Statewatch bulletin
monitoring civil liberties in the European Union

January - February 2002, vol 12 no 1

Front page lead

Creation of a Northern "axis"?
- EU-US to establish common area on asylum and exclusion of "inadmissibles"
- EU-US to exchange Europol strategic analysis and personal data
- EU-US to have mutual assistance agreement covering criminal and judicial matters
Underneath the well-reported apparent disagreements between the United States and the EU (and a number of its governments) over tactics in the "war against terrorism" (for example, extending the "war" to Iraq) a much deeper change is taking shape.

Features

EU-US: How the northern "axis" is taking shape
Examines the key meetings and documentation behind the EU-US cooperation and all areas of proposed cooperation: immigration and customs controls in airport transit areas; data exchange "between border management services"; extended usage of airline passenger details held on APIS (Advanced Passenger
Information System); improved cooperation in the removals of status "violators/criminals/inadmissibles"; expulsion; cooperation on "border security"; visa policy; judicial cooperation, mutual legal assistance and extradition; asylum and internal security; and shared databases.

EU: The concept of terrorism grows ever wider
Looks at the EU definition of terrorism adopted by the Council of the European Union under "written procedure" on 27 December 2001 - which bypassed parliamentary scrutiny and democratic debate; the Spanish Presidency proposals to target protestors as terrorists and to create unaccountable "multinational investigation teams" to track down "terrorist" organisations; and the demand for anti-terrorism clauses to be inserted in aid and trade agreements with the third world.

EU: Final decision on surveillance of communications
The Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) and the European Parliament are on a potential collision course over data retention. The issue is whether details of all telecommunications (phone-calls, e-mails, faxes and web usage) should be retained so that the EU's law enforcement agencies (police, customs, immigration, security and intelligence agencies) can get access. At the end of January the European Commission caved in and lent its support to the Council's Common Position calling for arbitrary data retention - thus abandoning its long-standing support for the EU's Data Protection Commissioners who are completely opposed.

Holland: The Netherlands after 11 September
Holland's reaction to the attacks of 11 September last year was similar to that in other European countries. It offered military backing to the "war on terrorism" and the Dutch Central Bank was one of the few Central Banks to immediately offer its support to the FBI in their search for "terrorist" money. In a joint European police operation, Dutch authorities also arrested suspected "terrorists". However, questions have been raised regarding the evidence that led to the arrests and recent developments have revealed the involvement of the French security services. Holland also introduced a series of anti-terrorist measures. Marking a break with the apparently tolerant Dutch handling of diverse communities, the intelligence information guiding the "war against terrorism" is critical of Muslim
organisations and mosques for their alleged failure to "integrate" into Dutch society.

UK: Blunkett’s security nightmare: the 2002 White Paper
On 7 February, the long-trailed White Paper on immigration, nationality and asylum, Secure Borders, Safe Haven was launched. The message is that while refugees will continue to be protected, there will be no compromise on the security of the state, post-September 11, and the 'war on illegal immigration' will continue to be fought. Concludes: "Refugees are to be cherry-picked abroad; others, if they get here, must be policed, detained, harried and hurried through an increasingly harsh asylum determination system".

News

Europe

EU: Pro-Eurojust organises Amsterdam police raid
On 17 January 2001, police in Amsterdam raided a so-called "legalised squat" and arrested Juan Ramón Rodrìguez Fernández, wanted by the Spanish police in connection with the separatist Basque group ETA. Activists in Holland suspect the raid was carried out in order to harass and discredit the squatters, whose premises had been referred to as a "no-go area" for the police.

Immigration

Denmark: Hard times for asylum seekers and refugees
In mid-January a number of broad changes to the Danish Aliens Act were proposed. Many meet the demands of the Danish Peoples Party (DDP) - an extreme right populist party which, following recent elections, is in a coalition with the liberal "Venstre" party and the conservatives.

Spain: Migrant protests violently crushed
With the enforcement of the EU migration regime in southern European countries, particularly Spain and Italy, has come increased resistance from migrant communities as well as activists. Spain has seen a series of hunger-strikes by undocumented migrants in protest against the new aliens legislation which has introduced rules that make it almost impossible for them to receive papers.

Italy: Quota for seasonal workers
In February the Italian government decreed that 33,000 third-country seasonal workers will be allowed into Italy in 2002. They will enter Italy to undertake "seasonal employment" in tourist, hostelry and agricultural businesses after being "requested and authorised" to do so on an individual basis while they are in their countries of origin. The measure also aims to ensure that "they will return to their countries of origin at the end of their contract".

Italy: Minister praises expulsion of "criminal" immigrants
The Italian interior minister Claudio Scajola jubilantly announced on 19 February 2002 that 1,352 foreigners were expelled during the largest ever police operation to combat illegal immigration and prostitution in Italy. He repeatedly stressed the link between illegal immigration and criminality in a press conference attended by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his deputy, Gianfranco Fini.

Immigration - in brief
Spain: 250,000 migrants ordered leave; EU: Proposed EC directive to give short-term residence to asylum-seekers who "cooperate" with police

Military

EU-NATO: Closer cooperation stagnating
Covers cooperation with Turkey, agreement on the EU use of NATO assets for "crisis management" missions, and the refusal of Greece to accept the "Ankara agreement" at the EU Council in December 2001.

Spain: Government decriminalises avoiding conscription
On 1 February the Spanish government modified the Criminal Code and the Military Criminal Code to decriminalise, retroactively, the failure to carry out obligatory national service. The measure affects around 4,000 people who avoided conscription as well as seven deserters, some of whom have
already been sentenced while the rest are undergoing judicial proceedings. The text will have to be approved by parliament.

Military - in brief
Macedonia: EU to take over Operation Fox?; Germany: European military transport aircraft still in doubt

Policing

Germany: Police "trawling" for suspect foreigners
After 11 September last year, German police units started collecting data on young men with Islamic background from universities, registration offices, health insurance companies and Germany's "Central Foreigners Register". The practice of so-called "trawling" or "dragnet control" (Rasterfahndung), a blanket "non-suspect related" police operation, which collects and compares vast amounts of data sets on individuals according to vague criteria, was introduced in the 1970s in the wake of Red Army Fraction (RAF) activities and has been criticised for its violation of data protection rights.

Italy: SISMI informer linked to Milan bombing campaign
An informer for the Italian military secret service (SISMI) was arrested on 7 April 2001 in connection with a bomb that exploded on 22 September 1998 in front of a Guardia di Finanza (Customs) office and a device that was planted in Bocconi University in Milan on April 1999, that did not explode.

Italy: Right-wing bomber sentenced
Andrea Insabato, a forty-one year old right winger with links to Forza Nuova leader Roberto Fiore, received a 12-year prison sentence on 6 February 2002 for a bomb attack on left-wing daily Il manifesto.

Policing - in brief
Spain: Operation LUDECO (strict surveillance of 157,000 Colombian and Ecuadorian citizens residing legally in Spain)

Law

UK: Police bugging privileged conversations
Three Lincolnshire detectives have been suspended from operational duties after allegations that they had illegally bugged privileged conversations between a lawyer and suspects in a murder case. The detectives placed bugs in the police cells of the accused and in an exercise yard in order to overhear details of their defence.

Law - in brief
UK: Two "terrorist" suspects freed by court

Racism and fascism

Germany: Secret service colluded with far-right
Since last summer, the German government has officially committed itself to the fight against neo-fascism. However, with its attempt to ban the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (National Democratic Party of Germany, NPD) it has became clear that its arguments are based on evidence from
active neo-nazis, who have worked as informants for the internal secret service. The government withheld this information from the Federal Constitutional Court and refused to clarify the role of the informants in its bill of indictment, so the court has interrupted proceedings to decide if the trial will continue.

Norway: Racist killers jailed for murder
Two Norwegians have been convicted of stabbing to death a black teenager in a racially motivated killing last January. The two men, members of the far-right "Bootboys" group, murdered fifteen-year old Benjamin Hermansen, last January after planning and setting out to "get a foreigner". A third person was convicted as an accessory after she admitted picking out Benjamin as a victim.

Italy: Rauti steps down
On 10 February 2002 Pino Rauti stepped down as secretary of far right party Movimento Sociale - Fiamma Tricolore, and his chosen successor, Luca Romagnoli, was voted in as the new secretary at the party's Congress in Montesilvano (Pescara). The explicitly fascist party is an offshoot from the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) that left the MSI when it became Alleanza Nazionale (AN) at the Fiuggi congress in 1994; it was one of a series of changes orchestrated by current deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, aimed at improving the AN's image by disavowing some of its most reactionary policies.

UK: Safraz Najeib - "Justice denied"
Two years after Safraz Najeib was brutally beaten in Leeds city centre, leaving him disfigured and struggling to rebuild his life, Hull crown court has passed sentence on two Leeds United footballers and their friends who were accused of assaulting him. The England and Leeds United defender Jonathan Woodgate was cleared of grievous bodily harm with intent but found guilty of the lesser charge of affray and sentenced to 100 hours of community service. His team mate, another England international, Lee Bowyer was cleared of causing grievous bodily harm. Woodgate's friend, Paul Clifford, was found guilty of affray and causing aggravated bodily harm and was jailed for six years, another of Woodgate's friends, Neale Caveney, was found guilty of affray but cleared of grievous bodily harm. He also received 100 hours of community service.

Security and Intelligence

Spain: New intelligence agency
The Spanish Congress (lower chamber) is debating a draft Bill to introduce a new intelligence agency, the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI, National Intelligence Centre). The CNI will become Spain's equivalent to the American CIA or MI5/MI6 in Britain replacing CESID (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa, the army intelligence centre), which also carries out non-military intelligence duties.

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties - in brief
UK: Eight jailed under new terror laws

Prisons

UK: A penal third way?
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has announced a series of proposals which supposedly ditch the "prison works" philosophy. Blunkett's proposal is far from detailed, but it is clear that he aims to remove short-term prisoners from the system - a "third way" between community programmes and prison. Various ideas are under consideration: intermittent custody (part community, part prison) a new intermediate sentence (special open prisons or hostels) or "custody minus" (a suspended sentence under which offenders complete a community programme). The enthusiasm for the proposals left some prison reform campaigners wondering if the enthusiasts had heard all of the speech, with its proposals for "harsher sentences and stricter supervision" for violent and sex offenders hardly a break from the "prison works" strategy.

Netherlands: Prison officers do not have to guard asylum seekers
Since March 2001, asylum seekers, including families, have been held in Amsterdam's Bijlmerbajes prison. In daytime, the refugees are guarded by special warders (vreemdelingenbewaarders, foreigner guards), but at night, the regular guards (PIW, penitentiair inrichtingswerker) have to assist, because of a lack of personnel. Four regular guards complained and tested their case in court, because they, and 24 of their colleagues, refused to guard immigrants because of conscientious objections.

Prisons - in brief
Spain: Officers under suspicion for Ghanaian's death in custody

* In addition, the bulletin carries a round-up of new books, reports and publications


SUBSCRIPTIONS                                                                  Back to Statewatch Home page

Statewatch bulletin is available on subscription, just £15.00 a year for individuals and voluntary groups (£18.00 a year outside Europe) order details

NEW: Online subscription now available, just £10.00 a year for individuals and voluntary groups order details, it includes access to the Statewatch subscribers site preview