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June 2019

The European Commission’s: High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence - Final report: Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI (pdf) To be discussed at a meeting of the European AI Alliance on 26 June (link)

London: DON’T CRIMINALISE SOLIDARITY: Oppose new powers to prosecute returnees from designated overseas areas (peaceinkurdistancampaign.com, link):

Public Forum: Friday, 28 June 2019, 6.30-9pm at Room BG01, Brunei Gallery, SOAS University, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG https://www.soas.ac.uk/soas-life/location/maps/#Addresses

Poland’s judicial reforms violate EU law, bloc’s top court rules (euractiv, link):

"Poland’s judiciary reform that lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges has breached EU law, the EU’s top court said in a binding ruling on Monday (24 June), which effectively means Poland will have to scrap the reform or face penalties from Brussels."

Japan to Hack 200 Million IoT Devices (eetimes.com, link):

"The government's plan to hack IoT devices already installed in Japan is likely to expose the uncomfortable truth known to many experts but unknown to most consumers: Many IoT devices in use are vulnerable to cyberattacks."

France Criminalises Research on Judges (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"In March, France made a controversial move and became the first country in the world to explicitly ban research on individual judicial behaviour. It is now a criminal offence to ‘evaluate, analyse, compare or predict’ the behaviour of individual judges. The maximum sentence is a remarkable five years in prison."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-24.6.19) including:

CZECH REPUBLIC: In the Largest Protests in Decades, Czechs Demand Resignation of Prime Minister (The New York Times, link):

"PRAGUE — In the largest demonstration in the Czech Republic since the fall of the Iron Curtain, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday night calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The police and the interior ministry estimated that by 5 p.m., more than 200,000 people had arrived for the demonstrations, with thousands more still making their way to Letna Park, which sits on a hill high above the banks of the Vltava river and has commanding views of the old town."

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court (EUobserver, link):

"The EU's border and coast guard agency, Frontex, is about to have another day in court.

On 2 July, the general court of the European Union in Luxembourg will be holding a public hearing after the Warsaw-based Frontex turned down an access to documents request submitted by a pair of pro-transparency campaigners.

Luisa Izuzquiza, along with her colleague Arne Semsrott, had sought access to the name, flag and type of each vessel deployed by Frontex in the central Mediterranean under its Joint Operation Triton."

German politician's death 'execution,' says civic head (DW, link):

"Leipzig's mayor, Burkhard Jung, freshly elected president of the Association of German Cities, on Friday referred to the June 2 death of Walter Lübcke at his home near Kassel as an "execution."

Lübcke, who was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats and headed the administrative district of Kassel in the state of Hesse, died on June 2 after a close-range nighttime gunshot to his head.

...Last Saturday, a police squad arrested a 45-year-old suspect, named only as Stephan E. under Germany's reporting laws, at his home in Kassel. The suspect had convictions from past decades, including one for an assault on a hostel for asylum-seekers in 1993.

Federal prosecutors, who this week took over the case, have rated Lübcke's death as a political slaying with a right-wing extremist background."

‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war (The Guardian, link):

"Government contractors carry out around 95% of the tasks necessary to fight the air war, one former BAE employee told Channel 4’s Dispatches – an estimate confirmed to me by a former senior British official who worked in Saudi Arabia during the air war.

Inside Saudi forward operating bases, there are thousands of British contractors working to keep the war machine moving. British contractors coordinate the distribution of bombs and aircraft parts. They manage climate-controlled armories and work in shifts to ensure bombs are dispatched in a timely manner for fresh raids. Alongside RAF personnel, British contractors train Saudi pilots to conduct hazardous bombing raids in Yemen’s rugged northern mountains and over its cities. They also manage avionics and radar systems to ensure that Saudi planes can get to and from their targets, and conduct the deep aircraft maintenance necessary to keep them circling over Yemen."

See also: UK arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen ruled unlawful (CAAT, link) and: Judgment ([2019] EWCA Civ 1020, pdf)

France Criminalises Research on Judges (Verfassungsblog, link):

"In March, France made a controversial move and became the first country in the world to explicitly ban research on individual judicial behaviour. It is now a criminal offence to ‘evaluate, analyse, compare or predict’ the behaviour of individual judges. The maximum sentence is a remarkable five years in prison.

This new harsh regulation was triggered in part by the use of machine learning to compare the behaviour of judges in asylum cases – a study which found great discrepancies among individual justices. Yet, the new law is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It bans effectively all forms of analysis of individual judges, and not just big data-driven social scientific inquiry but also doctrinal legal analysis. The result is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression, represents an affront to basic values of academic freedom, and disregards basic principles of the rule of law. It is moreover likely a violation of fundamental EU law but we leave that for another post."

EU: Working Paper: Guidelines on temporary arrangements for disembarkation

"Given the voluntary nature of participation in the mechanism, determination of persons to be relocated will be based on the indications by the Member States of relocation of the profiles that these Member States are willing to accept (variable geometry)."

"Member States that relocate voluntarily (a lump sum of 6000 EUR per applicant)."

Enforcing Belonging – racial violence and the far Right (IRR News, link) by Liz Fekete:

"On the third anniversary of the death of Jo Cox, the IRR reports on racist violence across Europe, highlighting also cases involving police officers and soldiers."

CIA Seeks Expanded Definition of “Covert Agents” (fas.org.link):

"At the request of the Central Intelligence Agency, the pending intelligence authorization bill includes a provision that would expand the definition of “covert agents” whose identities are protected from unauthorized disclosure.

The identities of intelligence officers who are serving abroad or who have done so within the past 5 years are already protected by current law.

But the new Senate intelligence authorization bill would expand that protection to include all unacknowledged intelligence personnel even if they never leave the country."

EU: Non paper - Increasing transparency and accountability of the EU - Joint non paper by Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands on increasing the transparency and accountability of the European Union (pdf)

"A future-proof and effective EU requires a Union that is accountable and enjoys the trust and participation of its citizens. Enhancing openness and sharing information are key, as it brings citizens closer to the EU and enables the institutions to enjoy greater legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness."

See Statewatch Observatory: FOI in the EU

How Deeply Has Germany’s Murderous Far Right Penetrated the Security Forces? (Daily Beast, link):

"The assassination of a conservative pro-immigrant politician raises questions once again about far-right cells, sympathies, and blind spots among police and the military."

Another 100 years to wait for gender equality? No thanks (euobserver, link):

"At the current pace, it will take more than a century for women to become equal to men in Europe, despite the general progress made so far on gender equality on the European soil and the fact that throughout its history, the EU has been a global leader in advancing women's rights.

Yet in the last decade, we have begun to witness a visible and organised backlash in gender equality and human rights across Europe. In many areas, including pay, pensions and employment opportunities, progress towards equality has either stalled or gone into reverse."

EU must rethink migration policy that empowers "unaccountable militias and regimes", say rights groups

A coalition of civil society organisations working for democracy and human rights in Africa have accused the EU and its member states of empowering "unaccountable militias and regimes" and "undermining rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and the role of civil society" through activities undertaken as part of the EU-driven 'Khartoum Process' and the EU Trust Fund for Africa.

EU: A Europe that protects: good progress on tackling hybrid threats (Commission press release, pdf):

"The European Union and Member States have made good progress in tackling hybrid threats through a number of concerted actions in a wide range of sectors to significantly boost capacities, shows the latest report adopted today by the Commission and the European External Action Service."

See: JOINT STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT: Report on the implementation of the 2016 Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats and the 2018 Joint Communication on increasing resilience and bolstering capabilities to address hybrid threats (SWD(2019) 200 final, 28 May 2019, pdf)

Joint EU-US statement following the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (pdf):

"On 19 June 2019 the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the EU-U.S. Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Bucharest, Romania. The meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to take stock of their long-standing cooperation in this area and to reaffirm their partnership in addressing common security threats."

Topics noted: terrorism and information-sharing; Passenger Name Record (PNR); aviation security; "the use of the internet for terrorist purposes"; cyberspace; 5G and law enforcement; e-evidence; Frontex; ETIAS; visa waivers.

In the margins of the meeting the Commission launched negotiations on the exchange of e-evidence. The European Parliament is still considering its position on new EU laws.

EU's terrorism filter plans: The problems just keep coming (ZDNet, link):

"A few weeks ago, German internet users discovered that their country's authorities had been keeping closer tabs on them than they realized.

In late April, in reply to a parliamentary question, the federal police – Germany's version of the FBI – revealed that they had quietly established a database for online terrorism referrals last October.

...All this activity was part of a pilot project developed in preparation for new European rules, the interior ministry, which oversees the federal police, explained in its reply to the official enquiry from left-wing German MPs."

UK: Domestic extremism label is ‘manifestly deficient’ says former reviewer of terrorism laws (Netpol, link):

"In a report published last week, David Anderson QC, a former independent reviewer of UK terrorism legislation, has called the ‘domestic extremism’ label applied by police to a wide range of campaigning groups ‘manifestly deficient’, and indicated the Home Office is under pressure to abandon it.

Lord Anderson, now a crossbench peer who was responsible between 2011 and 2017 for independent oversight of UK counter-terrorism legislation, published a report on 11 June assessing the progress made by MI5 and counter-terrorism policing (CTP) on a review conducted after the 2017 terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

The report severely criticises the use of the term ‘domestic extremism’ and contains the first public indication that both the government and policing bodies are considering whether to ditch this controversial categorisation."

See: David Anderson: 2017 terrorist attacks MI5 and CTP reviews: Implementation stock-take - unclassified summary of conclusions (pdf)

UK-EU: Supreme Court finds UK breached residence rights of hundreds of thousands of EU citizens (Free Movement, link):

"The Supreme Court has today dismissed the Home Office appeal in the case of Gubeladze [2019] UKSC 31. The judgment affects hundreds of thousands of EU citizens from the so-called Accession Eight (or “A8”) countries that joined the EU in 2004 and means that the United Kingdom unlawfully imposed a registration system, known as the Worker Registration Scheme, on these citizens between 2009 and 2011."

See the judgment: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v Gubeladze (Respondent) (pdf) and: Press summary (pdf)

Council of Europe member states must assume more responsibility for rescuing migrants at sea and protecting their rights (CoE ,link):

"“European states’ approach to migration in the Mediterranean Sea has become much too focused on preventing refugees and migrants from reaching European shores, and too little on the humanitarian and human rights aspects. This approach is having tragic consequences”, said Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a Recommendation today which identifies the deficiencies of this approach, and aims at helping member states to reframe their response according to human rights standards."

See: Lives saved. Rights protected.Bridging the protection gap for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-13.6.19) including:

USA: An Expert on Concentration Camps Says That's Exactly What the U.S. Is Running at the Border (Esquire, link):

"Surely, the United States of America could not operate concentration camps. In the American consciousness, the term is synonymous with the Nazi death machines across the European continent that the Allies began the process of dismantling 75 years ago this month. But while the world-historical horrors of the Holocaust are unmatched, they are only the most extreme and inhuman manifestation of a concentration-camp system—which, according to Andrea Pitzer, author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, has a more global definition. There have been concentration camps in France, South Africa, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and—with Japanese internment—the United States. In fact, she contends we are operating such a system right now in response to a very real spike in arrivals at our southern border."

UK: Book Launch, London, 18 June 2019: After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response (pdf):

"On the 14th June 2017, a fire engulfed a tower block in West London, seventy-two people lost their lives and hundreds of others were left displaced and traumatised. The Grenfell Tower fire is the epicentre of a long history of violence enacted by government and corporations. On its second anniversary activists, artists and academics come together to respond, remember and recover the disaster."

Free entry, book online: Book Launch - After Grenfell: Violence, Resistance and Response (Eventbrite, link)

EU: Council Conclusions on Security and Defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy (10048/19, 17 June 2019, pdf):

"Since the launch of the EU Global Strategy in June 2016, the EU has taken ground-breaking steps forward in the area of security and defence. The Council welcomes the substantive progress made to enhance the security of the Union and its role as a security provider and global actor, including through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Today's complex and evolving threats and challenges require a comprehensive EU response, across the nexus between internal and external security as well as using the integrated approach to conflicts and crises."

UK: Independent review of the Home Office response to the mandating of DNA evidence for immigration purposes (pdf)

"This is the review into the Home Office’s response to the mandating of DNA based evidence for immigration purposes. The legal position is that the Home Office has no express legal power to mandate people to provide DNA based evidence of identity or familial relationships in support of an application, nor can their application be refused for not providing such evidence. People can, however, voluntarily provide DNA based evidence."

And see: Government response (pdf)

EU budget 2020: Commission focuses its proposal on jobs, growth and security (EC press release, pdf):

"Many of Europe's challenges know no borders. The EU has repeatedly used all flexibility in the budget to respond to disasters, address migration challenges and strengthen the EU's external borders. By mobilising its various instruments, the 2020 EU budget will continue to invest in solidarity and security in Europe and beyond:

€420.6 million (+34.6% compared to 2019) for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) following the agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2019 to set up a standing corps of 10 000 border guards by 2027;


Balkan Region – Report May 2019 (Border Violence Monitoring, link):

"No Name Kitchen, Border Violence Monitoring and [Re:]ports Sarajevo have published a common report summarizing current developments in pushbacks and police violence in the Western Balkans, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and along the Serbian borders with Croatia.

As such, this report contains analysis and a review of the situation in these areas as well. In total, this report covers 23 case reports on border violence and collective expulsions.

The report details, among other things:

EU: Data Retention: EU Commission inconclusive about potential new legislation (EDRi, link):

"According to the Commission, there are no clear “next stages” in the process, apart from the aforementioned study that will have to be prepared after the Council conclusions on data retention published on 6 June. The Commission will, in addition to this study, continue dialogues with civil society, data protection authorities, EU Fundamental Rights Agency and Member States that will inform a potential future action (or inaction) from the EC on data retention."

France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees (Amnesty, link):

"French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.

Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in Calais and Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.

“Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders Researcher."

HUNGARY: Criminalisation of homelessness: "No one has the right to be homeless…" (Verfassungsblog, link):

"In its decision of 4 June, the Hungarian Constitutional Court found section 178/B of the Act on Misdemeanors – making “residing in public spaces as habitual dwelling” a punishable act – conform to the constitution. The majority of the justices ruled that “[a]ccording to the values of the Fundamental Law no one has the right to be poor or homeless, this status is not part of the right to dignity…” [para. 102] This decision is a clear manifestation not only of extreme deference to the government but also of the lack of basic humanity. While reading the reasoning of the Court, one has the impression that we are back in the socialist dictatorship again."

Passport free airport experiences take off with the help of facial recognition (World Security Report, pp.12-13, link to pdf):

"Famous for the relentless chore of security check-ins and passport control, there is no better place for biometrics than airports. In fact, this has even become an expected location for individuals to utilise facial recognition technology at immigration control, with specially designed RFID chips containing a digital copy of personalised information and biometric identifiers to match the image on a passport, with the identity in real life. Over the past few years, this has amounted to a total of 490 million e-Passports circulating across 100 different countries, with a total of 259 e-passport gates in operation across 14 different UK airports alone."

IRELAND: Jailing of sex workers keeping brothel shows law ‘not fit for purpose’ (Irish Times, link):

"The jailing of two sex workers in Kildare last week for keeping or being in charge of a brothel proves that Irish laws around prostitution are “not fit for purpose”, the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI) has said.

Two women, including one who is pregnant, were jailed for nine months last Thursday following a hearing at Naas District Court. Adrina Podaru (25) and Ana Tomascu (20), both from Romania, were charged with keeping or being in charge of a brothel in Newbridge which was raided by gardaí in November 2018. They were also working as prostitutes in the brothel."

ECHR: Unaccompanied migrant minors stayed in Greece in conditions unsuited to their age and circumstances (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Sh.D. and Others v. Greece, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia (application no. 14165/16) concerning the living conditions in Greece of five unaccompanied migrant minors from Afghanistan, the European Court of Human Rights, unanimously:

- declared the complaints against Austria, Croatia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded;

- declared the complaints against Greece under Articles 3 and 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights admissible;"

See: Written Submission on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervener (pdf)

ITALY: Blacklisting of Judges is a breach of the Rule of Law (MEDEL, link):

"The recent declarations made by the Italian Interior Minister are unacceptable and a serious breach of the Rule of Law. MEDEL has issued today a statement in that regard:"

Political groups in the European Parliament since 1979 - Facts and figures (EP, pdf):

"Taking a variety of shapes and forms, European transnational party cooperation is a unique international phenomenon. This is true of transnational party cooperation both outside and within the European Parliament. Moreover, transnational party cooperation in the Parliament and elsewhere is key to explaining the success of European integration and the various existing transnational party families at European level are crucial in shaping European politics."

German intelligence wants access to domestic smart appliances (New Europe, link):

"Germany plans to allow its police and security forces to access “smart home devices” in anything from fridges to Amazon’s Alexa.

The plan announced by the interior ministry would see Germany’s BND intelligence services gain access to the digital traces of devices in order to collect data from recordings of actual conversations. The practice is already used by the US and UK for counter-terrorism activities."

EXCLUSIVE: What countries really think of the EU’s strategic agenda (euractiv, link):

"EU member states broadly supported priorities highlighted for the next five years, although they called for a more “positive” vision for the bloc. Despite the demands made by the capitals, the latest version of the blueprint only included small changes, according to the second draft seen by EURACTIV."

LEAK: EU’s five-year plan doubles down on protecting borders (euractiv, link):

"EU leaders want to focus on migration and protection of external borders, or the “integrity of our physical space”, over the next five years, according to a draft of the so-called strategic agenda obtained by EURACTIV. Economy and climate action rank second and third.

In the draft strategy for 2019-2024, meant to guide the work of the EU institutions, national leaders prioritise migration policy over other areas, while strengthening the economy, fighting climate change and taking Europe global also feature."

See: Draft EU strategy 2019-2024 (pdf)

Neighbourhood Watched (Privacy International, link):

"From facial recognition to social media monitoring, from remote hacking to the use of mobile surveillance equipment called 'IMSI catchers', UK police forces are using an ever-expanding array of surveillance tools to spy on us as we go about our everyday lives. Too often, these new and intrusive spying technologies are rolled out without the say, or even the knowledge, of the public or their locally elected representatives."

We are campaigning alongside Liberty for the public to have a greater say as to whether their local police force should be allowed to use such highly intrusive technologies. We believe these technologies should not be bought or used without proper public consultation and the approval of locally elected representatives, such as Police and Crime Commissioners.

To join our campaign, download our campaign pack to help you organise as a community, contact your local Police and Crime and Commissioner to tell them how you feel about police surveillance of your community."

MI5 in court accused of ‘extraordinary and persistent illegality’ - Agency has been obtaining surveillance warrants based on false information, says Liberty (Guardian, link):

"MI5 has lost control of its data storage operations and has been obtaining surveillance warrants on the basis of information it knows to be false, the high court has heard.

The security agency has been accused of “extraordinary and persistent illegality” in a legal challenge brought by the human rights organisation Liberty. The failures have been identified by the official watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, Sir Adrian Fulford, and admitted in outline by the home secretary, Sajid Javid. The full extent of the problems within MI5 began to become apparent in disclosures made public at the hearing on Tuesday. The revelations relate to bulk interceptions of data acquired through surveillance and hacking programmes and downloaded to its computers."

See statement by Home Secretary: Investigatory Powers Act 2016: Safeguards Relating to Retention and Disclosure of Material (link)

CoE: Anti-racism commission publishes its annual report - Hate speech and xenophobic populism remained major concerns in Europe in 2018 (link):

"Xenophobic populism and racist hate speech continued to make their mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe in 2018, says the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today.

The growing public anxiety about economic, geopolitical and technological changes was exploited by those scapegoating migrants and minorities, in particular populist politicians aiming at dividing societies along national, ethnic or religious lines. Not only were such views expressed by fringe politicians, but they increasingly gained footing within mainstream political parties and national governments, which remained a major concern for ECRI."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.6-10.6-19) including 20 items.

Apple and WhatsApp condemn GCHQ plans to eavesdrop on encrypted chats - GCHQ ‘ghost protocol’ would seriously undermine user security and trust, says letter (Guardian, link):

"In an open letter signed by more than 50 companies, civil society organisations and security experts – including Apple, WhatsApp, Liberty and Privacy International – GCHQ was called on to abandon its so-called “ghost protocol”, and instead focus on “protecting privacy rights, cybersecurity, public confidence, and transparency”.

Statewatch Analysis: The Commission and Italy tie themselves up in knots over Libya (pdf): by Yasha Maccanico.

At the end of March, the European Commission and the Italian interior minister appeared to undermine one another both respectively and collectively through a sequence of messages that emerged as part of their efforts to assert the existence of a Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zone.

The entire incident demonstrates how Italy and the European Commission are trying to assert the fiction of a Libyan SAR zone – financing it, providing resources and managing it – in order to neutralise concerns over both the north African country’s status as an unsafe place and their own humanitarian obligations.

Europeans still anxious about AI facial recognition (euractiv, link):

"Technology experts are usually among the first to embrace new and emerging digital tools. But that idea was put to the test at a stakeholders’ gathering about artificial-intelligence–enabled facial recognition this week at the Microsoft Center in Brussels.

Asked who in the audience was comfortable with facial recognition, only a smattering of people raised their hands. Asked who was uncomfortable, over half of the room said yes."

Why Are the Australian Police Rummaging Through Journalists’ Files? (NYT, link)

"Two raids this week threaten the ability of news organizations to reveal official wrongdoing.

It is typical of authoritarian governments that assail press freedoms to claim they are defending national security, since any effort by the news media to expose official misconduct can be construed as a revelation of state “secrets.” And it is typical of democratic governments to recognize that this role of the press is essential to protect the public from official abuse.

That’s why this week’s raids on journalists by the Australian Federal Police, accompanied by an unconvincing mantra of just-doing-our-job, are so galling."

Five Star struggles to form or join an EU Parliament group (euractiv. link):

"If attempts to rebuild the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group with the Brexit Party fail, 14 Five Star MEPs are likely to slip back into the black-hole of non-attached members, as no other parliamentary group has agreed to team up with them so far."

'A Europe that protects': what does that actually mean? (euobserver, link):

"Yet despite its recent traction, I argue that the narrative puts too much weight on the protection of borders, security and living standards and not enough on the protection of European values."

UPDATED: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 6-7 June: Returns, Migration challenges, data retention, e-evidence & 5G

Background Note (pdf), Main "B" points agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf), "A" Points - Non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf)

See: Press release for 6-7 June: final (pdf)

Innocent until proven guilty? The presentation of suspects in criminal proceedings (Fair Trials, link):

"This report seeks to identify key threats to the presumption of innocence resulting from how suspects are presented in public."

Council of Europe’s Anti-racism Commission publishes conclusions on Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (link)

Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, escalates attack on judges - Three magistrates singled out over their challenges to government’s hardline immigration policies (Guardian, link):

"A simmering row over the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Italy has erupted after the far-right interior minister publicly singled out three magistrates who have challenged his hardline anti-immigration policies.

In an escalation of his battle with the judges and the courts, Matteo Salvini said he would ask the state attorney to examine whether the magistrates should have abstained from passing verdicts in cases involving immigrants because their opinions conflict with government policy on security and immigration."

Orban-style 'media capture' is spreading across Europe (euobserver, link):

"Imagine a Europe where news media are controlled by cartels of governments and oligarchs. Prime ministers give lucrative advertising contracts to press companies that support them and financially punish those that don't to the point of extinction. Public broadcasters are gutted of critical journalists and turned into cheerleaders for the ruling party.

This is not a dystopian fantasy. It is Europe in 2019."

History Shows Why Police Use of Facial Recognition Tech Can Threaten Rights - Past Discrimination Shows Potential for Harm (HRW, link):

"Debates in the US about whether police should use facial recognition technology are intensifying. Amazon shareholders recently rejected a proposal to stop, at least temporarily, sales of the company’s Rekognition software to government entities."

‘Violence by design’ – the PPT delivers its verdict on the hostile environment (IRR News, link):

"Public tribunal finds hostile environment policies foster racism, institutional cruelty and violence by design.

As the scandal over the treatment of the Windrush generation and the failure to offer adequate compensation continues, the Home Office’s immigration and asylum policies are under scrutiny like never before. The Department of Health and Social Care are under fire too for failing to make public reports on the detrimental effects of immigration checks on migrants. Now the jury of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Violations of the Rights of Migrants and Refugees adds to the pressure, with a damning verdict on the impact of the government’s hostile environment policies."

See: PPT-report.(pdf)

EU: Press release: EU officials in a panic over the possibility of a world without wiretapping

5G telecoms networks could render traditional police "lawful interception" techniques obsolete unless EU and national governments take action, according to internal EU documents obtained by Statewatch, which is today publishing a new analysis explaining the issues and calling for them to be debated in public.

EU: Ministerial statement on "migration challenges" keeps focus on control measures

Interior ministers and other representatives of EU and Western Balkan states recently produced a statement emphasising the need to maintain strict control measures along the 'Balkan Route' and at the EU's south-eastern borders, with no reference to the dire situation faced by many migrants and refugees in the region.

GREECE: Exclusive: Violence breaks out between residents of refugee camp and police on Greek island of Samos (Euronews, link):

"Police clashed with residents from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos on Saturday morning, an NGO has told Euronews.

The refugees and asylum seekers were staging a protest march about living conditions in the camp but had their route blocked by police at around 7.30 am local time, a member of the NGO said.

...Overcrowding is a serious issue in the Samos camp, which is designed to host a maximum of around 650 people, while there are roughly 4,000 people living there and in the "jungle" surrounding it.

...This is not the first time the inhabitants of the camp have demonstrated, with three peaceful protests taking place in January along with another that turned violent, although "nothing as bad as this," according to the NGO.

Saturday marked the first time police used tear gas on the asylum seekers and refugees, it said."

IRELAND: Justice ‘not the appropriate department’ to support asylum seekers (Irish Times, link):

"The Department of Justice is not appropriately equipped to provide accommodation, health and social services to people in direct provision who are “effectively, living in punitive detention”, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

The council’s submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, co-written with Dr Maeve O’Rourke from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, highlights the need for unannounced inspections of direct provision centres to ensure the rights of residents are respected.

The report follows a presentation made by the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) last week to the Oireachtas justice committee in which the group called for the system of direct provision to be abolished and replaced with a scheme which would provide asylum seekers with housing support via local authorities."

See: Irish Council for Civil Liberties/Irish Centre for Human Rights: Joint submission to Committee on Justice and Equality on Direct Provision (link to pdf)

EU: European External Action Service and European Defence Agency: Report on "interactions, linkages and coherence among EU defence initiatives"

"Since capabilities are ultimately developed to be used operationally - in the EU or within other frameworks (UN, NATO, national, …), further consideration should also be given to promoting the operational availability of forces for CSDP [Common Security and Defence Policy] operations..."

EU: Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) update report - May 2019

The Commission Services together with the EEAS (European External Action Service) have produced the latest: GAMM update (9679/19, LIMITE, 24 May 2019, 44 pages, pdf).

Interview: We Need to Snap Out of the Crisis Mode and Take a Step Back (ECRE, link):

"Interview with Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, working on migration, borders and security. He is the author of No Go World: How fear is redrawing our maps and infecting our politics (University of California Press 2019) and Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014)."

UPDATE: Case against EU taken to ICC on migration policy in the Mediterranean: Full-text of submission to the court (244 pages, pdf)

See also: ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths (The Guardian, link)

EU Data protection watchdog flags GDPR issues institutions’ websites (New Europe, link):

"A recent inspection by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) found that the websites of major EU institutions and bodies were far from secure in terms of data protection and data security issues."

See: Press Release - EDPS flags data protection issues on EU institutions’ websites (link)

EU: New immigration liaison officers network puts more emphasis on EU-level coordination

The Council of the EU and European Parliament recently agreed on a new Regulation establishing a network of European immigration liaison officers, aiming for greater EU-level coordination of the officials deployed to non-EU countries for the purpose of monitoring migration flows, assisting in obtaining documents for people subject to deportation from the EU and passing on relevant information to EU law enforcement authorities.

The first judgment of the ECJ regarding a breach of the rule of law in Poland? (verfassungsblog.de, link)

"While the judgment in C-619/18 Commission v. Poland is unlikely to deliver a surprise as to the assessment of the Polish ‘reforms’, interesting issues are emerging in relation to the effects of the judgment for the Polish authorities. This piece starts from a brief discussion why the case seems lost for Poland, proceeding then to analysis whether and how the judgment should be implemented."

CoE: European anti-racism body urges Ireland to act on Traveller accommodation, hate speech and hate crime (link):

"The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has urged Ireland to take action against local authorities that fail to spend money allocated for providing accommodation for Travellers.

ECRI – part of the 47-nation Council of Europe – has also called upon the Irish authorities to enact new legislation on hate speech and hate crime, working together with civil society.

These two priority recommendations form part of ECRI’s fifth report on Ireland, published today. Progress towards implementing these recommendations will be reviewed by ECRI in two years’ time."

NUJ warns of FOI threat in Ireland (NUJ News, link):

"A decision by an Irish high court judge appears to have undermined the presumption of disclosure, considered central to any effective freedom of information legislation.

The judge, Justice Garrett Simons found that the information commissioner, Peter Tyndall, was wrong to assume a ‘presumption in favour of disclosure’ in a case challenging the information commissioner’s own ruling.

Journalists, politicians, legal experts and transparency campaigners have raised concerns that if Justice Simons’ decision is allowed to stand it would undermine the whole basis of freedom of information, which, of course, is based on a presumption of disclosure. The office of the information commissioner confirmed an appeal will be taken by the commissioner."

Call for submissions: "Soft law” and informal lawmaking in the global counter-terrorism architecture: Assessing implications on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (UN Human Rights, link):

"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism is studying the impact of the proliferation of “soft law” instruments and related standard-setting initiatives and processes in the counter-terrorism context on global governance on the promotion and protection of human rights at the global, regional and domestic level.

The outcome of the study will contribute to the report of the Special Rapporteur to be submitted to the 74th session of the General Assembly."

UK: £900,000 bill for Notts shale gas policing (Drill or Drop, link):

"Policing at two IGas shale gas sites in Nottinghamshire has cost nearly a million pounds, campaigners have revealed.

Frack Free Misson said this morning it had been told the total cost of police operations at Tinker Lane, near Blyth, and Springs Road, near Misson, stood at £900,000 up to April 2019."

Agenda for the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 06-07/06/2019 (link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.5-3.6.19) including:

FRANCE: The Yellow Jackets blinded by police weapons (Politico, link):

"Since the first Yellow Jackets protest last November, 24 people have been blinded in one eye and 283 sustained other head injuries as a result of police weapons, mostly LBD-fired bullets, according to David Dufresne, an independent journalist who keeps count of the injuries for the news site Médiapart. The French interior ministry, which does not keep individual counts of specific types of injury, said that as of May 13, 2,448 protesters and 1,797 police had been wounded.

Since the first protest six months ago, the Yellow Jackets movement has grown from a demonstration against a fuel tax raise into an at times violent revolt against President Emmanuel Macron and his economic policies. The scale of the protests eventually forced Macron to backtrack on the fuel tax and organize a “great national debate” for citizens to air their grievances. His attempts at dialogue were overshadowed by violence, however, as riots erupted on the Champs-Élysées and French police countered with a severe crackdown.

The heavy-handed police tactics sparked an outcry, and became a secondary driving force, along with economic discontent, for the weekly protests."

And see: Viewpoint: Why have the French police become the most violent in western Europe? (pdf)

Orbán moves against historical research: The first victim is the 56-Institute (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"On the last day of May, M. János Rainer, director of the 56-Institute, a historical research center focused on the 1956 Hungarian revolution, its antecedents and the Kádár regime that followed it, learned from the newspapers that his institute no longer exists. It will be incorporated into the Veritas Historical Research Institute, which was established five years ago to bring together researchers whose historical views coincide with those of the current political leadership. Viktor Orbán and his friends have been trying to destroy the institute for a long time, starting back in 1998 when they first acquired power, but it was only now that they dared to abolish it altogether."

See also: 1956 Institute (link)

UK: Five ridiculous reasons why the police label campaigners as ‘domestic extremists’ (The Canary, link):

"It’s unclear exactly how many people have their personal details included on the police’s secretive “domestic extremist database” – or to give it its full name, the National Special Branch Intelligence System. This database holds records identifying campaigners as either ‘nominals’ (with their own detailed profile) or as one of the much larger numbers who are connected to those with detailed profiles or mentioned in data gathered from social media.

...Netpol has long argued that police decisions about whom they target are subjective and political. But they are also not entirely arbitrary. There is a definite pattern to how units within the National Counter Terrorism Policing Operations Centre – the latest name for the part of UK policing responsible for gathering intelligence on protest movements – decide on who is a ‘person of interest’ and more likely to face surveillance in the future."

See: Protest is Not Extremism (Netpol, link)

UK: Football v the Hostile Environment in Sheffield and Bristol (These Walls Must Fall, link):

"Forget Liverpool, Spurs and the Champions League: the real football action this week was on the streets of Sheffield and Bristol, where local clubs came together to take on the Hostile Environment.

The initiative was kicked off by Mount Pleasant Park FC and These Walls Must Fall campaigners in Sheffield, with an exciting match right outside the Home Office immigration reporting centre. A rambunctious crowd cheered on the teams, and showed the red card to the Home Office. It was from that building that a local football coach and some fellow Zimbabweans were recently snatched and taken to a detention centre. Sheffield folk were outraged, and their friends were released, but the local campaign to end detention goes on."

Hungary drops courts plan opposed by EU, rights groups (DW, link):

"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said the launch of the new administrative court system would be suspended.

"The government will initiate the indefinite suspension of the launch of the administrative court system," Gergely Gulyas, Orban's chief of staff, said at a news conference on Thursday.

He defended the plans but admitted the pressure from the EU led the government to alter its position

"We believe that the law meets European standards and rule-of-law requirements," he said. "However, the administrative court system has been caught up in debates in Europe, which have unjustifiably called judicial independence into question."

The plan had been to set up a separate system of administrative courts, with its own Supreme Administrative Court and National Administrative Judicial Council."

Northern Ireland judge rebukes police for seizing papers from journalists - Documents linked to investigation into 1994 massacre must be returned to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey (Guardian, link):

Northern Ireland’s top judge has delivered a stinging rebuke to police for raiding the homes and offices of two journalists who investigated a notorious – still unresolved – massacre during the Troubles.

The lord chief justice of Northern Ireland, Declan Morgan, said on Friday that police had obtained “inappropriate” search warrants, and ordered them to return laptops, phones, documents and other material seized from Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

The judge vindicated the journalists, saying they had acted in “perfectly proper manner” in protecting their sources for the documentary No Stone Unturned, which investigated the June 1994 murder of six Catholics in Loughinisland, County Down, by Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gunmen."

EU: CCBE position on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters - CJEU ruling casts doubts on the legality of the proposed e-evidence regulation

According to the Court, “[t]hat independence requires that there are statutory rules and an institutional framework capable of guaranteeing that the issuing judicial authority is not exposed, when adopting a decision to issue such an arrest warrant, to any risk of being subject, inter alia, to an instruction in a specific case from the executive.” [emphasis added]

Meltdown Showed Extent of NSA Surveillance — and Other Tales From Hundreds of Intelligence Documents (Intercept, link)

USA: Report reveals new details about DOJ’s seizing of AP phone records (Columbia Journalism Review, link):

"With its latest leak indictment last week, the Department of Justice under Donald Trump is now on pace to break the previous record for prosecutions of journalists’ sources, just two and a half years into its administration. A new report, released for the first time today, shows just how dangerous such cases can be to journalists."

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