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December 2017

UK: Government admits 'losing' thousands of papers from National Archives (Guardian, link)

"Documents on the Falklands, Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and the infamous Zinoviev letter among those ‘misplaced’, leaving historians suspicious

Thousands of government papers detailing some of the most controversial episodes in 20th-century British history have vanished after civil servants removed them from the country’s National Archives and then reported them as lost.

Documents concerning the Falklands war, Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the infamous Zinoviev letter – in which MI6 officers plotted to bring about the downfall of the first Labour government - are all said to have been misplaced. (...)

An entire file on the Zinoviev letter scandal is said to have been lost after Home Office civil servants took it away. The Home Office declined to say why it was taken or when or how it was lost. Nor would its say whether any copies had been made."

And see: Theresa May must search for missing archive papers, say human rights groups (Guardian, link): "Human rights groups say ‘lost’ historical documents could provide evidence of rights violations."

UK: HIDDEN FROM HISTORY: The Zinoviev Letter: This notorious "Letter" led to the fall of the first Labour government in 1924:

"The 1,200 word letter, produced on the official notepaper of the Third Communist International, purported to be a communication between Gregory Zinoviev, the President of the International, and Mr A McManus, e member of the Communist Party and the the British representative of the International's executive committee. The letter suggested that Brutish comrades should be working to create a revolutionary insurrection (...)" (Tony Bunyan, "The Political Police in Britain" pp158-161). The forged letter. originating from a group of White Russian conspirators, found its way to MI6, Tory Party HQ and then to the Daily Mail newspaper four days before the election.

Historian Christopher Andrew also concludes in "Secret Service" (1985) that: "There seems little doubt, however, that the "political bomb" which exploded in the last days of the Labour government was planted by the intelligence community" (p308)

UK-EU Brexit: Blue passports could send UK citizens to back of queue, EU officials say (Guardian. link):

"Theresa May’s decision to change passport colour as expression of ‘independence and sovereignty’ could mean travel delays.

European officials have warned that Britain’s new blue passports could spell travel delays and extra paperwork rather than the enhanced freedom promised by the government. (...)

One senior official said that “depending on how negotiations go on all free movement issues after Brexit” there was a significant risk that British passport holders would lose the right to use a fast-track citizens lane when travelling on the continent and may also be obliged to use a new visa waiver scheme.

The EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) is modeled on the US Esta scheme and could require British travellers to Europe to register in advance and make a small administrative payment.(...)

Although a chance remains for Britain to retain fast-track privileges if there is further shift in the prime minister’s red lines on immigration, British experts said this looked unlikely. “At the moment, it looks absolutely certain that we won’t be able to go through the European citizens lane because the legal code in the Schengen borders code says it is only for citizens or people with free movement rights,” said Steve Peers, a professor of law at Essex University." [emphasis added]

Beyond Blue Passports: UK/EU immigration after Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link) Professor Steve Peers:

"it’s a good moment to review the rules on visits and long-term immigration to the EU that will likely apply to UK citizens after Brexit. This is an update of a previous post from 2014 on this issue, except it should be noted that there will likely be separate rules on UK citizens who already live in the EU27 states on Brexit Day – on the basis of the withdrawal agreement, as partly agreed earlier this month. I have discussed that partial deal separately and so I won’t discuss that category of people further again here. My focus is on UK citizens who are still in the UK on that point (and who do not also have the citizenship of an EU27 country) (...)

At present, the Schengen borders code sets up a fast track solely for those with EU citizenship or nationality of a state with a free movement deal (see Articles 8 and 10). So UK citizens will no longer be fast-tracked at those borders after the end of free movement rules, unless the UK and EU negotiate an unprecedented special arrangement."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-22.12.17)

Hungary will block punitive EU action on Poland (DW, link):

"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says his country would form an "insurmountable roadblock" against EU attempts to trigger Article 7. Orban said, "if one attacks Poland, it attacks all of Central Europe.""

And see: European Commission triggers Article 7 against Poland (DW, link): "The European Commission has launched proceedings against Poland for breaching European common values and rule of law. While only a warning, Article 7 could lead to sanctions and a suspension of EU voting rights."

See also: The European Commission’s Activation of Article 7: Better Late than Never? (EU Law Analysis, link)

EU: Infringement Proceedings as a Tool for the Enforcement of Fundamental Rights in the European Union (OSF, link):

"The potential of EU infringement proceedings as a human rights tool is underestimated. In this report commissioned by the Open Society European Policy Institute, Professor De Schutter provides recommendations on how infringement proceedings can become part and parcel of a fundamental rights policy of the European Union.

The report examines the process of infringement proceedings in law and practice and its place in the human rights architecture of the European Union, highlighting its added value compared to the political monitoring of fundamental rights under Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, and referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union by national courts."

See: Report (link)

Council of Europe: Commissioner Muižnieks examines impact of national human rights action plans (link):

"Commissioner for Human Rights published today the conclusions of a workshop he convened in Strasbourg on 2 June 2017 on national human rights action plans. The workshop gathered participants from public administration, national human rights institutions and civil society from a number of Council of Europe member states, as well as representatives from the EU’s FRA and the UNDP. The participants identified the most common challenges facing the implementation of national human rights action plans and discussed best practices to overcome them."

See: Workshop report (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Integration of Refugees in Greece, Hungary and Italy Comparative analysis (pdf):

"This study presents a comparative overview of recent policy developments in Greece, Hungary and Italy, which present some similarities as regards their position in the migration routes, but also very different approaches. The focus of the analysis is on progress achieved in the last three years in the adaptation of the reception and integration system for the high numbers of new arrivals and on the main challenges encountered, with a focus on labour market integration measures.

Further, special attention is given to changes in perceptions, public opinion and political discourse with respect to the asylum and integration of refugees and how this influenced policy strategies.(...)

These countries show higher and growing rejection rates compared to the EU average in first-instance decisions on asylum applications, ranging from 60.6 % in Italy, to 76.3 % in Greece, and more than 91.6 % in Hungary compared to 39.2 % in the EU28 on average." [emphasis added]

Greece: Lesvos:15 injured and tents burned down when clashes break out in Moria camp (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"At least fifteen people were injured and transported to hospital and several tents turned to ashes when violent clashes between different ethnic groups of refugees and migrants broke out in the hot spot of Moria on the island of Lesvos on Tuesday night."

And see: Unrealisable promises? LESVOS UPDATE 11 December 2017 (Open the islands, link)

Turkish Coast Guard Comand - Irregular migration Statistics (AYS, link):

Numbber of migrants returned to Turkey 36.757 (2016) 21.376 (2017) Death at sea: 192 (2016) 55 (2017)

Poland risks losing EU voting rights in dispute over reforms to judiciary (Guardian, link)

"Row over government’s decision to approve legislation giving executive greater control of supreme court and appointing of judges.

The EU is widely expected to trigger a process that could ultimately see Poland stripped of its voting rights in Brussels, with patience wearing thin over reforms that are said to be a threat to the independence of the country’s judiciary.

If a first step in the shape of a formal warning is taken against Poland’s rightwing government on Wednesday, it will be an unprecedented act against a member state and exacerbate a growing sense of crisis over the country’s membership of the bloc."

European Parliament Study: The implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (pdf):

"It maps the various policy areas in which the UK is currently participating and analyses the requirements for the disentanglement of the UK from them, as well as the prerequisites for possible UK participation in AFSJ policies after withdrawal. Furthermore, it provides an assessment of the political and operational impact of Brexit for the EU in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice."

JUSTICIA: ECHR: Beuze v Belgium (no. 71409/10) (pdf):

"On 20 December the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case of Beuze v Belgium (No 7149/10) dealing with the right to access a lawyer at the early stages of the proceedings.

The case concerns a Belgian national, sentenced to life imprisonment for intentional homicide. Mr Beuze was interrogated seven times by police and twice by the investigating judge, and was denied the assistance of a lawyer each time, which means that Mr. Beuze was unable to properly defend himself.

The decision of the Court is expected to bring clarity on the interpretation of the right to access a lawyer under Article 6(1) and 6(3)(c) during the preliminary stages of criminal proceedings and the application of the principles derived from Salduz v. Turkey and Ibrahim and Others v. United Kingdom.

In October, Fair Trials submitted a third-party intervention in which we urged the Court to uphold its approach in Salduz and endorse the Access to a lawyer Directive, which establishes clearly that aside “compelling reasons” cases, there should always be access to a lawyer in early questioning."

See: Beuze v Belgium App. No 7149/10 (Grand Chamber) - Written comments of Fair Trials (pdf)

EU silently accepts far-right in Austrian cabinet (euractiv, link):

"Unlike in 2000, when the EU imposed sanctions on Austria in response to the entrance of the FPÖ into government, this time EU leaders and institutions silently accepted the coalition deal between the far-right force with the conservative ÖVP agreed on Friday (15 December)."

And see: New Austria coalition marks ‘dangerous development’: UN rights chief (The Citizen, link):

" The UN rights chief said Monday that the far-right tilt of Austria’s new coalition government marked a “dangerous development”, and cautioned against “the peddling of fear” in European politics.

“I am very worried,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told AFP in an interview, cautioning that the new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s decision to take hard-right positions on things like immigration to win support marked “a dangerous development… in the political life of Europe.”

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) was sworn in Monday as part of the new government, headed by Kurz and his conservative People’s Party (OeVP). Kurz took over the OeVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections. At 31, Kurz is the world’s youngest leader.

“I am unsettled by what has happened in Austria in the last six months, that the former foreign minister (moved) hard-right on the issue of immigration and migrants rights so that he could basically secure the votes that had previously gone to Freedom Party in order to win the chancellorship,” Zeid said."

ECHR-TURKEY: Fines imposed on demonstrators without adequate judicial review violated their freedom to demonstrate (press release, pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Öðrü and Others v. Turkey (application no. 60087/10) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned fines imposed on the applicants for participating in several demonstrations in the town of Adana following a Gubernatorial Decree restricting the times, places and arrangements for demonstrations.

The Court found in particular that the review carried out by the domestic courts following the applicants’ appeal had been incompatible with the principles of Article 11 of the Convention. It observed that the courts had not balanced the competing interests in the case, confining themselves to checking the veracity of the charges against the applicants. However, they ought also to have adjudicated on the proportionality of the impugned interference with the applicants’ right to demonstrate. The Court also considered that despite the relative leniency of the fines, it could not conclude that the applicants had sustained no major damage, in particular owing to their status as human rights activists and to the crucial importance of the right to demonstrate peacefully in a democracy."

And see the judgment: Ögrü and Others v. Turkey (application no. 60087/10) (French only, pdf)

MOAS carries out first-ever aerial evacuation mission, 74 vulnerable refugees taken out of Libya (Malta Independent, link):

"Marking the launch of its first-ever aerial evacuation mission, on Thursday the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) flew 74 vulnerable refugees out of Libya as part of a UNHCR evacuation scheme. The refugees, accompanied by MOAS staff, left Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport at 10pm local time, arriving in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in the early hours of Friday morning.

Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation, said: “I am happy to report that a group of 51 children, 22 women and one man have been successfully evacuated from Libya and are now safe in Niger. Less than 24 hours ago they were still detained in Libya, but they can now hope anew.” He added: “This evacuation could not have happened without the support of the authorities and of our partners, including MOAS, in Libya.” "

EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services (Matthias Monroy, link):

"Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services."

The project was funded by the EU's FP7 security research theme. See: Market Forces: the development of the EU security-industrial complex

GREECE: Photographs of Daily Life in an Overcrowded Refugee Camp (Vice, link):

"Around 6,000 people are spending the winter in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to the United Nations, about 1,500 of them – including women and children – live in makeshift tents without insulation, flooring or heating. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro this summer, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras didn't dwell on the horrid conditions: "We have received more than 60,000 refugees into mainland Greece, living in good conditions, with access to medical attention and education," he said. "I am proud of that – even though the situation remains difficult."

To see what it's really like in Moria, one refugee living there agreed to document his everyday life for a month – on the condition that he remains anonymous."

Constitutional Identity in the Age of Global Migration: German Law Journal, Volume 18, Number 7 (link)

"This Special Issue includes the guest editors’ introductory essay and eleven articles tracing the nexus between global migration and constitutional identity from theoretical and comparative perspectives. How can liberal states, or a supranational Union formed by such states, welcome immigrants and treat refugees as future denizens without fundamentally changing their constitutional identity, forsaking their liberal tradition, or slipping into populist nationalism? The collection thoughtfully and thoroughly tackles one of the greatest contemporary challenges in constitutional law and theory. The topic is addressed through five themes:

- theories of constitutional identity
- the changing constitution of migration societies
- the rise of illiberal notions of constitutional identity
- immigration as a challenge to liberal constitutional identity
- constitutional elements of the international and European legal order."

UK: Report: Undercover Policing Inquiry’s First Mitting Hearing (COPS, link):

"The 20th & 21st November saw the first open hearing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry before the new Chair, Sir John Mitting, who succeeded Christopher Pitchford earlier this year.

Prior to this hearing, Mitting released several ‘minded-to’ documents that indicated his intention to restrict details of undercover officers, and said he would provide an opening statement on the future conduct of the Inquiry under him. The victims of the spycop scandal approached the hearings with trepidation and scepticism.

In this long read, we unpick the hearing in detail, in particular how the new Chair is likely to approach the release of information on spycop deployments and their supervisors. We look at Mitting’s opening remarks and how he dealt with a protest. With much of the hearings focusing on ‘restriction order’ applications for spycops’ anonymity, we look at how he handled the various challenges thrown up by them."

POLAND: Why are Polish people so wrong about Muslims in their country? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The recent Ipsos survey Perils of Perception showed that most countries believe their population is much more Muslim than it actually is. But the Poles emerge as the unquestionable leader in these overestimations. Although Muslims make up only around 35,000 of a 38 million population, Poles believe that their number is actually 2.6 million, which would make the Polish Muslim population one of the largest in the European Union after France, Germany and the UK. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-18.12.17): new EU proposals; research; EU-Libya; Greece; European Council; other news including: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane

EU: Press release: Libyan coast guard attacks rescuers after training by EU military operation (Andrej Hunko, MdB, pdf):

"'The support for Libyan militias in the framework of the EUNAVFOR MED military operation is helping them in the brutal persecution of refugees. It has nothing whatsoever to do with training in sea rescue. This is proved by the answer received from the German Federal Foreign Office regarding an incident on 6 November, in which the crew of a Libyan patrol boat once again caused the death of a number of people. Eight of the thirteen crew members had previously been trained in the framework of EUNAVFOR MED', stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party parliamentary group in the German Bundestag."

EU: The Security of the Status of Long-Term Non-EU Residents in the EU: Some Thoughts on Case C-636/16 López Pastuzano (EU Law Analysis, link):

"When can Member States expel a third-country national (TCN) holding a long-term residence (LTR) permit and having committed a criminal offence? The ECJ engaged with this important issue in its López Pastuzano ruling on 7 December 2017. It must be recalled at the outset that, according Eurostat data, there are more than 7 million LTRs residing in the EU, with that number set to rise after Brexit. Having participated in the drafting of the written observations on behalf of the claimant before the Court, this post is a short explanation of the case and of its implications."

See the judgment: Wilber López Pastuzano v Delegación del Gobierno en Navarra (Case C-636/16, pdf)

UK: Sean Rigg's family say decision not to charge police is shameful (The Guardian, link):

"Five Metropolitan police officers involved in the arrest, restraint and detention of the musician Sean Rigg will not face charges, prosecutors have announced almost 10 years after his death in police custody.

Following a fresh review of evidence at the request of the Rigg family into what happened in south London and at Brixton police station in August 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute.

The family, who called the CPS decision “shameful”, will now have to wait to find out whether any misconduct proceedings are brought against the officers."

USA: Shock Tactics: inside the Taser, the weapon that transformed policing

An in-depth investigative series from Reuters that looks at the introduction, use and effects of the "less-than-lethal" electroshock weapon, the taser, in the United States.

UK: People with mental illness and learning disabilities let down by criminal justice system (JUSTICE, link):

"Suspects and defendants with mental ill health or learning disabilities need to be better identified and supported, in order to ensure their right to a fair trial in England, argues a report published today by JUSTICE.

Around one in four adults in the UK are diagnosed with a mental illness during their lifetime and many more will experience changes in their mental well-being. Three quarters of people with mental health problems receive no support at all. The available evidence suggests that people in the criminal justice system are far more likely to suffer from mental health problems than the general population.

Mental Health and Fair Trial, the result a JUSTICE working party which started work in September 2016, argues that from first contact with the police through to sentence, there remain fundamental problems with the English justice system’s response to mental health. Left unaddressed the fair trial rights of many defendants may be undermined."

See: Mental health and fair trial: a Report by JUSTICE (link to pdf)

UK-EU: FOI too slow to contribute to Brexit debate, says Campaign (Campaign for FOI, link):

"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) operates too slowly to contribute to the Brexit debate, according to the Campaign for Freedom ofInformation.

The Campaign’s director, Maurice Frankel, has submitted a witness statement to the High Court supporting an attempt to use the common law and Article 10 of the ECHR instead of FOIA to obtain government studies on Brexit. The statement says the FOI process is too slow to obtain them in time to inform public debate before the Brexit deadline. The UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019."

UK: Forces working hard to improve their legitimacy but stop and search disparities remain a concern (HMICFRS, link):

"Police forces are committed to sustaining and improving the trust and confidence of the public, but they risk damage to their relationships with local communities by continuing to be unable to demonstrate fair use of stop and search, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)."

See the overview report: PEEL: Police legitimacy 2017 (pdf) and reports for each English and Welsh constabulary available here: PEEL: police legitimacy 2017 (HMICFRS, link)

UK: Brighton shoplifter sues Sussex Police over Taser arrest (BBC News, link):

"A man suing Sussex Police after he was Tasered has told a court the incident left him anxious and suicidal.

A Taser was used on Paul McClelland in July 2013 in a car park in Brighton as he was being arrested for shoplifting.

A video of the arrest was passed to The Argus newspaper at the time.

In a civil case against the chief constable of Sussex, Mr McClelland is claiming the police used excessive force in carrying out the arrest. Sussex Police has rejected the claim."

UK-EU: Brexit: settled status and citizens’ rights – what has been agreed? (Free Movement, link):

"The European Commission and the UK government have reached a deal to finalise the first phase of Brexit talks. One of three core issues of this phase involved EU nationals’ rights in the UK and reciprocal rights for UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU. This post focuses on what the deal means for EU citizens in the UK.

At first sight, what has been agreed in principle does appear to be the “generous” offer originally promised. But as you start delving into the detail, obvious caveats and gaps appear."

UK: Too little time out of cell ‘inhumane’, boys’ prison monitoring board reports (IMB, link):

"In its recently published annual report for 2016-17, the Independent Monitoring Board for Cookham Wood Young Offenders’ Institution (YOI) says that staff shortages have led to boys spending “far too much time in their cells”, and that frequent, unpredictable restrictions on their activities are “inhumane”.

Cookham Wood YOI, near Rochester, holds up to 188 boys aged 15 to 18, from all over southern England.

For the last year it has been operating with up to 20% fewer prison officers than authorised and recommended. Because of this, there have been regular but unpredictable restrictions of the boys’ activities, for safety reasons.

At the worst point, in June, a typical boy at Cookham Wood had only 5 hours out of his cell on weekdays, and only 2 hours a day at weekends."

See: Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HM YOI at Cookham Wood - 1st August 2016 to 31 July 2017 (pdf)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor calls for consistency in EU approach to criminal records (EDPS press release, pdf):

"There is a clear need for the EU to develop a more efficient system for exchanging information on the criminal records of non-EU citizens. At the same time, any proposal to update the current system must ensure consistency with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Lisbon Treaty and fully respect data protection principles, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said today, as he published his Opinion on the Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation on ECRIS-TCN."

See: EDPS Opinion on the proposal for a Regulation on ECRIS-TCN (pdf)

EU to agree plans to link all Justice & Home Affairs databases into one centralised system
- repeated references to migration, internal security and terrorism

On 12 December the European Commission put forward proposals to link all Justice and Home Affairs databases - existing and future - into one centralised system: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens (Press release, pdf) covering: "security, border and migration management." The plans are set out in two proposed Regulations:

- Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (COM 793-17, pdf) and: - Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 794-17, pdf)

Center-Right and Far-Right in Austria’s anti-migration coalition government (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Austria is getting a 31-year-old chancellor who will be Europe’s youngest leader and a coalition government that puts members of a far-right party in charge of defense, foreign affairs and other key departments.

Austria's government will include the far-right FPÖ, founded by former members of the Nazi party after WW2 & led by a man who was once held by police in Germany for taking part in a torchlit neo-Nazi rally."

And see: Here are the main policies of Austria's new right-wing government (The Local.at, link)

EU: Trilogue discussions on: Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (pdf). State of play as at 11 December 2017, 4-column document with the Commission proposal, positions of the Council and European Parliament and the draft "compromise".

UK-BREXIT: European Council: European Council (Art. 50) meeting (15 December 2017) - Guidelines (pdf):

"The European Council welcomes the progress achieved during the first phase of negotiations as reflected in the Communication from the Commission and the Joint Report (...)

It calls on the Union negotiator and the United Kingdom to complete the work on all withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase, in conformity with the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017, to consolidate the results obtained, and to start drafting the relevant parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. It underlines that negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible." [emphasis added]

This means that contrary to some official UK comments the Joint Report is going to be legally binding agreement drawn up between January and March before the second phase (Trade, CSDP and JHA issues) can start - it includes the "no hard border" agreement in the island of Ireland.

See: Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)

European Council: European Council meeting (14 December 2017) – Conclusions (pdf):

Although unable to agree to on how to handling future refugees and migration issues the Council Conclusions showed unanimity on developing the EU Military Union - an ironic by-product of UK's withdrawal as it consistentently opposed such a move.

The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics (Guardian, link):

"In order to tempt nuclear scientists from countries such as Iran or North Korea to defect, US spy agencies routinely send agents to academic conferences – or even host their own fake ones."

And see: The CIA Within Academe (Inside Higher ED, link): "Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it’s not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities (Henry Holt and Company), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores (...)

EU-USA: Passenger vetting

The USA House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee has approved the 'Screening and Vetting Passenger Exchange Act of 2017' which says:

"Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall develop best practices for utilizing advanced passenger information and passenger name record data for counterterrorism screening and vetting operations."

See: PNR Directive: USA offers a helping hand to EU air travel surveillance and profiling efforts (Statewatch News).

EU: Migration row mars EU summit, exposes divides (euractiv, link):

"EU leaders ended the first day of the end-of-year European Council summit with no sign of tensions thawing amid recent disagreements on migration, which have once again exposed divides between eastern members and ‘old Europe’.

Most leaders left Council headquarters in Brussels without speaking to the press early Friday morning (15 December), after a heated, more than a two-hour-long debate over migration."

And see: Bitter divisions over migration threaten show of unity at EU summit (Guardian. link): "Germany and Italy criticise proposal by European council president, Donald Tusk, who described refugee quotas as ‘divisive’"

Italy condemned again for failing to recognise same-sex marriages (euractiv, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Italy on Thursday (14 December) for failing to recognise same-sex marriages, a ruling that will result in a token financial compensation for the plaintiffs and more negative publicity for the country.."

SCOTLAND: Police Scotland to train 500 new Taser officers (BBC News, link):

"Police Scotland will increase its Taser capability by 500 officers after a sharp rise in the number of assaults. So far this year, 969 officers have been assaulted - an increase of nearly 27% on the 764 recorded in 2016.

The plans, which will be put to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), are aimed at improving public safety. The force also confirmed it is extending the role of Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) officers to allow them to be deployed to more non-firearms calls.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said the newly-trained officers will be based in all 13 local policing divisions."

UK: Ban on police retiring while under misconduct investigation lifted (Police Oracle, link, account required):

"Officers will be able to resign or retire while under investigation, ending a limbo situation which has been in place for two years for those accused of misconduct who want to leave the service.

In 2015 the government banned officers from leaving the job while they were the subject of misconduct proceedings.

Since then, forces have continued to pay officers under investigation for gross misconduct while they are suspended or on restricted duties, even if they wanted to leave policing.

On Friday regulations will change to re-instate the previous practice, but misconduct proceedings will be able to continue after personnel have left forces."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Police, Interpol check 100,000 passengers at Prague airport (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech police and Interpol experts checked more than 100,000 passengers at the Prague international airport within an exercise to reveal suspicious people, luggage and cargo in late November, police headquarters spokeswoman Ivana Nguyenova said in a press release on Tuesday.

The officers revealed two shortcomings concerning transported luggage.

The exercise held during the airport's regular operation focused on the fight with international illegal trading and smuggling of radioactive material. (...)

The aim of the police operation dubbed Conduit was to share experience with U.S. and Interpol experts."

Group: Refugees abused by border forces in Balkans (Al Jazeera, link):

"Refugees and migrants attempting to cross from Serbia into neighbouring European Union countries have endured illegal deportations and widespread police violence, including beatings and electric shocks, according to a report by a watchdog group.

The findings by German monitor, Rigardu, paint a grim picture of systematic abuse on the borders of Serbia - which is not an EU country - and Hungary and Croatia, which are both members of the bloc.

The group said on Sunday it had documented at least 857 instances of people being subjected to violence, including kicking and dog bites, so far this year.

Of that total, 52 incidents involved minors."

EU: More transparency on EU decision-making: new register of delegated acts (Council of the EU, link):

"A new online register, launched on Tuesday 12 December, will make it easier to find and track EU decisions taken in the form of delegated acts.

Delegated acts are used to supplement or amend EU laws.

Delegated acts are most common in the areas of economy, agriculture, environment and public health, the single market and trade. They are a form of secondary legislation which is used, for example, to update technical requirements in legislation. Parliament and the Council empower the Commission to draft delegated acts, which are then submitted to them. Parliament and Council are able to reject draft delegated acts."

European Parliament Study: The Victims' Rights Directive 2012/29/EU (pdf):

"This study assesses the implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime in EU Member States. It assesses its coherence, relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and added value. In doing so, it covers various aspects of the directive's application: legal transposition measures at Member State level, practical implementation on the ground, benefits to victims, and also the challenges encountered. Finally, the study offers a number of conclusions and recommendations for further promoting implementation of the directive in the future."

European Parliament Study: E-Lending: Challenges and opportunities (pdf):

"This briefing identifies key challenges and opportunities in the evolving field of e-lending via public libraries based on an analysis of 18 different e-lending models in Europe and North America. It concludes that ongoing dialogue between libraries and publishers, alongside better comparative data on e-lending and e-book purchasing across all EU Member States, will be among the key enabling factors for e-lending in the future."

EU: Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria' (euobserver, link):

"European Council president Donald Tusk has sparked controversy with a note on migration that has been called "anti-European" by an EU commissioner.

Tusk has called for a debate on migration at the EU summit on Thursday (14 December) in a note to EU leaders that described the migration relocation quotas as "highly divisive" and "ineffective".

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called Tusk's note "anti-European", which in the Brussels' EU bubble translates to plain heresy.

Tusk's note has caused ripples among member states as well, and it highlights insitutional frictions that plagued the EU's handling of the migration crisis."

Press freedom in Bulgaria under attack ahead of EU Presidency (euractiv, link):

"Bulgarian opposition parties exposed on Tuesday (12 December) what they see as an attempt to silence and close down media considered unfriendly to the government of Boyko Borissov. Bulgaria will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January."

New EU-Turkey "dodgy" deal: Greece to speed up migrant transfer after Turkey deal (euractiv, link):

"Greece will speed up the relocation of thousands of migrants from its overcrowded islands to the mainland before the onset of winter after reaching a deal with Turkey, a key ally in helping to tackle Europe’s migration crisis, government sources said yesterday (11 December).

Athens persuaded Ankara last week to accept migrant returns, including Syrian refugees, from the mainland and not just from the Aegean islands as previously agreed under a 2016 EU-Turkey pact, a government source told AFP.

The new agreement — reached during a strained two-day visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — aims to reduce the more than 15,000 people packed into refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, another source said."

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty (euobserver, link):

"The EU and respective member states are complicit with migrant abuse and torture in Libya, says Amnesty International.

The NGO's Europe director John Balhuisen told reporters in Brussels on Monday (11 December) that the EU, and its member states led by Italy, are flaunting human rights obligations by helping Libyans return migrants to the country.

"When you partner with a partner who is itself a partner with criminals, and you turn a blind eye to those crimes, you certainly become in some sense a partner to those crimes," he said."

UK: The hidden world of “private spies” (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, pdf link)

"How Royal Bank of Scotland, British Airways, Porsche and Caterpillar employed private security firms which spied on protesters (...) The Bureau and Guardian were given inside information which shines a light on this hidden world, when hundreds of pages of documents were leaked to us from two corporate intelligence firms. The documents cover the period 2003-11 and offer insight into how some operators in a normally subterranean industry work.

The subsequent investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau then identified five large companies which have paid corporate intelligence firms, often known as “private spies”. These firms were paid to monitor campaigning groups that challenged their businesses, the leaked documents reveal."

And see: Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows (Guardian, link)

EU: Data retention and the ePrivacy Regulation: Member State positions revealed

The European Commission's January 2017 proposal for a new EU ePrivacy Regulation (which would replace the current ePrivacy Directive) has provided a forum for discussions on the issue of data retention, as it opens up the possibility of including data retention rules in the forthcoming Regulation. A Council working paper obtained by Statewatch prepared on the basis of responses to a questionnaire issued by the Estonian Presidency shows the positions of a wide number of EU Member States, and Europol, on the possibility of including mandatory data retention rules in the ePrivacy Regulation.

EU: Military Union: Council agrees new cooperation measures, MEPs seeking Commission DG on defence

The Council of the European Union has established 'Permanent Structured Cooperation' (PESCO) on military issues with the participation of 25 Member States, including a commitment for "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms"; while the European Parliament will vote tomorrow (12 December) on a resolution that calls for creation of a Commission Directorate-General on Defence.

German Foreign Ministry rejects additional winter aid for refugees on Greek islands (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The German Foreign Ministry has made it clear that it will not provide additional winter assistance to refugees on the Aegean islands. In a related question from German newspapers, the foreign ministry replied that “responsibility for accommodating and feeding refugees falls under the jurisdiction of each country.”

According to dpa, the Foreign Ministry recalled that Berlin recently funded the installation of 135 heated containers for a total of 800 people in two camps in the Thessaloniki region and that the EU has allocated up to now 1.4 billion euros to tackle the refugee crisis in Greece.

Meanwhile, there is media report that Greece has persuaded Turkey to accept migrant returns from the mainland in order to reduce critical overcrowding in its refugee camps."

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership (EUobserver, link):

"Romania is expecting a clear signal from the EU in the year to come over its accession to the Schengen area, before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019.

"We simply have to take a decision," EU affairs minister Victor Negrescu told a group of journalists, including EUobserver, in Bucharest. ?

The Romanian government says that it meets the technical criteria for the accession, and that the EU is holding back the decision for political reasons."

UK: Boxer who's represented England six times is locked in immigration centre pending deportation to country he's competed against (Mirror, link):

"A boxing champion who has fought for England several times is locked in an immigration centre pending deportation to Nigeria - a country he's competed against.

Bilal Fawaz, also known as Kelvin, London's current middleweight boxing champion, arrived in the UK from Nigeria at the age of 14 and has even represented England on six occasions.

However, the 29-year-old's leave to remain has expired and for the past week he's been held in an immigration centre he says is "like prison", pending his deportation to the West African country.

The Home Office has rejected Bilal's numerous applications for residency and declared his marriage to a British citizen void."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-10.12.17)

EU: European Council 14 December, 2017:

See: European Council (14 December 2017) – Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no 13862-17, pdf): Including:


Further to its December 2016 and June 2017 conclusions, the European Council reviewed progress in the field of security and defence, and:

- welcomes the establishment of permanent structured cooperation and stresses the importance of quickly implementing the first batch of fifteen projects; it calls on participating Member States to deliver on their national implementation plans;

- calls for further work on the European Defence Fund, and in particular the swift adoption in 2018 of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, in time to finance the first capability projects in 2019;(...)

UK-EU-BREXIT: Justice and Home Affairs: The Home Affairs Select Committee has started an inquiry into: Home Office delivery of Brexit: policing and security co-operation: Oral evidence to the Committee, 5 December 2017 (pdf)

EU: E-Justice: Article 29 Working Party: Data protection and privacy aspects of cross-border access to electronic evidence (pdf):

"the WP29 expresses concerns that the adoption of the envisaged production order towards organizations which are not established in the EU could also increase the risk of adoption by non-EU countries of similar instruments that would enter in direct conflict with EU data protection law.(...)

The circumvention of existing MLATs or other applicable legal basis under EU law by a third country’s law enforcement authority is therefore an interference with the territorial sovereignty of an EU member state. Vice versa, EU law enforcement authorities should also - as a general rule - be required to respect existing international agreements such as MLATs or any other applicable legal basis under EU law when requesting access or disclosure from data controllers in third countries."

UK-EU-BREXIT: Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government (pdf) The key paragraph is:

"The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement." [emphasis added]

UK: Report by David Anderson QC: Attacks in London and Manchester March-June 2017 Independent Assessment of MI5 and Police internal reviews (pdf):

"The nine classified reports that I have assessed contain detailed and accurate accounts of intelligence-handling prior to each of the four attacks, and a series of pertinent recommendations for operational improvement. They will not remove the risk of terrorist attack: to do so would be manifestly impossible in a free society. But if properly given effect they will strengthen the hand of police and MI5, without compromising the sound legal and ethical framework within which they willingly work. I welcome the care and the energy with which the reviews were conducted, their recommendations, and this opportunity to offer a flavour of them to a wider public."

CROATIA-SERBIA: 'They treated her like a dog': tragedy of the six-year-old killed at Croatian border (The Guardian, link):

"When the train hit six-year-old Madina Hussiny, her family stumbled to the watching Croatian border police begging for help, her body limp in their arms.

The same officers had ordered the exhausted Afghan family down railway tracks towards Serbia in the dark without warning them there might still be trains running, said Madina’s mother, Muslima Hussiny. But desperate and terrified, they had nowhere else to turn.

Madina was a casualty of a slow-burning crisis along Europe’s borders that aid groups and activists say is causing untold suffering."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Conclusions and background documentation

Outcomes and documents discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: eu-LISA, ECRIS-TCN, Freezing and confiscation, PNR Directive, CSDP operations and JHA Agencies, Asylum Package, CEAS: Common Procedures, Reception and Qualifications, Data Retention and EU accession to ECHR.

EU: Frontex training materials for Libyan Coast Guard come up short on human rights

"Respect and protection of human rights are a negligible part of the EU’s training to the Libyan Coast Guard, as revealed by the training materials the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed in response to an access to documents request. From a total of 20 documents – including a video – released, only 0,5% of the content is dedicated to ensuring the protection of human rights."

USA: Trump Lawyers Attempt to Sue an Environmental Philosophy under Anti-Racketeering Laws (Earth First! Newsire, link):

"December 5, 2017, New York, NY – On behalf of the environmental magazine the Earth First! Journal, the Center for Constitutional Rights urged a court to dismiss parts of a lawsuit brought by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Energy Transfer Equity (ETE). ETP and ETE are part-owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and have attempted to sue the broad social movement known as Earth First! for racketeering. The ludicrous allegations in the complaint, filed yesterday, drafted by Trump’s law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, claim that Earth First! funded a violent terrorist presence at the Standing Rock protests with $500,000 and proceeds from drug sales on the site, and is part of a sprawling conspiracy with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to deceive the public about the environmental risks of pipelines."

EU: Undercover policing update: police admit breaching prohibtion on torture; crowdfunding campaign launched; complaint to UN

Three new developments in the ongoing undercover policing saga and the struggle for justice.

Police militarisation: new online resource highlights the "shift towards militarised policing taking place across each and every continent"

A new online resource on police militarisation has been launched by the organisation War Resisters International (WRI), bringing together articles on a variety of relvant topics and providing an interactive map that "can be used to explore the militarisation of policing" in countries across the globe. WRI state: "The aim of the resource is to illustrate how the militarisation of police forces around the world is happening, how it is rooted in deeper structural violence and to bring to the fore stories of resistance from communities across the globe."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: "discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU" show failings in law and policy

A major new report from the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that "immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life – most often when seeking employment." The findings of the report are based on a survey of 25,500 people of an immigrant or ethnic minority background in all 28 EU Member State.

UK: The Anarchist Cookbook and the Terrorism Act: Is your library criminal? (Doughty Street Chambers, link):

"In 1999 the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, was presenting what was to become the Terrorism Act 2000 to the House of Commons. Answering a challenge about the breadth of its terms he said:

'Of course, we can all invent hypothetical circumstances—fantastic circumstances—in which any of us, according to the criminal code, could be charged and subject to conviction; but there is no point in our doing so. We know that, in the real world in which we live, the criminal law is subject to a significant series of checks and balances, including proper invigilation by the courts of the land and control of the Crown Prosecution Service by Members of Parliament who are answerable to the House of Commons and the other place. Such circumstances therefore do not arise, and I do not believe that they ever will.'

Tell that to Josh Walker; in the summer of 2015 he was organising a student role playing game at his university in Aberystwyth. To make it more real he signed into his student library internet account, searched and printed off a partial copy of the Anarchist Cookbook... At the end of the game the students planned to destroy all the paperwork but Josh forgot and ended taking the partial book and some other random papers home. A year and a half later they were found in the drawer under his bed. In the meantime Josh had seen what was going on in Syria and flown out to help the Kurdish groups who were fighting against ISIS. He came home in December 2016 and was arrested as police tried to work out what he had been doing in the Middle East; he was not charged for helping the same group that the Americans, the French and the UK are assisting, but a police search of his Aberystwyth bedsit found the book and 10 months later he stood trial in Birmingham Crown Court, accused of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist, under section 58 of Jack Straw’s 2000 Act."

How white engineers built racist code – and why it's dangerous for black people (The Guardian, link):

"The lack of answers the Jacksonville sheriff’s office have provided in Lynch’s case is representative of the problems that facial recognition poses across the country. “It’s considered an imperfect biometric,” said Garvie, who in 2016 created a study on facial recognition software, published by the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, called The Perpetual Line-Up. “There’s no consensus in the scientific community that it provides a positive identification of somebody.”

The software, which has taken an expanding role among law enforcement agencies in the US over the last several years, has been mired in controversy because of its effect on people of color. Experts fear that the new technology may actually be hurting the communities the police claims they are trying to protect.

“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be subjected to this technology and the technology is more likely to be wrong,” House oversight committee ranking member Elijah Cummings said in a congressional hearing on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software in March 2017. “That’s a hell of a combination.”"

EU: Latest Council Presidency text of the e-Privacy Regulation

"The Presidency has... analysed various proposals submitted by delegations as well as relevant provisions of the GDPR and put together a number of modifications for delegations' consideration. Delegations will find below the details on those modifications below. For ease of reference, the latest changes are marked in underline."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) - Examination of the Presidency text (15333/17, 5 December 2017, pdf)

SCOTLAND: Motion of no confidence in Police Scotland defeated (Holyrood, link):

"The Liberal Democrats came under fire from MSPs of other parties as the party's motion of no confidence in Police Scotland was defeated at Holyrood.

The party called for an independent commission to look at previous reforms which saw local police forces merged into a national force"

HUNGARY: Hungarian MEP charged with spying on EU for Russia (BBC News, link):

"Hungarian prosecutors have charged one of the country's members of the European Parliament with spying for Russia.

Bela Kovacs, 57, from the nationalist Jobbik party, has denied the charges.

A Hungarian inquiry began in 2015 after the European Parliament lifted Mr Kovacs' immunity."

NETHERLANDS: Seven things you need to understand about how refugees here feel (De Correspondent, link):

"Some 300 newcomers to the Netherlands have answered this month’s thirty questions asked by members of De Correspondent. It was the largest group interview ever conducted with refugees in this country. Today: the answers to a single question."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.12.17)

Council: Refugee and migrant "smuggling" as a "business" model

The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)

The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.

"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."

UPDATED: 5 December 2017: EU: Trilogue on ETIAS: Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf): Four column document giving the Commission proposal, the positions of the Council and the European Parliament and "Compromise" position for discussion in secret trilogue o/n 12 December 2017.

EU: Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact (euobserver, link):

"he United States needs to appoint an independent ombudsperson who can deal with data complaints by EU citizens before 25 May 2018, the EU's data protection authorities said in a report published on Tuesday (5 December).

If it does not, the authorities said they would "take appropriate action", including going to court.

The data watchdogs are known collectively as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29), named after the relevant article in the EU's data protection directive."

See: EU – U.S. Privacy Shield – First annual Joint Review (pdf)

EU: Frontex asks for greater access to databases under interoperability proposals: Non-paper by Frontex on its access to central EU systems for borders and security (LIMITE doc no: 15174-17, pdf):

Frontex says it has less access to data than national authorities. Thus it needs greater access to check hird country nationals at external borders with "hotspot" style roles of screening, registration, debriefing and fingerprinting and its role in "returns".

The segregation of Hungarian Roma children must end (New Europe, link):

"The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. In Hungary, over 750,000 citizens of Romani background are subject to racist violence and official persecution. They suffer from extreme poverty and poor health and they are inadequately housed. The plight of Hungary’s Roma is exacerbated by the systemic failure of the education system. Barely a fifth of Roma children complete secondary education and only one percent undertake postsecondary education.

This bleak image is unfortunately not much different from 12 years ago when the Roma Education Fund was created by George Soros and the World Bank, with the belief that education is the first step to integration and with the long-term goal of closing the gap between Roma and non-Roma."

German government wants ‘backdoor’ access to every digital device: report (The Local.de, link):

"Germany’s Interior Minister wants to force tech and car companies to provide the German security services with hidden digital access to cars, computers, phones and more, according to a media report from Friday.

The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas de Maizière had written up a draft proposal for the interior minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which he has called “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance.”

German pilots refuse to carry out deportations (DW, link)

"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.

Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.

Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."

Venice Commission active on Poland, expects the same from Warsaw (euractiv, link):

"The Venice Commission is waiting for the response of the Polish government regarding its draft opinions on the reform of the judiciary in Poland, as well as for confirmation that a Polish government representative will take part in this Council of Europe’s body’s next plenary session."

Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spain’s southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)

In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, “despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water,” as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spain’s Guardia Civil.

Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Background Note (pdf)

Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate (The Conversation, link):

"A new short film from the Campaign Against Killer Robots warns of a future where weaponised flying drones target and assassinate certain members of the public, using facial recognition technology to identify them. Is this a realistic threat that could rightly spur an effective ban on the technology? Or is it an overblown portrayal designed to scare governments into taking simplistic, unnecessary and ultimately futile action? We asked two academics for their expert opinions."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-17-04-12-17)

UK: The Lions of Grunwick (IRR News, link):

"‘We are the Lions Mr Manager’ is a small but perfectly formed play which tells the story of the Grunwick strike."

EU: EDPS "Reflection paper" on the interoperability of JHA databases poses fundamental questions

"Technology should always come in support of policies and user needs, not the other way around. What is technically feasible might not necessarily be legally justifiable or ethically desirable."

"We are concerned that repeatedly referring to migration, internal security and fight against terrorism almost interchangeably brings the risk of blurring the boundaries between migration management and fight against terrorism."

How many terminals and how many officials have or will have access to all the existing and planned JHA databases? In 2003 the SIS alone could be accessed from 125,000 terminals!

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published a "Reflection Paper on the interoperability of information systems in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice" (17 November 2017, pdf) which poses fundamental questions for the Commission who will draft new measures and the co-legislators (the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament).

EU: HQ of the Atlas Network's 38 Special Intervention Units to be based at Europol

A Report from the Council Presidency, dated 16 November 2017: Draft Council Conclusions on the strengthening of the ATLAS Network (LIMITE doc no: 12583-REV-5-17, pdf) seeks amongst other things to create a permanent ATLAS Support Office based at Europol. The Network's:

"Special Intervention Units (SIUs) of the Member States may be called to intervene in a variety of situations not necessarily linked to terrorism."

UK: Press release: GCHQ makes brazen attempt to undermine the independence of its new regulator (PI, link):

"In today’s latest hearing in our ongoing legal challenge against the collection of massive troves of our personal data by the UK intelligence agencies, shocking new evidence has emerged about GCHQ’s attempts to yet again avoid proper independent scrutiny for its deeply intrusive surveillance activities.

In a truly breath-taking exchange of letters between the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (“IPCO”) and the Director of Legal Affairs at GCHQ, it has emerged that GCHQ have attempted to undermine legal proceedings against them, as well as the independence of the very body that is tasked with seeing that our intelligence agencies operate lawfully, by suggesting that the government and IPCO should work together to decide together what evidence is submitted during legal proceedings."

UK police to lose phone and web data search authorisation powers (Guardian, link):

"Change is one of several to snooper’s charter law proposed by ministers in attempt to comply with European court ruling.

Senior police officers are to lose the power to self-authorise access to personal phone and web browsing records under a series of late changes to the snooper’s charter law proposed by ministers in an attempt to comply with a European court ruling on Britain’s mass surveillance powers.(...)

But the government says the 2016 European court of justice (ECJ) ruling in a case brought by Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, initially with David Davis, now the Brexit secretary, does not apply to the “retention or acquisition” of personal phone, email, web history or other communications data by national security organisations such as GCHQ, MI6 or MI5, “as national security is outside the scope of EU law”. [emphasis added]

See: Investigatory Powers Act 2016: Consultation on the Government’s proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 December 2016 regarding the retention of communications data (pdf) and Communications Data DRAFT Code of Practice (pdf)

UK-BREXIT: House of Commons Brexit Committee: The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal (pdf):

"We welcome the Government’s commitment to “no physical infrastructure” at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We also welcome its rejection of a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. We do not currently see how it will be possible to reconcile there being no border with the Government’s policy of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, which will inevitably make the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland the EU’s customs border with the UK; i.e. including the land border in Northern Ireland and at the ports of Holyhead, Milford Haven and Fishguard that provide freight services to and from the Republic of Ireland. It will be made harder by the fact that the Government’s proposals, by its own admission, are untested and to some extent speculative. We call upon the Government to set out in more detail how a “frictionless” border can in practice be maintained with the UK outside the Single Market and the Customs Union."

Canada’s spy agencies casting wider net on citizens’ electronic data, parliamentary report says (Globe & Mail, link):

"On the eve of a crucial new national-security debate, parliamentarians are being told that federal spy agencies are out to data-mine "bulk" amounts of electronic records about ordinary people as they seek to spot extraordinary terrorist threats."

EU: Council of the European Union: Registration of Identity in EU Member States

Questionnaire on issues related to Registration of Identity - Updated assessment of the replies (LIMITE doc no:12004-REV-1-17, pdf): "Delegations will find enclosed an updated version of the assessment of the replies to the questionnaire related to Registration of Identity prepared by the Commission services."

"Registration or evidence of identity refers to processes enabling the tracing, linkage and verification of identity against breeder documents (e.g. birth certificate, ID cards, etc.) (...)

It is divided into six parts which seek to follow a logical approach from registering the identity to issuing breeder documents and control mechanisms:
1. Population registers
2. Initial/ foundational identity (first time registration)
3. Identity verification (subsequent registration)
4. Breeder documents
5. Other identity-related procedures
6. Control mechanisms."

Only three Member States/SAC (Austria, Spain and Latvia) use biometric identifiers in the process of registering the identity in the
population registers. Many others Member States/SAC (17: BG, CH, HR, CZ, DE, DK, EE, FI, FR, LU, NL, LV, RO, SE, SI, NO, UK) do not take any biometrics.

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 12004-17, pdf)

Top EU privacy watchdog wants centralised regulator with muscle to police firms (euractiv, link):

"EU lawmakers should create a new, centralised data protection authority to oversee investigations of privacy breaches that affect more than one member state in the bloc, Giovanni Buttarelli, the EU’s top privacy watchdog, said in an interview."

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