc no: 14356/06 (pdf) See also: BBC News (link)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The notion that "biometric" passports are being introduced is plain "spin". All that is happening is the digitisation of the normal passport photo which meets the standards agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - these standards do not require the taking of finger-prints which are optional.

It is ironic is that the EU will introduce the taking of fingerprints across Europe for all new passports - but the USA has no plans to asks its citizens to do the same"

Still unresolved is the USA's acceptance of 10 EU member states citizens into the Waiver Scheme: Report from the European Commission damning on US intransigence on visa reciprocity.(full-text: COM 568, 3.10.06) It shows that progress has been made with nine countries but none at all with the USA - the USA refuses to include Greece and nine new member states: Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia in the "Visa Waiver Scheme". The report says there are "no signs of tangible progress" and it questions the data used by the US side to support its position: no information is supplied on the reasons for refusing visa from the 10 EU states and no accurate figures on overstaying are available. It concludes that the Commission believes that steps should now be taken to restore visa requirements on US "nationals holding diplomatic and duty/official passports".

Amnesty International: Report on Ceuta and Melilla: Spain and Morocco: Failure to protect the rights of migrants - one year on (report, pdf) Letter (pdf)

EU: Standing committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee): Note on the recent proposal by the Commission to amend the EC Visa Regulation (pdf)

EU: High Level Meeting on Prum Treaty: "a high level conference will be organized on 16 November 2006 in Vienna by Austrian and German authorities on the possible relevance and integration of the provisions of the Prum Treaty in the European Union framework" (from minutes of the Police Chiefs Task Force). For background see: G6-G8-Prum: Behind closed doors - policy-making in secret intergovernmental and international fora and "Behind Closed Doors: the meeting of the G6 Interior Ministers at Heiligendamm": House of Lords EU Committee report. Informal Meeting of European Data Protection Authorities, Bonn, 27 July 2006: Opinion on the data protection aspects of the Prum Convention and Opinion of CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes The Prum Treaty was signed on 27 May 2005 by Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Austria - Italy has since indicated it wants to join: Prum Treaty - full-text (pdf)

EU: Visa Information System (VIS) - "EU VISIT system" takes shape

UPDATED: Draft Regulation on VIS and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (doc no 13861/06, dated 12 October 2006) This document compares the Commission proposal to the current "compromise" draft and sets out outstanding questions.

The EU is currently deciding on the purpose, function and scope of the VIS and law enforcement access to it. The personal data of everyone who applies for an EU short-stay visa, including their photograph and fingerprints, will be recorded in the VIS (this includes persons whose applications for a visa are rejected). As with the "US VISIT system", this data will ultimately be used to facilitate identity checks and verify entry to and exit from the EU. In addition, the "internal security" agencies of the member states and Europol will have access to the data. See:

- Previous: Draft Regulation on VIS and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (12190/06, 7 September 2006 - shows original proposal, proposed European Parliament amendments and suggested "presidency compromise")

- Council Decision establishing the Visa Information System (June 2004)

Draft Decision on access to VIS by internal security agencies and Europol:
- Commission proposal (COM (2005) 600, 24 November 2005)
- Police cooperation working party (9641/06, 7 June 2006)
- Proposals for redrafting and outstanding questions (10627/06, 27 June 2006)
- Proposals for redrafting (11405/06, 3 August 2006)
- Proposals as at 16 October 2005 (EU doc no: 11405/1/06)
- UPDATED: Proposal as at 19 October 2006 (EU doc no: 14196/06)

- Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (20 January 2006), including the following remarks:

"One must bear in mind that the VIS is an information system developed in view of the application of the European visa policy and not as a law enforcement tool. Routine access would indeed represent a serious violation of the principle of purpose limitation. It would entail a disproportionate intrusion in the privacy of travellers who agreed to their data being processed in order to obtain a visa, and expect their data to be collected, consulted and transmitted, only for that purpose."

UK: Joint Committee on human rights: Human trafficking - report

EU: Schengen Convention: Rules governing the Schengen Information System revised (pdf)

UK-ALGERIA agreements signed in July now published, including the one on extradition of people who are in danger of facing torture and ill-treatment:

1. Convention between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on Extradition

2. The Convention between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters London, 11 July 2006

3.
Convention between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on Judicial Co-operation in Civil and Commercial Matters

4.
Agreement on the Circulation of Persons and Readmission between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

See: Amnesty International - Algeria (link)
and Statewatch's
Observatory on "Terrorists" lists

Report from the LIBE Committee Delegation on the Visit to Tenerife and Fuerteventura (ES) Rapporteur: Ms Jean Lambert

EU: ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles) on the asylum procedures directive: ECRE Information Note on the Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status

Full-text of the Directive (pdf)
Statewatch analysis: EU law on asylum procedures: An assault on human rights? (November 2003)

Spain/Morocco: Another migrant shot dead in Melilla in July

EU/Africa: 1st anniversary of the shooting of migrants in Ceuta and Melilla : Events, account and an excellent publication "The Black Book of Ceuta and Melilla", by Migreurop (108 pages, French, pdf). A number of initiatives have been organised throughout Europe and in several African countries (Benin, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia) as part of the transnational day of action against migration controls on 7 October, which also marks the first anniversary of the shooting of migrants at the Spanish-Moroccan border fences of the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in late September and early October 2005.

Updated: EU: Council list of international fora "dealing with illegal immigration" (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 5-6 October 2006 in Luxembourg: Updated: Press release for 5-6 October (pdf)

JHA Council adopts Conclusions on SIS II and SIS These confirm the long delay in implementing the Schengen Information System (SIS II) with the new date being June 2008 - such is the delay that the Commission's mandate has had to be extended "beyond 31 December 2006". The "re-scheduling" is set out in EU doc no 12379/06 (pdf). The Conclusions gloss over what has been months of very heated comment directed at the Commission - this is reflected in EU do no 12835/06 (18 September 2006). The delay most affects the ten new member states as "the lifting of controls at the internal land, sea and air borders" for the Schengen area cannot happen until they are taking part in the SIS.

B-points agenda  A-points agenda  Background paper Draft Council Conclusions on reinforcing the southern external maritime border (pdf)

EU-USA: Report from the European Commission damning on US intransigence on visa reciprocity.(full-text: COM 568, 3.10.06) It shows that progress has been made with nine countries but none at all with the USA - the USA refuses to include Greece and nine new member states: Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia in the "Visa Waiver Scheme". The report says there are "no signs of tangible progress" and it questions the data used by the US side to support its position: no information is supplied on the reasons for refusing visa from the 10 EU states and no accurate figures on overstaying are available. It concludes that the Commission believes that steps should now be taken to restore visa requirements on US "nationals holding diplomatic and duty/official passports" (p14).

EU-Court of Justice: interesting paper from the Court on possible special treatment of JHA cases: Treatment of questions referred for a preliminary ruling concerning the area of freedom, security and justice

EU: Standing committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee): Letter to Commissioner Frattini: Comments on Proposal to amend EC Visa Regulation (EC) No. 539/2001 (COM(2006) 84 final) to amend the list of those requiring visas to enter the EU: "the European Commission should seriously consider using its powers under Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty to amend its proposal to make it compatible with international human rights law"

EU: Eurodac Annual Report for 2005 (this database holds the fingerprints of asylum applicants): 2005 Annual Report (pdf) Annex 1 (country-by-country figures) Annexes 2 & 3 (country-by-country figures)

EU: Provisional agenda for the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 5-6 October 2006

EU: Commission working document on the feasibility of an index of third-country national convicted in the EU (pdf) A Council Decision on the exchange of information extraction from the criminal record between EU member states was adopted in November 2005: Full-text (pdf) Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor comments: "This proposed measure singles out resident third country nationals for special attention by the creation of an index of all convictions for any crime however minor"

EU: Council list of international fora "dealing with illegal immigration" (pdf)

Updated: 19 September: EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council, Tampere, Finland, 20-22 September 2006: Agenda and Background documents:

1) Fight against terrorism: The EU response to the terror plot disrupted in the UK Includes "tracking of the movements of "jihadists" and other persons involved in radicalisation and recruitment" and storing data from "the video surveillance of major traffic junctions"

2)
Next steps in the development of the common European asylum system Includes a proposal that Eurodac - databases of the finger-prints of asylum applicants - should be applied in full and also cover all foreign nationals apprehended as "illegally crossing the border of a member states and are not turned back". This is a reference to the large discrepancy between national statistics and the number of peoples' fingerprints held on Eurodac

3)
Migration management: Extended European Solidarity in immigration, border control and asylum policies

4)
Development of the EU's integrated management system for external borders: Border management See also: A "Non-Paper" from the Finnish Council Presidency circulated in July as a: "Room document: SCIFA 12/06" (pdf)

The latter is more explicit and states that: "First and foremost border management is an area of policing" which reflected in the proposed "Definition of Integrated Border Management" which says: Integrated Border Management shall cover all relevant threats met at the border". Thus it includes not just "checks and surveillance" but also "the investigation of cross border crime" and a "four-tier access control model" - third countries, neighbouring countries, border control and "control measures within the area of free movement". The Presidency note does contain a new proposal for: the establishment of a common entry-exit register of third country nationals"

5) Improvement of decision-making in justice and home affairs Confronts the issue of whether police and judicial cooperation should be moved from Title VI of the TEU (with unanimity needed and the European Parliament only "consulted") to Title IV of the TEC (with qualified majority voting by the governments and co-decision with the European Parliament). The Note raises the issue that some "particularly sensitive" issues might not be transferred. The Finnish Presidency notes that this transfer requires unanimity among the member state but "does not require ratification at the national level"

6) Combating terrorism and organised crime - Enhancing operational activities and multidisciplinary law enforcement cooperation Refers to the discussion on the "internal security architecture". It also calls for "central forms" of tackling organised crime and terrorism "such as common monitoring and surveillance operations, intelligence-led policing, operations directed at commonly defined targets"

7) Difficulties in negotiating legislative instruments on the mutual recognition of judicial decisions in criminal matters, and possible solutions Refers to the problems of member states agreeing on proposals currently under discussion in the Council on: the transfer of sentenced people, exchange of information on criminal records and taking account of convictions in the course of new criminal proceedings

8) Facilitating access to justice and better regulation in civil justice

USA: General Accountability Office Reports on Visa Waiver Scheme: Two reports:

Stronger Actions Needed to Assess and Mitigate Risks of the Visa Waiver Program
Process for Admitting Additional Countries into the Visa Waiver Program

At present citizens of 10 EU member states (the 10 new members minus Slovenia plus Greece) have to apply for visas to enter the USA - those from the other 15 member states come under the "Visa Waiver Scheme". The USA is refusing to budge on the issue - see the background reports above - and the EU is threatening to take retaliatory action by requiring US diplomatic personnel to apply for visas. A European Commission spokesperson said there cannot be a "second or third division" of EU countries.

EU: How to Balance Rights and Responsibilities on Asylum at the EU’s Southern Border of Italy and Libya, Rutvica Andrijasevic. Centre on Migration, Policy and Society : Compass: Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Working Paper no 27

EU: Visa Information System (VIS) - "EU VISIT system" takes shape

The EU is currently deciding on the purpose, function and scope of the VIS and law enforcement access to it. The personal data of everyone who applies for an EU short-stay visa, including their photograph and fingerprints, will be recorded in the VIS (this includes persons whose applications for a visa are rejected). As with the "US VISIT system", this data will ultimately be used to facilitate identity checks and verify entry to and exit from the EU. In addition, the "internal security" agencies of the member states and Europol will have access to the data. See:

- Council Decision establishing the Visa Information System (June 2004)

- Draft Regulation on VIS and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (11632/06, 13 July 2006 - shows original proposal, proposed European Parliament amendments and suggested "presidency compromise")

- Draft Decision on access to VIS by internal security agencies and Europol:
- Commission proposal (COM (2005) 600, 24 November 2005)
- Police cooperation working party (9641/06, 7 June 2006)
- Proposals for redrafting and outstanding questions (10627/06, 27 June 2006)
- Proposals for redrafting (11405/06, 3 August 2006)
- Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (20 January 2006), including the following remarks:

One must bear in mind that the VIS is an information system developed in view of the application of the European visa policy and not as a law enforcement tool. Routine access would indeed represent a serious violation of the principle of purpose limitation. It would entail a disproportionate intrusion in the privacy of travellers who agreed to their data being processed in order to obtain a visa, and expect their data to be collected, consulted and transmitted, only for that purpose.

EU-Africa: Immigration round-up: carnage continues as EU border moves south (Statewatch analysis, pdf)

EU: European campaign for shutting down of all detention centres in Europe - "No Fortress Europe": 1) Website 2) Sign the petition (pdf) 3) European holding centres map (link)

UK: The Home Office has published: "Fair, effective, transparent and trusted: Rebuilding confidence in our immigration system" (pdf) While promising a "crackdown" on "illegal" immigrants backs "boosting Britain's economy by bringing the right skills here from around the world". It promises compulsory biometric identity cards "starting with foreign nationals staying here from 2008". Plus the re-introduction of "exit controls" (ie: passports checks when leaving the country) - abolished 10 years ago - by 2014 (eight years time).

It reiterates the intention of changing the law to "make deportation the presumption for foreign national prisoners" See: Shetland: Young Shetland man of Thai origin wins appeal against deportation under Home Office crackdown: Shetland News (link). Further to remove the need for a prisoner to "consent" to their removal back to their country of origin to serve the sentence and to challenge in the European Court of Human Rights (by joining the Netherlands case: Ramzy) its ruling that a person (against whom there is insufficient evidence to bring to court in the UK) cannot be sent back to a country where they risk being subject to torture or inhuman treatment.

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 24 July 2006: Press release (pdf) Background Note  Main agenda  "A" Points agenda (adopted without discussion)

The Boundaries of Belonging: reflections on Migration Policies into the 21st Century (pdf) by Alison Crosby, Inter Pares, Canada. "This paper examines the politics of categorization that defines people who move, as well as the migration containment policies that set and maintain the boundaries of these categories. The paper explains why “the problem” is not migration per se, but rather the way the powerful seek to control and contain the movement of people. Migration policies are a form of population control; the issue is who is controlled, and how. and because of the who, and the how, migration policy is a justice issue. indeed, it is one of the most pressing justice issues of our time, and requires the consolidated and coordinated attention of all of us concerned with issues of human rights and social justice. it cannot be ignored."

EU-SIS II: Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee, Utrecht) on the development of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and EU-Dublin II: Standing Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee, Utrecht) on: Comments on Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003 (the Dublin II Regulation)

EU: Series of Communications from the European Commission on the creation of "Rapid Border Intervention Teams":

Proposal for a Regulation establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 as regards that mechanism (COM 401)

Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying the Proposal for a Regulation establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 as regards that mechanism (SEC 953)

Document de Travail des Services de la Commission: Accompagnant la Proposition de Reglement établissant un mécanisme pour la création d'équipes de réaction rapide aux frontières et modifiant le règlement (CE) n° 2007/2004 du Conseil en ce qui concerne ce mécanisme - Analyse d'Impact (SEC 954, French)

Commission Staff Working Document: Annex to the Proposal for a Regulation establishing a mechanism for the creation of Rapid Border Intervention Teams and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2004 as regards that
mechanism - Summary of the Impact Assessment
(SEC 955, 2 pages) plus

Communication from the Commission on Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (COM 402); Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying the Communication from the Commission on Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals (SEC 1010); Commission Staff Working Document: the Commuication on policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals - Impact Assessment (SEC 964)

Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying the Communication on Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals - Summary Impact Assessment (SEC 965) and

Draft proposal for a Regulation establishing a Community Code on Visas (COM 403); Commission Staff Working Document: Second Annual Report on Migration and Integration (SEC 892); Communication from the Commission to the Council: Contribution to the EU Position for the United Nations' High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development (COM 409)

 EU: European Commission proposal to amend list of third countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the EU (COM 84, 13 July 2006, pdf) This proposes transferring Bolivia from Annex II (the "white-list" of countries whose nationals do not need a visa) to Annex I ("black-list", countries whose nationals need a visa). Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Mauritius,Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles would be moved from Annex I to Annex II. All members of the armed forces of NATO are to be exempted from needing a visa. So too are refugees and stateless people resident in the EU. British Nationals (Overseas) are to go in Annex II but British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTC), British Overseas Citizens (BOC), British Subjects and British Protected Persons (BPP) are to go in Annex II because they only have a "tenuous link" with the UK and present "risk of illegal immigration" moreover they will be a specific category as "they do not have the nationality of a third country". Background: Regulation 539/2001  Amendment in 2003  Amendment in 2005

The fallacies of the EU-Africa dialogue on immigration: EU-African ministerial conference on immigration, 10 and 11 July 2006 - introduction and commentaries

Shetland: Young Shetland man of Thai origin wins appeal against deportation under Home Office crackdown. Sakchai Makao had been snatched from his home in Shetland and taken to a jail in Scotland where he was held until released on bail after major protests from Shetlanders including a petition with around 9,000 signatures from islanders - the population of just over 20,000. A parliamentary motion by the local MP was signed by more than 100 MPs. At the immigration appeals tribunal on 7 July in North Shields Judge John Aitken, who chaired the panel of three judges, said: "The appeal is allowed, you are free to go". Sakchai Makao said:

"there are a lot of people to thank for a lot of hard work in the Shetland community, and without them this could not have happened"

See: Shetland News (link) Scotsman (link) This is North Scotland (link) BBC News - Scotland (link)

EU: Policy shift as Italy signs up to the Prüm Treaty

EU: Series of Communications from the European Commission:

1. Evaluation of EU Policies on Freedom, Security and Justice (COM 332)
2.
Implementing the Hague Programme: the way forward (COM 331)
3.
Report on the implementation of the Hague programme for 2005 (COM 333)

4. Hague programme: 2005 implementation scoreboard - Table 2 (SEC 813)
5.
Hague programme: 2005 Institutional scoreboard - Table 1 (SEC 814)
6.
Evaluation of EU Policies on Freedom, Security and Justice - Impact Assessment (SEC 815)

G8 Ministers of Justice and Interior: Press Conference on the Results of the G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial, Moscow, 16 June 2006 It was agreed that: the proposals adopted should be implemented "not only in G8 countries themselves but far beyond their borders"; DNA evidence should be shared "when it comes to investigating acts of terrorism and other criminal acts" (emphasis added); and that: "Illegal migration.. is a source of hiring mercenaries, extremists, a channel for selling weapons, drugs and human trafficking"

EU: Finnish Presidency agenda in Justice and Home Affairs (JHA): the outlook from the point of view of the work of the Article 36 Committee (pdf) plus Provisional agendas for JHA Councils on 24 July, 5-6 October and 4-5 December 2006 (pdf)

European Court of Justice judgment, 28 June 2006: Right to family reunification of minor children of third country nationals The judgment of the Court of Justice on the validity of three provisions of the family reunion directive is now online (Case C-540/03 European Parliament v Council). Press release (pdf) The Court does not address the 'severability' argument but rules against the European Parliament on the merits of the human rights arguments. Although technically a defeat for the EP in some respects the judgment constitutes a victory due to the important priniciples established (many of them relevant to other EC immigration and asylum legislation).

UK: Racism, liberty and the war on terror: A conference organised by the Institute of Race Relations, Saturday 16 September 2006, Conway Hall, central London. How should we respond to the attacks on our civil rights, refugee rights and our multicultural society - carried out in the name of national security? Join leading campaigners, lawyers and thinkers in debating how we can defend our liberties and our communities. With plenary speakers Moazzam Begg, Jeremy Corbyn, Gareth Peirce, Colin Prescod, A. Sivanandan and Salma Yaqoob.Programme and booking form (pdf)

Spain: 59 held after demonstration against detention centres

Shetland: Campaign by islanders succeeds: Emotional scenes as Sakchai returns home: "A young Shetland man of Thai origin threatened with deportation arrived home in the isles to a hero’s welcome after a two week ordeal in a high security prison in the northeast of England. Sakchai Makao was released on bail from Durham high security prison on Tuesday pending a hearing of his deportation case": Full story, Shetland Times (link) Shetland: Latest: Huge turnout for Sakchai rally - 800 people at protest meeting

Pressure is growing on the Immigration Nationality Directorate to justify their treatment of a Thai born Shetlander who was arrested by immigration officers (Shetland Times, link) Church of Scotland kirk's presbytery clerk in Lerwick, Reverend Charles Greig, wrote: "I hesitate to use the phrase but I will - this was nothing short of a 'terrorist attack' carried out in a dawn raid. A 'terrorist' is surely one who terrorises - is there any other term for what was done to this unsuspecting young man?" Follow-up coverage  Petition  Shetland for Sakchia

The "assault" on "sub-Saharan immigrants" in the media by Peio M. Aierbe, Mugak/SOS Arrazakeria

EU: European Council (25 governments) 15-16 June: Agreed Conclusions (pdf) See pages 3-8 on justice and home affairs matters

EU: European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX): FRONTEX Annual Report for 2005 (pdf)

EU: European Council (25 governments) 15-16 June: Draft Conlcusions (pdf)

EU: The Odysseus Academic Network has been selected by the European Commission to conduct in partnership with UNHCR the comparative study on the implementation by the Member States of the directive on reception conditions for asylum seekers. Practitioners who are interested can contribute to this study by completing a practical questionnaire. The final conference will take place in Brussels on Tuesday 26 September. Interested persons can send an email to odysseus@ulb.ac.be or consult our website http://www.ulb.ac.be/assoc/odysseus/ to get more information. Call for contributions

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 1-2 June 2006: Background Note (pdf) Draft agenda

EU: It is reported that European Commissionners are divided over which states should be on the list of "safe countries of origin" to which people can automatically be returned (euobserver, eupolitix links). The list under discussion covers seven African countries: Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Mauritius - the same seven countries discussed by the Council of the European Union in 2004. See for full background:

1. Statewatch Analysis: EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin" - the list should be scrapped (pdf)
2.
Appendix to this report with full details of all the EU member state responses (pdf)
3. Sources/documents, including member state responses
4. The Council's amended proposal of September 2004 - which despite all the evidence declares all seven "safe" to send people back to: EU doc no: 12118/04
5. The Council's decision to put off agreeing a list under the aslyum procedures Directive was in place: 14383/04
(pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"To determine the fate of people fleeing from poverty and persecution on the basis of such a shallow process by the Council was an insult to any sense of humanity or moral responsibility, let alone legal obligations. In 2004 the Commission opposed the inclusion of these countries - what has changed, where is the evidence that they are now safe?"

Statewatch launches a new "Observatory" on CIA "rendition"

The Observatory includes extensive documentation with the full-text of 173 documents submitted so far to the ongoing European Parliament inquiry (TDIP) into these matters - many of them published for the first time. Among the documents are detailed submissions on the inquiries in Italy (the Milan abduction), Spain (rendition flights), Canada (the Meher Arar public inquiry) and Ireland (the use of Shannon airport) as well as submissions from 26 national parliaments in Europe. Also included are reports issued by the European Parliament, Council of Europe and NGOs. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Editor, comments;

"The European Parliament inquiry is a very important initiative in trying to establish the truth about the CIA's activities in Europe. However, EU governments and officials continue to close their eyes and have failed to act as custodians of fundamental rights and accountability.

The publication of these documents is an essential contribution to the work of those trying to establish the truth in the face of institutional intransigence and secrecy."

EU: Draft Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JHA) agenda for meeting of 1-2 June in Luxembourg

EU: Illegal Migrants: proposals for a common EU returns policy - report House of Lords, Select Committee on the European Union

No Fortress Europe - Appeal: Join the campaign to shut down temporary holding centres for migrants in Europe by signing this petition The campaign will be officially launched in Stasbourg on 17 May 2006

EU: Draft Common Manual for Immigration Liaison Officers (ILOs) posted abroad by the Member States of the European Union (132 pages)

EU: European Commission evaluation of on combating trafficking in human beings (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 27-28 April 2006 in Luxembourg: Press release (pdf)

B Points agenda (pdf)
A Points agenda (adopted without debate, pdf)
Background Note (pdf)

Euro-Med: Barcelona Process: Follow-up to the Barcelona Conference: Euromed Committee and Senior Officials meetings’ summary records (2003-2006, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union to call for an increase in removals from the EU by "a further increase in the use of joint flights" and for the EU-wide FRONTEX (European Border Agency) to be given a coordinating role where "special attention should be paid in particular to criteria of economic efficiency and to the need to accelerate and facilitate the relevant procedures" (emphasis added). Draft Council Conclusions (for JHA Council on 27-28 April) on: - Draft Council Conclusions on improved operational cooperation on joint return operations by air (EU doc no: 8246/06, pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"How many flights have taken place, how many people were removed and from which countries and to which countries, were they voluntary or forced removals, what conditions are those removed now living in? So-called "efficiency", needs to be matched by public accountability. We have a right to know what is being done in our name."

Draft Council Conclusions (for JHA Council on 27-28 April) - Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on strengthened practical cooperation New structures, new approaches : improving the quality of decision making in the common European asylum system - Draft Council Conclusions (EU doc no: 8240/06, pdf)

EU commitments vis-à-vis third countries (pdf) (50 pages, EU doc no: 8146/06). Useful summary of external agreements

Spain: January-February 2006 statistics from the Oficina de asilo y refugio (Asylum and Refuge Office)

UK: Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 - full-text (pdf)

UK: The Terrorism Act 2006, the Identity Cards Act and the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act all received royal assent on 30 March 2006, becoming law. Terrorism Act 2006: full-text (pdf). The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, said: "This new legislation together will allow us to uphold our democratic right to freedom of speech and to free movement within the United Kingdom"

EU: Legislative update - latest Council text: Refugee Fund and management of migration flows, EU doc no 7723/06, dated 28 March 2006

Greece: Immigration news digest (3 March - 23 March 2006)

Italy: Appeal by journalists: CPT, the denial of information - refused access to detention centres

EU: Belgium government loses free movement court case: Judgment European Court of Justice (link)

Brussels: Journalists at Your Service - Press Conference: For the publication of the results of a Europe-wide research project on the harmonisation of statistical data on international migration and asylum. Michel Poulain (University of Louvain), Ann Singleton (University of Bristol) and Nicolas Perrin (UCL) present the current situation on international migration in Europe and in Belgium. Thursday 30th March at 10h30am In the Résidence Palace, rue de la Loi 155, Brussels (Reading Room, ground floor) Press Conference Calling Notice: English and French (pdf)

The Regulation of migration, asylum and movement in the "new Europe" (Call, pdf): 34th Annual Conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, 31 August to 3 September 2006, Corinth, Peloponnese, Greece

EU: "The collision of chips": European Commission: Modified proposal for a Regulation on Amending Regulation (EC) 1030/2002 laying down a uniform format for residence permits for third-country nationals (pdf). This modified proposal says that it is "optional" for member state to insert a chip with biometrics (fingerprints) into residence permits. It also announces that the plan to insert biometric chips into visas is being withdrawn - this is due to the fact that no technological fix has been found to the "clash of chips", that is, between a biometric chip inserted by the third country in its passport clashing with the EU visa chip. Now "biometric identifiers will only be stored in the Visa Information System". Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Only storing biometrics (fingerprints) on the central VIS system, would seem to present an obvious problem (just about as obvious as the "collision problem" was back in 2003). If the biometric data is not in the visa the only way to carry out a check will be to take the fingerprints of people entering the EU with a visa on entry, either at an airport, seaport or land border. This would be very time-consuming, costly and in some cases lead to long queues while peoples' details are checked and cleared"

For full background: Statewatch analysis: EU biometric visa policy unworkable (January 2005)

EU: Viewpoint: Our “freedom”, their labour: a “tradesman’s entrance for Fortress Europe by Ben Hayes (pdf) Commission proposal on legal migration COM 669 (pdf)

Greece: Immigration news digest (15 February - 2 March 2006)

EU: Council discussions on: Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 21 February 2006: Press release (pdf)

EU: Updated map of detention camps for foreigners in Europe and Mediterranean countries

France: Council of Europe human rights commissioner presents damning report

Greece: Immigration news digest (10 January - 8 February 2006)

Spain: The number of migrant deaths rises again

ECJ rule against Spain on refusal of entry based on SIS alert - judgment

EU: Commission Communication on Thematic programme for the cooperation with third countries in the areas of migration and asylum COM(2006) 26 final

European Data Protection Supervisor Opinion on access by internal security agencies to the Visa Information System (VIS) Commission proposal for a Council Decision (COM 600, 2005). The EDPS calls for a number of changes to strengthen the proposal. However, there is no right for the individual to be told of access to their data or of how it is further processed by the "internal security" agencies (anti-terrorist and law enforcement).

EU: Report from the European Commission on: Visa waiver reciprocity (pdf) with certain third countries the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt.

EU: Policy Plan on Legal Migration (pdf) Communication from the European Commission COM (2005) 669 and Commission Staff Working Paper: Annex to Policy Plan on Legal Migration (pdf). See also European Commission proposals on: Priority actions for responding to the challenges of migration: First follow-up to Hampton Court (pdf)

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