monitoring civil liberties in the European Union
May - July 2002, vol 12 no 3
Front page lead:
EU: surveillance of telecommunications: Data retention to be 'compulsory'
Even as the European Parliament was discussing and voting on fundamental changes to the 1997 EC Directive on privacy in telecommunications the Belgian government was drafting (and circulating for comment) a binding Framework Decision on the retention of traffic data and access for the law enforcement agencies. Also published on Statewatch News Online.
EU: Unaccountable undercover teams set up
Quite unnoticed, and unreported, the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted at their meeting on 25/26 April, without debate (an "A" Point), a "Recommendation establishing multinational ad hoc teams for gathering and exchanging information on terrorists". The Recommendation, is intergovernmental (ie: outside of EU treaties) and is not binding on EU states and so there was no obligation to refer it to national parliaments or to the European Parliament for scrutiny. The discussions made clear that the object of these ad hoc teams is not to arrest and bring suspects to court - and thus they would not compete with existing EU plans for the creation of "joint investigative teams" for criminal offences. Rather small groupings of EU states - led by Spain and Italy - will set up unaccountable, undercover teams of police and internal security officers and agents to target and place under surveillance suspected groups and individuals.
EU: Law enforcement agencies win out over privacy
This feature looks at the "deal" done between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union over data retention, the vote in the European Parliament and the leaked text of the draft "Framework Decision on the retention of traffic data and on access to this data in connection with investigations and prosecutions" (prepared by the Belgian government).
US/EU/ICC: Farcical birth of International Criminal Court
On 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute on the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes was agreed. The treaty was welcomed by governments, lawyers and civil society groups as the most significant development in international law since the UN Charter more than 50 years before. For the court to be established sixty states had to ratify the treaty. This feature looks at the extensive efforts of the US administration to undermine the ICC and prevent it developing into the future world criminal court its supporters promote.
EU: The EU Constitutional Convention: Will the Sinners Repent?
Since the end of February, a (constitutional) Convention has been meeting regularly under the chairmanship of former President Giscard d'Estaing of France to consider the future of the EU. This would seem an ideal opportunity to consider the problems with the legitimacy, transparency, democratic and judicial control and human rights obligations of the EU, particularly as regards Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) matters. But the obvious problem is that national executives and the Council Secretariat that services them benefit from the lack of transparency and democratic scrutiny wihin the EU system. To what extent do they show signs of willingness to change their ways?
Viewpoint: In the name of a Just War - defending the civilised world, Phil Scraton
Within this distorted world of "with us or against us" the casualties of war, regardless of their status as military or civilian, are held responsible; their losses, their injuries, their suffering reconstructed as self-inflicted. With so much reporting and commentary derived in the manufacture and selection of news through spin and manipulation, it is not difficult for states and their administrations to deny responsibility for their part in atrocities, their part in the long-term consequences of war. "Refusal to acknowledge" reveals the power within advanced capitalist states at its most cynical, its most self-serving. History soon becomes rewritten, truth becomes degraded, the pain of death and destruction heightened by the pain of deceit and denial. It is from within this experience that the next generation of terror strategists will emerge and develop their consciousness. And the "sacrifice, determination and perseverance" demanded by Rumsfeld in the US global "war on terror" will be matched. Extracted from a collection of essays edited by Phil Scraton: Beyond September 11 - an anthology of dissent (Pluto Press, 2002).
ICC/EU: US tries to split EU on the ICC
The US has adopted a new tactic to exempt its forces and officials from legal action by the newly-fomred International Criminal Court. Having almost succeeded in its quest for permanent immunity through the UN Security Council, the US has is now pursuing a new tactic. Under Article 98 of the Rome Treaty, a country cannot be forced to hand over a suspect to the ICC if it has a bilateral agreement with the country whose citizens are wanted for trial. American embassies throughout the world are now busy pressuring governments to enter into such bilateral agreements.
EU: Fast-track to expelling migrants
The EU Summit in Seville adopted a whole series of measures on immigration and asylum which reflect the post 11 September ideology. Although a number of the proposals had been foreseen in the Tampere Council (1999) much of the content of sweeping new programmes has been influenced by numerous meetings with USA officials.
EU/NETHERLANDS: Eurojust's "ETA suspect" bailed
On 16 January 2002 Juan Ramón Rodríguez Fernández - Juanra - was arrested in an Amsterdam supermarket by a Dutch police snatch squad and detained pending extradition to Spain, where the authorities claim he is a supporter of the Basque separatist group ETA. The Spanish authorities have now changed the charges against Juanra five times. Discrepancies and contradictions from Spanish prosecutors and unanswered questions from the Dutch court have met with the response that key files and documents have been "lost".
GERMANY: Contempt for refugee children
In January 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany signed the UN Convention on Children's Rights. The Convention prohibits any discrimination against children and declares that the child's welfare is a top priority. In 1992 the German parliament expressed five reservations, two of which refer to refugee and foreigners' children. Article looks at contemporary practises in the application of these reservations.
UK: "Snatch squad" storms mosque
The principle of the sanctity of a place of worship was violated on 25 July when five immigration officers and 12 policemen smashed their way into a mosque in Lye, West Midlands, dressed in riot gear and armed with a battering ram. The action was carried out by an immigration "snatch squad", twelve of which are supposed to enforce the government's annual deportation target of 30,000 from the end of this year onwards. A strong community based anti-deportation campaign and a legal challenge has forced the government to postpone the family's deportation, and Muslim community leaders have voiced outrage at the "military-style" raid.
UKRAINE: EU deportation regime adopted
In 1996, the Ukraine started to implement the policies and measures imposed on non-EU countries by the EU in an attempt to thwart migration and flight routes. The same year, the Ukraine announced its closer cooperation with NATO and the EU. Since then Germany, in particular, has started to carry out systematic deportations via Poland to the Ukraine, which represents an important transit country for migrants who want to enter the EU as well as being a country of emigration. Poland rejects migrants who try to enter at the Ukrainian-Polish border, on grounds of corresponding repatriation agreements.
EUROPE: International Border Camps 2002
Border camps (see Statewatch, vol. 9 no. 5 and vol. 10 no. 3 & 4), which protest against the EU's repressive migration regime and its corresponding racism have become tradition. Activists, human rights and refugee and migrants groups will meet over a period of two months (July-August) in camps in Poland, Finland, Germany, Strasbourg and Slovenia.
SPAIN: Expulsions rise three-fold
On 25 June 2002 the Spanish Interior Ministry announced that 19,290 foreigners were expelled, denied entry or returned to their countries of origin between January and May 2002. The breakdown of the figures shows 3,643 expulsions (the total for 2001 was 3,817), signalling a three-fold increase from 1,025 compared to the same period in 2001.
Immigration - in brief
Spain: Electronic border monitoring in Fuerteventura
UK: IRR concern over sentencing
The Institute of Race Relations has issued a press release expressing its concern over the extensive sentences handed out to youths of Pakistani descent who took part in the riots in Manningham, Bradford in July last year. The sentences - mainly for stone throwing - has prompted the launch of a campaign, Fair Justice for All (FJA), which will protest outside the court and set up a support network to look after the welfare of families who have imprisoned relatives.
Military - in brief
EU: Foreign ministers agree on military spending; EU: Report urges EU procurement policy; EU: Funding cleared for Galileo
ITALY: Ombudsman criticises "anomalous" data retention
In his annual report the data protection ombudsman, Stefano Rodota, estimated that at least 350 billion pieces of telecommunications traffic data may be held in Italy due to current laws that require the storage of information for five years - which is sometimes extended due to "incorrect interpretation by judges".
GERMANY: Death of a prisoner
On 11 May, Stefan N. was taken into custody by Cologne police after a report of a family argument. On 23 May, after spending two weeks in a coma, he died of a brain oedema. Colleagues reported that he had been repeatedly beaten by six officers in the police station, resulting in his hospitalisation. A forensic examination concluded that his death did not result from the beating, and the public prosecutor has refrained from bringing charges for bodily harm resulting in death or manslaughter. The family's lawyers have demanded compensation and argue that not only Stefan N's death, but his arrest itself was unlawful.
UK: O'Brien family - £250,000 damages, but still no apology
The family of Irishman Richard O'Brien, who an inquest found was unlawfully killed by Metropolitan police officers in south London in 1994, was awarded £250,000 in damages at the High Court in May. Richard died of positional asphyxia after he was held down by policemen following a disturbance at a christening in which he suffered 30 separate injuries, including 12 cuts to his head. Eye-witnesses described how the father of seven repeated to the police officers several times "I can't breathe. You win, you win". A policeman kneeling on his back replied, "We always win."
ITALY: Genoa - police evidence discredited
After two days of tension and clashes between police forces and protestors in Genoa on 19-21 July 2001 a police raid on the Armando Diaz and Sandro Pertini schools led to the arrest of 93 people, many of whom were beaten, on the evening of 21 July. Criticism in Italy and across Europe mounted over the raid and subsequent ill-treatment in custody suffered by protestors in Bolzaneto police barracks, which was converted into a makeshift detention area. Police and interior ministry sources reacted by claiming that militants had been staying in the Diaz school and that stones were thrown at the police. The police claims appear increasingly unlikely.
Policing - in brief
Northern Ireland: Orde new chief constable; UK: Police car chase deaths triple
Security & Intelligence
NETHERLANDS/TURKEY: Case reveals tampering with intercepted evidence
Hüseyin Baybasin was arrested in Lieshout, Holland on 27 March 1998. He was charged with membership of a criminal organisation and conspiracy to murder, hostage taking and attempted murder in connection with the heroin trade. On 10 February 2001, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in the special security prison at Vught, by the court in Breda. During the course of his trial Baybasin, who is Kurdish, made serious allegations about contacts between the Turkish authorities and drug traffickers and argued that there had been interference with taped telephone conversations used during the trial.
NETHERLANDS: Intelligence services expand
In September 2001, Holland acquired another intelligence service, the Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD). It is a trend that, if it continues, will see every ministry getting its own law enforcement department. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery has a General Inspection Service, the Ministry of Finance has the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service and now the Ministry for Social Affairs and Work will get its own department, too.
IRELAND: Call for Saville-type inquiry
Edward O'Neill, whose father was one of 33 people killed by loyalist car bombs planted in Ireland on 17 May 1974, has called for a public inquiry into the events based on the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings are Ireland's largest unsolved murder case and within days of the explosions the involvement of the British intelligence services was suspected because of the sophistication of the devices and organised planning involved. The bombs were claimed by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force but it is widely accepted that acting alone they lacked the capability to carry out the acts.
GERMANY: Government still refuses to disclose NPD informants
In January the Federal Constitutional Court interrupted proceedings initiated by the German government and parliament to enforce a ban against the far-right Nationalsozialistische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) on grounds of violating the free democratic order of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The plaintiffs had withheld the vital information that their witnesses were neo-nazis who had also worked for the Verfassungsschutz (VS - internal secret service) as informants (see Statewatch vol. 12 no. 1). The extent of the involvement of VS informants became evident because state money in the form of informants' wages was fed back into the party, many asked if the NPD was not effectively built up by the state.
Security & intelligence - in brief
UK: "Big Brother" nominee appointed security chief; UK: MPs call for Israeli Embassy bombing reinvestigation
UK: European court decision frees Satpal
Satpal Ram has been released, after spending 15 years in prison, following rulings by the European Court of Human Rights and the UK court of appeal. Satpal was jailed in 1987 after defending himself against a violent racist attack, in which one of the aggressors died after he refused hospital treatment. However, the racist motivation behind the assault and the issue of the right to self-defence were not raised by Satpal's defence lawyer and he was convicted of murder and jailed for life, with a recommended tariff of 11 years. Successive Home Secretary's refused to release Satpal once he had served the recommended tariff, because he would not acknowledge his "guilt".
ITALY: Suicides and protest in Marassi
On the evening of 7 May 2002 there was a protest by detainees in Marassi prison (Genoa) after two suicides within three days in the prison's medical centre. In the afternoon 38-year-old FB hanged himself in the centre's toilet using a belt. He had been arrested in February following a violent argument with his parents, and was reported to be in a psychologically fragile condition.
Racism and fascism
NORTHERN IRELAND: Racist attacks on increase
According to an Overview Analysis of Racist Incidents Recorded in Northern Ireland by the RUC - 1996-1999, commissioned by the Inter-Departmental Social Steering Group and published by The Office of the First Minister & Deputy First Minister in February this year, there has been a substantial increase in the number of racist incidents recorded by the police.
AUSTRIA/UK: Fury at Haider's London visit
The extremist governor of Carinthia, Jorg Haider, who stood down as leader of the Freihertiche Partei Osterreich (FPO, Freedom Party) two years ago following international protests at his inclusion in the Austrian government, visited London at the end of June. Haider's visit, to launch a Ryanair airline service between Britain and Austria, prompted immediate protests and a vocal demonstration outside his London hotel. Ryanair did not attend.
WALES: Mosque official dies after attack
The treasurer of a Llanelli mosque, Muhammed Ashraf, died from a heart attack after witnessing members of his congregation being attacked by a racist gang. Twelve white men in their early twenties carried out the attack on the group of elderly worshippers at the beginning of June, as they made their way to the mosque. Four men have been arrested and charged with assault and police are looking for a fifth attacker.
FRANCE: Presidential candidate was a torturer
Fresh allegations of torture were levelled against presidential candidate and far-right Front National (FN) leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the run up to the French parliamentary elections in June. Evidence gathered in Algiers by the French daily Le Monde, who interviewed new witnesses, and reported in the Guardian, confirmed previous reports that the anti-immigrant politician engaged in a torture campaign involving electrocution, rape and beatings during the Algerian war of independence.
Racism and fascism - in brief
France: Nazi extremist's gun attack on Chirac; UK: BNP wins three council seats
* In addition, the bulletin carries a round-up of new books, reports and publications
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