monitoring civil liberties in the European Union
May-July 2003, vol 13 no 3/4
Front page lead
EU: Biometric ID documents herald a global identification system
Nearly two years on from 11 September 2001 there have been a number of significant "casualties" as the "war on terrorism is also a war on freedom and democracy. The first are the measures being put in place to exclude or remove refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing from poverty and persecution. Second, the targeting and stereotyping of resident migrant communities across Europe. All refugees, asylum-seekers and resident migrant communities are regarded as potential terrorists and if not terrorists then potential criminals. Third, are the moves across the EU to introduce the surveillance of telecommunications (phone calls, e-mails, faxes, mobiles and internet usage) of the whole population. A fourth sweeping move is now on the agenda - the introduction of biometric identifiers on EU passports, visas and identity cards (and the introduction of biometric ID cards where they do not currently exist).
UK: Special Branch more than doubles in size
The Special Branch was set up in 1883 and until the mid-1960s was solely based in London's Metropolitan Police force (when it had around 300 officers). Out of London police forces only started to create SB branches of their own after the mass protests of 1967 and 1968. Over the years the number of Special Branch
officers has been hard to establish. This piece examines the Special Branch's role in surveillance for MI5 (national security) and maintaining public order.
EU: The EU Constitution and Justice and Home Affairs: the accountability gap
The draft EU constitution, agreed in the EUs constitutional Convention in July 2003, will now be subject to an Intergovernmental Conference starting in October, at which Member States governments will consider whether they will unpick the text or not. The issue of Justice and Home Affairs where the Constitution is particularly ambitious, will likely be a major issue.
EUSKADI: AuB ban puts legal principles under attack
The drift towards authoritarianism, under the pretext of combating ETA's violence, is bringing into question a large part of the legal framework erected during the political transition that followed the Franco regime. The law on political parties criminalised the Basque political organisation Batasuna - which was accused of being a front for ETA or even of belonging to ETA's infrastructure - and effectively made it illegal. Later acts focused on preventing nationalist left candidates from standing in the last municipal elections.
Spain: Nothing is true, nor is it a lie?
The following essay is a testimony from Tarifa, Spain, the nearest point to Africa in mainland Europe, by Nieves García Benito, who works for the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos - Andalucía (Association for Human Rights - Andalucía). She addresses a debate that took place in Spain about whether there is indifference by the West towards the deaths of African would-be migrants. Looking at the situation in the Strait of Gibraltar, Nieves García Benito argues that there are hidden interests served by the current situation, and that while there there are hundreds of dead people who are not killed by anybody, a different immigration law, or even the absence of an immigration law, would save hundreds of lives.
SPAIN/ARGENTINA: Argentinean torturer faces charges after extradition to Spain
Ricardo Cavallo, a former Argentinean frigate captain, was remanded in custody by judge Baltasar Garzón on 29 June 2003 in Soto del Real high security prison to the north of Madrid, following his extradition from Mexico the day before. He is charged with genocide, torture and terrorism during the years of the Argentinean military junta.
UK:Surveillance of teenagers extended nationally
The Youth Justice Board's Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP), which subjects juveniles to intensive supervision with close surveillance, including electronic tagging, is to be extended nationally. ISSP's were introduced in the summer of 2001 and currently cover three quarters of England and Wales with 50 schemes and 119 Youth Offending teams.
Civil liberties - in brief
UK: 2 million samples on DNA database; Spain: Two more Al Qaida suspects released; Italy: Fifteen detained Pakistanis freed
SPAIN/ITALY: Dinghy deaths continue
As EU governments prepared for a summit in the Greek seaside resort of Porto Carras on 20-21 June 2003 (where they agreed an increase in the level of funding allocated to combat illegal immigration) news of more migrant drownings filtered through from the southern borders of the Union reminding them of the human cost of the prohibitionist approach towards immigration.
SPAIN: New reform of the Ley de extranjería
On 23 May 2003, two days before the last local and regional elections, the Spanish government again used immigration as an electoral issue, passing a new reform of the Ley de extranjería (the Spanish immigration law), and using an urgent procedure to do so.
EU: Migrants to be expelled in unmarked police cars
The Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has put forward a proposal to: "terminate the illegal residence of third country nationals" by deporting them overland across the EU until: "the third country national has been finally removed from the territory of the Member States". The proposal is for a Council Directive to be adopted that would be binding on member states.
UK: Citizenship ceremony
From 24 April 2004 a citizenship oath and pledge of loyalty will become compulsory for the 100,000 adult immigrants applying for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen each year
UK-US: New Extradition Treaty
On 31 March, David Blunkett, UK Home Secretary, signed an Extradition Treaty on behalf of the UK with his United States counterpart, Attorney General Tom Ashcroft, ostensibly bringing the US into line with procedures between European countries.
DENMARK: Fundamental legal principles under attack
One of the latest laws to be passed by the Liberal-Conservative government, with the support of the Social Democrats and the Danish Peoples Party, extends police methods of fighting "Rocker criminality and other organised crime". The three main changes concern a) the use of civil agents in criminal milieus with the right to initiate limited criminal activities in order to introduce undercover police agents; b) the use of anonymous witnesses in the courtroom without the accused or the defence lawyer knowing their identity and; c) limiting access for the accused and their lawyer to material which forms the basis for a specific charge.
ITALY: Subversive association proceedings continue
At a hearing on 15 July in Catanzaro (Calabria, in southern Italy), Cosenza prosecutor Domenico Fiordalisi submitted new evidence to suggest that a group of 20 activists from the Rete del sud ribelle network arrested in raids around southern Italy (in the regions of Campania, Calabria and Apulia) on 15 November 2002
are part of a subversive association. The hearing followed a ruling through which the Court of Cassation annulled a previous decision to free the activists taken by a court in Catanzaro in December, due to irregularities in the composition of the court.
Law - in brief
International Criminal Court: Blair accused of Iraq war crimes; Greece: Concern over sentence; France: law and order
EU: Convention a step backwards for European democracy
According to the website europeansecurity.net the Draft Constitution of the European Convention means a big step forwards for the EU's military plans but a step backwards for European democracy. The draft "gives greater powers to the executive branches of national governments in the areas of foreign, security and defence policy without increasing their accountability to either their national parliaments or the European parliament."
EUROPEAN COUNCIL: Operations Artemis & Concordia
The Council of the European Union adopted on 5 June 2003 a Joint Action approving the deployment of 1,500, predominantly French, troops to the Ituri district of north-eastern Congo as an interim emergency multinational force. The immediate cause for the sending of troops was the massacre of over 500 civilians in the Bunia area in inter-ethnic fighting in the weeks before.
UK: Police investigate British military atrocities in Kenya
The Metropolitan Police's SO13 anti-terrorist branch launched a war crimes inquiry in January into accusations that British soldiers were involved in atrocities during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. The inquiry will determine whether the governments of Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan allowed the brutal suppression of the uprising in which tens of thousands of Africans died, killed either directly through British security forces or by their supporters.
UK: Iraq veteran attacked Asian man
A soldier, recently returned from action during the invasion of Iraq, received 100 hours community service and a one year rehabilitation order at Worcester magistrates court in July after a drunken attack on an Asian man in a restaurant. Adam Fleming, a private in 23 Pioneer Regiment in Malvern attacked Shazan Khalid calling him an "Iraqi bastard" and headbutting him in the face. Mr Khan is from Kashmir.
Military - in brief
NATO: Transport measures agreed; Czech Republic: Army reform and Iraq support
GREECE: Thessalonika policing condemned
A series of press releases issued by the Legal Team 2003, set up on the occasion of the Thessaloniki European Council on 19 and 20 June 2003 has highlighted instances during and after the summit in which the Greek police are alleged to have acted illegally, disregarding the rights of demonstrators.
UK: "Flying squad" corruption (under)exposed
In June "Operation Ethiopia", an inquiry into some of the most serious instances of police corruption among a group of elite Flying Squad officers since the 1970s, resulted in five police officers being jailed for up to seven years.
UK: Liberty director joins IPCC
The Home Secretary is trying to give the new Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) a credibility that all its predecessors have lacked by appointing known critics to top posts.
UK: First verdict of "suicide by cop"
On 9 May 2003 a jury at Hornsey Coroner's Court in London recorded the first verdict of "suicide by cop" in the case of a person shot dead by police. There are strong indications that the verdict may be sought more regularly in the future.
UK: High court upholds "name and shame" ban
In June the High court upheld an earlier ruling that Essex police's "name and shame" campaign, in which they proposed to publish a photograph of a convicted man on posters in the area where he lived, could not be put into operation as it may be illegal. Emulating policing initiatives in the USA, where pictures of convicts displaying placards bearing the words "I am a burglar" are not uncommon, Essex police had wanted to place about 40 posters featuring the man's face and details with the words: "If you commit a crime in Brentwood your name and image will be on this poster."
GERMANY: Undercover officers attacked
On 14 July, a Hamburg court sentenced three police officers to 12 months probation for beating up two plainclothes police officers at a demonstration in Hamburg in November last year. The case highlights police violence by the Thuringian Beweissicherungs - und Festnahmeeinheit (Evidence and Arrest Unit, BFE).
AUSTRIA: Paramedics watch death during police arrest
On 15 July, 33-year-old Mauritanian Cheibani Wague died after being injected with the tranquilliser Haldol when police officers were called to a dispute at his workplace. The incident was caught on camera and showed the police sitting on Mr Wague whilst he was handcuffed and lying on the ground - as well as
paramedics standing on the victim and failing to give first-aid as he lay motionless.
GERMANY: From Gothenburg to Genoa: Anti-repression day and remembrance of Carlo Giuliani
On 20 July, the second anniversary of the Genoa summit protests, a national demonstration took place in Berlin. In Genoa, workshops and discussions were held during the week before 20 July. In Berlin, around 500 people marched from the Italian embassy to the Swedish embassy and the demonstration closed with a rally at the Brandenburg Gate. At the rally speakers demanded the decriminalisation of protest and an immediate halt to the proceedings against protesters whose trials have been marked by fabricated police evidence and unusually harsh sentences.
Policing - in brief
UK: Proposed extension of anti-terrorism powers; UK: Police numbers; UK: Firearms training on the increase; Northern Ireland: Police officers get corruption hotline
UK: Prisoners regard HMP Parkhurst as "institutionally racist"
Black and Asian inmates at Parkhurst prison regard the jail as "institutionally racist" according to a report by Anne Owers, the Chief Inspector of Prisons. Conditions were found to have deteriorated at the 500-inmate jail since the previous visit two years previously.
UK: Prison Service in crisis
By July 2003, with the prison population rising to over 74,000, there appeared to be a general recognition amongst criminal justice professionals and prison reform campaigners that the prison service was sliding into crisis. The prison population was increasing by an average 15 prisoners a week, and even on its own terms the prison service is struggling to cope. The UK has the highest imprisonment rate in the European Union at 139 per 100,000. Internal Home Office security reports, produced weekly by the prison service security group, show up to six serious security alerts each week, with more than 1,200 security incidents over a snapshot 14 days inside the 135 prisons of the England and Wales prison estate. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, warned that overcrowding means that the prison service is heading for "crunch point".
Prisons - in brief
UK: Prison authorities breached Article 3; UK: Prisoner's rights breached
Racism and fascism
BELGIUM: Far-right Vlaams Bloc make gains
The Belgian general election in May saw the far-right Vlaams Bloc achieve its largest vote in its twenty-five year history, five months after "race riots" in the port city of Antwerp. The anti-immigration organisation increased its vote in its strongholds and received 18% of the votes in Flanders, the northern Flemish speaking part of Belgium. This led the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, to warn that the impact of the far-right should not be underestimated. It has suggested that the Bloc will soon overtake the Christian Democrats in Flanders.
Racism and fascism - in brief
UK: New police investigation into far-rightr; Spain: Racist attacks
* In addition, the bulletin carries a round-up of new books, reports and publications
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