monitoring civil liberties in the European Union
November - December 2002, vol 12 no 6
Front page lead:
Mandatory data retention by the back door
A special analysis on the surveillance of telecommunications by Statewatch shows that: i) the authorised surveillance in England, Wales and Scotland has more than doubled since the Labour government came to power in 1997; ii) mandatory data retention is so far being introduced at national level in 9 out of 15 EU
members states and 10 out of 15 favour a binding EU Framework Decision; iii) the introduction in the EU of the mandatory retention of telecommunications data (ie: keeping details of all phone-calls, mobile phone calls and location, faxes, e-mails and internet usage of the whole population of Europe for at least 12 months) is intended to combat crime in general - despite a "terrorism" pretext.
FRANCE: New internal security law
Nicolas Sarkozy, interior minister in the Jean-Pierre Raffarin government, presented a draft bill on internal security (projet de loi de sécurité interieure, PLSI) in the Assemblée Nationale (French parliament) on 23 October 2002. The text was an expression of the goals sought by its predecessor, the loi d´orientation et de programmation pour la sécurité intérieure (LOPSI), approved on 29 August 2002, that established a five year plan and follows the priorities to be addressed in that period, particularly making the national police force and paramilitary gendarmerie more effective in criminal investigations and improving security. Provisions governing the exercise of police powers and the criminalisation of a host of new offences place the blame, and appear to be aimed directly at the poor and the foreign.
UK: Surveillance of telecommunications goes through the roof
The annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2001 was published in October 2002. The report appears to show that the number of warrants issued dropped significantly to the lowest for five years. However, the true picture is quite different. On the face of it the number of warrants issued to conduct communications surveillance (telephones, mobiles and letters) fell in England and Wales from 1,608 to 1,314 and in Scotland from 292 to 131.
From July 1998 a major change in the interpretation of the 1985 Interception of Communications Act (IOCA) meant that where previously any change to the initial warrant (eg: a person moved or changed phone numbers), known as a "modification", led to a new warrant being issued for all instances concerning serious crime. Since the Labour government came to power in 1997 communications surveillance has at least doubled - and this is likely a gross underestimate.
EU: Survey on the introduction of mandatory data retention at national level
Following the fundamental changes to the 1997 EC Directive on privacy in the telecommunications sector formally adopted on 12 July 2002 the door was open for new measures to require data to be retained at national and EU levels (see Statewatch, vol 12 no 3/4). Since this time, nine of the 15 EU states have or intend to introduce an obligation for the retention of data, two member states have no plans and four are unclear. The norm for the period of data retention would appear to be 12 months, although Ireland is way out ahead with 3 years. Ten of the 15 EU states would support a EU measure on data retention, only two are against this and three are unclear.
EU: Statewatch case leads to landmark decision
As a result of the European Ombudsman's Special Report to the European Parliament on a case from Statewatch, the Council of the European Union has agreed that all SN documents, Room documents and other preparatory/discussion texts considered at its meetings will be listed in the "Outcomes of proceedings" (see Statewatch, vol 11 no 6). This landmark decision will by implication apply to meetings of the Commission and the European Parliament too. In a separate development back in September, the European Ombudsman sent a strongly worded letter to Mr Prodi, President of the European Commission, saying that "data protection rules are being misinterpreted as implying the existence of a general right to participate anonymously in public activities". The Ombudsman called for the scheduled review of 1995 EC Data Protection Directive to be amended to expressly state that the Directive: "is not intended to limit the principle of openness and the right of access to official documents".
AUSTRIA: Demands for regulation of CCTV and biometrics
In November, the Austrian data protection council put forward a recommendation to the federal government to regulate the use of video cameras (CCTV) run by private and public operators as well as the use of biometrics. The Austrian data protection association Arge Daten estimates that altogether, including public spaces (parks, sports facilities, traffic monitoring, banks etc.) as well as video cameras installed at buildings for security, Austria possesses around 160,000 video cameras that film people without their knowledge with an image quality able to identify faces. The proposals call for a clear definition and regulation of video surveillance and biometrics, controls on the reasons for surveillance and the use of the collected data and adherence to data protection principles. It also calls for the registration of video installations.
UK: AI renews call for release of ATCSA prisoners
On the eve of the first anniversary of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) Amnesty International called for the "immediate release of all persons detained under the ATCSA unless they are charged with a recognisably criminal offence and tried by an independent and impartial court in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness." Thirteen people have been arrested under the ATCSA since its enactment on 14 December 2001. Two have since been "voluntarily" repatriated, while ten non-UK nationals are interned without trial at the Belmarsh and Woodhill high security prisons. The eleventh man, Mahmoud Abu Rideh, was in no fit state to be detained and was transferred to the high security mental hospital, Broadmoor. The detentions have been condemned by civil liberties lawyer Gareth Peirce, who told Amnesty: "As horrified as we were a year ago when people were first arrested, if we thought for a moment that a year later we would be no further forward we would have told the detainees bluntly `they have locked you up and thrown away the keys.' As it is we feel that we have all been subjected to a false pretence that there would ever be an early hearing that could lead to their release.
NETHERLANDS: Suspected terrorists acquitted
Four "terrorist" suspects charged with preparing an attack on the American embassy in Paris last year have been acquitted by a Rotterdam court. Prison sentences varying from one to six years had been demanded by the prosecution, but defence lawyers called for the charges to be dismissed arguing that the prosecution had failed to act in accordance with the law. The Court considered that evidence against all four suspects had been unlawfully obtained by the Public Prosecution Service (OM). The evidence against them was based on information that had been gathered and handed over to the OM by the - then - National Security Service (BVD). The competence of the BVD is limited to the gathering of information for national security purposes and it has no competence in investigating criminal offences.
Civil liberties - in brief
Austria: Privacy violated in election campaign?
GERMANY: German-Yugoslav agreement puts Roma at risk
On 1 November, a new readmission agreement between Germany and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia came into force, paving the way for the deportation of around 100,000 people, over half of whom are Roma facing institutional and popular racism in Yugoslavia. The majority of them have been living in Germany for around ten years with their children born and brought up there. The readmission agreement is modelled on "modern EU readmission standards", Interior Minister, Otto Schily, declared.
UK: Domestic violence victims relieved of immigration pressure
On 26 November 2002 the Home Office announced changes to a concession which permits victims of domestic violence who have an insecure immigration status, often linked to their spouse, to remain in the country on showing certain evidence of their plight. Women who suffer abuse by their husbands are often locked in
violent relationships because leaving would entail the withdrawal of their residency permit and place them under threat of deportation. The west London campaigning group Southall Black Sisters commented that in the case of a deportation of a victim of domestic violence, the women often risk abuse on their return due to prevailing attitudes towards female divorcees.
GERMANY: Roma campaign against deportation and for residency
Since April 2002, around 500 Roma have been travelling across Germany in a protest and awareness raising Caravan. They first put up their tents in Essen in June to protest against their deportation to the former Yugoslavia. The camp and caravan are part of a campaign supported by the German asylum organisation Pro Asyl under the slogan "Here to Stay! Right to Residency". The campaign is demanding a federal residency regulation for all refugees who have lived as families with children on "tolerated" (Dildung) status for more than three years or as individuals for more than five years. The right to residency campaign is supported by all regional refugee councils, charities and churches.
SPAIN: Lieutenant accused of raping soldier
Lieutenant Iván Moriano Moreno of the Spanish navy infantry division had a five-month prison sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court in November after he was found guilty of abusing his authority by subjecting trainee soldier Dolores Quiñoa to degrading treatment, by making her undress in a training camp in El Piornal, near Cáceres, on 11 May 2000. The court accepted that "drunkenness" and "spontaneous repentance" were mitigating circumstances in the case. However, Quiñoa
subsequently claimed that she had in fact been raped by Moriano, explaining that she had limited her allegations due to threats received from the lieutenant, aimed at herself and her family.
NATO: The Pentagon's foreign legion
NATO's November summit in Prague decided on the creation of multi-national rapid deployment force of about 20,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new "enemies" outside Europe. The intention is to construct a part of NATO that can be useful for the United States in its global
war against the new terrorism and the "axis of evil". The decision followed one earlier this spring that was much more circumspect. Without attracting any publicity the North Atlantic Council (the foreign ministers of NATO) in Reykjavik negotiated a new agreement ending years of debate over wether NATO should operate "out of area", meaning outside of Europe. The ministers agreed that "Nato must be able to field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed" so the alliance can "more effectively respond collectively to any threat of aggression against a member state." The new NATO Response Force (NRF) will do exactly that.
UK: CND loses challenge to legality of Iraq war
In December the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) lost a case against the UK government over their decision to go to war against Iraq. The judicial review in the high court brought proceedings against Tony Blair, the Prime minister, Jack Straw, the Home Secretary and Geoff Hoon, Defence Minister. Following former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who said that "An attack by the United States on Iraq to overthrow its government would be a flagrant violation of the UN charter, the Nuremberg charter and international law", the Campaign argued that the UK "government will be acting illegally if it uses armed force against Iraq without a fresh UN Security Council Resolution." CND argued that present resolutions, including Resolution 1441, did not authorise the use of force.
Racism and fascism
ITALY: Neo-fascists acquitted in Milan bomb appeal
On 27 September 2002 a Milan assizes court quashed the sentences of a number of neo-fascists including retired Colonel Amos Spiazzi and General Gianadelio Maletti, head of "D" Office (Special Affairs) of the former Italian secret service (SID), on appeal. Neo-fascists Carlo Maria Maggi, Francesco Neami and Giorgio Boffelli, as well as Spiazzi, were given life sentences on 11 March 2001 after they were found guilty of instigating, planning and assisting in an explosive attack outside Milan police headquarters on 17 May 1973 (see Statewatch vol 10 no 2, vol 11 no 3&4).
ITALY: Moroccan beaten by football gang
A 31-year-old Moroccan, Kay Abdorhamane, was beaten with baseball bats and chains and kicked and punched by a five-strong gang in the Ostiense area of Rome on 13 October 2002. He spent several days in a coma in San Giacomo hospital due to a blow to the head. Five members of the Irriducibili, a Lazio football supporters gang (see Statewatch vol 12 no 5) were detained on charges of attempted murder with the aggravating circumstance of racism, and are currently under investigation. Four of the five have criminal records related to football violence. The police, who came to the scene following an emergency call that talked of a "manhunt", found iron bars, chains and the mobile phone of one of the accused, Stefano Celi, at the scene of the crime.
AUSTRIA: Haider's erratic behaviour prompts FPO collapse
The behaviour of Jorg Haider is being blamed for the demise of the far-right Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs (FPO) in November's general election. The FPO saw its vote reduced from 27% to 10 per cent in the biggest collapse of any political party in Austria's postwar history. The FPO trailed in third place behind their former collaborators in the Osterreichsche Volspartei (OVP) who received 42% of the vote and the social democrats (37%). Following the crushing defeat Haider announced his withdrawal from Austrian politics observing that he saw the vote as "an expression of distrust towards me". He also offered to resign from his role as governor of Carinthia saying that he was disillusioned with politics.
UK: NF activist "martyred" in drug gang killing
National Front (NF) activist and Combat 18 (C18) supporter Jason Spence, 31 from Kingstanding, West Midlands, was shot dead in November. Hailed as a "martyr" by the far-right, Spence was killed by two men in a silver estate car, one of whom shot him twice. The murder is being blamed on "fundraising" conflicts between far-right organisations and criminals dealing in Class A drugs. Spence's death was commemorated by a small but intimidating Combat 18 demonstration in his home town of Kingstanding. The death has led a local newspaper, the Birmingham Post, to investigate the role of far-right groups in the hard drugs trade which is often accompanied by extreme violence.
UK: NF gang jailed for torture plot
A National Front (NF) gang, led by their youth organiser Simon Northfield (23), received jail sentences totalling 25 years at Kingston Crown Court after pleading guilty in November to a plot to kidnap and torture black people. The eight-strong gang had driven to Tooting, south London on 29 September 2001, in a white van loaded with weapons, searching for black youths to attack. The plot was apparently in response to the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September, although the media has downplayed this motive. The gang's actions aroused the suspicions of park employees who contacted the police. Officers arrested the driver and his companion and found five more people, dressed in black combat jackets and boots, inside the vehicle. The men were equipped with "a kidnap and assault kit" that included balaclavas, handcuffs, batons, knives, CS gas, a knuckleduster and an imitation gun. A map of London with a mosque marked out was also found.
UK: BNP lies, intimidation and videotape
The fascist British National Party (BNP) picked up its fourth council seat in November when it narrowly defeated the Labour party candidate by 16 votes to win a by-election in the Mill Hill ward in Blackburn, Lancashire. Robin Evans' victory in the constituency of Labour's foreign secretary, Jack Straw, was unexpected and greeted with dismay by local councillors, religious leaders and trade union members. In May the BNP won three council seats in neighbouring Burnley (see Statewatch vol 12 no 3/4) but failed to make expected advances in Oldham or Bradford. Evans' victory recalled the 1970s when fascists last won three seats in Blackburn.
UK: Overcrowding and early release extended
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has ordered the extension of the Prison Service's early release programme. The changes mean that the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme will be extended to inmates who fall within the limits of the HDC scheme 90 days before the end of their sentence, rather than 60 days, as
was previously the case. Over 56,000 inmates have been released under the HDC scheme from its implementation in 1999 to date, with a re-offending rate of less than 5%. The changes are anticipated to affect between 20,000 and 25,000 inmates every year. Meanwhile in her Report of a Visit to HMP Ford, the Chief
Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, observed that overcrowding was having a corrosive effect on even the most relaxed open prisons. Prisoners were found to be sleeping in cleaning cupboards at one jail, in a move which led the Chief Inspector to question "how some of this accommodation has been certified fit for use." Of 19 new prisons built in the last 10 years, 16 are already overcrowded.
UK: Childrens Act applies to child prisoners
The Howard League for Penal Reform was successful in its challenge by way of judicial review to the exemption of child prisoners (under 18s) from the protection afforded by the 1989 Childrens Act. According to the Howard League, child inmates are routinely treated in jail in ways which, were they to occur outside, would trigger child protection investigations. Between April 2000 and May 2002, 976 juveniles were held in segregation conditions for more than one week, and "pain-based" control and restraint measures were used 3615 times. Between April 2000 and November 2001 there were 554 reported cases of juvenile self-harm, and five suicides.
Prisons - in brief
UK: Lincoln prison riots; UK: Miscarriage of justice victim released; UK: Home Secretary's tariff setting violates fair trial
Security & Intelligence
ITALY: Andreotti guilty of ordering journalist´s murder
On 17 November 2002 an assizes court in Perugia (Umbria) found seven-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti and Mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti guilty on appeal of ordering the murder of journalist Carmine "Mino" Pecorelli in Rome on 20 March 1979, sentencing them to 24 years and overturning an acquittal in the same city in April 1999. The other defendants, former politician and magistrate Claudio Vitalone, mafioso Giuseppe Caló, Michelangelo La Barbera, member of the Roman banda della Magliana, and Massimo Carminati, were acquitted.
ITALY: Forensic tests suggest murder in Calvi mystery
Italian forensic scientists who conducted a post-mortem investigation on the body of Italian banker Roberto Calvi, who died in mysterious circumstances in London on 18 June 1982, believe that he was murdered and then subsequently hung under Blackfriars Bridge. Judges in Rome said that the examination showed that Calvi did not touch the bricks that were found in his pockets, and used to weigh his body down to simulate suicide, and that marks consistent with strangling were found on his neck. Calvi´s son Carlo also claimed that no sign of zinc from the scaffolding he was supposed to have climbed in order to commit suicide had been found on his shoes.
UK: New inquest for victim of Porton Down's "squalid secret"
The High Court announced in November that there will be a new inquest into the death of British soldier, Ronald Maddison, who died nearly 50 years ago after taking part in a sarin nerve gas experiment at the Ministry of Defence's Porton Down research centre, in Salisbury. Maddison was 20 years-old when he took part in the tests in May 1953 after being told, according to members of his family, that he was participating in a project to find a cure for the common cold. The claims are supported by other soldiers who volunteered to be subjects for common cold research in the early 1950s. At least one other serviceman (Subject 702) came close to dying in the same set of experiments when he stopped breathing, and five other guinea pigs "suffered particularly badly". Other soldiers have claimed that they were pressed by superiors to participate in the tests that have been described as the establishment's "darkest hour". Some have stated that they were forced to sign a gagging document or were instructed to sign the Official Secrets act.
UK: Government's opportunistic "propaganda" ridiculed
At the beginning of December, six days before the deadline for Iraq to release details of its weapons of mass destruction to UN weapons inspectors, the British government published its graphic dossier on crimes and human rights abuses in Iraq. Described by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as a reminder to "the world that the abuses of the Iraqi regime extend far beyond its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction" the document has been widely condemned as "opportunistic" and "propaganda" by civil liberties groups. Within the Labour party, MP Tam Dalyell described it as a "highly unusual, indeed unprecedented publication [that] is cranking up for war."
UK: Palestinians denied justice
The Leave to appeal the convictions of Samar Alamai and Jawad Botmeh, provisionally accepted in July, has been rejected by the Law Lords. Samar and Jawad were convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions at the Israeli embassy and Balfour House in London in 1994 in a trial that dismissed pertinent evidence and accepted that "human errors" led to failures to disclose police and MI5 evidence that might have had a bearing on the case. Amnesty International said: "that failure to disclose crucial evidence violates the appellant's right to a fair trial." The defence will now be applying to the European Court of Human Rights and will "consider" an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
GERMANY: Transsexuals suffer police abuse
The issue of discrimination and abuse against transsexuals has never received much media or campaigning attention, but abusive police conduct against transsexuals is high, as a recent charge lodged against the Hamburg police has revealed. Particularly vulnerable to abuse are undocumented transsexuals who are
threatened with deportation. In Hamburg, transsexuals from South America earning their living as sex workers are regularly picked up by police, often by undercover officers, forced to undress at the police station, and then deported for working without papers on a tourist visa (prostitution itself is not illegal in Germany).
UK: IPCC chair named
Home secretary David Blunkett has named Nick Hardwick, presently chief executive of the British Refugee Council, as the first chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The IPCC will replace the widely derided Police Complaints Authority in April 2004 and Hardwick will have responsibility for overseeing the setting up of the body. The government has consistently ignored recommendations and criticism from groups such as the United Friends and Family
Campaign and Inquest for a new body with its own permanent staff and an active commitment to recruiting from ethnic communities and outside the policing profession.
Policing - in brief
UK: Essex police to "name and shame" convicted criminals; Italy: Neighbourhood police patrols
* In addition, the bulletin carries a round-up of new books, reports and publications
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