monitoring civil liberties in the European Union
May - July 2001, vol 11 no 3/4
Front page lead
An Italian view of "public order policing" Italian style
Looks at events in Genoa, including security deployment, the re-introduction of border controls leading to 2,093 persons not being allowed into Italy, preventative raids by police, clashes between protesters and law enforcement officials and allegations of abuse in detention. In the aftermath of the G8 summit, there were efforts by the ruling centre-right coalition to blame the entire movement for the violence, while widespread international condemnation forced it to establish a parliamentary inquiry.
Germany: New interception of telecommunications law
A new law 'regulating' the interception powers of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (German Secret Service) has been passed in Germany. While introducing a data protection regime, the new provisions also legitimise extensive surveillance and invasions of privacy. Looks at the background to the new regulation, civil liberties concerns and criticism levelled at the speed at which the legislation was passed.
ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS: European Ombudsman backs new Statewatch complaint against the Council
After four years and two complaints to the European Ombudsman Statewatch has been given access to the agendas of the EU-US Senior Level Group and the EU-US Task Force. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented: "This decision by the European Ombudsman is important because the Council can no longer use these arguments against applicants in the future. It is also significant because these agendas give some insight into the global planning and cooperation between the EU and the USA on a whole range of economic, political and human rights issues." Also covered on Statewatch News Online
UK: Police shoot two unarmed men in five days
Police armed response units shot dead two men in separate incidents in the space of five days in July. One had a samurai sword and was shot twice in the chest; the other had a replica gun cigarette lighter and was hit once in the shoulder and three times in the back. This article looks at the circumstances surrounding the two deaths, previous police shootings, the deployment of armed police, the possible use of 'stun guns', the ACPO guidelines on the police use of firearms, legal liability and judicial procedures.
EU: Data protection or data retention in the EU? Crunch-time for decision on communications surveillance
The debate over the retention of telecommunications data by EU states for the purposes of giving access to the law enforcement agencies rages on. Covers the latest developments: EU Resolution on law enforcement operational needs with respect to telecommunications agreed; the differing positions of the member states; criticism from EU data protection commissioners; the decision of several governments to press ahead with data retention; and the position of the European Parliament. For background & developments see Statewatch Observatory on Surveillance in Europe: SOS Europe
UK: Is there justice or just us? Deaths in custody
Considers the overwhelming institutional failure to respond to deaths in police custody and the struggle of victims' families and campaigners for justice. It has proved virtually impossible to hold the state accountable when deaths in custody occur and a People's Tribunal organised by the United Friends and Families Campaign is just the latest initiative undertaken by tireless campaigners.
ITALY: Report by two members of the German Bundestag
Extracts from a report by Annelie Buntenbach and Hans-Christian Ströbele, members of the German Bundestag, on their trip to Genoa on 25 and 26 July 2001. Full-text available on Statewatch News Online
EU: Gothenburg to Genoa: The "enemy within": plans to criminalise protests in Europe and put groups under surveillance
Exclusive Statewatch report: The enemy within
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 29-30 May 2001
Carrier sanctions; facilitation of unauthorised entry and residence; mutual recognition of expulsion orders; temporary protection; family reunification; mutual assistance in criminal matters; taking of evidence in civil and commercial matters; financing of the Schengen Information System; Europol cooperation agreements; G8 cybercrime network; European Judicial Network.
UK: Traffic CCTV cameras: more surveillance and a licence to print money?
'Next generation' speed cameras, the use of CCTV to enforce parking fines and congestion charges and a new law enabling the police to keep the revenue raised from speeding fines which is expected to see the number of speed cameras on Britain's roads treble.
Switzerland: Deportation deaths
On 1 May 2001, Samson Chukwu, a Nigerian detained by Switzerland awaiting deportation, died from the now infamous 'positional asphyxia' after being transferred from his cell at 2 a.m.
Denmark: New detention rules for asylum-seekers
An amendment to the Danish "Aliens Act" allows for the unlimited detention of any asylum-seeker who is convicted of an offence while their case is being processed. All violations of the penal code are covered, including shoplifting and theft, which could see refugees jailed until a decision is taken on their asylum application. The amendments also provide for the detention of asylum-seekers who fail to give police satisfactory information about travel routes and people traffickers.
Immigration - in brief
EU: Information for people in immediate threat of deportation; Germany: Trafficking legal according to High Court?
France/Spain: No extradition, but "temporary surrender" likely
After French interior minister Daniel Vaillant ruled out a bilateral extradition agreement between Spain and France, Spanish justice minister Angel Acebes proposed the "temporary surrender" of detainees suspected of terrorism for questioning. His French counterpart Marylise Lebranchu claimed that it is possible for such a practice to be introduced although it would be "unprecedented". France recently established a special corps to deal with urban violence and ETA based in the French Basque Country and the opening of a joint French/Spanish police station in Canfranc is planned.
UK: New labour's second term plans
On securing a second term in government, the Labour government announced plans to give more new powers to the police and further erode the rights of suspects and people caught up in the criminal justice system. These include the use of previous convictions in criminal trials, removal of the "double jeopardy" rule, tougher sentencing, expansion of the sex offenders register and the confiscation of assets.
Military - in brief
Europe: Europe to take on US fighter industry?; EU: Military staff HQ declared operational
UK: Sylvester family judicial review put on hold
The family of Roger Sylvester, who died after being restrained by policemen in January 1999, suffered another setback in their struggle to challenge the CPS decision not to bring charges against the officers. Their judicial review of the decision will now have to await the outcome of an inquest later this year.
Italy: Ten years for policeman who shot youth
Policeman Tommaso Leone was found guilty of "voluntary homicide" and sentenced to ten years for shooting 17-year-old Mario Castellano who was fleeing on his moped after failing to stop when he was flagged down for not wearing a helmet. Mario Castellano's mother, Patrizia Battimelli, welcomed the sentence and said: "We want him to serve his full sentence and not receive special treatment in jail just because of the uniform he wore. He shot an innocent boy and this makes him a murderer".
UK: NCS Corruption investigation
The NCS has expelled 61 officers following allegations of corruption and indiscipline. Seven officers face serious charges and disciplinary enquiries will be carried out by "the parent force or another force" in liaison with the NCS Professional Standards Unit".
UK: Prison numbers rising
With the prison population of the USA reaching two million the Halliday report, "Making Sentences Work", was published on 5 July. The report indicates that sentencing reforms could increase the long-term prison population by between three and six thousand.
UK: Prison officers investigated over racist material
The problem of racism in the prison service was highlighted by the arrest of three north London prison officers that uncovered racist literature at their homes. The raid is the latest incident following the arrest of 22 prison officers from Wormwood Scrubs prison in 1999, charged with racism and assaults on prisoners. The CRE is carrying out an investigation of three prisons that are perceived to a particular problem: Brixton prison, Feltham YOI and Parc prison.
UK: Call for public inquiry after neglect verdict
INQUEST is calling for a public inquiry into the death of David Bennett, a black patient at the Norvic secure unit in Norwich. An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death aggravated by neglect and coroner William Armstrong made a number of "searching recommendations" emphasising the need for national standards on restraint techniques and for pro-active responses to racist behaviour.
Prisons - in brief
UK: New chief inspector of prisons appointed
Racism and fascism
UK: "Suicide" verdict as third black man found hanged
In July the inquest into the death of Harold McGowan, who was found hanged in suspicious circumstances in Telford in 1999, concluded that he had taken his own life after a campaign of racist harassment against him. Jason McGowan, who was investigating his uncle's death and also received racist death threats, was found hanged six months later. Days before the inquest the body of a third black man connected to the McGowan family, Jonny Elliot, was found dead.
ITALY: Right-wingers sentenced for another "anarchist" bomb
Three right-wingers received life sentences in connection with a bomb that exploded in Piazza Fontana in central Milan on 12 December 1969 and was originally blamed on anarchists. Carlo Maria Maggi was judged to be the instigator, Delfo Zorzi (who was judged in absentia and is living under a false name in Japan) the perpetrator and Giancarlo Rognoni offered logistic support. Maggi received a previous life sentence on 11 March 2000 for another bomb in Milan whose author was a self-styled "anarchist" who was found to be employed by Italian secret services and to have links with right-wing groups.
Racism and fascism - in brief
UK: Irvine loses his appeal; UK: Anger at soldier's manslaughter verdict
* In addition the bulletin carries a round-up of new material and full listing of UK parliamentary debates
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