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May 2019

EU top court says German prosecutors can’t issue European arrest warrants (euractiv, link):

"According to the Court of Justice of the European Union, German public prosecutors are not independent when prosecuting cases. As a result, they will no longer be allowed to issue European arrest warrants, which could considerably increase the work of German courts. EURACTIV Germany reports.

A European arrest warrant may only be issued by a judicial authority that is deemed to be completely independent of the executive."

Freedom of press in Europe no longer self-evident (euractiv, link):

"Up until recently, freedom of press was considered as a self-evidence in Europe. That is no longer the case, especially in several eastern European countries, where journalists have come under severe political pressure."

EU: Council discuss giving Member States the right to veto releasing trilogue discussion documents - in defiance of CJEU judgment and EU law

- Article 266 of TFEU: "The institution whose act has been declared void or whose failure to act has been declared contrary to the Treaties shall be required to take the necessary measures to comply with the judgment of the court of Justice of the European Union."

Election 2019: Updated seat projection for new Parliament (EP, link)

Turkey seeks extradition of UK barrister over Twitter activity (Guardian, link):

"Ozcan Keles accused of spreading propaganda, in latest targeting of Erdogan critics.

A British barrister who has given evidence to parliament is facing possible extradition to Turkey on terrorism charges over his Twitter activity.

Ozcan Keles, who is of Turkish descent and holds UK citizenship, appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Monday accused of spreading propaganda online.

The attempt to remove him is the latest in a series of high-profile extradition actions in the British courts against critics or opponents of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

Northen Ireland: No Stone Unturned judicial review starts Tuesday in Belfast

NUJ press release: Friday 24 May 2019: Journalists, human rights defenders, press freedom campaigners and representatives from across the political spectrum in the UK and Ireland will be outside the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast on Tuesday 28 May at 9.30-10.30 to show support and solidarity with Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

See also: Northern Ireland: "It’s us today, tomorrow it could be you" - No Stone Unturned (Statewatch News)

UK: Lessons from the past: the long history of political policing in the UK

As the Undercover Policing Inquiry drags on, it is worth considering the lengthy history of police infilitration of political movements in the UK. The Inquiry is to "inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968," but the use of 'spycops' has been going on since the passing of the 1829 Police Act, which brought London's Metropolitan Police into existence.

The case of the police spy William Popay is instructive, as highlighted in the book The History and Practice of the Political Police in Britain (1977) by Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director. Following the passing of the 1829 Police Act, as the book puts it. (...)

Right definition for the right fight (IRR News, link) by Jenny Bourne:

"If we don’t name Islamophobia as a form of racism, how can we combat it? (...)

To carry on a fight over a definition does not change by one iota the reality of treatment meted out to Muslim people day in, day out; it merely calls into question the bona fides of the quibblers, and the government which chooses to heed them. For as Juliet said of the rose, ‘What’s in a name?’ It would, by any other name, still smell as sweet. In this case not naming today’s Islamophobia as what it is – an aspect of racism – could convey more than a whiff of Islamophobia itself."

See also: Stephen Ashe::thoughtful contribution to Global Society Theory, on the distinctive contribution of IRR founder A. Sivanandan to political and intellectual life in Britain.

EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal (euobserver, link):

""Police in Senegal deal with a street disturbance - they will soon be joined by European officers, paid for by EU development aid, to tackle people-smuggling

In a matter of weeks, some €9m of EU development aid will be used to shore up the police in Senegal, West Africa, to help crack down on migrant smuggling.

While such EU-funded development projects on security are nothing new, the latest effort in Senegal is a novelty."

Dutch minister resigns over manipulated report of crimes committed by asylum-seekers (euractiv, link):

"The Netherlands’ minister for migration, Mark Harbers, resigned Tuesday (21 May) after a parliamentary outcry over elided data on crimes committed by asylum-seekers, in a bad blow to the government just ahead of European elections."

Google faces Irish inquiry over possible breach of privacy laws (The Guardian, link): "Technology firm’s Ad Exchange processing of users’ personal data being investigated."

UK: 20 years after Macpherson - what has changed? (CCJS, link):

"The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, chaired by Sir William Macpherson, has gone down in British social and political history as a watershed moment in British race relations. For one thing, the 1999 report drew attention to the existence and extent of institutional racism in institutions of the state, public organisations more generally, and most of all the police. Twenty years later, how has that report impacted upon state institutions, their policies and practices, and black people’s experiences of them?"

Austrian Leader Calls for Snap Election After Far-Right Vice Chancellor Resigns (New York Times, link):

"Austria’s leadership was thrown into turmoil on Saturday after a video emerged that raised questions about whether Russia had direct influence inside a government at the heart of Europe.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called snap elections after the country’s far-right vice chancellor resigned over a secretly filmed video from 2017. The video showed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party promising government contracts to a woman claiming to be a prospective investor and niece of a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir V. Putin."

EU: Legislation from closed chambers – how (un)democratic is the EU? (Investigate Europe, link):

"The EU administration is relatively small, with 15,000 officials and 28 Commissioners. The city of Hamburg alone has four times as many civil servants. And the procedures in the Commission are largely transparent. Almost all meetings of leading officials and commissioners with lobbyists of any kind are recorded in a public register. Most internal documents are also accessible on request. The legislative proposals developed by civil servants often serve certain industry interests. But that only reflects what is also common on a national level.

No, the real scandal is the anti-democratic practices in the Council of the EU, also known as the Council of Ministers. These are not just the rounds of talks involving heads of government or ministers like we see on television. The actual work takes place in approximately 150 working groups and in the Council of Permanent Representatives... These negotiations take place entirely in camera. There are no publicly accessible minutes, and the press has no right to know which government actually represents what position in the meetings. For citizens, Europe’s most powerful legislator is de facto a black box."

Council of Europe: Hungary should address interconnected human rights issues in refugee protection, civil society space, independence of the judiciary and gender equality (link):

"The Commissioner finds that the government’s stance against immigration and asylum seekers has resulted in a legislative framework which undermines the reception of asylum seekers and the integration of recognised refugees. The Commissioner calls on the government to repeal the decreed “crisis situation due to mass immigration” which is not justified by the number of asylum seekers currently entering Hungary and the EU and urges the authorities to refrain from using anti-migrant rhetoric and campaigns which fan xenophobic attitudes."

See: Commissioner's Report on Hungary following her visit to the country in February 2019 (pdf) and: Hungarian government comments (pdf)

Viewpoint: Why have the French police become the most violent in western Europe? (pdf) by Salvatore Palidda:

Do the police and government not have the required knowledge and experience for the violent repression they are enacting? Are they clumsy? There is neither an authoritarian drift, nor one towards a police-military state, but rather a dominant logic which excludes any negotiation. 'Democratic' fascism and what is called democracy always coexist, with the only likely outcome of provoking revolts which become increasingly fierce.

FRANCE: We accuse! A statement against the criminalisation of protest in France

Faced with the government's authoritarian drift, an extensive group of academics and members of civil society are protesting against the "criminalisation" of anyone opposing "its fatal laws and policies" and against "state violence" meted out through the use of weapons of war. They call on all citizens "to join the social movement".

EU: Externalisation: Frontex launches first formal operation outside of the EU and deploys to Albania

The EU has taken a significant, if geographically small, step in the externalisation of its borders. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, has launched its first Joint Operation on the territory of a non-EU-Member State, as it begins cooperation with Albania on the border with Greece.

FRANCE: Les Gilets Noirs: We are in the airport in France

“I’m here to tell you that for them we are commodities! If they give us documents they lose their business. So they must see that someone stood up. We are not balls to be kicked about, we are not children. Our struggle is not only about papers. What you have yet to see you’ll see when you fight. There is sorrow and happiness inside. Things need to become red and people need to rise to bring it out. The shame is theirs, not ours. They must stop seeing black people as blackness, but see that they have become red.”

Italy seizes Sea-Watch 3 rescue vessel (DW, link):

"Italy's far-right interior minister has condemned the seizure of the ship, saying migrants on board should not have set foot in Italy. However, the condition of the refugees had swayed the authorities' opinion.

Italian prosecutors on Sunday impounded rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 for breaching immigration rules despite government attempts to block the ship from reaching an Italian port.

The ship rescued 65 migrants off the coast of Libya last week. It had originally signaled its intention to disembark them at an Italian port, but was blocked by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini."

ECHR: Italian Government must provide temporary accommodation for Roma children and their parents evicted from a settlement (pdf):

"On 5 April 2019 the Mayor of Giugliano issued Decree no. 29, ordering that all the settlement’s inhabitants be evicted for reasons of public health and safety. That order was carried out on 10 May. The applicants currently live with their families in an improvised campsite in an industrial area outside Giugliano.(...)

had been rehoused, the Court decided to apply an interim measure indicating to the Italian Government that it should provide temporary accommodation for the minors involved and their parents, without separating them."

EU elections 2019: Where do parties stand on migration? (euractiv, link):

"Although irregular arrivals in Europe are at their lowest level in five years, migration remains one of the top priorities for European citizens in the upcoming EU election. EURACTIV has looked into the European parties’ proposals on the matter."

Swiss vote to tighten gun laws and stay in Schengen (euractiv, link):

"While not an EU member, Switzerland is bound to the bloc through an array of intricately connected bilateral agreements.

Bern had cautioned that a “No” vote would lead to Switzerland’s exclusion from the border-free Schengen travel region and also the Dublin accords regulating Europe’s asylum-seeking process.

This would have far-reaching consequences for security, asylum and even tourism, and would cost the country “several billion Swiss francs each year,” it said."

Council of Europe Foreign Affairs Ministers recall rights and duties of member states, define priority areas for future action (link) and Council of Europe publishes Annual Statistics on Probation (link):

"The number of persons in Europe subject to community sanctions and measures (CSM) — usually known as alternatives to imprisonment - under the supervision of probation agencies is increasing, according to the Council of Europe annual SPACE II survey, published today, whilst at the same time the prison population is falling. (...)

On 31 January 2018 there were 1,810,357 people in Europe under the supervision of the 41 probation agencies participating in the survey, which represents an overall probation population rate of 169 probationers per 100,000 inhabitants."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-20.5.19) including:

UK: Police take legal action against former officer who had child with activist (The Guardian, link):

"Police chiefs are taking legal action against one of their former undercover officers who fathered a child during his covert infiltration of leftwing groups and then abandoned him.

The son of the former officer is already suing the Metropolitan police alleging that he has suffered psychiatric damage after discovering at the age of 26 that his father was not a radical protester he claimed to be, but was instead a police spy.

Now it has emerged that the Met is seeking to make Bob Lambert, the former undercover officer, also defend the legal claim that his son has launched."

MALTA: Two soldiers arrested for killing Hal Far migrant 'because he was black' (Times of Malta, link):

"Two soldiers are believed to be behind the drive-by murder of a migrant in a shooting which left two other men injured in Hal-Far last month.

...The killing is believed to be the first racially-motivated murder in Malta, with sources close to the investigation saying that one of the accused had admitted to targeting the migrants “just because they were black".

...Ivorian national Lassana Cisse was killed on April 6 in the drive-by shooting in Triq il-Gebel in an incident that sparked shock among the migrant community.

Two other migrants - a 27-year-old from Guinea and a 28-year-old from Gambia - were injured in the attack, after sustaining gunshot wounds."

UK: Police chief says Extinction Rebellion protesters will be arrested 'very, very fast' and suggests officers were not assertive enough last time (The Independent, link):

"The Metropolitan Police has said officers will be "more assertive" dealing with future protests by climate change activists Extinction Rebellion (XR), who last month staged demonstrations at a number of iconic London sites.

Cressida Dick, the Met's commissioner, told the London Assembly police and crime committee officers were unprepared for the "very new" type of protest, which saw thousands descend on the capital and occupy for 11 days some of the capital's busiest roads.

...She revealed officers made more than 1,200 arrests during the protests, which begun on 15 April at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Piccadilly Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square."

EU Justice Scoreboard 2019: results show the continuing need to protect judicial independence (European Commission press release, pdf):

"Today, the European Commission publishes the 2019 EU Justice Scoreboard, which gives a comparative overview of the independence, quality and efficiency of justice systems in EU Member States.

It provides national authorities with information to help them improve their justice systems. The results are mixed and show relative improvements with regard to the efficiency of justice systems and the quality of justice. At the same time, the Scoreboard shows there are growing challenges with regard to the perception of judicial independence.

...One of the new elements of the 2019 EU Justice Scoreboard is that it provides an overview of disciplinary regimes regarding judges in national justice systems and safeguards in place to prevent political control of judicial decisions. The Scoreboard also presents the management of powers over national prosecution services justice systems, including the appointment and dismissal of prosecutors, which are key indicators for the independence of a prosecution service."

See: The 2019 EU Justice Scoreboard (pdf)

BELGIUM: Unprecedented police action against Roma Travellers community in Belgium (ERGO Network, link):

"A huge police action took place in Belgium in the morning of 7 May resulting in a massive arrest of Belgian Roma Travellers accused of trafficking of illegally obtained vehicles. The last action of this kind took place during the Second World War when 351 Roma Travellers from Belgium were transported to Auschwitz Birkenau. Today we see again a targeted action of the federal police towards the entire Roma Travellers community in Belgium.

We highly appreciate the work done by the police to tackle criminals in our society. This step was needed as we all are citizens of Belgium and we are responsible and stand as equals before the justice system as Belgian citizens. At the same time, we have concerns with the way these massive arrests have been conducted and we will allow ourselves to be critical towards the way justice is delivered."

See also: Book: Dimensions of Antigypsyism in Europe (European Network Against Racism, link)

SCOTLAND: Snooping fears over police seizing a hundred phones a day (The Ferret, link):

"Police Scotland has admitted seizing more than a hundred mobile phones a day, amid mounting calls for ministers to clarify the rules that protect citizens from police snooping.

Police management has been under scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament over the seizure and subsequent forensic analysis of mobile phones, tablets and computers.

MSPs and human rights groups have raised concerns that the police may be overstepping their legal powers when taking devices and searching them, breaching people’s privacy."

UK: Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: An inspection of the Home Office's approach to Illegal Working, August-December 2018 (pdf):

"This report makes 6 recommendations. The majority focus on improving the mechanics of illegal working compliance and enforcement but, while important and necessary, these are not enough by themselves to answer the criticism that the Home Office’s efforts are not really working, and may have had the unintended consequence of enabling exploitation and discrimination by some employers.

My first 2 recommendations are pivotal to changing this. The Home Office needs to publish an updated (post-Windrush) strategy and Action Plan for tackling illegal working, supported by clear external and internal communications to ensure maximum buy-in cross-government, by employers and representative organisations, by the general public, and within the Home Office itself as soon as possible. It also needs to capture, analyse and report the quantitative and qualitative data and information that demonstrates the strategy and actions are not just effective in reducing illegal working and tackling non-compliant employers but are also sensitive to and deal appropriately with instances of exploitation and abuse."

UK: Sajid Javid announces overhaul of espionage and treason laws (The Guardian, link):

"Hostile state actors – spies, assassins or hackers directed by the government of another country – are to be targeted by refreshed espionage and treason laws, the home secretary has announced.

In a speech to security officials in central London, Sajid Javid revealed plans to publish a new espionage bill to tackle increased hostile state activity from countries including but not limited to Russia.

Javid said officials would also examine treason laws to see whether the legislation could be updated to include British nationals who operate on behalf of a hostile nation."

See: Home Secretary speech on keeping our country safe (pdf)

UK: Homeless man jailed for 20 weeks for sitting on the ground 'without reasonable excuse' (Somerset County Gazette, link):

" A HOMELESS Taunton man has been jailed for 20 weeks for sitting on the ground "without reasonable excuse".

Haydon Mark Baker, 33, who was staying at a homeless hostel at the time, pleaded guilty to a total of three similar offences when he appeared at Taunton Magistrates' Court last week.

He admitted sitting on the ground, which he was banned from doing under a Criminal Behaviour Order, outside Greggs, in North Street, on April 28; outside tReds, in East Street, on May 2; and outside McDonald's, in East Street, on May 5.

He was sent down for 20 weeks (concurrent) on each count, which were contrary to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge, but there was no order for costs due to lack of means. "

SWITZERLAND: No symbolic pardon for anti-fascist protestors in Geneva (swissinfo.ch, link):

"Parliament has refused to clear the name of seven people found guilty of rioting nearly 90 years ago. The Swiss militia army opened fire on civilians protesting against a meeting of fascists in the city of Geneva in 1932.

“One shot, aim low, fire!” was the order given by first lieutenant Raymond Burnat to his troops, called in to stop a demonstration by militant left-wing protestors rallying in the Plainpalais neighbourhood of Geneva. The shooting lasted all but 12 seconds (see video below) and left 13 people dead and 65 others injured on November 9, 1932.

The bloody incident occurred when left-wing demonstrators, led by the leader of the local Social Democratic Party, Léon Nicole, took to the streets to protest against a rally of supporters of the far-right politician, Georges Oltramare.

Concerned about a wave of public unrest, the government of canton Geneva asked for support from the Swiss army, to maintain public order."

Salvini fumes at EU court ruling on refugee returns (euractiv, link):

"Italy’s hardline deputy prime minister reiterated his call to change the EU in reaction to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that refugees cannot be deported if their life or freedom is at risk in their home countries."

EU: Council discussing yet another small step towards full, open, democratic decision-making - ten years after the Lisbon Treaty - plus the Council's Annual Report on access to documents 2018

In its judgment the Court of Justice decided on 22 March 2018 in the
De Capitani judgment that access should be given to 4-column documents which set out of the state of play in secret trilogue meetings between the Council and the European Parliament as they formed an integral part of the legislative procedure even where negotiations are ongoing, should in principle be granted.

On 26 March 2019 the General Secretariat (GSC) of the Council set out its response: Legislative transparency (LIMITE doc no: 7888-19, pdf).

 Privacy International Wins Historic Victory at UK Supreme Court (link):

"Today, after a five year battle with the UK government, Privacy International has won at the UK Supreme Court. The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal’s (IPT) decisions are subject to judicial review in the High Court. The Supreme Court's judgment is a major endorsement and affirmation of the rule of law in the UK. The decision guarantees that when the IPT gets the law wrong, its mistakes can be corrected."

Modern Merchants of Death: The NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights (/intpolicydigest.org, link):

"Arms manufacturers of old and many of the current stable did not care much where their products went. The profit incentive often came before the patriotic one and led to such dark suspicions as those voiced by the Nye Committee in the 1930s. Known formally as the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry, the US Senate Committee, chaired by US Senator Gerald Nye (R-ND) supplies a distant echo on the nature of armaments and their influence."

REVEALED: UK propaganda unit has secret plans to target French Muslims ((Middle East Eye, link):

"Government contract requirements seen by Middle East Eye show that France is among countries targeted by Home Office’s Research, Information and Communications Unit.

A shadowy UK government propaganda unit that privately declares that it works to “effect behavioural and attitudinal change” among British Muslims has drawn up plans to begin operating in France.

The Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which is based at the Home Office in London, generates films, social media, websites, leaflets and news stories that are intended to influence public opinion while concealing the British government's role in their creation."

MI5 slapped on the wrist for 'serious' surveillance data breach (The Register, link):

"Auditors poked around for a week after too many Peeping Toms had a trawl.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has confessed to Parliament that MI5 bungled the security of "certain technology environments used to store and analyse data," including that of ordinary Britons spied on by the agency.

In a lengthy Parliamentary statement made last week, Javid obliquely admitted that spies had allowed more people to help themselves to its treasure troves of data on British citizens than was legally allowed."

Upload filters: Europol creates facts (link):

"The planned EU Regulation on the removal of „terrorist content online“ has no longer made it through the legislative process; in autumn the newly elected parliament will decide on it. The governments hope that the MEPs will then vote in favour of tightening up the legislation."

Romania’s Schengen perspective in jeopardy over rule of law (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission said on Monday (13 May) that Romania is close to being hit with Article 7 of the EU treaties, the heaviest punishment for a member state deviating from rule of law fundamentals. Losing the chance to join the Schengen zone any time soon would be one of the consequences.

The Commission hardly waited for the end of the Sibiu summit to send its warning letter to the Romanian authorities on Friday (10 May). This was confirmed by Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Monday.

He said the letter had been sent to the Romanian president, prime minister and the presidents of both chambers of the parliament, and that the main concerns regarded judicial independence and the effective fight against corruption, including the protection of the financial interests of the EU."

Government access to airline PNR data challenged in German courts (Papers Please!, link):

"Complaints filed today in German courts challenge government access to and use and retention of Passenger Name Record data (commercial airline reservation records) as a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by both European Union and German law.(...)

So far as we know, these are the first lawsuits anywhere in the world to challenge the legality of government demands for access to PNR data or other travel records. (...)

The lead plaintiff in the case filed in German administrative court in Wiesbaden, Emilio De Capitani, is a retired former director of the staff of the LIBE (civil liberties) committee of the European Parliament.(...)

Mr. De Capitani plans to fly from Brussels to Berlin for a meeting of GFF in November 2019. He has purchased tickets and informed the airline that he does not want PNR data pertaining to his travel to be made available to government agencies

In response, the airline has told Mr. De Capitani that regardless of his preferences, the airline will provide government agencies in Germany "

He commented: "We need to rein in mass surveillance of flight passengers in the EU. Together with @freiheitsrechte I am going to court in Germany to stop intransparent algorithms defining who is dangerous and who isn't."

See: Complaint and Application for a Temporary Injunction (pdf)

Council of the European Union: Interoperability between EU information systems: Council adopts regulations (link):

"Today, the Council adopted two regulations establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. Easier information sharing will considerably improve security in the EU, allow for more efficient checks at external borders, improve detection of multiple identities and help prevent and combat illegal migration. All this while safeguarding fundamental rights."

European Parliament: Study: The impact of the UK’s withdrawal on the institutional set-up and political dynamics within the EU (pdf):

"examines the impact of Brexit on the institutional balance within the Council and European Parliament, on the interinstitutional balance and on the necessity of Treaty changes, and delineates constitutional limits on the participation of non-Member States in EU policies."

WhatsApp discovers 'targeted' surveillance attack (BBC link):

"Hackers were able to remotely install surveillance software on phones and other devices using a major vulnerability in messaging app WhatsApp, it has been confirmed.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said the attack targeted a "select number" of users, and was orchestrated by "an advanced cyber actor". A fix was rolled out on Friday.

The attack was developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group, according to a report in the Financial Times."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.4-13.5.19) including:

SCOTLAND: Political Undercover Policing in Scotland – report (Public Interest Law Centre, link):

"Today, the Scottish Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (SCOPS) release their report Political Undercover Policing – Scotland.’ There is a clear need for the Justice Secretary in Scotland – Humza Yousaf MSP – to urgently review the evidence presented in this report and to order an independent and transparent public inquiry into undercover political policing in Scotland.

On 16th July 2015 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a public inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers spied on political campaigns and in some cases de-railed them. The officers had intimate relationships with women, fathered children, and in some cases acted as agent provocateurs.

Undercover political policing in Scotland is extensively documented in the attached report – Political Undercover Policing in Scotland –this was commissioned for the case we brought on behalf of our client Tilly Gifford. The report has now been published through the Scottish Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (SCOPS). You can view that report here."

See: Political Undercover Policing in Scotland: The facts about spycops in Scotland & the questions that remain unanswered (link to pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: MI5 report on RUC Special Branch to remain secret (Irish Times, link):

"An MI5 report on policing compiled at the height of the Troubles will remain secret nearly half a century after it was written, Britain’s freedom of information watchdog has ruled.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said police in the North do not have to disclose the so-called Morton report, which recommended a shake-up of RUC Special Branch in 1973.

In reaching its verdict, however, the ICO confirmed for the first time how significant the report could be for understanding the history of policing in the Troubles."

UK: Private jails more violent than public ones, data analysis shows (The Guardian, link):

"Private prisons are more violent than public jails, according to data analysis that raises questions over the government’s plans to pursue its prisons-for-profit model.

In the year to September 2018, there were 156 more assaults per 1,000 prisoners in private adult prisons in England and Wales than in their publicly run counterparts."

EU assists Ukraine with drafting its next Integrated Border Management strategy (Eastern Partnership Panel, link):

"European experts in Integrated Border Management (IBM) attended Kyiv, Ukraine for the first-ever joint event organised by the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

The event was dedicated to supporting the Ukrainian institutions that are currently drafting the country’s national IBM strategy for 2020-25.

Frontex is based in Warsaw, and like EUAM, it has previously supported Ukraine in aligning its border management techniques with EU standards."

Council of the European Union: Counter Terrorism: EU threat assessment in the field of counterterrorism (LIMITE doc no: 8127-19, pdf)

"In line with the agreed way forward, the Presidency drew up the current document on the basis of the EU INTCEN sixth monthly Islamist terrorist threat assessment and EUROPOL's report."

And Report to the European Parliament and national Parliaments on the proceedings of the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI) for the period July 2017 - December 2018 (Council doc no: 7500-19, pdf);

"The Presidency of the Council has submitted to the Council the annexed report on the proceedings of the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI) for the period July 2017 - December 20181.

In accordance with Article 71 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 6(2) of the Council Decision establishing the Standing Committee on operational cooperation on internal security (COSI), the Council hereby transmits the said report to the national Parliaments."

PRESS RELEASE: Mytilene, Greece: Peaceful demonstration and the human right to freedom of assembly prevails

10 May 2019

"Yesterday, 9 April 2019, in the Misdemeanours Court of Mytilene, the 110 on trial for resistance against authorities, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property were found not-guilty of all charges against them.

The charges were brought last year, after a peaceful sit-in of approximately 180 refugees took place in a small part of Sappho Square in the centre of Mytilene, Lesvos, between April 17- 23, 2018, in protest against poor living conditions in Moria Camp, lack of medical care and access to health services, imprisonment on the island and the long delay in their asylum process. The trigger of the mobilisation was the hospitalisation and death of an Afghan asylum seeker with serious health problems."

Is police use of facial recognition technology lawless and racist? (/lacuna.org.uk, link):

"Over the last four years police have been trialling facial recognition technology across England and Wales, but critics claim it’s more than 90% inaccurate and studies of similar software found it to be racially biased. So why are police continuing to use it?"

EU heads adopt vague declaration on future of Europe (euractiv, link):

"Heads of state and government from the EU-27 signed off on broad-brush ‘ten commitments’ for Europe’s next five years on Thursday (9 May), as they adopted a vague Sibiu Declaration during the opening stages of an informal summit dedicated to the bloc’s future."

EU: Frontex gets ready to deploy to the Balkans

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, is preparing to deploy officers to Albania at the end of May for an operation at the Greek-Albanian border, despite a drop in the number of illegal border-crossings detected by the agency last year.

An operational plan is in the works and a recently-published tender shows that the agency hopes to deploy five "full furnished mobile offices" to the country for one year. Frontex also plans to deploy similar offices for operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia.

UK: Black people ‘40 times more likely’ to be stopped and searched in UK (The Guardian, link):

"Black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched under controversial powers that home secretary Sajid Javid recently made it easier for officers to use.

The analysis is based on Home Office internal data, which means Javid is likely to have known of the discriminatory impact when he gave the police greater powers last month to use “section 60” checks. The power allows officers to search anyone in a defined area for a limited period if serious violence is anticipated.

Last week, Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan police, launched a defence of stop and search, arguing it had reduced the murder rate in the capital by a quarter over the past year."

New EU laws on e-evidence are being negotiated – but what about human rights? (Fair Trials, link):

"In the final weeks of the European Parliament, the LIBE Committee has produced a new working document on the Proposal for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters.

The purpose of the working paper was to address the issue of the enforcement of European Production Orders, and European Preservation Orders, as well as consider possible remedies and safeguards in their use. The report reflects recommendations made by Fair Trials.

Increased efficiency in cross-border electronic data exchange could help to protect fair trial rights and serve the interests of the defence as well as victims. However, benefits will only be possible if key safeguards are incorporated into the new mechanisms. The new laws are a key opportunity to set high standards and set an example in upholding the fairness of criminal proceedings."

Montenegro jails anti-Nato coup plotters (EUobserver, link):

"Two Russian men, said to be intelligence officers, were jailed for 14 and 15 years, and two pro-Russian opposition politicians were jailed for five years, by a court in Montenegro on Thursday for their role in a failed coup in 2016 designed to stop the now Nato member from joining the Western alliance. Ten others, including several Serb nationals, a Montenegrin police chief, and an anti-Nato activist were also jailed."

GREECE: Trial of Sapfous 122 – Today in Mytilene (Legal Centre Lesvos, link):

"Today 122 people are on trial in Mytilene, Lesvos, after being arrested in the early morning of 23 April 2018. They are charged with resisting arrest, rioting, and illegal occupation of public property. If convicted they could be imprisoned for two years. In the days prior to their arrest last year, 100-200 refugees and migrants who had been living in the notorious Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, gathered in Sapfous Square, the main square in town, to protest lack of access to medical care, horrible conditions, and delayed asylum procedures that kept them prisoners on the island.

After less than a week of their peaceful protest, on the night of 22 April 2018, they were attacked by a far-right mob. In this organized violent attack, roughly 200 fascists attacked the refugees and migrants, as well as those standing in solidarity with them, with projectiles. While 26 people are now facing criminal charges related to the attack against the migrants, during the night not a single attacker was arrested. Only the 122 people facing trial today were arrested, after facing a night of racially motivated violence against them, which left many people, including migrants, journalists, and children injured."

EU: Construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): progress reports from Frontex and Europol

Frontex and Europol have submitted reports to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU outlining progress in the construction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), a 'travel permission' system akin to the US ESTA, the legislation for which was approved in September 2018.

UK: Construction firms in lawsuit over £55m payout to blacklisted trade unionists (The Guardian, link):

"Major construction firms are embroiled in a legal dispute over a multimillion-pound compensation bill that has been paid to more than 1,100 blacklisted trade unionists.

The workers won payouts totalling £55m after they discovered that construction firms had unlawfully compiled confidential files on their political and employment activities, preventing them from getting jobs.

Eight firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, have so far paid the compensation, and issued an “unreserved and sincere” apology, to the blacklisted workers. Now the eight companies are pursuing legal action to force another firm, Amec Foster Wheeler, to make a contribution to the compensation bill, arguing that the blacklisting was organised across the construction industry."

French police watchdog to investigate 'truncheon rape' video (The Local, link):

"French investigators are looking at several videos that appear to show police violence during May Day demonstrations in Paris, including one showing an officer push his truncheon inside the trousers of an arrested man.

The man attacked with a telescopic truncheon had been plucked from a crowd of protesters, many of whom were chanting "everyone hates the police".

Paris police chiefs have asked the IGPN, the body that investigates police abuses, to investigate the incident, which happened when the arrested man was pinned down by other officers.
"

See: a prior allegation: French enquiry finds ‘insufficient proof’ police raped young man with truncheon (France 24, link)

IRELAND: Lawyers or prisoners ‘could launch legal action’ over reports of prison surveillance (Irish Legal News, link):

"Irish lawyers and prisoners could take legal action over reports of covert surveillance in Irish prisons, human rights lawyer Kevin Winters has warned.

The Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney, was asked by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan last November to examine allegations that private conversations between solicitors and prisoners were covertly monitored by gardaí.

Ms Gilheaney’s preliminary findings on the matter have not been published, but Mr Flanagan said last week that he was concerned by the contents of her report."

European Parliament Analysis: Robots in healthcare: a solution or a problem? (pdf):

"The first part of the workshop focused on the practical application of AI and robots in healthcare, while the second part examined the ethical implications and responsibilities of AI and robotic based technologies in healthcare."

Turkey holds thousands in solitary in Erdogan's prisons (DW, link):

"In Turkey, thousands of prisoners are being held in solitary confinement. Conditions are so harsh that some prisoners consider dying by suicide. Turkey's government has offered no comment."

Statewatch Observatory: Creation of a centralised Justice & Home Affairs database (Updated 5 May 2019)

UK: Britons most positive in Europe on benefits of immigration - Findings contradict assumption UK is more hostile than European neighbours (Guardian, link):

"British people are more persuaded of the benefits of immigration than any other major European nation, according to a global survey, which has also found that almost half of Britons think immigrants are either positive or neutral for the country."

UK: Immigration officers accused of racial profiling as they stop thousands of British citizens (thebureauinvestigates.com, link):

"British citizens are stopped by immigration officers ten times a day on average, new data reveals, prompting fresh accusations people are being targeted because of their skin colour.

An investigation by the Bristol Cable and Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows nearly a fifth of all people stopped and asked to prove their immigration status are British - a proportion which has remained unchanged for almost seven years."

EU criminal law could cover "crimes relating to artificial intelligence"

The Member States have been discussing future possibilities for EU criminal law (Council document 7910/19, pdf), and one issue to be considered is "crimes relating to artifical intelligence, subject to further defining the issue at stake."

EU: The human rights monitoring ship Mare Liberum is being prevented from leaving port

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transportation (Bundesverkehrsministeriums) sent an order of suspension for the ship Mare Liberum to the German association of traffic and transportation (Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr)--which handles the registration, licenses and flags for ships--to further scrutinize civil rescue vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

UK: Undercover police to have fake identities hidden at inquiry (The Guardian, link):

"The retired judge leading a public inquiry into the conduct of undercover officers who infiltrated political groups has granted anonymity to two-thirds of the police spies who requested it.

Sir John Mitting is heading the inquiry examining how undercover police officers spied on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968, following revelations of misconduct.

An analysis by the Guardian shows that 78 undercover officers applied to have their fake identities concealed while their evidence is heard at the inquiry, and Mitting has ruled in their favour in 50 cases. They will give evidence in private or with their identities hidden."

UK: New figures reveal postcode lottery in imprisonment rates for women in England and Wales (Prison Reform Trust, link):

"The average imprisonment rate for women in England is 30 per 100,000, and in Wales 48 per 100,000.

Cleveland has the highest imprisonment rate in England and Wales at 67 women per 100,000 head of population. Between 2012 and 2017 this region saw an increase of 22% in the use of immediate imprisonment for women.

By contrast, Greater Manchester, where there is a co-ordinated strategy involving the local authority, police diversion, a problem solving court and women’s support services, has an imprisonment rate of 25 women per 100,000 head of population. Between 2012 and 2017 it saw a decrease of 33% in the use of immediate imprisonment for women."

In borderless Europe, security chiefs unite against jihadist threat (Yahoo! News, link):

"The Hague (AFP) - With the jihadists behind the bloodshed in Paris and Brussels able to criss-cross European borders at will, anti-terror chiefs have been forced to come together to seek a common response to a global threat.

Experts say the deeper security cooperation was a watershed moment of the European Parliament term that winds up in May, when new elections for the legislative body will be held.

The transformation is most evident at the Dutch headquarters of Europol, where the patchwork of information exchanges between individual EU states has been replaced with a more streamlined multilateral sharing system."

UK: ‘Reclaim Citizenship To Reclaim Our Human Rights’: Groups Call For End To Hostile Environment Policy (Rights Info, link):

"Charities, human rights organisations and academics are calling on the British public to join the fight to restore dignity to migrants trying to access services in the UK.

Groups such as Medact, Migrants Organise, Docs Not Cops, Project 17 and Liberty have teamed up to criticise the failures of the current government’s “hostile environment policy” to ensure that the human rights of undocumented migrants remain protected."


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