Statewatch journal
monitoring civil liberties in the European Union

April-June 2008, vol 18 no 2

Features

EU: EU Future Group: Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation on justice and home affairs to be created plus spying drones, European Gendarmerie, principle of “convergence” and the “digital tsunami” by Tony Bunyan
The Council of the European Union's "Future Group" presented its final reports to the Justice and Home Affairs Council's July 2008 meeting. The Group was charged with drawing up a new JHA programme for 2010-2014, following the "Tampere" programme (1999-2004) and the "Hague" programme (2005-2009).

EU: The “digital tsunami” and the EU surveillance state by Tony Bunyan
“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts."

SPAIN: The obstruction, discrediting and criminalisation of groups that report torture by Yasha Maccanico
On 25 April 2008, the Coordinadora para la Prevención de la Tortura (CPT), a coalition of 44 civil society groups working on the issue of torture in Spain (one group is from Portugal), produced a report entitled Discrediting, obstructing and criminalising the activities of social and professional bodies that denounce torture in the Spanish State. It argues that people reporting human rights complaints face hostility from authorities as a result of their claims.

EU: Global outcry at EU “Returns” Directive - business as usual for “Fortress Europe” by Ben Hayes
The European Parliament and the EU Council have agreed a Directive on the expulsion of “illegal” migrants. The Directive will impose a maximum detention period of up to 18 months for people being deported and a five year EU re-entry ban for all those expelled. The agreement was greeted with widespread condemnation from the human rights community and beyond. “Europe no longer the cradle of human rights”, rallied a typical press release; the EU has “legalised barbarism” in its “darkest days”, said critics.

NETHERLANDS: Immigration detention - systematic and inhumane by Katrin McGauran
The Netherlands has the highest rate of immigrant detention per capita in the whole of Europe. Despite serious human rights concerns, the government has decided to build even more detention facilities, with the help, and to the profit, of private businesses.

UK: Coming for the Kids: Big Brother and the Pied Pipers of Surveillance by Ben Hayes and Max Rowlands
We were asked to write this article after giving a talk to privacy advocates in Canada in which we noted the widespread deployment of biometric identification systems – fingerprinting – in British schools.(1) This practice, we suggested, is but one feature of a rapidly developing "surveillance society" in the UK in which so-called "kiddyprinting" is among a host of measures aimed at keeping tabs on British children.(2)

SWITZERLAND: Private spy on mission for Nestle by Dinu Gautier
Nestlégate: The food multinational Nestlé infiltrated a group of globalisation critics writing a book on the company. The assignment was carried out by the private security firm Securitas.

EU: FOI in the EU: When is a “document” not a “document”? by Tony Bunyan
The European Commission has put forward a number of changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents adopted in 2001. Controversially it proposes to change the definition of a "document" which in turn affect which would or would not be listed on its public register of documents. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the European Ombudsman has just ruled that the Commission must abide by the existing definition of a "document" in the Regulation and that it must list all the documents it hold on its public register?

EU: Proposal to amend the Regulation on access to EU documents speech by Steve Peers to the European Parliament on behalf of Statewatch, 2 June 2008

ITALY: Institutionalising discrimination by Yasha Maccanico
The racist scape-goating of Roma and Sinti has paved the way for an ominous crackdown by the Berlusconi government with echoes of a terrible past and could lead to a shift to authoritarianism that will be difficult to reverse.


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


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