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March 2017

UK-EU: The "Great Repeal Bill - White Paper: Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)

See: The White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill: Invasion of the Parliamentary Control Snatchers (EU Law Analysis, link)

See also: 'Great repeal bill' will create sweeping powers to change laws for Brexit - David Davis tells critics bill transposing EU legislation into UK law will allow for technical but not substantive changes (Guardian, link)

Statewatch comment: Statutory Instrument law-making: SIs are a form of legislation that allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be brought into force or altered without a formal Act of Parliament (they are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation). SIs are subject to "parliamentary approval" only in the sense that they "laid before Parliament". Draft SIs in fact automatically become law after a short period if no-one objects.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.3.17) including: Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants, new report on migrant integration in the EU.

Hungary insists on bill that could shut down Soros university (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary said it will not withdraw new legislation to regulate foreign universities that a Budapest school founded by American philanthropist George Soros says could force it out of the country.

The Central European University (CEU) said yesterday (29 March) that the bill proposed this week was unacceptable and that it threatened academic freedom in Hungary, whose Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has clashed with Soros-funded organizations.

CEU rector Michael Ignatieff met with Education Secretary Laszlo Palkovics late on Wednesday and told him the university demanded the bill be withdrawn and that rules ensuring foreign universities can operate freely are put in place.

The government said it was open to negotiations but would not withdraw the bill."

UK: Doubts over stated "benefits" of titan prison plans

"Our Director, Richard Garside, has written to the Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, calling for her to publish a secret Ministry of Justice report on the economic impact of new prisons.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice announced plans to build four new prisons in Yorkshire, Wigan, Rochester and Port Talbot. According to the Ministry, the new prisons will 'act as a boost to regional economies' and create 'new opportunities for local businesses.'

According to the Justice Secretary, the prisons would be an 'economic lifeline for the local community – creating hundreds of jobs for local people'.

The Ministry's claims of a jobs bonanza are based on a secret report written by consultants, Peter Brett Associates, called Economic Impact of a New Prison. The report remains unpublished, despite a Freedom of Information request made by our Senior Associate, Rebecca Roberts."

See: Letter to Justice Secretary on prison jobs bonanza claim (CCJS, link)

Background: Four 'supersized' prisons to be built in England and Wales (The Guardian, link):

"[Ministry of Justice officials] also stressed that the new jails would create 2,000 jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries and provide a boost to regional economies across the country."

UK: Security and Visions of the Criminal: Technology, Professional Criminality and Social Change in Victorian and Edwardian Britain (British Journal of Criminology, link) by David Churchill:

"The later 19th century saw the formation of two distinct visions of serious criminality. Previous studies of the weak-willed, ‘degenerate’ offender, have neglected the simultaneous appearance of the modern professional criminal. This essay reveals that the rise of the security industry in the Victorian era served to reshape notions of criminal professionalism, imbuing them with a new emphasis on the technical proficiency of thieves. This image of the criminal provided an outlet for ambivalent reflections on social and technological change, much as similar, high-security visions of the criminal have ever since. Hence, this essay both traces the origins of a neglected aspect of modern criminological thought and reconstructs the historical role of security provision in shaping visions of the criminal."

GREECE: European Court of Human Rights Rules in Favor of Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Greek Abuse (Open Society Foundations, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Greece to pay a group of migrant Bangladeshi agricultural workers €588,000 in compensation, in its first ever ruling dealing with the exploitation of irregular migrant labor.

The case, Chowdury and others v. Greece, was brought by 42 workers following violence directed against strawberry pickers in Nea Manolada in the Peloponnese in 2013, after they protested and their employers' failure to pay wages for several months. More than 30 workers were injured after armed guards at the site started shooting at the protestors.

Subsequently, the employers involved were charged by Greek prosecutors with labor trafficking, but acquitted because the workers were physically free to leave the farm. The two guards who opened fire were convicted of causing dangerous bodily harm, but their sentences were commuted to fines."

See also: joint statement by PICUM and the AIRE Centre: Court rules in favour of undocumented workers' rights (pdf) and the ECHR press release (pdf) and judgment (French only, pdf)

What lies beyond criminal justice? Developing transformative solutions (EG Press, link) by JM Moore and Rebecca Roberts:

"Criminal justice failure has been well-documented. The traditional response to this failure has been to seek out alternatives. However, by their very nature, alternatives are usually conceived and positioned in relation to the failed criminal justice interventions they seek to replace. In this paper we focus on an initiative, Justice Matters, which seeks to provide a model, not for developing alternatives to criminal justice failure, but instead the creation of transformative solutions to a range of social problems. To illustrate the potential of this approach we explore two examples: drugs and violence against women.

Central to our argument is that for nearly all social problems, solutions already exist. But they exist beyond the boundaries of criminal justice and its experts. By drawing on appropriate knowledge – health for drugs and feminism for gendered violence; – aligned to a political commitment to social justice, we argue it is possible to develop transformative solutions which can provide the foundation for a society that lies beyond criminal justice."

Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants: sources (Reuters, link):

"Libya has asked the European Union to provide it with ships and radars to help its forces stop the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean, sources in Brussels said.

They said EU foreign ministers would review the "shopping list" at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, but would not be able to meet all the requests.

The bloc is supporting the government of Prime Minister Fayez Seraj in the hope it can gain control over the whole country after years of chaos and fighting. In exchange, it wants his help on preventing African refugees and migrants from embarking from the coast of Libya for Europe."

And see: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, February 2017)

UK: Prison system’s ‘failings’ caused death of Pentonville inmate found hanged (Islington Tribune, link):

"THE death of a Pentonville prisoner was caused by “numerous failings… from the time he came under care until the moment of his death”, an inquest has found.

Multiple areas of the system at the Caledonian Road jail were at fault, a jury examining the death of John Williams concluded on Friday.

Mr Williams, a Catholic, was found hanged in his cell after being refused permission to go to the prison church in June last year."

UK: Roger Pearce confirmed as spycop (Undercover Research Group, link):

"Today, the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing confirmed that former Special Branch commander Roger Pearce had been a spycop. This was something that the Undercover Research Group had first publicly identified in October 2016, having stitched together material from various sources.

It was the police’s own Operation Herne which led the way, giving us the nugget of information that N85, a Special Branch commander had previously been an undercover officer and leading us to the identification. However, when we delved into Pearce’s public appearances, there were plenty of other clues, not least in the way he publicly spoke about spycops."

See: Undercover Policing Inquiry press notice: No anonymity sought for Roger Pearce (pdf)

ECHR-GREECE: Migrants who were subjected to forced labour and human trafficking did not receive effective protection from the Greek State (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Chowdury and Others v. Greece (application no. 21884/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 4 § 2 (prohibition of forced labour) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned 42 Bangladeshi nationals who did not have work permits and were subjected to forced labour. Their employers had recruited them to pick strawberries on a farm in Manolada (Greece) but failed to pay the applicants’ wages and obliged them to work in difficult physical conditions under the supervision of armed guards."

Judgment (French only): AFFAIRE CHOWDURY ET AUTRES c. GRÈCE (application no. 21884/15, pdf)

EU: Regulation on a European Travel Information and Authorisation System: Presidency compromise proposals for Council negotiating position

A document produced by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU suggests a number of compromises for a substantial part of the proposed Regulation for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will be used to vet individuals who don't require visas to visit the EU in a similar manner to the United States' Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

EU: Council Presidency seeks Member States' views on whistleblower protection

The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU is seeking the views of other Member States on the issue of whistleblower protection, inviting them to contribute to an ongoing European Commission consultation on the topic. The note, classified as LIMITE but published here, notes that protecting whistleblowers can contribute to "safeguarding the public interest, reinforcing integrity, transparency and accountability in both public and private organisations."

SPAIN: Proposed law on whistleblowing and corruption is "perverse, megalomaniacal and authoritarian"

A draft whistleblower protection and anti-corruption measure in Spain has been condemned as "a perverse proposal of megalomaniac and antiquated authoritarianism" by civil rights organisation Xnet, who have said that it would create a new organisation able to investigate "any person without any guarantees of legal protection and with no oversight from any system of checks and balances."

UK: Self-harm, depression and child detention uncovered in detention centre inspection

"The number of people self-harming in one of the UK’s immigration detention centres has increased three-fold in four years, an inspection report has revealed, prompting NGOs to highlight an “urgent” need for detention reform."

UK denies woman visa to attend Green Party conference because she's single (The Independent, link):

"Britain’s immigration authority has denied a woman a visa to attend a political conference in the UK on the basis that she is single, according to documents seen by The Independent.

The woman, who is not being named, was set to be a delegate from the Pakistan Green Party to a worldwide congress of Green parties. She had applied for a five-day visa to attend the congress, which runs for four days from Thursday 30 March, and is to be hosted at the ACC in Liverpool.

In her rejection letter from UK Visas & Immigration, dated 15 March, the woman was told that she would not be permitted entry to the UK for reasons hinging on “the fact that you have declared yourself to be single, with no one dependent upon you”."

EU: Dubious cooperation between European secret services in The Hague (Andrej Hunko, link):

"The European Commission has now proposed that a “hub for information exchange” among European police and secret services be established. According to the proposal by the Commission, a “Fusion Centre” could be set up within the remit of the CTG with Europol as a partner. This “more systematic interaction between these authorities” will not be restricted to terrorism, but could also encompass serious cross-border crime. The Federal Government has stated that it has “yet to adopt a conclusive position” on this extension. However, the Federal Ministry of the Interior had relayed its positive experiences of this police and secret services cooperation at the Joint Counter-Terrorism Centre in its briefing to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.

It is already virtually [impossible] to keep tabs on the cooperation between secret services at the European level. No information pertaining to the Club de Berne or to its informal alliance the Counter Terrorism Group has been disclosed to German parliamentarians. With the new “operative platform” in The Hague, the web of secret services is sinking even further into the mire of secrecy."

IRELAND: Belfast law firm to challenge Irish government over inquiries into suspicious deaths (The Detail, link):

"THE Irish government faces a potential High Court challenge over the terms of reference for inquiries into Garda handling of four suspicious deaths.

The families of Patrick Nugent, James Clancy, Shane Touhey, and John Kelly, who died in separate incidents between 1984 and 2008, were granted a statutory inquiry under Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act last year.

But now the families are set to launch a High Court challenge unless the terms of reference are changed to address what they believe is a failure to comply with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)."

UK: Charges brought against 17 Stansted deportation flight activists

"A total of 17 people have been charged following a protest at Stansted Airport that prevented a deportation flight taking off.

The nine women and eight men were each charged with obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity and organising or taking part in a demonstration likely to interfere or obstruct the major Essex airport."

Ukraine: Poroshenko Signs Law Targeting Activists, Journalists and NGOs (OCCRP, link):

"Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday signed into law controversial amendments to legislation that will require anti-corruption NGOs, journalists and activists to publicly declare their income and assets.

The amendments, which will take effect in 2018, mean that any individual working to fight corruption must file publicly accessible e-declarations, in the same way that state officials are required to do. If they fail to comply, they could face criminal penalties.

Jose Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International, said the new provisions "must be abolished immediately," and called them "a vindictive retaliation by lawmakers who are angry that they are required to declare their wealth."

Critics warn that the measure signals the return of authoritarianism and that it will block NGOs’ work and even apply to third parties cooperating with or getting funds from NGOs, such as journalists investigating Ukrainian officials."

Meanwhile: Timeline: Parliament’s continued support for Ukraine (European Parliament, link):

"A visa-free regime for Ukrainians travelling to the EU is just the latest step in the European Parliament’s continued support of Ukraine. The Parliament has consistently shown solidarity by condemning Russia’s military involvement and illegal annexation of Crimea and promoting political and economic reforms."

UK-EU: Brexit Letter to EU (pdf)

"We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement. We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation."

"In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened" [emphasis added]

See also earlier: White Paper (pdf)

And: Statement by the European Council (Art. 50) on the UK notification (pdf); Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the UK notification (pdf)

Reunifying Ireland: An EU law perspective (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On 23 June 2016, Northern Ireland was one of the two UK constituent nations that voted to remain in the EU. Following that, Sinn Féin has called for a referendum for the unification of Ireland and thus for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU. This discussion has intensified after the most recent Northern Ireland Assembly election where the Unionist vote was significantly reduced....

if in the future, the majority of the people in Northern Ireland democratically decide to secede from the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, the EU legal order is able to accommodate such political development. The secession of Northern Ireland will not mean the creation of a new (Member-)State. Instead, it will trigger the territorial expansion of an EU Member State to which EU law already applies in accordance with Article 52 TEU.." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-29.3.17)

EU to propose new rules on police access to encrypted data in June (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission will propose new measures in June to make it easier for police to access encrypted data on internet apps like WhatsApp, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová said yesterday (28 March), heeding calls from national interior ministers.

Jourová said she will announce “three or four options” including binding legislation and voluntary agreements with companies to allow law enforcement authorities to demand information from encrypted apps “with a swift, reliable response”.

Non-legislative measures will be provisional “to have a quick solution”, since negotiations over EU laws can drag on for years before they are passed."

CoE: Ireland should remove obstacles to the equality of Travellers, women and children (link):

"Government should ensure that the economic upturn benefits the most vulnerable groups and should promote equality of Travellers, women and children by removing the barriers that disproportionately hinder them from fully enjoying their rights”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, in a report released today based on a visit to the country carried out in November 2016."

Germany rejects Turkish request to spy on Gulenists (euractiv, link):

"Germany launched a second investigation yesterday (28 March) into suspected spying by Turkey and its interior minister said Berlin would not tolerate foreign espionage on its soil.

Tensions are running high between the two NATO allies ahead of a referendum in Turkey next month that proposes expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Berlin infuriated Ankara by cancelling several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers on German soil, drawing accusations from Turkey of “Nazi” tactics."

Council of the European Union: Progress report on EES and ETIAS

The Council Presidency has produced a report for COREPER and the Mixed Committee (which includes 4 non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) on the "state of play" on: Information Technology (IT) measures related to border management a) Entry/Exit System (EES) b) EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) = Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 7064-17, pdf).

UPDATED: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 27-28 March 2017 Brussels:
Press release: Final 27-28-3-17 (pdf)
Agenda "B" Points (for discussion)
Agenda "A" Points (Non-legislaitve, adopted without discussion
Background Note (pdf)

EU should stop delivering visas to African officials over migrants: Germany (New Europe, link):

"The European Union should consider restricting visas for senior officials from African and other states which refuse to take back illegal immigrants from Europe, Germany’s interior minister said.

Thomas de Maiziere said in Brussels the EU needed to use all the levers at its disposal to ensure countries cooperated with Europe’s efforts to deport those arriving who were not entitled to asylum.

Last Thursday, Thomas de Maiziere appeared in front of the German parliament to argue for a new draft law that would impose stricter rules on asylum seekers. De Maiziere said that the German public would only support Germany’s generous asylum policies if the government enforced deportation regulations and protected German society against potential threats from migrants."

ECHR: Failure to properly investigate alleged anti-Roma hate crime (pdf):

"In June 2013, two men racially abused the applicant’s partner on the basis of his Roma origin, before attacking both him and the applicant herself. The two assailants were prosecuted and convicted on charges that included a hate crime against the applicant’s partner. However, the men were not charged for a racially motivated crime against the applicant herself. The authorities rejected her complaint of a hate crime, finding that there was no indication that the men had attacked her because of hatred towards Roma, as she is not of Roma origin. The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights of a lack of an effective procedural response of the Croatian authorities in relation to a racially motivated act of violence against her.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Škorjanec v. Croatia (application no. 25536/14) the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Shock tactics: how the arms industry trades on our fear of terrorism (Guardian, link):

"In his book Indefensible – Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade, Paul Holden points to the weapons industry’s role in generating today’s wars."

EXCLUSIVE: Google working with UK government on counter-extremism strategy (Middle East Eye, link):

"Web giant, which is accused of failing to tackle extremism, is providing 'digital support' to campaigners backed by counter-terrorism officials.

Google has been providing "digital and communications support" to counter-extremism campaigners backed by the Home Office, even as it faces a backlash from ministers over extremist content online, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The internet search giant’s work with the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), which is based in the Home Office and is responsible for the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy, has included social media and video training for Muslim civil society organisations that dates back at least five years...."

Letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP from civil liberty groups, lawyers and other parties concerned about the consultation into the Codes of Practice for the Investigatory Powers Act (Open Rights Group, link)

Home-grown radicalisation on top of Home Affairs ministers’ meeting in Brussels (New Europe, link):

"The first day of Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting is taking discussion on security a step further, as new challenges emerge at the aftermath of last week’s London attack.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, offered his condolences and thoughts to victims and Londoners, giving the agenda of Monday’s ministerial meeting.

“Home-grown radicalisation stands on top of our agenda, it is one of the biggest challenges we are confronted with,” said Avramopoulos.

On migration issues, Avramopoulos repeated: On relocation, no more excuses. It is the moment for all member states to deliver by the end of September.” According to the Commissioner, efficient migration policy comes with four pillars: The EU needs to keep doors open and “provide protection for ones in real need”. The three more pillars require the return of the ones who do not have the right to stay in Europe, the further strengthening of external borders and cooperation with third countries."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25-27.3.17)

Relocation of refugees in EU has failed so Council turns to draconian returns policy - including the targeting of children for detention

The Council Presidency is working on a plan to "significantly improve the return system within the EU" and "improve cooperation on readmission".

See: EU: Council of the European Union: Return Policy: enhancing effectiveness a) Commission Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC b) Commission Communication on a more effective return policy in the European Union - A renewed Action Plan = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 7112-17.pdf)

A policy poposed proposed on 1 June 2015 by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos in a Letter to EU Home Affairs Ministers which presents a dehumanised portrayal of refugees and shows how to by-pass three detention related provisions of the Returns Directive.

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: how should the authorities respond to children accompanying "Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees"?

A recent report produced by the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator suggests numerous ways national authorities could deal with children returning to Europe with individuals who have engaged in terrorist activity abroad, including the possibility of using "closed child facilities" - i.e. detention - in certain cases.

See: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Member States' approaches to dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children: Results of the questionnaire and follow-up (6900/17, LIMITE, 6 March 2017, pdf)

The report is based on the findings of a questionnaire on "dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children" that was issued to all Member States.

Restricted Eurojust report highlights use of intelligence in terrorism court cases across the EU

A restricted report prepared in November 2016 by Eurojust, the EU's judicial cooperation agency, provides a detailed overview of the ongoing response to "foreign terrorist fighters" in law and jurisprudence, focusing in particular on the use of intelligence in legal proceedings and the prosecution of women who have travelled to conflict zones where terrorist groups are active.

See: Eurojust, Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Eurojust's Views on the Phenomenon and the Criminal Justice Response - Fourth Eurojust Report (November 2016) (1/R/2016, RESTRICTED, November 2016, 13MB pdf)

Spain: Numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in Spain by boat on the increase

According to the information received by the delegation of Associación Pro Derechos Humanos Andalucía in Cádiz, it was confirmed on the morning of 21 March 2017 that two dinghies carrying more than 50 people arrived on the coast of the Bay of Cádiz. They arrived without the need for any intervention by the authorities and, according to the Red Cross, it is believed that there have been no injuries or people lost at sea.....

EU: European Commission: Statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the meeting with five Member States on progress towards full visa reciprocity with the United States (pdf):

"we are committed to continue working in a constructive and positive spirit, in close coordination between us, and the United States, to achieve this goal as soon as possible, including searching for mutually acceptable interim steps."

Note: From the US side there is little enthusiasm to change its mind. The USA continues to apply restrictions on citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania

TURKEY: After Germany, UK clears Gulenists of ‘coup’ accusations (euractiv, link):

"On Saturday (25 March) the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report on the UK’s relations with Turkey, in which the Erdogan government’s claim that Gülenists masterminded the 15 July coup attempt is refuted"

See: Foreign Affairs Committee: The UK’s relations with Turkey (pdf): "our impression has been of two countries that share interests more than they share values, and the UK risks being perceived as de-prioritising its concern for human rights in its drive to establish a “strategic” relationship with Turkey."

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: EU:Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on the Commission action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud (pdf)

Ex-cyber security chief says Government is 'using' Westminster attack to grab unnecessary spying powers (Independent, link): "Major General Jonathan Shaw said decrypting social media messages would see terrorists use other secure methods to communicate."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Regulation: Latest draft position: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection (pdf): 163 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"This document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles, except for the following items placed between square brackets and which will be discussed as a later stage...

Suggested modifications are indicated as follows: - new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold - new text compared to the previous version of this document is in bold underlined - deleted text is in strikethrough."

Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops’ Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines (The Intercept, link):

"Last year, a Russian startup announced that it could scan the faces of people passing by Moscow’s thousands of CCTV cameras and pick out wanted criminals or missing persons. Unlike much face recognition technology — which runs stills from videos or photographs after the fact — NTechLab’s FindFace algorithm has achieved a feat that once only seemed possible in the science fictional universe of “Minority Report”: It can determine not just who someone is, but where they’ve been, where they’re going, and whether they have an outstanding warrant, immigration detainer, or unpaid traffic ticket.

For years, the development of real-time face recognition has been hampered by poor video resolution, the angles of bodies in motion, and limited computing power. But as systems begin to transcend these technical barriers, they are also outpacing the development of policies to constrain them. Civil liberties advocates fear that the rise of real-time face recognition alongside the growing number of police body cameras creates the conditions for a perfect storm of mass surveillance." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.3.17)

European Commission: Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/369 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 131-17, pdf):

European Commission Factsheet published on 13 January, 2015 alerted the EU in “Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe and the EU response" that: In 2014, more than 276,000 migrants irregularly entered the EU, which represents an increase of 155% compared to 2013. Syrians together with Eritreans were the largest group apprehended at EU external borders trying to enter the EU in an irregular manner.”

This report notes that: "In 2015 and 2016, close to 1.1 million persons, who may be in need of international protection, and irregular migrants (hereafter referred to as 'refugees and migrants') made their way to the European Union (EU) along the Eastern Mediterranean route."

So why did it take until 2 March 2016 for the Commission to adopt a proposal on the provision of emergency support within the Union. (the Regulation was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016)? Why was the "experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department" not immediately activated at the beginning of 2015?

It should also be noted that:

"Greece was the only Member State that met the two 'eligibility' conditions set out in the Regulation:

the exceptional scale and impact of the disaster give rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences in one or more Member States; and no other instrument available to Member States and to the Union is sufficient.

As a result, all the actions funded under this Regulation to date were exclusively aimed at tackling the humanitarian situation in Greece."

UK: Four new “Supersized” Prisons – Our Response (Cage, link):

"Justice secretary Liz Truss today announced that four new “supersized” mega-prisons, with a combined capacity of at least 5000, are now earmarked for construction. The sites: Port Talbot in South Wales, Wigan in Greater Manchester, Rochester in Kent and Full Sutton in East Yorkshire."

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’ (euractiv, link);

"Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday (23 March)."

EU: eu-LISA Single Programming Document 2017-2019 (pdf):

"The purpose of the Single Programming Document of the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice is to give a structured overview of the main objectives and activities to be achieved and performed in 2017. It reveals the connections and the logic in the breakdown of the long-term strategic goals into multiannual and annual objectives and outcomes....

The Agency successfully delivers its core task: of providing operational management of the VIS, SIS II, and EURODAC systems."

UK: Coppers 'persistently' breach data protection laws with police tech - Staff association warns that systems 'increasingly' being used for personal reasons (The Register, link):

"Coppers in England and Wales are "persistently" committing data breaches, according to the Police Federation's head of misconduct.

Technologies from the Police National Computer (PNC) systems through to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) databases are "increasingly being used by officers for non-work related reasons" according to the Police Federation, the statutory staff association for officers – all of whom are barred from joining an ordinary trade union under the Police Act 1996."

See also: PCSOs jailed after implicating innocent man in an attempted murder (BBC News, link) and Safe in Police hands? How Police Forces suffer 10 data breaches every week and still want more of your data (Big Brother Watch, link)

Slovenia: More should be done to ensure that Roma, migrants and those in poverty are not left behind (CoE, link);

"Slovenia from 20 to 23 March, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, examined the situation of Roma, migrants and asylum seekers and of the increasing number of people living in poverty in the country. He stressed the centrality of human rights to ensure that Slovenian society is truly inclusive."

EU: Divides deepen between member states over posted workers bill (euractiv, link):

"After a year of stalled negotiations, fresh changes to draft rules affecting workers temporarily sent to other EU countries are further deepening rifts between eastern and western member states. A new compromise draft from Malta, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, has caused outrage among some eastern EU countries.

A group of countries including Poland, Romania and Hungary has fiercely opposed any legal changes to 21-year-old posted workers rules and called western EU member states protectionist for pushing measures to raise pay for workers from lower wage countries."

And see: MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay (euobserver, link)

Greece: Turkish asylum requests on the rise (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An increasing number of Turkish nationals have been finding their way to Greece since the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country and the mass purges that followed.

More specifically, 236 Turks requested political asylum in Greece from last July until February. According to official data from the Asylum Service seen by Kathimerini, the rising trend in the number of requests was already discernible by early 2016...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.3.17)

EU Council of the European Union: Criminal justice in cyberspace - Improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 7479-17, pdf):

"The fight against crime has become more than ever dependant on access to electronic data - data which do not belong to law enforcement or judicial authorities, nor can be regulated by JHA policy makers alone. However, the availability of and access to these data has been reduced due to technical and/or legal reasons: cloud-based storage, limited retention of data, use of encryption, use of Carrier Grade NAT solutions or virtual currencies. Collaboration and coordination with partners and stakeholders is therefore essential to establish workable solutions."

As working on these matters needs to take account of various sectors and legitimate interests (e.g. of LEA/judiciary, data protection/human rights, internal market/trade, electronic communications), there is a clear need of improved coordination and collaboration at national and EU level between the different policy fields....

Regular cyber and/or ICT dialogues with third countries would facilitate international cooperation, in particular with those third countries where most of the service providers are located." [NB:"third countries" particularly include the USA] [emphasis in original]

See also: 6890-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf) and Encryption: Challenges for criminal justice in relation to the use of encryption - future steps - progress report (LIMITE doc no: 14711-16, pdf)

EU: European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security{ (COM 29-17, pdf):

"despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Article 2 provides that the scope of the Agreement covers flights with a US nexus. The use of an override mechanism to access non US nexus PNR data is subject to a number of conditions and subject to oversight. The number of overrides has increased since the 2013 review and DHS need to record detailed reasons of why overrides have been used to better understand why they occur.

In relation to Article 5, the number of personnel with access rights to PNR data has increased since the previous review in 2013. Whilst the EU team is satisfied with the oversight mechanisms in place, DHS is invited to continue to monitor the number of staff with access rights to PNR data to ensure that only those with an operational need to use and view the data can do so....

In relation to Articles 16 and 18, DHS should provide further information on exactly what data is being collected under these provisions and be in a position to provide further information on data that has been shared with other US authorities, and police, law enforcement and judicial bodies within the EU."

See; 2012 EU-USA PNR Agreement (pdf)

And see: Staff Working document: SWD-14 (SWD, 45 pages, pdf) and Letter from US Homeland Security: SWD 20 (pdf)

European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (pdf):

"This report concerns the fourth joint review of the Agreement since it entered into force and covers a period of 22 months between 1 March 2014 and 31 December 2015."

And see detailed Staff Working Docuent: SWD 17 (52 pages, pdf): "In how many cases was information derived from accessing these payment messages provided to competent authorities in the EU, including Europol and Eurojust?

During the 22 months of the current review period, U.S. investigators supplied 93 TFTPderived “reports” consisting of 2,680 leads pursuant to Article 9 and an additional 8,998 “leads” pursuant to Article 10 to competent authorities of EU Member States and Europol. A single TFTP report may contain multiple TFTP leads. For example, a single Article 9 spontaneous report provided to Europol during the review period contained 147 TFTP leads."

EU: Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception (link):

"The European Investigation Order in criminal matters allows judicial authorities in all EU Member States to instruct each other to collect evidence. It also sets forth provisions for cross-border telecommunications surveillance. The European standardisation institute ETSI is consequently working on interfaces for the hand-over of intercepted phone calls."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 27-28 March, 2017: Background Note (pdf) Substantial items on refugees, migration and asylum.

Dissent is not a crime: News from Netpol March 2017 (link):

"Welcome to the March 2017 edition of our newsletter, with an update on the policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire and news of a new Netpol campaign launching next week."

USA: Why does WikiLeaks keep publishing U.S. state secrets? Private contractors. (Washington Post, link):

"By outsourcing key intelligence work, the government has made classified material more vulnerable....

When WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s global hacking programs this month, it dropped a tantalizing clue: The leak came from private contractors. Federal investigators quickly confirmed this, calling contractors the likeliest sources. As a result of the breach, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal.”"

EU: Humanitarian Visas, still an open question (balcanicaucaso.org, link):

"The recent verdict of the European Court of Justice comes as a blow to those who want to see safe and legal access to the EU for refugees. But the reform of the Code on Visas offers another chance for change, and the European Parliament is keen on not letting it get away."

Germany to quash 50,000 gay convictions (BBC News, link):

"Germany's cabinet has backed a bill to clear men handed sentences for homosexuality after World War Two under a Nazi-era law.

The notorious Paragraph 175 of the penal code was eventually relaxed in 1969, but not before 50,000 men were convicted. Many were sent to jail and some took their own lives because of the stigma. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said it was a flagrant injustice and those still alive would be given compensation."

Commissioner warns of ‘growing menace’ of right-wing terrorism in EU (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE/ EU Security Commissioner Julian King warned of the ‘growing menace’ of violent, right-wing extremism, as a possible backlash against the ongoing attacks by jihadists."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.3.17) including: police violence at the Hungarian border; 1.2 million asylum application in EU in 2016; child migrants suffer abysmal conditions.

Bulgaria Bans Book That Attacks Government Critics (OCCRP, link):

"Bulgaria halted Wednesday the distribution of a book that slammed several journalists, activists and politicians as "foreign mercenaries" who want to take control of the country with the help of philanthropist George Soros.

"Robbers of Democracy" was released Monday and handed out for free alongside the highest circulation newspaper in Bulgaria, the Telegraph daily, owned by media mogul Delyan Peevski.

The country’s Central Election Commission halted the distribution following a complaint made by the Yes, Bulgaria! party, which the book condemns as a Soros orchestrated power-grab."

EU: European Commission registers two European Citizens' Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens after Brexit and rejects one on preventing Brexit (press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today registered two European Citizens' Initiatives concerning the rights of Union citizens in the context of the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU and rejected a third proposal entitled 'Stop Brexit'.

The first invites the Commission to separate Union citizenship from Member State nationality in light of the UK withdrawal from the EU ("EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis"), and the second calls on the Commission to uphold the right of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union ("Retaining European Citizenship"). At the same time, the Commission has rejected as inadmissible a third proposal calling on the Commission to prevent the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU ("Stop Brexit").

The Commission's decisions concern the legal admissibility of the proposed initiatives. At this stage, the Commission has not examined the substance of the initiatives."

Countering online "radicalisation": EU Internet Forum: Civil Society Empowerment Programme (European Commission, link):

"The Civil Society Empowerment Programme supports civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices.

Using the positive power and tremendous reach of the internet, it empowers these different groups to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists, as well as ideas that counter extremist and terrorist propaganda.

The Civil Society Empowerment Programme is an initiative under the umbrella of the EU Internet Forum, which was launched in 2015 by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, to tackle terrorist content online."

And see: the currently non-public: 2017-2019 Joint Activity Plan (JAP) for the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP) (pdf):

"This Joint Activity Plan (JAP) summarizes the main activities of the programme in 2017 and describes specific contributions of Facebook, Twitter and Google. This JAP details the specific contributions of all partners. The adoption of the JAP is scheduled for 31 January 2017, during a first of three meetings of all partners to coordinate its contributions to the CSEP. For now, the 2017 contributions are detailed, and possible cooperation in 2018-2019 is mentioned tentatively. In late 2017, a 2018 update of this JAP could be produced, to detail the specific contributions of all partners in the forthcoming year."

HUNGARY-SERBIA: Police violence against migrants and refugees at Hungarian-Serbian border

A video by the Serbian volunteer group Fresh Response has collected the testimonies of numerous people who have suffered violence and mistreatment at the hands of Hungarian police whilst trying to cross into the country from Serbia. The film includes numerous accounts of beatings with batons, the use of dogs and pepper spray, and the confiscation of shoes and clothes in freezing conditions. The group argues that many of the testimonies describe "acts that can be only seen as torture," and that "the enormous scale and clear pattern of violence leave no doubt: these are not just rare and isolated acts of brutality."

UK: Government plans for online courts threaten principles of open justice

"Government plans for online courts will lead to more unrepresented defendants, challenge the principle of open justice and could make it too easy for defendants to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.

A report by the charity Transform Justice published on Wednesday warns that the Ministry of Justice’s £1bn court reform programme contains digital trial proposals that may confuse anyone entering a plea."

UK: High Court rules Blair-era rendition case can be heard in secret (Reprieve, link):

"The High Court has today ruled that a Blair-era renditions case should be heard in secret, following a request from the government under the controversial Justice and Security Act.

In reaching his judgment, Mr Justice Leggatt warned that secret hearings are a “serious derogation from the fundamental principles of open justice and natural justice.”

The case involves two Pakistani men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, who were detained by the UK in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US forces.

The pair were then rendered to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where they were tortured and held without charge or trial for a decade."

EU official: we can make members accept refugees (Associated Press, link):

"The European Union's commissioner for migration says there are ways to make all EU members states comply with the program of relocation of migrants among them.

Dimitris Avramopoulos made the statement Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is visiting the growing European border guard agency, Frontex.

...Without naming Poland, Avramopoulos said the EU has the "tools, the means and the power" to convince all members to comply and will make an assessment of response by the end of September. He mentioned no sanctions."

BREXIT: How Brexit hits EU External Action: the UK’s European legacy (German Development Institute, link) by Thomas Henökl:

"It remains to be seen over the coming months and years to what extent the EU and the UK will continue to work together on EU foreign policy and, especially, in the area of international cooperation and development policy. We can expect this new relationship to be largely unstructured and primarily interest driven, on a case-by-case basis."

UK: Met police accused of using hackers to access protesters' emails (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists.

The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers.

The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating."

Trump to visit ‘hellhole’ Brussels on 25 May (EurActiv, link):

"US President Donald Trump, who last January called the Belgian capital a “hellhole”, will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on 25 May in Brussels, the White House said yesterday (21 March).

Trump’s visit will give him an opportunity to press his case for why many NATO allies need to boost defence spending to help spread the cost of the security umbrella.

Trump has made key European allies nervous with his demands that they increase defense spending and his talk of establishing an alliance with Russia to counter Islamic State militants."

EU: Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions' (EUobserver, link):

"Children who trekked alone to reach Europe often find themselves living in "abysmal conditions" upon arrival and are being denied free legal aid.

The findings are part of a thematic report, released on Wednesday (22 March) by Strasbourg-based human rights overseer the Council of Europe.

Spearheaded by Tomas Bocek, the report says children left to fend for themselves are sometimes found begging in Turkey and, in some cases, arrested and detained."

See the report: Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children: Prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees (pdf)

GREECE: You can't evict a movement: a story of squatting and migration in Athens (OpenDemocracy, link):

"An inside look at one of the most remarkable stories to come out of Greece's ongoing economic and refugee crisis - the intersection of the anarchist and migrant solidarity movements in Athens."

And see: Greece's Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government (VICE, link)

BELARUS: UN Special Rapporteur concerned about recurring violence against demonstrators in Belarus (UN Special Rapporteur, link):

"GENEVA – Belarus is being urged by a UN human rights expert to stop acts of violence and harassment against demonstrators and to respect freedom of peaceful assembly.

The appeal comes from the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and follows reports of mass arrests and intimidation of activists protesting against the presidential decree “On the Prevention of Social Dependence”, also referred to as the “anti-parasitism” law.

The order by President Lukashenko allows fines to be imposed on anyone who does not work more than 183 days and is not declared officially unemployed. As implementation began last month, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest."

EU: Polish approach weakens V4’s leverage to influence the future of Europe (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"Right when the European unity is more vocally proclaimed around its 60th celebration, it was challenged once more during the latest European Council in Brussels, when Donald Tusk was re-elected as Council’s President. Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, voted against his compatriot’s appointment and was outvoted 27-1 by the other Member States.

The Polish government has been increasingly drifting away from the core of the EU during the past couple of years and this event will likely accelerate this trend. In this report, we look at the voting behaviour of Polish representatives into the broader EU decision-making picture (Council and European Parliament), which highlights increasing divergence even with traditional allies, such as Hungary’s FIDESZ."

POLAND: Can pre-trial detention last for nearly eight years? A view from Poland (Fair Trials, link):

"Michal started to be detained pre-trial in mid-May 2009. The pre-trial detention decision was consecutively extended no less than 29 times, and each time the criminal court would repeat the same justifications: a) a severe penalty is to be imposed on the defendant, if he is found guilty, b) prima facie evidence indicates that he had committed the imputed offences and c) the defendant risks to pervert the course of justice. However, none of the courts has ever indicated how the man could have possibly interfered with the proceedings lasting for almost eight years. In the end, Michal has been detained for seven years and ten months despite the fact that the case was sent to a retrial and the non-final sentence of 10 years of imprisonment was not challenged by the prosecution."

FRANCE: At the crossroads: homeless and undocumented people in Paris since the Calais evictions (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Porte de la Chapelle is a gathering place for the ‘new’ migrants and refugees of Paris – the ones people mean when referring to the ‘crisis’ – although it’s not the only one. Across the city there is an untold number of people in transit. Pushed back from the UK border by the Calais evictions last October, many hope to move on to Germany or Sweden, or simply seek to somehow negotiate the obstacles of the over-stretched French asylum system and the Dublin Agreement. If your fingerprints have been taken in another European country, you have little chance of remaining ‘officially’ in France.

Some have family or help or a place to stay. Some have been housed by the state or a charity, or after too much hardship and exposure have decided to take their chances in the wildly varying ‘Centres d’Accueil’ outside of the capital, the reception centres to which many of the Calais people were taken. But far too many are sleeping rough in the grey Paris winter, living from day to day."

EU: Statistics on asylum application in 2016 published: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers registered

"In 2016, 1 204 300 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number slightly down compared with 2015 (when 1 257 000 first time applicants were registered) but almost double that of 2014 (562 700)

Syrians (334 800 first time applicants), Afghans (183 000) and Iraqis (127 000) remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2016, accounting for slightly more than half of all first time applicants."

See: Asylum in the EU Member States - 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2016 (press release, pdf)

And: Asylum statistics - statistics explained (pdf): "This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) ."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch elections: little to celebrate (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Should the outcome of the Dutch elections be celebrated as a victory over right-wing forces that contagiously spread throughout the western world? Many seem to believe that Mark Rutte’s victory marks a decisive turning point that will allow for the safe homecoming of centrist liberal politics. We would like to disagree with such self-congratulating sentiment and, instead, warn for the dangerous trend towards an already existent and increasingly violent normalisation of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, as well as the continuing dismantling of the welfare state through neoliberal restructuring.

While Wilders’ ‘loss’ may seem important in preventing the far-right from winning in other European countries, the fact remains that the VVD’s win should arguably be seen as a win for right-wing populists rather than a success for progressive forces."

New ICPR report describes vast disparities in use of imprisonment in 10 countries around the world (prisonstudies.org, link):

"Overcrowding, inhumane and degrading detention conditions and disproportionate harm to marginalised groups are some of the consequences of the rapid, unrelenting growth of imprisonment worldwide, according to Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world, published today [16 March] by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (link is external) (ICPR), Birkbeck, University of London, and the NGO, Fair Trials.

...The report, by Jessica Jacobson, Catherine Heard and Helen Fair, draws on ICPR’s unique World Prison Brief database and describes patterns and trends in imprisonment in ten contrasting countries across all five continents."

See the report: Prison: evidence of its use and over-use from around the world (pdf)

HUNGARY: Calm before the storm for Hungary's NGOs (BNE Intellinews, link):

"The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban began 2017 with a threat against foreign-funded NGOs. On January 10, a senior government official said a number of NGOs would be "swept out" of the country by a law due in the spring. However, on March 8 the bill was delayed.

Hungary’s NGOs have been kept in a state of uncertainty ever since the start of the year. Details of the bill, which will put further transparency demands on a handful of Hungary’s tens of thousands of NGOs, have remained elusive. So much so, that the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ last week asked the government to release the text of the draft bill and hold consultations.

However, the ruling Fidesz party has announced that the bill has been delayed, because it has not yet found the threshold required to impede "Soros' hired hands", while not inconveniencing "decent" NGOs. Again, that leaves the targets of the legislation largely in the dark.

Nevertheless, statements from numerous government figures have given the NGOs clues as to what requirements they should anticipate. That includes a wealth-declaration requirement for their leaders and extra registration requirements. NGOs who receive funding from the US-Hungarian financier Gyorgy Soros can expect to be in the very centre of the crosshairs."

And see: Statement by the President of the Conference of INGOs and the President of the Expert Council on NGO Law (Council of Europe, link):

"In our capacity as President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe and President of the Expert Council on NGO Law we are concerned about the statements made by certain Hungarian politicians and information reported by the media, labelling some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as foreign agents..."

UK: London, 5 April 2017: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing

"Join us to demand disclosure on political policing abuses in the UK

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am April 5th 2016 – on the first day of the hearing
What? Picket – bring banners, & placards
Who? Anyone who cares about our democracy

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal broke, creating shock that the police could commit such abuses against social, animal, and environmental justice campaigners in our country. Women have been deceived into abusive intimate relationships, miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated, families fighting the police for justice have been spied on, trades union activists have been blacklisted. They, and we, need to know what has happened and why, so that we can repair the damage done to our lives and our democracy."

See: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing (Police Spies Out of Lives, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.17)

EU- AFRICA-LIBYA: Council of the European Union: EU targets Libyan refugees

Migration policy: implementation: - External aspects: contribution of Ministers of Interior = Discussion paper (LIMITE doc no: 7110-17, pdf): Following the 3 February 2017 Malta Declaration (pdf) the Council Presidency reports that "its implementation has now taken off." The aim is to cut or halt refugees arriving in the EU via Libya and the same for the neighbouring states to Libya. This includes:

"Supporting IOM in significantly stepping up assisted voluntary return activities...

"IOM would need to recruit more staff, post international staff in Tripoli (IOM office planned to be open by the end of March 2017) and more importantly, assist the country of origin's consuls in neighbouring countries to increase their capacity to issue travel documents. This is currently considered the main bottleneck in carrying out assisted voluntary returns from Libya." [emphasis added]

And: "Helping to reduce the pressure on Libya's land borders, keeping track of alternative routes and possible diversion of smugglers' activities as well as deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration with all countries neighbouring Libya."

Also from the Valletta Plan:

"enhancing adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya and neighbouring countries for migrants;
- improving the socio-economic situation and resilience of host communities in Libya and neighbouring countries;
- enhancing border management capacity on Libya's land borders.."
[emphasis added]

"Reception capacities" equals holding centres.

See also: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch): With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management". See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: EU digitalises passenger registration to make travelling by sea safer: Council agrees its position (Press release, pdf):

"The EU is moving to digitalise the registration of ship passengers to ensure that, in the event of an accident, search
and rescue services have immediate access to information on the people on board. To make it easier to assist
victims and their relatives, the recorded data will include passengers' nationality."

The press release makes no mention of the security aspects of the changes.

Council: General approach (6937-17, pdf) The information collected on each passenger will be:

"the family names of the persons on board, their forenames, their gender, their nationality,their date of birth, when volunteered by a passenger, information concerning the need for special care or assistance in emergency situations."

National designated authorities will transmit the data: "by means of the Automatic Identification System."

European Commission proposal for Directive: Amending Council Directive 98/41/EC on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community and amending Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States (pdf)

1998 Directive: Council Directive 98/41/EC of 18 June 1998 on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community (pdf)

Experts criticize US electronic devices ban on some flights from Middle East (Guardian, link): "New TSA requirement blocks passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and cameras, with a lack of specifics on whether flight crews are included in rule."

EU: Council of the European Union: Data Retention & International criminal law agreements

• Data retention: Retention of electronic communication data (LIMITE doc no: 6726- REV-1-17. pdf):

On 8 April 2014 the Court of European Justice (CJEU) ruled that the 2006 Data Retention Directive had been unlawful since it was adopted. Now nearly three years later the EU has failed to respond and adopt a new measure to meet the Court's judgment.

Europol says in its submission that:

"The overturning of the Data Retention Directive by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in its ruling of 8 April 2014 in Digital Rights Ireland 1 has created a scattered legal landscape for law enforcement and prosecutors to obtain relevant data from private parties. The annulment of the Data Retention Directive as such had no immediate effect on the national implementing legal acts. Therefore, in some Member States (MS), there is currently still legislation in place to ensure that telecommunication companies retain such data for law enforcement purposes, whereas in others, the national legislation has been annulled in the wake of the ECJ judgment....

This underlines, from an overall perspective, the operational need for a harmonised framework on the retention of electronic communication data."

The document contains a compilation of the contributions provided by the Member States and Europol: Annex I - Belgium, Annex II - Czech Republic, Annex III - Germany, Annex IV - Hungary, Annex V - Ireland, Annex VI - Portugal, Annex VII - Sweden, Annex VIII - Slovenia, Annex IX - Europol.

•.Criminal law: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - Inventory (LIMITE doc no: 6892-17, pdf):

"CATS agreed that the practice of keeping an inventory of present and future international agreements that raise an issue of EU competence in the area of criminal law should be maintained with a view to further improving coordination in the area of external action. An updated inventory is found in the Annex."

And see: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - systematic examination (LIMITE doc no: 12275-16, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.3.17)

Surveillance and protests: State surveillance of protest and the rights to privacy and freedom of assembly: a comparison of judicial and protester perspectives (pdf) by Val Aston

"This paper considers the approach taken by the UK courts to the use of visible, overt police surveillance tactics in the context of political assemblies. Contrasting judicial attitudes to the direct experiences of protesters themselves, the paper argues that the narrow approach taken by the courts to questions of privacy, based on informational autonomy and the 'reasonable expectation of privacy' test, has led to the insufficient recognition of the psychological, social and political harms arising from intensive surveillance operations.

The paper argues for a broader view of privacy, or in the alternative, a more robust application of the right to freedom of assembly, to protect protest mobilisations and assemblies from disruptive and intrusive aspects of overt state surveillance."

UK-EU: Brexit could place 'huge burden' on Parliament (BBC News, link):

"Parliament might have to scrutinise up to 15 new bills to deliver Brexit, leaving little time for other legislation, the Institute for Government has warned.

The IFG says legislation will be needed to establish new policies on areas such as customs and immigration. The extra measures will place "a huge burden" on Parliament and government departments, the think tank says."

See: Institute for Government report: Legislating Brexit The Great Repeal Bill and the wider legislative challenge (pdf)

UK: Take off for police drones air force: Remote-controlled 'flying squad' to chase criminals and hunt for missing people (Daily Mail, link):

"First 24-hour police drone unit to launch in Devon and Cornwall in summer
The dedicated force will be shared with Dorset and save helicopter costs
They will be used to picture crime scenes and track antisocial behaviour
But fears raised that technology could lead to cuts to officer numbers."

European Parliament: Revision of the Schengen Information System for border checks (pdf):

"In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One focuses on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of border checks. It provides for more effective use of fingerprints and facial images in the SIS and would oblige Member States to record all entry bans issued to third-country nationals staying illegally in their territory."

And see: Revision of the Schengen Information System for law enforcement (pdf):

"One of these proposals is focused on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It clarifies procedures, creates new alerts and checks, extends the use of biometrics, and enlarges access for law enforcement authorities." [emphasis added]

BREXIT: House of Lords European Union Select Committee: xBrexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses? (pdf): The Committee's conclusions included:

"If the Government continues to apply its anti-CJEU stance too rigidly it will severely limit its post-Brexit options for adequate alternative arrangements. It is clear that regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, civil justice cooperation of the type dealt with by these Regulations will remain a necessity. We are in no doubt that without adequate alternative arrangements post- Brexit there will be great uncertainty for UK businesses and citizens. Given the importance of these Regulations, we call on the Government to publish a coherent plan for addressing their post-Brexit application."

European Ombudsman launches Inquiry into availability of Council legislative documents

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "the root of legislative secrecy lies in secret trilogues"

On 10 March 2017 the European Ombudsman launched an inquiry into: "the disclosure of documents from discussions on draft EU legislative acts in Council preparatory bodies."

See: Access to documents relating to Council preparatory bodies when discussing draft EU legislative acts (pdf)

The letter to the Council observes that:

"The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) does not proactively make available documents reflecting the positions of individual Member States during negotiations. This approach, however, is without prejudice to the right of public access to documents provided for in Regulation 1049/20015. These documents can be made available after the act in question has been adopted, provided that they are not covered by any exception laid down in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001." [emphasis added]

The notion that legislative documents are only made public after a measure is adopted has no place in a democracy.

The reality is that Member States positions in the Council developing its negotiating position are hidden in LIMITE documents see for example: RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions.

Historical images of para-military policing by Tony Bunyan: The following images are of para-military policing and the army in civil society

The story and images (pdf)

•.
1st Image (pdf) The first probably came out of the Kent State shooting or Massacre on 4 May 1970 by the Ohio National Guard

•.
2nd image (pdf) The second is the front cover of "Movement" (February 1973) which highlighted the emergence of para-military in the UK following on from "Bloody Sunday" in Derry. The adapted image form a soldier to a policeman was done by an artist at Hornsey Art College (Crouch End Hill, North London) as a linotype on brown cartridge paper."Movement" was a libertarian socialist magazine collective which went on to become "Writing on the Wall" and then "The Leveller".

3rd image The above image, with the permission of the artist, was used on the front cover of "The history and practice of: The Political Police in Britain" by myself. It was written after the 1973-1974 miners strike and the emergence of the coercive state. It is still available from Statewatch

4th image The fourth image - remarkably similar to its predecessors - is now being given out at British Army Arms Sales Exhibitions.

Police Scotland confirms secret G8 file on notorious undercover police unit (Herald Scotland, link):

" POLICE Scotland has confirmed that a secret file was created on the activities of a disgraced undercover unit at the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The "intelligence briefings" on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose officers had sex with the protestors they spied on, will now be examined by a watchdog as part of its covert policing probe. Police Scotland said they would not comment on the contents of the file.

Two Met-based units – the Special Demonstration Squad and the NPOIU – were set up to keep tabs on so-called subversives and domestic extremists. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: Humanitarian Visas: Court case

Humanitarian visas - Reference for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code (Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X v. Belgium) (LIMITE doc no: 7271-17, pdf):

"On 7 March 2017, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) gave its judgment in Case C-638/16 PPU, Humanitarian visas. It concerns the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of Regulation 810/2009 (Visa Code) and of Articles 4 (on prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 18 (on right to asylum) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and more particularly the question of whether Member States were obliged by the Charter to deliver visas of limited territorial validity under Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code to a family of Syrian nationals having requested such visas at the Belgian consulate in Lebanon with a view to apply for international protection in Belgium. As the preliminary ruling was about the interpretation of the Visa Code, and not about its validity, the Council did not intervene. This Case had raised a lot of concern among Member States, 14 of which intervened in support of Belgium......

One can draw from this judgment that should the EU decide to adopt harmonising legislation regarding the issuance of long-term visas or the examination of asylum or international protection applications submitted in the territory of third countries, the relevant authorities of the representations of Member States in these countries would fall within the scope of EU law and therefore within the scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights"

EU: Council struggles to formulate policy to get full access to all communications while respecting fundamental rights

The Council is seeking to find a common position on access all content everywhere for the purpose of gathering evidence in possible criminal cases and intelligence-gathering, including breaking encryption, while at the same time respecting fundamental rights:

See: Criminal justice in cyberspace - improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 6890-27, pdf):

European Parliament Study: The Brexit Negotiations: An Assessment Of The Legal, Political And Institutional Situation In The UK (pdf):

"The research analyses the post-Brexit political developments in the UK, the various parameters that should be taken into account, by both the UK government and the 27, in view of the Article 50 negotiations and the possible shape of the final deal and the future economic relationship, taking into account the EU obligations and the constraints of Theresa May’s government."

European Parliament: WORKSHOP: Civilian and military personnel in CSDP missions and operations (pdf):

"The workshop was organised on January 26, 2017 at the initiative of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) with the aim to highlight trends, challenges and recommendations regarding civilian and military personnel deployed in CSDP missions and operations in particular in the areas of force generation, training and the national follow-up on crimes and offences perpetrated during deployment."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: ETIAS and Reception Directive

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (LIMITE doc no: 6929-17, pdf):

"The issue of which Member State is responsible to decide on an application for travel authorisation only arises when there is a "hit" in the context of the automated processing and the application is therefore transferred to manual processing. If there are no "hits" when the application is submitted, the travel authorisation is issued in an automated manner and no Member State needs to be involved.

If there are one or more “hits”, it is the ETIAS National Unit of the responsible Member State which will issue or refuse the travel authorisation...."

RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions. Substantial,changes proposed by the Council Presidency:

"New text to be discussed at the meeting on 16 March is indicated with addition in bold„ and the deleted text is indicated in strikehtrough"

EU: European Commission: Commission proposes a new EU Action Plan on Drugs to enhance action against drug use and trafficking (pdf):

"Building on the findings of the evaluation of the EU Drugs Strategy for 2013-2020 and the Action Plan for 2013-2016, the new Action Plan on Drugs provides a strengthened response to the newly-emerging health and security challenges in the area of illicit drug use and trafficking. While maintaining and updating the core policy areas and cross-cutting themes of the overall EU Drugs Strategy,..."

And see: Evaluation of the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2013-2016: a continuous need for an EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 (COM 195, pdf)

EU leaders bash Turkey over the Netherlands (euobserver, link):

"European Council chief Donald Tusk and senior MEPs hit back at Turkey in a widening diplomatic dispute between Ankara and the Netherlands."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.17)

London Launch of report: Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business Outsourcing and privatization of migrant detention (pdf): 6pm Tuesday 28th March Praxis, Pott Street, London E2 0EF (round corner from Bethnal Green underground, buses 8, 106, 254, 388; easy access and toilet facilities for wheelchair users and pushchairs):

"In the UK, corporations like G4S, Serco, Mitie and Capita make millions locking up migrants in privately run detention centres. Many other less known companies also jostle for contracts in the detention industry, for example providing healthcare, cleaning or construction services. Britain is a pioneer in detention outsourcing, hurtling towards the model of the massive US private prison industry.

But detention outsourcing is also taking off across Europe. This meeting will present a new research report by Migreurop, the European and African migration network, which maps the rise of the privatised migration detention business across the European Union."

Organisers: Migreurop, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Corporate Watch, Statewatch.

See: Facebook Events (link)

UK: A National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales Surveillance Strategy (pdf):

"Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner launches a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

This strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community to enable system operators to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations (such as those contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act)."

Headscarf bans at work: explaining the ECJ rulings (EU Law Analyses, link):

"When can employers ban their staff from wearing headscarves? Today’s rulings of the ECJ have attracted a lot of attention, some of it confused. There have been previous posts on this blog about the background to the cases, and about the non-binding opinions of Advocates-General, and there will hopefully be further more analytical pieces about today’s judgments to come. But this post is a short explanation of the rulings to clear up any confusion."

European media ‘deeply regrets’ EU plans to ditch search engine payouts (euractiv, link):

"European media groups voiced concern Tuesday (14 March) that the European Union could ditch plans to force search engines like Google to pay them when their content is used."

England and Wales have highest imprisonment rate in western Europe - Incarceration rate of 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 people is almost three times that of the Netherlands (Guardian, link):

"England and Wales have the highest rate of imprisonment in western Europe, according to the Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics.

The prison population in England and Wales has stabilised at nearly 86,000 in recent years but the incarceration rate, at 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 population, remains higher than in Spain (137.9), France (98.3), Italy (86.4) and Germany (77.4)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.17)

EU taskforce highlights security failings that facilitated terror attacks (Guardian, link):

"Leaked report suggests need to enhance Schengen area security, raising possibility of internal border police checks"

See also: EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: Revision of Dublin, Qualification Directive, Refugees situation in Greece, EASO reform.. (LIBE debates on March 9,2017) (link)

UK-EU: Deal to allow individual Britons EU rights must go both ways, Theresa May told (Guardian, link): "Eastern European politicians say if UK wanted to let its citizens apply for freedom of movement it would have to be reciprocal."

EU-GREECE: Greece: Reject EU Pressure on Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(Athens) – The Greek Parliament should resist external pressures and reject any changes to legislation based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan for the EU-Turkey agreement, that will further worsen the situation for people seeking safety and a better life in Europe, 13 nongovernmental organizations said today in an open letter.

As the Greek Parliament is expected to vote within the coming days on these changes, the organizations are calling on Greek Members of Parliament not to support amendments to Greek Law 4375/2016 already published in the EU Joint Action Plan that will remove safeguards for vulnerable people and families. The parliament should stand by the protections enshrined in Greece’s current asylum legislation by making sure that most vulnerable persons and those eligible for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation are exempted from accelerated admissibility procedures aimed at sending them back to Turkey."

See: Urgent appeal from 13 NGOs not to approve amendments in Greek Parliament that will be harmful to asylum seekers (Human Rights Watch, link)

FRANCE: Breaking France’s addiction to its state of emergency (OpenDemocracy, link):

"France needs to adopt a clear path out of the state of emergency. The parliamentary commission monitoring the state of emergency suggested in December setting an upper limit on the extension of a state of emergency but parliament ignored it and voted a fifth extension with almost no debate. Candidates in the upcoming presidential election have largely avoided talking about the issue, perpetuating the procrastination strategy by the political class, and journalists have not pushed them on the issue.

It is no longer enough to wait and hope that the security threat will simply vanish or that the future president or legislature will finally decide to tackle the issue. The debate about lifting the state of emergency should become a priority topic in this presidential election. Like any addict hoping to recover, France needs to start by recognizing the problem and begin a serious conversation on how to quit."

UK: Investigatory Powers Act: do you know who's watching you?

"The power of the digital realm has been demonstrated in recent months like never before. Hacking and cyberwars dominating geopolitics; algorithms and ‘filter bubbles’ supposedly influencing elections; increased anxiety around the ‘internet of things’. So when leaked emails revealed that US police forces keep tabs on Black Lives Matter protesters with the help of a private company data-mining social media sites, was it so surprising?

We know that the rich online map of our lives and activities is a dream tool for governments and companies seeking to quell protest and resistance. And yet in the UK, we’ve now granted authorities unprecedented spying powers."

See: Do you know who's watching you? (OpenDemocracy, link)

EU: The risks of transparency in times of rising populism (Access Info, link):

"Madrid, 10 March 2017 – It’s not often that your own colleagues working on democracy issues actually question the wisdom of pressing for greater transparency, but this has happened to me a few times lately.

Most recently, I’ve been asked about the wisdom of pursuing Access Info’s high profile campaign to get the European Commission to publish the travel expenses of EU Commissioners.

The fear seems to be that this very peculiar time in European history – with sensitive elections in France and the Netherlands, with Brexit negotiations likely to be tense, with democracy struggling in Hungary and Poland, and of course with the terrifying spectre of tweeting President Trump on the other side of the Atlantic – is a delicate context, and that any scandals about the EU’s senior politicians might further undermine faith in the democratic system and push people into the arms of anti-democratic populists.

The paradox is that Access Info’s Commissioners’ travel expenses campaign has only come about because of the extreme reluctance of the European Commission over the past couple of years to provide the data."

EU: Council: updated draft conclusions on the EU policy cycle on organised crime 2018-21

"Delegations will find attached a revised version of the above-mentioned draft Council conclusions, based on the outcome of the discussions in the COSI [Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security] Support Group on 22 February and 7 March 2017 and the written comments received."

EU: Casting the PNR net wider: Netherlands offers recommendations for customs authorities

An updated paper produced by the Dutch delegation to the Council of the EU's Customs Cooperation Working Party offers a series of recommendations on how national customs authorities can make use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, due to be gathered and analysed by law enforcement authorities across the EU according to the April 2016 PNR Directive.

ITALY: Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming (The Guardian, link):

"An Italian migrant rights organisation, the Proxyma Association, estimates that more than half of all Romanian women working in the greenhouses are forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation.

Police say they believe that up to 7,500 women, the majority of whom are Romanian, are living in slavery on farms across the region. Guido Volpe, a commander in the carabinieri military police in Sicily, told the Observer that Ragusa was the centre of exploitation on the island.

...The number of Romanian women travelling to work in Sicily has increased hugely over the past decade. According to official figures, only 36 Romanian women were working in Ragusa province in 2006, rising to more than 5,000 this year. Romanians overtook Tunisians this year as the largest group working in Ragusa’s fields.

“Greenhouse owners are now afraid of being prosecuted for facilitating illegal migration by hiring undocumented migrants,” says Giuseppe Scifo, a union leader for CGIL, Italy’s largest union. “So the new targets for exploitation are EU citizens, who are willing to accept low wages because of the desperate situation in their home countries.”

The Refugee Archipelago: The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece (Refugees Deeply, link):

An important, detailed article examining the response by the EU and Greece to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from early 2015 onwards. It examines in detail the overlapping responsibilities (or lack thereof) of Greek state ministries and agencies, the EU and major humanitarian organisations that have had such a high human and financial cost.

"A sequence of events beginning with the record refugee flows into Greece in June 2015 and culminating in the photograph of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi woke the world to the refugee crisis. The effect of that awakening was to tip the entire humanitarian complex toward Greece, sending resources tumbling out of the developing world into the European Union. It prompted an unprecedented number of international volunteers to descend on the country, the U.N. refugee agency to declare an emergency inside the E.U., and the E.U. to deploy its own humanitarian response unit inside Europe for the first time. In the process, it became the most expensive humanitarian response in history, according to several aid experts, when measured by the cost per beneficiary.

...Officials from the E.U.’s humanitarian operations directorate, ECHO, believe the cost per beneficiary was unprecedented from their operations. And yet, one senior aid official estimated that as much as “$70 out of every $100 spent” had been wasted."

UK: The evidence is clear: LASPO isn’t working (Legal Voice, link):

"The government recently announced the long-promised post-implementation review of LASPO [the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012].

...Over the past few years, there has been no shortage of reports flagging many ways in which the consequences of LASPO have proved to be as bad as its critics predicted at the time of its passage through parliament. In its evidence to the Bach Commission, the Law Society highlighted many such problems. The society observed how some of the high level principles underpinning the government’s approach had proved flawed. The market and the not-for-profit sector did not find ways to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of legal aid, as the coalition government asserted would happen. Focusing legal aid on the most serious cases has meant withdrawing the vital early help that can stop problems turning into serious cases. Taking vast areas of law out of the scope of legal aid has led to an explosion in the number of litigants in person, and the courts are struggling to cope."

Challenging Patriarchy Through the Lens of Privacy (Privacy International, link):

"Many of the challenges at the intersection of women’s rights and technology as it relates to privacy and surveillance, come down to control. Such challenges have come sharply into focus as societies trend toward surveillance by default and foster data exploitative ecosystem.

And whilst control, in the context of privacy, should be about one’s control of their data, the limitations that are set, and the boundaries one erects between one’s self and others, unfortunately the dominant narrative has been about something else. The focus has been about the powerful, the State, industry, and dominant males, being given legitimacy within patriarchal societies to exercise their control over people, over women, in the name of security, economic prosperity, and self-empowerment. Feminists argue that surveillance itself is tool of patriarchy which controls and limits the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms online and offline."

And see: International Women's Day 2017: A PI Network Highlight Reel (Privacy International, link): "In this special briefing for International Women’s Day 2017, we explore through the work of the Privacy International Network some areas of concern being addressed in relation to privacy, surveillance, women’s rights, and gender."

EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases

The Council Presidency is preparing to launch a "mapping exercise" on all movements in and out of the EU at its external borders and also internally ("police checks"). See Note to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI): Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

For both all "third country nationals" including refugees and migrants and EU citizens the legal basis for carrying out "security checks" is:

"verification that the person concerned is not likely to jeopardise the public policy, internal security, public health or international relations of any of the Member States. Such verification shall include direct consultation of the SIS and other relevant Union databases, without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-12.3.17)

EU:Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Period of validity for residents permits (LIMITE do no: 6926-17, pdf):

Some Member States want to set "minimum standards" - 3 years for refugees and 1 year for subsidiary protection. While other back between 5 and 10 years for refugees and 1 to 5 years for subsidiary protection.

EU: Council Presidency treads a tricky path in trying to get Member State "solidarity" on refugees

The last Council Presidency (Slovakia) sought to resolve the issues of "solidarity" in responding to the refugee crisis with the majority of Member States failing to respond to calls for relocation and set the results out in a report to Delegations: Solidarity and responsibility in the Common European Asylum System - Progress report by the Slovak Presidency (LIMITE doc no, 15253-16, pdf). In the public version of this document pages 3-5 are deleted).

The Presidency lays out the dilemma as: "there is broad consensus that the current Dublin system is not ready to face substantial migratory pressures and that this has to be remedied."

Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy (link):

"The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, warn against a one-person regime in Turkey in a definitive, as-adopted, opinion on proposed constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum next month.

The Venice Commission warns that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system."

“They are Nazis” Turkey lashes out after Netherlands denies FM’s landing permission (Keep Taking Greece, link):

"Turkey lashed out at Netherlands on Saturday after the Dutch government decided to deny landing rights for foreign minister Mevsut Cavusoglu. Immediate was the reaction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who spoke of “Nazis and fascists” and wondered “let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey.” Several European countries cancelled Turkish Referendum rallies in their soil.

Speaking at a referendum rally in Istanbul just hours after the Hague denied landing permission to Cavusoglu, Erdogan said."

UK: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee report: Article 50 negotiations: Implications of ‘no deal’ (pdf):

"Uncertainty for UK participation in the EU’s common foreign and security policy... In the event of no agreement at the end of the Article 50 period, however, legal and political uncertainty could be cast over the status of UK assets deployed as part of ongoing EU CSDP missions.... Leaving the EU without any withdrawal deal would also mean immediately leaving the European Defence Agency (EDA), which was established in 1994 to foster co-operation in capabilities-building, procurement and the defence industry across the Member States."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.3.17) including: rights violations in hotspots; Austria and Poland tighten asylum rules; four million sets of fingerprints now held in Eurodac; Member States look to restrict refugees' socio-economic rights in Council discussions.

EU: Hotspots for refugees in Italy and Greece have led to "serious fundamental rights violations"

A major study on current EU policies and practices regarding refugees warns that the "hotspot" system of detaining, registering and processing migrants "has led to instances of serious fundamental rights violations in both Italy and Greece," and that the failure of EU Member States to meet their commitments under the relocation scheme should "be taken seriously as a threat to the rule of law at the EU level, which may warrant exploration, as well as formal enforcement action."

EU: Europol "threat assessment" paves the way for increased operational police cooperation

EU policing agency Europol has published its latest 'Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment' which focuses on "crime in the age of technology" and argues that there are more than 5,000 organised crime groups currently under investigation in the EU, whose activities are "increasing in complexity and scale" and for whom "technology is a key component of most, if not all, criminal activities".

UK: New documents on the policing of the miners' strike accompany renewed calls for public inquiry

A new batch of documents on the policing of the 1984-85 miners' strike, primarily related to the Battle of Orgreave in 1984, have been released by the National Archives. The documents show "hints of political direction of the police" according to the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, and reveal that the Thatcher goverment feared a "witch hunt" were any public enquiry held.

DENMARK: Surveillance: illegal Danish data retention law to stay in place and defence intelligence agency to receive PNR data

Two new articles published by EDRi explain how the Danish Defence Intelligence Service is to obtain access to Passenger Name Record (PNR) data; and that while the Danish law on data retention does not meet the standards laid down by the European Court of Justice in the recent Tele2 ruling, it will remain in place "until new rules for targeted data retention have been fully implemented."

German Bundestag greenlights further surveillance measures (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The new security resolution was agreed by the Bundestag during a marathon parliamentary session in the early hours of Friday morning. The measures will place greater weight on public safety concerns when deciding whether video surveillance technologies should be installed in certain locations.

In effect, the bill will make it simpler for private firms to install surveillance systems in public areas, particularly in shopping centers, by football stadiums and in car parks.

On the back of the government's increasing emphasis on public safety, new updates to Germany's data protection act stipulate that the protection of life, health or freedom carry particularly important interest. This key amendment to the act, which has historically valued privacy rights, is expected to make it significantly more difficult for privacy advocates to block any future surveillance measures."

EU: European Council, 9 March: Conclusions by the President of the European Council: economy, security and defence, migration

"The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance.

References to the European Council in the attached document should not be read as implying a formal endorsement by the European Council acting as an institution."

See: Conclusions by the President of the European Council (pdf). Poland blocked unanimous adoption of the conclusions due to its displeasure with the re-election of Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council. See: Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk (The Guardian, link)

And see: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

ISRAEL: Your Fingerprint: Coming Soon to a Terrorist Near You (Haaretz, link):

"More than 80% of the policemen investigated by the internal affairs unit admitted to using the police database for personal needs, sometimes for profit, a high-ranking cop told Haaretz in June 2016. Now the biometric database law has come into being, ruling that from now on, Israeli identity cards and passports will all bear a chip with our biometric information, meaning a portrait photo and fingerprint. The law will come into force from July, after regulatory amendments, until which time the biometric pilot program will continue to operate.

It took the law nine years to pass through the Knesset, not least because of frenetic opposition. One of the amendments to be enacted has to do with police use of the biometric database."

FRANCE-USA: France warns construction firm Lafarge over offer to build Trump’s wall (France 24, link):

"France’s government on Thursday urged the French-Swiss construction giant LafargeHolcim to reconsider its offer to sell cement for building US President Donald Trump's controversial US-Mexico border wall.

"It (Lafarge) should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this," French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio on Thursday, a few days after LafargeHolcim’s chief executive Eric Olsen said he was prepared to supply the materials for it.

"Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics. ... Very well, but I would say companies ... also have social and environmental responsibilities," added France’s top diplomat."

ENGLAND/WALES: Upgraded Taser authorised for England and Wales police (BBC News, link):

"An upgraded Taser model is to be made available to police in England and Wales, the Home Office has announced.

The Taser X2 - featuring a second back-up cartridge if the first charge fails - will eventually replace the X26, which is no longer in production.

Policing minister Brandon Lewis said officers would have the "tools they need to do their job effectively".

But a lawyer specialising in Taser-related injuries said a public consultation should have taken place."

UK: Marking the Home Office’s homework on immigration detention – urgent improvement needed (Unlocking Detention, link):

"What is true is that fewer people are being detained. In the last three months of 2015, 7702 people were detained. Between July and September 2016, this decreased a little, down to 7196 people. But, shockingly, what the Home Office’s own statistics show is that despite the reduction in the number of people entering detention, those who are in detention are being held for longer. At the end of December 2015, the month before the Shaw Review was published, 453 people who were being detained had been there for longer than 4 months. Nine months later, that number was 553.

Not only are people being detained for longer, but the impact of that is that despite fewer people entering detention, the number of people detained at any one time is actually higher than it was. On December 31 2015, 2,607 people were being detained. By the end of September 2016, this had jumped to just below 3,000."

UK-ECHR: Depriving suspected terrorist of British citizenship was lawful

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the British government acted lawfully in depriving a dual Sudanese-British national of his citizenship due to suspected involvement in activities related to terrorism in Somalia.

ENGLAND/WALES: Research on pre-trial detention informs legal changes in England and Wales (Fair Trials, link):

"Between 2015 and 2016, Fair Trials carried out a regional research project on the use of pre-trial detention in 10 EU countries. Through their research, our local partners from England and Wales even contributed to the reform of the region’s Criminal Procedure Rules. "

EU: Ombudsman to Council on secrecy in law-making: "there has never been a more critical time" for openness

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has said that "there has never been a more critical time for the European democratic process to be seen by EU citizens as open and transparent," in a letter urging the Council to provide more information on how it plans to respond to the Ombudsman's inquiry on secret "trilogue" meetings between the Council, Parliament and Commission. The letter was sent to the Council in February but is classified as LIMITE and has been kept from public view.

EU: New Statewatch briefing on cooperation between Frontex, non-EU states and international organisations

The purpose of cooperation between Frontex and third countries is principally to try to minimise the number of people arriving at the EU’s borders by extending the use of EU “border management” policies, techniques and technologies to those countries. Indeed, “measures in third countries” make up the first step of the “four-tier access control model” that was part of the EU’s original concept of ‘Integrated Border Management’. The other three were “border control, control measures within the area of free movement, including return)”.

This briefing provides a comparative overview of current agreements between Frontex and non-EU states and international organisations. It examines the overall framework for concluding such agreements, the types of agreements currently in force and their content, coordination and management of the agreements and other related issues such as forthcoming agreements.

EU: How to deal with democracy in crisis in Southeast Europe (Deutsche Welle, link)

"Many of the crisis symptoms that European democracy is currently experiencing have been growing for a long time and have anchored themselves in countries in the southeast of the continent: The democratic crisis in Southeast Europe is clear for all to see, and the "idea of liberal democratic consensus no longer exists," Florian Bieber from the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria told Deutsche Welle.

Yet the crisis is not a result of an acute depression, emphasizes Michael Hein, a professor at Berlin's Humboldt University, but rather, has grown out of a long, negative process. Hein analyzed and evaluated a number of statistics and indicators that measure various developmental, legal and social parameters. They show the same tendencies across the board: All of the countries of Southeast Europe, with the exception of Kosovo, and regardless of whether they are EU member states or not, have exhibited a constant downward trend over the last ten years.

This pertains to objectively measurable declines, but also to subjective parameters, such as citizens' faith in political and social institutions, which show the same downward tendency."

EU: Eurodac: over four million sets of fingerprints now held

The EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems recently published the annual report on the use of Eurodac, the EU database that holds the fingerprints of asylum-seekers in order to enforce the Dublin Regulation on responsibility for asylum applications. The number of fingerprint sets stored in the system has increased massively, by some 51%, growing from over 2.7 million at the end of 2014 to almost 4.1 million at the end of 2015.

EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention

On 6 March the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a revised set of Guidelines on protecting and promoting the rights of children just days after the Commission adopted a Recommendation on returns policy that called for, amongst other things, stepping up the detention of children.

EU: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

On 9 March there will be a meeting of the European Council followed on 10 March by an "informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government". The main themes of the Council meeting are migration, security and defence and the economy, while the informal meeting is concerned with "a political discussion on the content of the Rome declaration on the future of the EU that they are expected to adopt in Rome" on 25 March.

RUSSIA-ECHR: Incarcerating prisoners thousands of miles away from their relatives violated their right to family life (press release, pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Polyakova and Others v. Russia (application nos. 35090/09, 35845/11, 45694/13 and 59747/14) the applicants are either prisoners, or the family members of prisoners, who were adversely affected by decisions of the Russian Federal Penal Authority (“the FSIN”) to imprison individuals thousands of miles away from their families. The applicants complained that the decisions to allocate prisoners to remote penal facilities - and their subsequent inability to obtain transfers – had violated their right to respect for family life. The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of each applicant.

The Court held that the distance between the penal facilities and homes of the prisoners’ families – ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 kilometres – was so great that it had inflicted hardship on the persons concerned."

Judgment: CASE OF POLYAKOVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (35090/09 and three others, pdf) and see another recent case: FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf)

MALTA: Schengen Information System: 49 people caught using false documents since start of 2016 (Malta Independent, link):

"49 persons were caught entering Malta with false documents since the start of 2016, with 14 people being caught while Schengen was temporarily closed, the Police have confirmed with The Malta Independent.

The numbers show that 28% of people using false documents were caught during a 20-day period when Schengen was suspended – between 21 January 2017 to 9 February 2017 - while the remaining 35 were caught throughout the rest of the year. This indicates that more people using false documents can cross borders undetected when Schengen is in place."

Council of Europe: Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity, prevent human trafficking and strengthen its child-protection system (CoE, link):

"“Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity and integration policies, prevent human trafficking and combat corruption in the migration-related services sector” are the main recommendations in a report published today by the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Bocek.

The Special Representative also stressed the need to strengthen the protection of refugee and migrant children; called upon the Italian authorities and the EU to expedite the examination of asylum claims and of relocation and family-reunification requests; and pointed to the risk that weaknesses in the system for voluntary and forced removals might be encouraging the arrival of more irregular economic migrants."

See: Report of the fact-finding mission to Italy by Ambassador Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, 16-21 October 2016 (pdf)

EU-US: CIA used Frankfurt consulate to spy on Europeans (EUobserver, link):

"The US intelligence agency, the CIA, has used the American consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base to carry out digital spy operations, Wikileaks revealed on Tuesday (7 March).

The Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, based in the German city, was the base for CIA hackers covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Wikileaks said. The information is based on documents from the agency's internal discussion forum."

See: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Wikileaks, link) and: The Wikileaks CIA Stash May Prove Interesting, But Not Necessarily for the Hacks (MIT Technology Review, link)

EU: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): data protection warning

"The [ETIAS] proposal would require visa-exempt travellers to undergo a risk assessment with respect to security, irregular migration and public health before entering the EU.

...The proposal provides for the establishment of screening rules, a profiling tool that would enable the ETIAS system to single out individuals suspected of posing such risks. In his Opinion, the EDPS stresses that profiling techniques, as with any other form of computerised data analysis, raise serious technical, legal and ethical questions, related to their transparency and accuracy, and calls on the Commission to produce convincing evidence establishing the need for their inclusion and use in the ETIAS system."

UK-EU: Statement on Homelessness charities and local authorities complicit in detention and deportation of EU nationals rough sleeping (North East London Migrant Action, link):

"Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative) are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.

Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported."

And see: The Round-Up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration (Corporate Watch, link):

"Several nights a week, immigration patrols are out targeting rough sleepers in London, now a prime focus for raids under Theresa May's “hostile environment” policy.

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) and Refugee rights

• Massive re-draft of Council position: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulationl establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 (LIMITE doc no: 5332-17, pdf): With 150 Footnotes on Member State positions.

• "Blue Card": Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 6633-17, pdf): With 150 Member State positions in Footnotes. Council developing its negotiating position.

• Social rights of refugees: Theme: Socio-Economic Rights of Asylum Seekers and Beneficiaries of International Protection (LIMITE doc no: 5405-17,pdf). Highly detailed Member State objections in Footnotes.

This affects the Reception Conditions Directive, Recast Dublin Regulation and Qualification Regulation.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.17)

WIKILEAKS: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Press release, link):

"oday, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina."

See: Documents (link)

And see: WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents (NYT, link): "WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions."

German Parties and Ministries Vulnerable To Hacking Attacks

Politicians in Germany are warning about the threat of hacking attacks, but when it comes to their own data, many are too careless. SPIEGEL reporting has determined that some German political parties are failing to take advice from the country's information security authority seriously enough.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.3.17) including: EU plans on return will create more harm and suffering, EP committee wants "forced fingerprinting" procedure; and more.

EP study: The budgetary tools for financing the EU's external policy (pdf):

"In recent years, the European Union (EU) architecture for financing external policies has become more complex. In addition to the EU’s financing instruments in the EU budget, several innovative funding tools and mechanisms have been established. Driven by the need to respond to new challenges and unforeseen crises in times of tight public budgets, the EU has considerably diversified its toolbox for funding external policies. This toolbox now includes new funding tools, such as trust funds (TFs), and mechanisms, such as blending facilities, that combine funds from the EU budget with other resources. Instruments in the budget are also evolving to address the need for greater flexibility and simplification in the financing of the EU’s external policies.

As a result, EU funding for external policies is becoming more complex. This complexity creates challenges. Besides making the EU budget less transparent in the eyes of European citizens, these developments also pose challenges to the European Parliament (EP) in terms of budgetary oversight. As reform dynamics are picking up pace, it is important to take stock of the evolving architecture for financing EU external policies."

EU: Call for tough asylum fingerprinting measures backed in draft EP budget committee opinion

A draft opinion on the new Eurodac Regulation written for the European Paliament's budgets committee calls for the adoption of "an EU procedure for forced fingerprinting," taking a similar line to an earlier draft report produced for the civil liberties (LIBE) committee.

UK: ‘Unacceptably haphazard’: Steven Avery’s lawyers support open justice campaign (The Justice Gap, link):

"Steven Avery’s lawyers have lent their support to a new campaign calling for an end to the Ministry of Justice’s policy of destroying vital court records.

Dean Strang who featured in the Netflix hit documentary Making a Murderer was speaking at a meeting at parliament on Tuesday to launch the Open Justice Charter, an initiative which comprises a series of demands for greater transparency and accountability in the justice system.

The charter, which features in the latest issue of Proof magazine, highlights the automatic destruction of court transcripts. ‘That the MoJ would destroy court transcripts at all, let alone after a period as short seven years, should deeply disturb all Britons,’ Dean Strang said in an interview for the Justice Gap ahead of the meeting. ‘When you have lost the transcript of trial proceedings you have made it, if not impossible, then a damned sight harder for anyone to review the safety or reliability of that conviction. I find that unacceptably haphazard.’"

See: Destruction of court records 'hampers miscarriage of justice inquiries' (The Guardian, link) and the campaign: Open Justice Initiative: Increasing accountability by opening up access to information (Centre for Criminal Appeals, link)

EU: Protect rights at automated borders (Nature, link):

"Around the world... technologies are transforming the nature of regional and national borders in radical ways. Booths that recognize people's irises, faces and fingerprints are proliferating at airports, ports and other checkpoints. E-gates that compare identities against biometric records stored on chips in passports are supposedly faster, cheaper and more reliable than human border guards, and are presented as technical add-ons to the existing system. But, unmanaged, such technologies can threaten human rights and open up new forms of discrimination."

EU: Commission White Paper Option Six: A Europe of Democracy And Social Justice (Social Europe, link) by Paul Mason:

"The White Paper by Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 March 2017 is a poor answer to the crisis of the European Union. In response, I am proposing that parties and movements committed to internationalism and social justice offer the following alternative to the five options Juncker outlines."

See: See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf)

Will This British Citizen on Death Row in Ethiopia Ever Walk Free? (Newsweek, link):

""But after almost three years away, Hailemariam is hopeful that her partner may return home soon. Earlier in February, three top British legal officials penned a letter to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, urging him to push for Tsege’s release from detention, which they say is “in violation of international law.” This development, along with what Hailemariam believes is the Ethiopian government’s fatigue at holding him—the country is dealing with other problems, including a wave of anti-government protests since November 2015, while Tsege’s ongoing detention is likely straining ties with the U.K., a major donor to Ethiopia—has renewed the family’s hope of getting Tsege back. “[But] I don’t know if I’m being too much of an optimist,” she says.""

AIDA reports on Italy, Malta and Spain – Southern borders a laboratory for deflection policies (ECRE, link):

""“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.""

See the reports: Italy, Malta and Spain (links to pdfs)

Terror and Exclusion in EU Asylum Law Case – C-573/14 Lounani (Grand Chamber, 31 January 2017) (European Law Blog, link):

"The on-going conflict in the Middle East has profound implications for the global legal order in two areas of law in particular: asylum law and anti-terrorist law. The European Union and EU law have not been immune from this development and in many respects are closely affected by these geopolitical developments and their legal impact. After a fitful start, the EU has become a major actor in the area of criminal law, and in particular anti-terrorist law, on the one hand and in asylum law on the other. The two fields meet in Article 12(2)(c) of the Qualification Directive, itself reflecting Article 1F of the Geneva convention, providing that an individual shall be excluded from eligibility for refugee status for acts contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, acts which have been held to include acts of terrorism. Furthermore, Article 12(3) of the Qualification Directive extends that exclusion to ‘persons who instigate or otherwise participate in the commission of the the crimes or acts’ mentioned in Article 12(2). The status of terrorist and refugee are legally incompatible and mutually exclusive; one simply cannot be a terrorist and also a refugee. What, however, constitutes a terrorist for the purposes of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive? That essentially is the question at stake in Lounani."

See: Opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston (pdf) and judgment: Case C-573/14, request for a preliminary ruling in: Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides v Mostafa Lounani (pdf)

FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf):

"In its decision in the case of Labaca Larrea v. France and two other applications (applications nos. 56710/13, 56727/13 and 57412/13) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously decided to join the applications and declared them inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerned the detention in France of three ETA members in a prison located at a great distance from the residences of their families.

The Court considered that the transfer of the applicants to the Lyon-Corbas prison had not been such as to significantly impede their right to receive visits. They had not been the subject of measures to restrict or limit their right to contact with their families and there was no evidence that the journeys which their relatives had had to make had caused any insuperable, or even particularly difficult, problems."

Judgment: Case 56710/13 (pdf, French only)

EU to step up backing for military missions

"On 6 March the Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence. The conclusions assess what has been done to implement the various lines of action agreed by the European Council on 15 December 2016. They form the basis of a report for the European Council of 9 and 10 March 2017.

The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations, which contains measures to improve the EU's capacity to react in a faster, more effective and more seamless manner, building on existing structures and in view of enhancing civilian-military synergies, as part of the EU's comprehensive approach.

These measures include the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), within the existing EU Military Staff of the European External Action Service, for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions..."

See: press release: Security and defence: Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missions (pdf)

Adopted: Council conclusions on progress in implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence (pdf) and: Concept Note: Operational Planning and Conduct Capabilities for CSDP Missions and Operations (pdf)

UK-FRANCE: Presidential elections should not let us forget the fate of migrant children from Calais (HRW, link):

"The outlook for child migrants took a turn for the worse when on 8 February, the UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the UK had ended transfers under the Dubs amendment—even though the government had spoken of accepting between 1,000 and 3,000 children when the provision was debated in Parliament. The UK’s decision to end this humanitarian program tarnishes its history as a refuge for thousands of refugee children during World War II. The UK should restate its commitment to the Dubs amendment and ensure that an overly narrow application of the criteria does not lead to unfair or arbitrary decisions.

(...)

The fate of these young migrants depends also on the French government response. The French government has left these young migrants in limbo, placing them in CAOMIs outside the regular asylum and child protection system as an interim measure. The agencies hired to run the centers have varied in quality—while some have done an excellent job, others have lacked experience in supporting unaccompanied child migrants. Communication between the young migrants and French social workers or government officials has often been difficult due to the absence of qualified translators. In one shelter that I visited in December, a crowd of young migrants gathered around me to voice their anger and distrust toward the staff running the place."

This Is Why Encryption Is Such a Headache for Lawmakers (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Encrypted smartphones and messaging apps that prevent even the companies that make them from decrypting their data are unreasonably hindering criminal investigations, and the situation is worsening, say law enforcement officials. A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent bipartisan policy think tank, helps quantify the scale and complexity of the issue."

See: The Effect of Encryption on Lawful Access to Communications and Data (CSIS, link):

"Terrorists and criminals find creative ways to leverage the latest technologies to evade law enforcement. Technology continues to evolve, making unrecoverable encryption easier for individuals to obtain and use. Furthermore, any U.S. policy on encryption might set a precedent that other countries would be tempted to follow. While the debate thus far has pitted privacy and individual security against the critical task of stopping criminals and terrorists, there may be technical and policy solutions that can balance national security and public safety with protection of privacy, civil liberties, and a functioning global Internet ecosystem."

FRANCE: National Front plans for the constitution threaten democracy

"Ms. Le Pen’s constitutional program echoes a current practice in some dictatorial regime, which consists in using the referendum in order to justify authoritarian backslidings. If the constitutional program is adopted, no constitutional disposition would be safe from any authoritarian tendencies. Amending the constitution through referendum would allow Ms. Le Pen to propose constitutional reforms which go beyond her original constitutional program. It is already the case with the reestablishment of death penalty since she recently announced that this question will be asked by referendum.6) Moreover, nothing would inhibit Ms. Le Pen to use the referendum in order to extent or renew the presidential mandate, or to modify the electoral system of the NA if the latter is too troublesome."

Analysis: Marine Le Pen: a Constitutional Program Threatening the French Constitutional Regime (Verfassungsblog, link)

See also: National Front tones down manifesto ahead of presidential elections (Deutsche Welle, link) and problems in the European Parliament: Le Pen takes the Parliament to the EU Court of Justice in the assistants’ case (New Europe, link):

"The embattled French Front National leader Marine Le Pen announced plans to take the European Parliament to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in the assistants’ case.

Marine Le Pen refuses to return the sums linked to the dubious employment of a parliamentary assistant."

EU: Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds (New Europe, link):

"Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states."

UK: Illegal rendition cover up continues: Government seeks secret hearing for first time in victims’ case (Reprieve, link)

"The Government is asking the High Court to use secret proceedings in a case brought by victims of a UK-US rendition during the ‘War on Terror’. This is the first time such powers are set to be used in a rendition victims’ case, and it is being sought so the Government may avoid embarrassing revelations on how parliament and the public continue to be misled as to what happened.

At a hearing next Tuesday (7th), lawyers for the Government will argue that the case of two men who were rendered to Afghanistan in 2004 should be heard in secret.

The men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, are challenging the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence over the UK’s involvement in their rendition."

NORTHERN IRELAND: DUP puts Sinn Féin in driving seat, but road ahead is unclear (The Detail, link):

"THE shock election result in Northern Ireland that has seen unionism lose its majority status is an overnight sensation that has been years in the making.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

The 2011 census revealed that the once unassailable Protestant/unionist majority was in decline, while the growing Catholic/nationalist population was likely to become the largest community.

The DUP has known for a long time that a shift in politics was possible, but the party did nothing, despite holding power for the last ten years."

UK may return tortured asylum seekers to country they fled, says immigration minister (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not consider a person having been tortured in the country they are fleeing reason enough alone to accept a claim of asylum, the immigration minister has said.

Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary debate on torture that not all proven survivors of past torture “automatically qualify for protection” if they cannot produce additional evidence that they would be at risk of further serious harm upon being sent back to where they had fled."

How does the ageing process affect automated facial recognition systems?

"The two underlying premises of automatic face recognition are uniqueness and permanence. This paper investigates the permanence property by addressing the following: Does face recognition ability of state-of-the-art systems degrade with elapsed time between enrolled and query face images? If so, what is the rate of decline w.r.t. the elapsed time? While previous studies have reported degradations in accuracy, no formal statistical analysis of large-scale longitudinal data has been conducted. We conduct such an analysis on two mugshot databases, which are the largest facial aging databases studied to date in terms of number of subjects, images per subject, and elapsed times. Mixed-effects regression models are applied to genuine similarity scores from state-of-the-art COTS face matchers to quantify the population-mean rate of change in genuine scores over time, subject-specific variability, and the influence of age, sex, race, and face image quality. Longitudinal analysis shows that despite decreasing genuine scores, 99% of subjects can still be recognized at 0.01% FAR up to approximately 6 years elapsed time, and that age, sex, and race only marginally influence these trends. The methodology presented here should be periodically repeated to determine age-invariant properties of face recognition as state-of-the-art evolves to better address facial aging."

See: Longitudinal Study of Automatic Face Recognition (IEEE, link)

EU: DATA RETENTION: Council calls in the "experts" to try and get round the law

Retention of electronic communication data - next steps (LIMITE doc no: 6713-17, pdf):

In the Watson/Tele2 case the Council recognises that:

"the Court ruled that Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC (the ePrivacy Directive), read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation "which, for the purpose of fighting crime, provides for general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication", as well as national legislation that "governs the protection and security of traffic and location data and, in particular, access of the competent national authorities to the retained data, where the objective pursued by that access, in the context of fighting crime, is not restricted solely to fighting serious crime, where access is not subject to prior review by a court or an independent administrative authority, and where there is no requirement that the data concerned should be retained within the European Union,,,

Many delegations expressed their concerns on the implications of the judgment, which might hinder the effectiveness of the investigations and prosecutions of crimes. The majority of delegations reiterated the support expressed at the informal ministerial meeting in Valletta on 26-27 January 2017 for a coordinated approach at EU level and for discussions to continue at expert level." [emphasis added].

The Commission 3 years after the Digital Rights and now confronted by the confirmation by the Court that such laws are unlawful is considering:

"how national data retention laws can be construed in conformity with the judgment:"

See: In December 2016: Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf) and in 2014: "Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and others": The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf) - the CJEU declared the measure was unlawful since it was adopted in 2006.

UK: Watchdog to launch inquiry into misuse of data in politics - Investigation follows revelations of digital firm’s involvement in Brexit (The Observer, link):

"The UK’s privacy watchdog is launching an inquiry into how voters’ personal data is being captured and exploited in political campaigns, cited as a key factor in both the Brexit and Trump victories last year.

The intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) follows revelations in last week’s Observer that a technology company part-owned by a US billionaire played a key role in the campaign to persuade Britons to vote to leave the European Union."

EU: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM (EES): Council of the European Union: Council negotiating position for trilogue with the European Parliament:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 6572-17, 161 pages, pdf):

"The new addition are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the documents are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission proposals are marked as […]...

A number of delegations have recalled the work carried out by the High Level Experts Group on Information Systems and Interoperability, and have called for a consistent approach on the issue of law enforcement access across the pending legislative proposals. It is suggested that a Council declaration on this issue (as revised following the discussion in the JHA Counsellors meeting of 23 February) is attached to the minutes of Coreper." [emphasis added]

See also: High-Level Expert Group interim report (pdf) and:

Correction (LIMITE doc no: 6572-COR-1-17, pdf) See important amendments regarding non-EU agency access.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.3.17)

EU: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report

Third Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf):

"this Report is linked to the renewed Action Plan on a more effective return policy and the Recommendation on the implementation of the Return Directive adopted in parallel by the Commission. Substantial progress on returns also depends on making legal and administrative processes inside the EU simpler and more effective, and also on ensuring full cooperation with third countries of origin....

The Commission, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service, will take stock of the approach and its results in reducing irregular migration flows, addressing its root causes and improving return rates when it reports in June, one year on from the launch of the Partnership Framework....

Progress in the negotiations of the EU-Nigeria readmission agreement is of the utmost importance: the first round took place in October 2016, but a second round of talks has been postponed several times by Nigeria...

Dialogue and cooperation with Mali on return suffered a setback following inaccurate media reports in December 2016 about the signature of a formal agreement on return with the EU which never took place, and Mali did not sign Operating Procedures on readmission." [emphasis added]

Comment. "Confusion" in the media was caused by the EU trying to "jump the gun" by saying it had signed the agreement - but Mali had not agreed: see: Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks" with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (Press release) pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African state:

"Tangible progress has been made with the five African priority countries, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal but efforts need to be stepped up to deliver results. Along the Central Mediterranean route, work is taken forward to better manage migration, continue saving lives, step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers and offer protection to migrants in need and increase
resettlement and assisted voluntary returns."

Annex (pdf): Detailed targets for "priority" states.
FAQ (pdf)

And see:

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements (Statewatch)
New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch)
Viewpoint: Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch, pdf)
EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (Statewatch, pdf)

EU-TURKEY DEAL: Question to the Commission: Effects of the General Court’s orders on the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf) from Barbara Spinelli MEP:

"if the EU-Turkey Statement had to be considered an international instrument, what would be the legal basis for the involvement of the EU institutions in its implementation?

Does the Commission consider the commitments already made on the basis of this text to be compatible with the orders issued by the General Court?"

See: EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

EU: Parliament asks EU Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (Press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visafree access to nationals of five EU countries. In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months”.

The text prepared by the Civil Liberties Committee was adopted by a show of hands.

Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free."

And see: Parliamentary Tracker : a new episode of the EU-US visa waiver saga… (ASFJ, link)

UK: Inclusion of CAGE as “controversial” in PREVENT training manual shows how the policy strangles debate on crucial issues (link):

" The inclusion of CAGE on a PREVENT training presentation as a “controversial” organisation whose views should be mitigated on campuses, is indicative of the securitisation of universities under PREVENT and the creeping infringement of the government on free speech.

Although CAGE was singled out in the manual, we are just one of the many dissenting voices targeted by PREVENT, which also takes aim at Muslims who question foreign and domestic policy, environmental activists and pro-Palestinian groups.

It is alarming that criticism of PREVENT and government policy is seen as a marker for ‘extremism’, especially since all our events feature presenters that call for due process and the rule of law."

The Growing International Movement Against Killer Robots (Harvard International Review, link):

"Six weapons have been internationally banned: poison gas, biological weapons, chemical weapons, blinding lasers, antipersonnel landmines, and cluster munitions. The bans on the latter three were all achieved in the past 21 years, and, in each case, civil society was the driving force in bringing the issue to the forefront and convincing governments to agree to a ban. All three bans were rooted in the desire to better protect civilians during warfare and its aftermath, and to strengthen further international humanitarian law. "

Refugee crisis: Commission: Draconian Recommendations to "substantially increase rate of return"

Commission: Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (pdf) Publication was delayed several hours:

"The objectives of such an integrated and coordinated approach in the area of return should be to: ensure swift return procedures and substantially increase the rate of return...

put in place measures to effectively locate and apprehend third-country nationals staying illegally...

Member States should ensure that return decisions have unlimited duration, so that they can be enforced at any moment...

ensure that return decisions are followed without delay by a request to the third country of readmission to deliver a valid travel documents or to accept the use of the European travel document...

provide in national legislation for a maximum initial period of detention of six months that can be adapted by the judicial authorities in the light of the circumstances of the case, and for the possibility to further prolong the detention until 18 months in the cases provided for in Article 15(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC;

bring detention capacity in line with actual needs, including by using where necessary the derogation for emergency situations as provided for...

provide for the shortest possible deadline for lodging appeals against return decisions established by national law...

Risk of absconding

(15) Each of the following objective circumstances should constitute a rebuttable presumption that there is a risk of absconding:

(a) refusing to cooperate in the identification process, using false or forged identity documents, destroying or otherwise disposing of existing documents, refusing to provide fingerprints;
(b) opposing violently or fraudulently the operation of return;
(c) not complying with a measure aimed at preventing absconding imposed in application of Article 7(3) of Directive 2008/115/EC, such as failure to report to the competent authorities or to stay at a certain place;
(d) not complying with an existing entry ban;
(e) unauthorised secondary movements to another Member State."

European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

Press release: European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents new measures for an efficient and credible EU return policy (pdf):

"the Commission is today following through with a renewed EU Action Plan on Return and a set of recommendations to Member States on how to make return procedures more effective.....

Remove inefficiencies by shortening deadlines for appeals, systematically issuing return decisions that do not have an expiry date and combining decisions on the ending of a legal stay with the issuance of a return decision to avoid duplicate work...

Tackle abuses of the system by making use of the possibility to assess asylum claims in accelerated or, where considered appropriate, border procedures when it is suspected asylum claims are made merely to delay the enforcement of a return decision...

Prevent absconding by detaining people who have received a return decision and who show signs they will not comply such as refusal to cooperate in the identification process or opposing a return operation violently or fraudulently....

Overcoming the challenges of readmission by working to swiftly conclude the negotiations of Readmission Agreements with Nigeria, Tunisia and Jordan and striving to engage with Morocco and Algeria.

Within the Partnership Framework, employ collective leverage in a coordinated and effective manner through tailor-made approaches with third countries."

Communication: On a more effective return policy in the EU - A renewed Action Plan (COM 200-17, pdf)

Annex 1 (pdf): Detailed plan

FAQ: Returns and readmission (pdf)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration PartnershipFramework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African states

European Commission: Relocation, EU-Turkey "deal" and EU Border Agency

"Solidarity" is a eupemism for failure of reclocating refugees within the EU:
Commission calls for renewed efforts in implementing solidarity measures under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"Ahead of next week's European Council and in the form of three progress reports, the Commission is today making a renewed call on Member States to pick up the pace of relocation to alleviate pressure from Italy and Greece, with few having met their commitments in full....

the current pace of relocation is still well below expectations and below the European Council endorsed target...

the current pace will not allow for the relocation of all eligible applicants currently present in Greece and Italy by September 2017 – despite this being perfectly feasible. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for
both Italy and Greece, whereas some (Hungary, Austria and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all and others are doing so on a very limited basis (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia)....

soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those who have not complied with the
obligations stemming from the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September."
[emphasis added]

•  Tenth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 202-17, pdf)

•  Annex 1: Relocations: Greece (pdf)
•  
Annex 2: Relocations: Itay (pdf)
•  
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece by 28 February 2017 (pdf)

•  Fifth Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 204-17, pdf)

•  Annex (pdf)

•  Second report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM 201-17, pdf)

EU: European Commission: Fifth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 203-17, pdf):

Sweeping agenda for more controls and surveillance:

"This is the fifth monthly report on the progress made towards building an effective and genuine Security Union and covers developments under two main pillars: tackling terrorism, organised and cyber crime and the means that support them; and strengthening our defences and building resilience against those threats.

A prerequisite of building an effective and genuine Security Union is ensuring the timely adoption and full and effective implementation of EU legislation."

UK: Watchdog says police cuts have left forces in 'perilous state' - Government austerity blamed in report, which shows stretched forces downgrading calls and leaving suspects at large (Guardian, link):

"Policing in England and Wales is in a “potentially perilous state” as government cuts lead to investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects remaining at large, a watchdog has warned.

In a report on effectiveness in policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices that have arisen out of police forces’ approach to dealing with budget cuts in excess of 20%."

See: HMIC: PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 (pdf) And: Breakdown by force (link)

EU-BREXIT: Ombudsman urges appropriate Brexit transparency

"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the European Commission to set out the arrangements that it plans to put in place to ensure transparency and to secure appropriate stakeholder input during the upcoming Brexit negotiations. These should cover the types of information and documents the Commission intends to publish - including the timeline for negotiations and reports on negotiating rounds - and when."

See: Letter from the Ombudsman to President Juncker concerning information for the public on the upcoming negotiations aimed at reaching agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.3.17): EU not responsible for EU-Turkey deal, says ECJ; migrants sentenced to years in prison in Hungary; relocation figures; and more.

HUNGARY: Szeged court issues final guilty verdict in case of 10 immigrants charged with rioting (Budapest Beacon, link)

"A Szeged court has reached a final guilty verdict in an appeal hearing against 10 immigrants for their involvement in clashes with police at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke in September, 2015. Among the convicted are an ill, elderly woman, a man who walks with a cane, and a man in a wheelchair. The court ruled that all of the accused had illegally crossed Hungary’s border as participants in a riot, index.hu reports.

The court sentenced four of the defendants to one year and two months imprisonment and banned them from Hungary for four years. Another man, who was observed speaking to the crowd through a megaphone during the border clashes, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and banned for six years from the country. That man, 22-year-old Syrian national Yamen A., was the only defendant to appear at the sentencing, and reportedly wept upon hearing the verdict. He has been in custody for nearly 18 months.

Each of the 10 immigrants spent at least nine and a half months in custody while awaiting the verdict in last year’s first-degree trial."

And see from December 2016: Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link)

HUNGARY: Orbán speaks of the necessity for ethnic homogeneity in speech to business leaders (Budapest Beacon, link):

"In an address to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán boasted of successful economic policies before pointing to the maintenance of Hungary’s ethnic homogeneity as a key to improving its international standing.

...“Hungary’s ethnic relations are complex, so this isn’t an easy issue,” he said, adding that the country’s competitive labor market makes “such ideas completely unimaginable”.

To improve Hungary’s international standing, it must protect its ethnic homogeneity because “too much mixing causes problems.” Being a “single color” was important (the statement released on his website uses the word “egyszínuség”, which in English would translate to the exact opposite of “diverse”), as was strong public safety, and having a “clean, green Hungary”."

EU: Final text of the 2017 Directive on Combating Terrorism

See: DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA (pdf)

And: Joint statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission (pdf)

The text is still to be published in the Official Journal.

Full background and documentation on the Statewatch European Monitoring and Documentation Centre (SEMDOC): Directive on combating terrorism

EU: European Citizens’ Initiative: General Court rules on the Commission’s obligation to give reasons for refusing to register proposals (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On Friday the 3rd of February, the General Court (GC) annulled for the first time a Commission Decision refusing registration of a proposed European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), on the ground that the Commission infringed its duty to give reasons for its decision. Minority SafePack is a short judgment concerning procedural matters yet at this early stage of the ECI, which was established in 2012, any judgment clarifying the applicable legal framework is worthy of attention from those interested in the ECI and more generally in the opportunities for citizens’ participation in EU lawmaking."

See the judgment: Case T-646/13 (pdf)

ISRAEL: Knesset committee approves landmark biometric database law after 8-year experiment (Jerusalem Post, link):

"The Knesset late on Monday approved a landmark law by a 39-to-29 vote limiting the use of biometric databases for smartcard identification, following its passage by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in its final readings.

The law’s final version reflects a number of compromises made to address privacy concerns that have made it the center point of a grand battle for years. "

GREECE: Official figures on refugees and migrants in the Aegean, 1 March 2017

The detention centres on Lesvos, Samos and Kos are still massively overcrowded, with Samos holding 1695 "guests" despite its capacity of 850. As of 8:00 on 1 March, 139 people had arrived on Greece's Aegean islands.

EU: Citizens should get access to data on firm owners to fight money laundering (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"EU citizens could access registers of beneficial owners of companies without having to demonstrate a “legitimate interest,” and trusts would have to meet the same transparency requirements as firms, under amendments, agreed by MEPs on Tuesday, to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive."

HUNGARY: Court Agrees With HCLU: Hungarian Police Discriminated Against Roma (Liberties.eu, link):

"The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) initiated an actio popularis lawsuit based on the Equal Treatment Act of Hungary (ETA) against the Heves County Police Department in order to enforce the rights of Roma in the village of Gyöngyöspata. The aim of the lawsuit was to have the court affirm that the actions of the police in Gyöngyöspata in 2011 were unlawful and violated the right to equal treatment of local Roma.

The judgment represents a particularly important and decisive development in terms of the protection of rights and case law in Hungary: this was the first time that the Curia stated in a public interest lawsuit that the police committed negative discrimination against Roma citizens."

For more detail, see: Supreme Court: the police discriminated against the Roma of Gyöngyöspata (HCLU, link):

"Despite the dismissal of the ethnic profiling part of the case, the HCLU is very proud of the judgment regarding the issue of state protection against racist harassment. The Kúria emphasized in the oral reasoning that the Gyöngyöspata incidents were the second most serious racially motivated events in Hungary since the regime change (the most serious were the racist serial murders), and the police clearly had the positive obligation to take measures against racist harassment which they failed to do. The inaction of the police amounted to harassment under the Equal Treatment Act. This ruling of the Supreme Court of Hungary is a considerable success."

EU: Commission outlines 5 scenarios for future of EU in white paper (Politico, link):

"The European Commission has outlined five scenarios for the future of the European Union in a white paper obtained by POLITICO ahead of its publication on Wednesday.

The scenarios are entitled “carrying on,” “nothing but the single market,” “those who want more do more,” “doing less more efficiently,” and “doing much more together.”

The paper is an attempt by the Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, to shape a major debate about the EU’s future following Britain’s shock decision to leave. The document is also intended to influence a declaration by the 27 countries remaining in the EU at the bloc’s 60th anniversary summit on March 25 in Rome."

See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf) and annex: Five scenarios offering a glimpse into the potential state of the Union by 2025 (pdf)

EU-USA: U.S. says Trump order will not undermine data transfer deals with EU (Reuters, link):

"An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine two data transfer agreements between the United States and the EU, Washington wrote in a letter to allay European concerns.

An executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of U.S. immigration law rattled the European Union as it appeared to suggest Europeans would not be given the same privacy protections as U.S. citizens.

The order directs U.S. agencies to "exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.""

On the other hand: The Trump Administration Is Threatening to Publicly Release the Private Data of Immigrants and Foreign Visitors (ACLU, link): "The U.S. government promised it would protect Europeans’ personal data as a condition of these agreements. But both agreements may be in jeopardy if the Trump administration goes forward with its plans."

EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it has no competence to judge the legality of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees as "neither the European Council nor any other institution of the EU decided to conclude an agreement with the Turkish Government on the subject of the migration crisis." The case was brought by three individuals seeking asylum in Greece, who sought to challenge the legality of the deal as it posed a risk that they might be returned to Turkey.

EU-POLAND: Case not closed: 20 NGOs demand Commission holds Poland to account over rule of law

The recent claim of the Polish Foreign Minister that his government's dispute with the European Commission over legal changes undermining the rule of law is now "closed" appears to have been rather premature. Twenty-six international and Polish NGOs have written to the European Commission to demand that it "halt Poland's backsliding from the EU's founding values," by activating Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which ultimately makes possible the removal of a Member State's voting rights within the Council if a "serious and persistent breach" of the EU's founding values is confirmed.

See: Joint NGO letter: Open Letter to the College of Commissioners regarding the situation in Poland (16 February 2017, pdf)

Berlin furious after Turkey arrests German journalist (EUobserver, link):

"The Berlin and Ankara rift continues to widen following the arrest of a German newspaper correspondent on terrorism related charges earlier this week in Turkey.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel had already spoken out against the arrest followed by demands on Tuesday (28 February) by the German foreign ministry for Ankara to explain the charges against the reporter.

A judge in Turkey on Monday ordered the arrest of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist for the Die Welt newspaper.

Yucel had been detained since mid-February over a story on a hacker attack against Turkey's energy minister, who is also president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son in law."


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