monitoring civil liberties in the European Union
May-August 2005, vol 15 no 3/4
Front page lead
EU: COSI - Standing Committee on Internal Security rescued from the debris of the EU Constitution
In Statewatch vol 15 no 1 concern was expressed as to the role of the proposed Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI) to be set up under Article III-261 of the EU Constitution. Now that it seems very unlikely that the EU Constitution will be adopted it might be assumed that COSI would not see the light of day - on the contrary it is one of the first projects to be rescued.
UK: e-Borders plan to tackle "threats"
When it comes to border controls the UK is going to be way ahead of both the EU and the USA. The scheme is one of the most advanced in the world - but will not be fully in place until at least 2018. Once it is, the UK's "e-Borders" system will be with us for evermore and the original, legitimating purposes, terrorism and organised crime in this case, can grow exponentially. As the police purposes in the RIA spell, the system is not just needed for "terrorism and organised crime" but "to support general police and criminal justice functions".
UK: "The rules of the game are changing" (Tony Blair)
On 7 July 2005 came the terrorist attacks we had long been told were inevitable. The real shock came several days later, when it transpired that the "suicide bombers" were young British men. The issue of "why" they bombed London, however, has proved dangerously divisive. While pretty much everyone accepted that the decision to go to war in Iraq made London at least a more likely target, the government and its supporters have predictably denied this at every opportunity and instead argued that the bombings could not have had anything other than a religious or "extremist" motivation. Within the "war on terror", this paves the way for a new "war" on Islamic extremism. The "rules of the game are changing" said Blair chillingly announcing the latest in a developing raft of proposals to "fill in the gaps" on an already crowded statute book.
GERMANY: Nothing doing? Taking stock of data trawling operations in Germany after 11 September 2001 by Martina Kant
After 11.9.01, nationwide data-trawling operations based on profiling led to the collection and classification of personal data from around 8.3 million people. This infringed the constitutional data protection right to "self-determination about personal data" (Grundrecht auf informationelle Selbstbestimmung) of every tenth inhabitant of the Federal Republic of Germany. What for? That the Rasterfahndung was accompanied by failures and mishaps is revealed in a classified report of by Federal Crime Police Authority (Bundeskriminalamt - BKA). Despite this, the BKA, police and interior ministers continue to sell database trawling as an appropriate means of finding potential terrorists. The "deterrent effect" and the "investigation pressure" has led to "insecurity" in fundamentalist groups and this is seen as an achievement.
GERMANY: Return to an Aliens Police Law? Anti-terrorist legislation in Germany's new Immigration Act by Marei Pelzer
Anti-terror laws introduced after 11.9.01 particularly curtailed the rights of migrants and refugees living in Germany. The new immigration law is a continuation of this "aktionismus" [taking action for the sake of it] legislation. Its centrepiece is the deportation of terror suspects without prior conviction. The Immigration Act, which came into force on 1 January 2005, contains immense reinforcements of security measures. Rather than abolishing the threat prevention aspects that characterised the former "Aliens Act", the new law extended them. Instead of creating a modern immigration law, the regulation has extended measures resembling pre-democratic "Aliens Police Laws".
POLAND: Gay rights demo - banned and attacked by far-right
On 11 June, around 2,500 people took part in a gay rights demonstration in Warsaw against homophobia. German Green Party MPs Claudia Roth and Volker Beck as well as Polish deputy prime minister Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka and parliamentary vice president Tomacz Nalecz took part in the protest - and a conference on the situation of gay rights in Poland. Around 300 protesters from various fascist and right-wing organisations organised a counter demonstration and tried to attack participants. Gay rights, however, are not only attacked by the far-right in Poland; the demonstration was not authorised by Warsaw's mayor Lech Kaczyñski who said it was "sexually obscene".
GERMANY: Interior Ministers' security plans for the 2006 World Cup
Since the announcement that Germany will host football's World Cup in 2006, Interior Ministers have begun planning security measures that involve surveillance, biometrics, preventative policing and data exchange. On 25 May, a special Interior Ministers conference (IMK) in Stuttgart passed the measures, which envisage increased CCTV surveillance, the possible suspension of the Schengen Convention, preventative detention and increased international police cooperation. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) transponders will be integrated into fans' tickets to check their movements and to "prevent fraud". Data protection officers believe that the World Cup will be used as a large-scale experiment to promote RFID technology in the commercial sector.
Civil Liberties - in brief
UK: UK Watch launched; UK: GMB demands an end to tagging in "battery farm" workplaces
ITALY: Regional governors oppose detention centres
Regional governors and representatives of 14 of Italy's 20 regions held a meeting on 11 July 2005 in Bari (Apulia) to express their opposition to the network of detention centres for migrants, known as CPTs. The initiative followed an appeal issued by Nichi Vendola, the newly-elected Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation party, PRC) regional governor of Apulia, which received the backing of 13 other regional governors after the regional elections in April 2005 saw the centre-left coalition winning in a majority of Italian regions.
GERMANY: 50,000 in danger of losing citizenship
On 1 January 2000, a new citizenship law was passed in Germany denying the right to dual nationality (see Statewatch vol 9 nos 2, 3 & 4). Similar to the recent immigration law reform (see Statewatch vol 15 no 1), the citizenship proposals started out as an attempt to liberalise the existing law, which was based on the blood principle ('Jus sanguinis'), but was met with a populist campaign by the conservative Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) and her sister party Christlich-Soziale Union (CSU), who launched a petition to "mobilise the population" against the reforms, particularly those amendments relating to dual nationality. They collected five million signatures with the result that existing citizenship law denies dual nationality. Children born of foreigners have to decide on their nationality by the age of 23 and revoke one passport.
Immigration - in brief
Germany: Courts challenge authorities' orders to deport Imams; Italy/Spain/Libya/Morocco: Deaths in the Mediterranean
UK: Demonstrator wins right to protest outside Parliament
In July, Brian Haw, the anti-war protester who has been demonstrating outside parliament for the past four years, won his High Court challenge against new laws that threatened to evict him. Under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which became law earlier this year, from 1 August all protestors have to obtain police permission before staging a demonstration in the half-mile area around Westminster. Haw, who has been camping in Parliament Square since June 2001, sought permission from the High Court for judicial review on the basis that his protest pre-dates the new laws. On 29 July the three judges who heard his case ruled, by a 2-1 majority, that the law could not be used to evict Haw and further that he need not apply for permission to continue his protest.
EUROPE: Satellite wars
The German government has threatened to use "all peaceful means" (transport minister Stolpe) to stop France gaining control over Europe's £2 billion Galileo satellite program. Galileo is designed to break the strategic dependence from America's GPS (Global Positioning System).
IRAQ/UK: British soldiers face war crimes charges
In July the Attorney General announced further charges against British soldiers for war crimes in Iraq. In all eleven soldiers have been charged in connection with two cases in which detainees, Baha Mousa and Ahmed Kareem, died. All of the soldiers will face a court martial.
IRELAND/UK: Historic statement marks end of IRA armed campaign
Article provides the full text of July's historic statement by the Provisional IRA announcing the end of their armed campaign for self-determination.
Military - in brief
Iraq: At least 25,000 civilian deaths from US-UK invasion of Iraq
GERMANY: Rebuff for European Arrest Warrant
A successful appeal by the German-Syrian businessman Mamoun Darkazanli (46) to his extradition to Spain under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has led to Darkazanli's release from prison, where he was detained since 8 October 2004 - as well as the revocation of the German law that implemented the EAW in June 2004. The EAW changed extradition procedures within the EU which now do not require the extraditing state to ensure that the crime in question exists in national law. The decision by the Federal Constitutional Court was welcomed by civil liberties groups and criticised by government officials as "a serious blow to the fight against terrorism" (Justice minister Brigitte Zypries). The European Commission has asserted that the German court decision only found the implementing law at fault and not the EU framework decision itself.
UK: Minister confirms that tasers are "dangerous weapons"
The Home Office minister, Hazel Blears, has belatedly joined criticism aimed at the safety of the Taser stun gun which was issued to some police officers in England and Wales last September (see Statewatch Vol. 14 no. 6). Blears made her unexpected intervention during an interview with the Police Review journal when she rejected issuing the stun guns to all police officers arguing that it was a "dangerous weapon" and could "drive a wedge between the [police] service and the public."
SPAIN: Nine Guardia Civil officers suspended in death in custody case
The death in a Guardia Civil station in Roquetas de Mar (Almería) of Juan Martínez Galdeano, a 39-year-old farmer who had gone to the station because of a road accident in which he had been involved on 24 July 2005, resulted in nine officers, including the lieutenant in charge, being suspended for six months pending an internal investigation into the beating suffered by the man, which was a direct cause of his death, according to the autopsy.
Policing - in brief
Austria: COE criticises Austrian police for violent conduct
UK: Prison suicides "a shaming indictment" of penal system
Thirteen prisoners took their own lives in June 2005.
UK: HM Prisons Inspectorate reports
Recent reports by Anne Owers, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, on the Young Offender's Institutions (YOI) at Stoke Heath and Brinsford were damning in their findings as to the treatment of young adults. At Stoke Heath, inspectors highlighted concerns about safety procedures and the inadequacy of provision for young adults in particular. Weaknesses in management of suicide and self-harm, anti-bullying and child protection measures were all identified. Some special cells were deemed to be unfit for their purpose. More than half of the young adults at Stoke Heath were locked up at any one point. One-quarter reported victimisation by staff. Owers noted that as well as local management failures there were clear systemic failures resulting from the under-resourcing of provision for young adults and the over-representation of vulnerable and mentally disturbed young people in the prison.
Prisons - in brief
UK: Prison population reaches another new high
Racism & Fascism
ITALY: "Parallel" anti-terrorist unit run by fascists
Inquiries conducted by judges in Genoa threw up a worrying discovery, in the shape of an unofficial self-styled anti-terrorist information unit, the Dipartimento di Studi Strategici Antiterrorismo (DSSA, Department of Strategic Antiterrorist Studies), which has been operating since 26 March 2004. It is under investigation for usurping and using powers reserved for the judicial police to carry out investigations and surveillance operations targeting Muslims, as well as enjoying access to information held in the databases of law enforcement agencies, as a result of involvement in the organisation by members of the police, carabinieri (Italy's paramilitary police force), the Guardia di Finanza (customs and excise police) and the polizia penitenziaria (prison police). Giuseppe Pisanu, the interior minister, has suspended policemen involved in the network.
Racism & Fascism - in brief
Italy: Piazza Fontana bombing suspects acquitted; UK: BNP defeated in by-election; UK: BNP founder dies
Security & Intelligence
GERMANY: Rendition - Khaled el-Masri's claim substantiated
On 9 January this year, the New York Times broke the story of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese decent, which has now become a delicate issue between the German and US authorities. El-Masri's ordeal started in December 2003, when he was travelling from Germany to Macedonia for a New Year's holiday, where he was seized by Macedonian police at the border, held incommunicado for weeks without charge, then beaten, stripped, shackled and blindfolded. In January 2004, he was brought, most likely by CIA agents, to a jail in Afghanistan, run by Afghans but controlled by Americans. In June 2004, five months after first being seized, he was flown back to Europe and dumped at the Albanian border.
Security & Intelligence - in brief
UK: Lest we forget - these were "Blair's bombs"
* In addition, the bulletin carries a round-up of new books, reports and publications
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