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    ISSN 1756-851X
    26 June 2016

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25 June 2016, London: Statewatching Europe
European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary

UK: Supreme Court finds migrant workers not protected by discrimination laws (Free Movement, link): "In short the court concludes that immigration status as a domestic worker is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The court suggests that the law should be amended to remedy this protection gap and refers to the particular vulnerability of migrants on tied visas and the review of the type of visa in 2015"

See: Supreme Court press summary (pdf) and: Judgment: Taiwo (Appellant) v Olaigbe and another (Respondents) - Onu (Appellant) v Akwiwu and another (Respondents) (pdf)

EU: European Border and Coast Guard: Parliament and Council compromise position

On 22 June negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached an "informal agreement" on the text for a Regulation establishing a European Border and Coast Guard, which will upgrade the Frontex agency with an increased role in returns, greater access to technical equipment, more powers for liaison officers and new possibilities for the Council to reintroduce border controls where states refuse to accept asssistance from the new agency.

A leaked copy of the text (pdf, html) sets out the positions of the institutions and the compromise text, which will be voted on by the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on 27 June and, if they agree to it, by the full Parliament in July.

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.6.16)

Macedonia charges protesters in 'Colourful Revolution' (Al Jazeera, link):

"A former political science professor and trade unionist-turned-organiser, Saveski is among at least 34 demonstrators who have been dealt charges since mass anti-corruption protests broke out in early April, according to local activists."

European Parliament: MEPs ask EU to verify whether Turkey is shooting Syrians who try to cross border (Press release, pdf):

"The European Union should check the veracity of reports that Turkish border guards are shooting and killing Syrians who are trying to flee their country, said the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs also asked the European Commission to assess whether the EU-Turkey deal to manage migration and refugee flows can continue to apply in these circumstances."

European Court of Human Rights: Grand Chamber hearing concerning the confinement and return to Tunisia of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy by sea (Press release, pdf):

"The case concerns the detention in a reception centre on Lampedusa and subsequently on ships moored in Palermo harbour, as well as the return to Tunisia, of clandestine migrants who had landed on the Italian coast in 2011 during the events linked to the “Arab Spring”....

The applicants, Saber Ben Mohamed Ben Ali Khlaifia, Fakhreddine Ben Brahim Ben Mustapha Tabal and Mohamed Ben Habib Ben Jaber Sfar, are Tunisian nationals who were born in 1983, 1987 and 1988 respectively. Mr Khlaifia lives in Om Laarass (Tunisia) and Mr Tabal and Mr Sfar live in El Mahdia (Tunisia)....

On 1 February 2016 the case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the request of the Italian Government"

See also Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunis ians in 2011 (pdf)

European Parliament: Plan to check EU citizens at external borders backed by civil liberties MEPs (Press release, pdf)

"An EU Commission plan to systematically check all EU citizens entering or leaving the EU was endorsed by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Members amended the proposal to enable member states to run targeted checks, as an exception, in the event of lengthy delays and provided that security is not at risk."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.6.16)

Greece Overhauls Appeals To Speed Up Returns To Turkey (News That Moves, link):

"The Greek Parliament voted late last week to change the composition of the Appeals Committees who are tasked with examining the claims and appeals of asylum seekers who crossed into Greece from Turkey after March 20.

The legal amendments state that Committees will now be composed of two judges appointed by the government and one member nominated by UNHCR. In the previous structure, there was one civil servant and two independent experts nominated by UNHCR and by the Greek National Commission for Human Rights (GNCHR).

The GNCHR yesterday expressed concern about the constitutionality of the Committees’ new composition and the timing of the additional reforms." [emphasis added]

Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung: A love-hate relationship - Far-right parties and the European Union (link)

"This publication analyzes the success and danger posed by the right-wing populist parties in the EU. It outlines the broad spectrum of parties on the right of the conservative European People's Party (EPP) and lights their organization in the EU Parliament and networks. What are the weaknesses and problems of the right-wing parties in the formation of a stable alliance? What are their effects and what are their electoral promises and topics? The EU, by contrast, is presented as the embodiment as everything politically negative and as such has become the chief reference framework of right-wing populism. Sometimes there are overlaps between right populists in the EU and representatives of the Russian establishment."

See: The full report (pdf) by Thilo Janssen

And see: European support for far right extremism reaches 1930s scale by Nafeez Ahmed (link)

UK: House of Commons report: Cyber Security: Protection of Personal Data Online (pdf):

"Although the TalkTalk cyber-attack in October 2015 was the trigger for this inquiry, it is essential to put this attack in context. Cyber-crime is a significant and growing problem and affects all sectors with an on-line platform or service. As the British Business Federation Authority said in their evidence to the Committee:

The TalkTalk incident is one of many that have happened and continue to happen. To consider it in isolation of others would be misleading. The overall context is complex and changing fast... The problem space is international."

Greece sidelines officials who blocked expulsion of refugees to Turkey (The Guardian, link): "The Greek government has sidelined members of an independent authority that had blocked the deportation of Syrian refugees, following sustained pressure from other European countries.

Greek MPs voted on Thursday to change the composition of the country’s asylum appeals board, in an attempt to sideline officials who had objected on legal grounds to the expulsion of Syrians listed for deportation to Turkey.

See also: The government manipulates the Asylum Appeals Committees (AnalyzeGreece, link), link in Greek and: Letter by members of the Asylum Appeals Committees of Greece (Presidential Decree 114/2010), regarding the latest developments in the asylum claims review process (pdf)

EU-TURKEY: New information platform on EU-Turkey migration policy launched: “A critical monitoring of the EU-Turkey deal is absolutely necessary” (pdf): "“In the situation we are facing right now, we feel that it is crucial to establish a critical and free source of information, which aims at strengthening the power of civil society”, explains Lülüfer Körükmez. Activists and the interested public, as well as researchers and journalists should use the information provided by HarekAct to follow, initiate and comment on recent debates, discourses and activities around migration policies." See: HarekAct (link)

And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.6.16): Greece "enlightened" on asylum appeals committees by other EU governments; EP Foreign Affairs Committee opinion on EU safe third countries list; Austria to help Hungary "secure" border; and more.

EU: Operation Sophia: Anti-smuggling operation extended for a year and given two new tasks

The EU's Foreign Affairs Council has approved a one-year extension of the mandate of Operation Sophia, the EU military mission in the Mediterranean that was launched with the aim of hampering migrant smuggling. Following the approval of a UN Security Council Resolution last week, the operation will now also take on two new tasks: training the Libyan coastguard and navy and implementing a UN arms embargo on the high seas off the Libyan coast.

EU-US: EU biometric data collection welcomed by US

According to the minutes of the most recent EU-US justice and home affairs ministerial meeting, held in Amsterdam on 1 and 2 June, the US: "commended the EU collection of biometric data which had facilitated the fight against terrorism and the work of US law enforcement."

The minutes then note that: "The US offered to cooperate closely with European partners on collected data."

EU: The far-right in the European Parliament: what have they done?

A new analysis by VoteWatch Europe examines the European parliamentary efforts of the far-right group Europe of Nations and Freedom between 1 August 2015 and early June 2016. The group is made up of the National Front (France), Flemish Interest (Belgium), the Northern League (Italy), the Austrian Freedom Party, the Party for Freedom (Netherlands), and the Congress of the New Right (Poland).

EASO recruits security firm giant G4S: LESVOS, GREECE: New Security on Greek Islands Reduces Access: European migration commentator Apostolis Fotiadis probes the legality of the European Asylum Support Office’s decision to limit access to asylum proceedings as part of new security measures on the Greek islands.(News Deeply - Refugees Deeply, link):

"On June 9, the Lawyers Association of Mitilini (Lesvos) sued the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) for obstructing access to asylum proceedings by its members. The lawyers claim that EASO officials and private security guards are prohibiting access to specific areas of the holding centers, also called hotspots, that host the EASO offices and the asylum proceedings."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.6.16)

ITALY: Oxfam report: HOTSPOT, RIGHTS DENIED (pdf):

"The lack of a legal framework is threatening the rights of migrants reaching the Italian shore. Oxfam calls for immediate and mid-term action....

The European response to the refugee crisis is proving ineffective and dangerous. Ineffective, because it is failing to hold back the migratory flows, which was its main objective, and to ensure an appropriate management of incoming migrants, as we will see in this report which tries to describe the situation in Sicily."

And: Report in Italian (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.6.16)

UK: Mainstream politicians ‘clueless on migration debate’, says Jo Cox's husband - Brendan Cox vows to continue work on building international alliance to combat populist right’s focus on public’s fears (Guardian, link)

"The husband of Jo Cox plans to continue with a project that aims to build an international alliance to combat “the dangerous breeding ground” of economic insecurity on which the populist right has fed across European politics.

Brendan Cox has let it be known that he is determined to continue with the work in memory of his wife, who was killed on Thursday, but believes this will only succeed if lessons can be learned from why the right has so far taken the initiative on the migration issue."

Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan

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