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September 2019

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.9.19) including:

Spanish-Moroccan borders upgraded with new cameras, facial recognition and a barbed wire 'swap'

The Spanish government is seeking a 50% reduction in illegal immigration and to achieve this goal is deploying new surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology at its borders with Morocco in Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish government also plans to remove the barbed wire fences at those borders - but the Moroccan government is constructing its own.

UK: New report calls for root and branch reform of Home Office decision-making following Windrush scandal (Refugee Council, link):

"A new report out today from Freedom From Torture, the Refugee Council and six other leading organisations exposes the historical and systematic failures of asylum-decision making in the UK and makes the case for root-and-branch reform of the asylum and immigration system.

By examining 50 reports from 17 different organisations, including parliamentary committees, the United Nations, nongovernmental organisations, academics and independent inspectorates, Lessons Not Learned charts a 15-year history of criticism levelled at the Home Office. It identifies trends in the mishandling of asylum claims, and asks the crucial question as to why lessons have still not been learned."

UK: Police chiefs criticise £10m Taser rollout (The Guardian, link):

"The government is to spend £10m on arming more officers with electric stun guns, despite police chiefs and human rights groups voicing strong concerns about the impact the weapons have on trust in the police.

...The announcement was welcomed by the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers. It said additional funding could put stun guns into the hands of 10,000 police officers, roughly 10% of the total employed in England and Wales.

The move has been criticised by police chiefs, the Guardian understands, and is likely to expose a rift between rank-and-file officers and their superiors, with the former calling for a rollout for years and the latter understood to oppose it."

See: Home Office announces £10 million for Taser uplift (Home Office press release, pdf)

EU drone operations: Israeli military firm Elbit amongst maritime agency's subcontractors

Seven EU member states have been provided with drone "services" by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) since 2018, and EMSA has also "supported the [European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex] in 2018 and 2019 with surveillance along the Portuguese coast."

EU-JAPAN: PNR: Security Union: The Commission recommends opening negotiations with Japan on the transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data (press release, pdf):

"...the European Commission has recommended that the Council authorise the start of negotiations for an EU-Japan Agreement to allow the transfer and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in order to prevent and combat terrorism and serious transnational crime. The Agreement will set out the framework and conditions for the exchange of PNR data, in full respect of data protection safeguards and fundamental rights, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights."

See: Recommendation for Council Decision to authorise negotiations for an Agreement between the European Union and Japan for the transfer and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data (pdf) and: Annex (pdf)

The Drone Databook (Bard College, link):

"The Drone Databook is an in-depth survey of the military drone capabilities of over 90 countries around the globe that are known to possess and operate unmanned aircraft. This study includes information about each country’s active drone inventories, drone units, training programs, active acquisition and development efforts, infrastructure, drone exports, and operational experiences."

Widow of Pat Finucane launches High Court proceedings against Northern Ireland Secretary (Irish Legal News, link)

"The widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has launched proceedings against the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the High Court in Belfast following a landmark UK Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

The Supreme Court ruled in February that the state has failed to deliver an Article 2 compliant investigation into the death of her husband, who was shot and killed by loyalist paramilitaries in collusion with UK security forces.

Mrs Finucane has now lodged proceedings as a result of the Secretary of State’s failure to make a decision on how the UK Government will proceed in light of the Supreme Court’s findings."

See: Supreme Court judgment: In the matter of an application by Geraldine Finucane for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) (February 2019, pdf)

EU: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

Germany, France, Italy and Malta have drafted a declaration (pdf) establishing a "predictable and efficient temporary solidarity mechanism" aimed at ensuring the "dignified disembarkation" of people rescued at sea in the Mediterranean. If those rescued are eligible for international protection they will be relocated to a participating EU member state within four weeks, while ineligible persons will be subject to "effective and quick return."

State Repression and Police Intimidation in Catalonia (Bella Caledonia, link):

"On Monday morning nine pro-independence activists in Catalonia were arrested in a swoop by the Spanish Guardia Civil. They are charged with ‘rebellion’ and ‘sedition’, the same offenses that the 12 Catalan political prisoners are currently accused of.

The operation was conducted under the instruction of the Audiencia Nacional, the Spanish central court that deals with ‘offences against the Crown’ and ‘terrorism’. Two have now been released, but seven remain in custody in Madrid where they will be held incommunicado and brought before judges this week."

IRELAND: Rights group to bring ‘mass action’ against State over PSC (Irish Examiner, link):

"A digital rights advocacy body is to bring the country’s first “mass action” against the State regarding alleged infringements of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the case of the Public Services Card (PSC).

Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) has launched its #no2psc campaign, which will see the group make a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner on behalf of citizens that cardholders’ rights have been breached en masse under GDPR."

Austria: Far-right ex-leader Strache investigated for reported misuse of party funds (DW, link):

"Authorities in Austria have launched a probe against far-right politician Heinz-Christian Strache over a suspected graft scheme involving him, his former bodyguard and the woman who worked as his one-time office manager.

Vienna prosecutors said the group was suspected of taking money from the far-right FPÖ during Strache's time as party leader. They reportedly handed in fake receipts to reimburse Strache's private expenses, amounting to over €5,000 ($5,460) over several years.

Officials said the procedure was still in the early stages, with evidence gathering still ongoing."

UK: Supreme Court: Suspending Parliament was unlawful, judges rule (BBC News, link):

"Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Mr Johnson suspended - or prorogued - Parliament for five weeks earlier this month, saying it was to allow a Queen's Speech to outline his new policies.

But the court said it was wrong to stop Parliament carrying out its duties in the run-up to the Brexit deadline on 31 October."

Judgment Full-text (pdf)

Council of the European Union: Note from the Council Presidency: Accession of the European Union to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) (Doc no; 12349-19, pdf):

Accession has been the subject of lengthy negotiations. This document sets out the: "Synthetic Overview of the required Amendments to the negotiated Instruments."

EU court: Google need not apply 'right to be forgotten' outside EU (DW, link)

"The European Court of Justice has ruled the US internet giant doesn't have to apply an EU law requiring the removal of search engine results upon request, outside of EU borders. The decision is a victory for Google. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-23.9.19)

Third Time Lucky? The new law on extension of UK membership of the EU (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"One of the many recent controversies about the Brexit process has been about the ‘Benn-Burt bill’, a new Act of Parliament that was fast-tracked through the legislative process earlier in September against the government’s wishes. It requires the Prime Minister to request a further extension of the UK’s EU membership; he has said that he will not do so. Some believe (wrongly) that the new law bans a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU. "

LESVOS: Journey back to the borders - melody and rhythm of freedom for all (w2eu.net, link)

"Small concert and musical activities in memory with welcome to europe

We would like to look back on migrant struggles and we want to face the reality today on the island. A reality of an organized permanent crisis, with the hot-spots like Moria made to deter people and break their will to move freely – but people continue moving. 10 years after Noborder ‘09 on Lesvos we want to celebrate continuity and stubbornness we have learned together in these migrant struggles."

See: Lost at border (pdf):

"We want to give back a piece of dignity, to those who died – right here – into the senselessness of the European borders – and we want to thank those who risk their lives to rescue.

All of these dead people have a face, a name. All of them leave behind relatives and friends. Besides the bodies also their hopes and dreams are lost."

The EU Funds Surveillance Around the World: Here's What Must be Done About it (PI link):

"Driven by the need to never again allow organised mass murder of the type inflicted during the Second World War, the European Union has brought its citizens unprecedented levels of peace underpinned by fundamental rights and freedoms.

It plays an instrumental role in protecting people’s privacy around the world; its data protection regulation sets the bar globally, while its courts have been at the forefront of challenges to unlawful government surveillance practices."

European Parliament: Briefing: EU guidelines on ethics in artificial intelligence: Context and implementation (pdf):

"In the EU, there are strong calls for clarifying the EU guidelines, fostering the adoption of ethical standards and adopting legally biding instruments in order to, inter alia, set common rules on transparency, set common requirements for fundamental rights impact assessments and provide an adequate legal framework for face recognition technology."

Here we go again! EU seeks to "balance" privacy and rights against the demands of law enforcement agencies
Here we go again! In the aftermath of 11 September 2001 in each new measure we were told that they had "balanced" fundamental rights and the demands of EU security. In practice the latter almost always won the day.

The emergence of new technologies presents a whole new era of demands which are the subject of a Note from the Council Presidency: The future direction of EU internal security: new technologies and internal security - Preparation of the Council debate (LIMITE doc no: 12224-19, pdf).

RTÉ to broadcast acclaimed Loughinisland Massacre documentary (RTE, link):

"RTÉ One has announced that it will broadcast Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney's No Stone Unturned, a feature-length documentary on the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.

On 18 June 1994, in the small village of Loughinisland, Co Down, three gunmen burst into a pub with assault rifles and fired on the customers, killing six people and wounding five others. (...)

Belfast journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested following the making of the film, over the alleged theft of a Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland document, with the charges ultimately being dropped. (...)

No Stone Unturned will air on RTÉ One on Wednesday 2 October at 9.35pm."

Northern Ireland: PRESS RELEASE: The Court of Appeal have ruled this morning that the treatment endured by the hooded men is torture, and an effective criminal investigation is necessary (pdf):

"Francis McGuigan, the applicant, said:

“Todays Judgment makes it expressly clear that the treatment that I suffered at the hands of Ministers was torture and should be investigated by an independent police force.”

“This treatment cannot be forgotten, it has had lasting and terrible effects on my mental health to this day and I can only hope that this judgment will assist someone somewhere in the world that suffers torture at the hand of their Government”

The Court said at Para 116 of the Judgment that they were satisfied that “the treatment to which Mr mcGuigan and Mr McKenna were subject would if it occurred today properly be characterised as torture.”"

See also: 'Hooded Men': PSNI's appeal over inquiry dismissed (BBC News, link): "A group known as the Hooded Men have won the latest stage of a legal battle to force an investigation into alleged torture by the security forces in 1971 "

Live facial recognition surveillance 'must stop (BBC News, link):

"UK police and companies must stop using live facial recognition for public surveillance, politicians and campaigners have said.

The technology allows faces captured on CCTV to be checked in real time against watch lists, often compiled by police.

Privacy campaigners say it is inaccurate, intrusive and infringes on an individual's right to privacy."

See: Joint statement on police and private company use of facial recognition surveillancein the UK (pdf, link)

EU: Fair Trials: Pre-trial detention: It’s time for EU action to end excessive use (pdf):

"Across the continent, there are over 100,000 people who have not been convicted of any crime being held in pre-trial detention. They are imprisoned and trapped in a legal limbo for months or years. The human toll can be immense."

Fastest-growing UK terrorist threat is from far right, say police (Guardian, link)

"Counter-terror police vow to thwart rise in violence driven by extreme-right ideologies.

Police have vowed to thwart the rise of the far right, which they have said is the fastest-growing terrorist threat in the UK, as they try to stop race hate ideologues from bringing violence to the country’s streets."

See also : Counter-Terrorism Coordinator wants EU to target right-wing extremism and terrorism

Met boss Cressida Dick: More Met Police officers will carry tasers (ITN News, link)

"The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said more officers in London will carry a Taser, but a fifth do not want to use them."

Using latest tech for border management (geospatialworld.net,link):

"While a lot of tasks performed by people in border management must not be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, it is important to use new and emerging technologies to prepare for those tasks, emphasizes Berndt Körner, Deputy Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex."

Counter-Terrorism Coordinator wants EU to target right-wing extremism and terrorism

The EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC) has distributed two papers to national delegations in the Council's Terrorism Working Party calling attention to the threat of right-wing extremism and terrorism: "Attacks in Western countries such as Norway, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and New Zealand, as well as foiled attacks in France, have shown that there is a need to further strengthen the EU approach in tackling right-wing extremist violence."

See: NOTE from: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator to: Delegations: Right-wing violent extremism and terrorism in the European Union: discussion paper (11756/19, LIMITE, 30 August 2019, pdf) and: background information (11756/19 ADD 1, pdf)

The CTC (since 2007 a Belgian official, Gilles de Kerchove) underlines that "right-wing extremism is a problem in Europe" - not exactly news, but it is now deemed urgent to address the issue at EU level.

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life' (euobserver, link) by Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"What is the "European way of life"?

In a continent as geographically, linguistically and culturally diverse as ours, this is very difficult to answer.

The way that Europeans live their lives is informed by centuries of history, enriched by overlapping traditions and the shared experience of different peoples, from long-settled communities to new arrivals, living side by side.

In today's turbulent times, we believe it is more fruitful to reflect on what constitute European values, and how these can be applied and strengthened in an era of globalisation and mass migration."

EU: ‘They are already citizens’: What will it take to bring Europe’s undocumented out of the shadows? (Horizon Magazine, link):

"Innovative ways of supporting undocumented migrants so that they can access vital health, social and emergency services are required so that European countries can properly assist these vulnerable people.

Undocumented or irregular migrants live in Europe’s shadows. They are some of the most vulnerable people in society, often exploited by others but also the least likely to seek help."

UK: The Black Power movement and Special Branch: Special Branch Files in context (SBFP, link):

"The British state took the threat of Black Power very seriously, both at home and across the Commonwealth. When an international conference on Black Power took place in British Protectorate Bermuda on July 10-13 July 1969, the British government sent a warship full of marines to anchor off the coast in case civil disorder broke out and Special Branch officers attended, submitting a 133pp report afterwards.

Beforehand, the option to ban the entire conference had been discussed up to the level of the PM in the UK. The fact that there was no law to do such thing, and that it would be impossible to enforce a ban, was seen as a minor issue set against the risks of UK military involvement should disturbances occur.

While both Special Branch and the government’s Joint Intelligence Committee did not believe that Black Power would ever become widely supported by black people in the UK, they did worry about its potential to inspire civil unrest."

The ongoing disasters in Libya

- There are between 700,000 and 1 million migrants in Libya

- "migrants and refugees rescued or intercepted at sea being transferred to detention centres [with a] lack of traceability, transparency and accountability"

- "The government’s reluctance to address the problems raises the question of its own involvement."

See: Note from the Council Presidency to national delegations; Libya and the surrounding area: current situation and need for immediate action (LIMITE doc no: 115381, pdf)

Edward Snowden: Germany a 'primary example' of NSA surveillance cooperation (DW, link):

"In his new book, Edward Snowden describes how US intelligence agencies collect vast amounts of data around the world. Foreign governments often help facilitate the collection, and Germany is no exception.(...)

In his new book Permanent Record, he describes working at "America's premier signals agency" as being "a dream job." He also writes of how he uncovered STELLARWIND, which he calls "the deepest secret of the NSA.""

EU: 5 policy suggestions for the ‘European way of life’ commissioner (Politico, link):

"Greece's Margaritis Schinas is the EU's new migration commissioner — except he's not.

Instead of giving him a title that makes sense, President-elect Ursula von der Leyen named him "the vice-president for protecting our European way of life," which led to outrage and accusations that she has kowtowed to populist rhetoric. French far-right leader Marine Le Pen hailed Schinas' title as an "ideological victory.""

EU grills Hungary over rule of law concerns (euractiv, link):

"EU affairs ministers grilled Hungary on Monday (16 September) over Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s tightening of restrictions around free media, judges, academics, minorities and rights groups, which the bloc worries weakens democracy in the ex-communist country."

See also: Hungarian minister grilled by EU about 'threats to rule of law' - Judit Varga called to account for erosion of press freedom and judicial independence (Guardian, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-16.9.19)

EU: Joint Press Statement from Commissioner Vìra Jourová and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the Third Annual EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Review (pdf):

"Gender Equality Vìra Jourová made the following statement regarding the third annual joint review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework:

“Senior officials from the United States Government, the European Commission, and EU data protection authorities gathered in Washington, DC on 12 and 13 September to conduct the third annual joint review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. The broad and senior level participation from both sides underscored the shared and longstanding commitment of the United States and the European Union to the Framework."

The reports on the first and second review can be found here (link) See: Snowden: Privacy Shield won't stop US mass surveillance (Statewatch database)

Prorogation of Parliament: Conflicting judgments in England and Scotland (EU Law Analysis, link):

"The outcome of the conjoined appeals at the Supreme Court of the UK on Tuesday the 17th of September is far from certain. The Scottish judgment is a constitutional first: the first time a serving Prime Minister has been found guilty of acting illegally in relation to the proroguing of Parliament.

What is certain is that the 11 justices of the Supreme Court will once again make UK constitutional history after the hearing on Tuesday week."

Poland’s ruling party plans to allow arrests of MPs and judges (euractiv, link);

"Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS/ECR) announced its election programme at the weekend, under which there would no longer be immunity for judges and prosecutors and it would be possible to detain parliamentarians at the request of the prosecutor general."

Ex-CIA spy readies to publish book about undercover exploits without agency approval (nbc, link):

"Some former CIA agents question the veracity of "Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA," by Amaryllis Fox, which hits stores in October. (...)

A former CIA officer who says she spent years under deep cover has written what appears to be one of the most revealing memoirs ever put to paper by an American intelligence operative — a book so intriguing that Apple bought the television rights even before its October publication date."

CJEU hearings on four data retention cases: Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS, pdf) :

On 9 and 10 September, the Court of Justice of the European Union held hearings on four data retention cases involving several Member States (United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, France, Spain, Sweden, etc.) and civil society actors such as Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) was also present and shared its point of view.

EU-UK-BREXIT: The annotated draft agenda (pdf) for the European Council meeting (the Heads of state) on 17-18 October 2019 does not - as yet - include a discussion on BREXIT.

'Protecting the European way of life’ from migrants is a gift to the far right (Guardian, link):

"EU technocrats still believe tougher border controls will defang their populist rivals – but they are fuelling a dangerous new nationalism. (...)

Yet Europe’s rightwing populists did not make Von der Leyen president of the commission, and her clumsy debut is another example of a broader trend: politicians of the centre adopting the nationalist demands of their far-right challengers in an attempt to keep them at bay.(...)

The plan, it appears, is to co-opt the demands of the far right – and thus neutralise their appeal – rather than take them on."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"In the EU bubble lexicon this strategy is known as "triangulation" - you adopt the policies of the populists, fascists and racists in the hope they will go away. Whereas history tells that appeasement only legitimates these political forces."

The Brief – Don’t ‘protect’ the EU way of life. Improve it! (euractiv, link):

"The reactions were caused by the Commission’s new name for the migration portfolio, “Protecting our European Way of Life”, which was assigned to the former chief EU spokesperson, Greece’s Margaritis Schinas.

The title itself is complex and open to different interpretations. One could argue that it’s another effort to construct Europe’s identity. Critics, though, talk about a very careful wording which implies an ultra-conservative or even a xenophobic turn worth of Donald Trump.

However, the problem lies in the mission letter von der Leyen wrote for Schinas, which explicitly describes his role in finding “common ground” on migration. This practically means that the anti-migration rhetoric of several member states, led by Hungary, is allowed into the mainstream, after having being ostracised and strongly opposed."

Claude Moraes: ‘Protecting our European Way of Life’ is ‘anachronistic and insulting title’ (EP, link):

"UK MEP Claude Moraes has joined a growing chorus of scathing criticism of the European Commission’s new portfolio for "Protecting our European Way of Life.

Moraes, a Socialist member, told this website on Wednesday, “The European Commission have either deliberately played to the populist right in naming this or they have made a serious mistake.”

UK government accused of ‘harvesting citizen data’ ahead of Brexit (euractiv, link):

"UK opposition parties have hit out at the government for allegedly harvesting user data, surreptitiously obtaining information from individuals accessing the official Gov.uk website, ahead of the UK’s scheduled withdrawal from the EU at the end of October.

A leaked memo seen by the Buzzfeed news website details private messages that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared with government ministers in the cabinet committee dealing with no-deal preparations, in which he informed them of the importance of gathering user information in order to facilitate exit preparations."

UK-BREXIT: Yellowhammer: no-deal chaos fears as secret Brexit papers published (Guardian, link):

"Ministers forced to publish documents predicting public disorder, rising prices and disruptions to food and medicines.

A no-deal Brexit could result in rising food and fuel prices, disruption to medicine supplies and public disorder on Britain’s streets, according to secret documents the government was forced by MPs to publish on Wednesday.

The content of the document was strikingly similar to the plan leaked to the Sunday Times in August, which the government dismissed at the time as out of date.

That document was described as a “base case”; but the new document claims to be a “worst-case scenario”. (...)

On law and order it warns: “Protests and counter-protests will take place across the UK and may absorb significant amounts of police resource. There may also be a rise in public disorder and community tensions.”

See: New Yellowhammer document (pdf)

EU Commission Wants the Fox in Charge of the Henhouse - European Parliament Should Block Appointment of New Enlargement Commissioner (HRW, link):

"Yesterday, the new European Commission president, Ursula Von der Leyen, proposed Hungarian politician László Trócsányi as enlargement commissioner. Given his background, it’s a move that threatens the credibility of the Commission’s role to promote human rights, rule of law, and fundamental values in the European Union and third states."

ENAR: Justice gap: racism pervasive in criminal justice systems across Europe (Press release, link):

"Brussels, 12 September 2019 – Institutional racism prevails in criminal justice systems across the EU and impacts how racist crimes are (not) recorded, investigated and prosecuted, according to a new report published by ENAR today.

“Twenty years after the Macpherson Report revealed that the British police was institutionally racist, we now find that criminal justice systems across the European Union fail to protect victims of racist crimes – this despite the increase in violent racially motivated crimes”, said Karen Taylor, Chair of the European Network Against Racism."

The report and key findings are available here

EU: New EU deportation law breaches fundamental rights standards and should be rejected

A proposed new EU law governing standards and procedures for deportations would breach fundamental rights standards, massively expand the use of detention, limit appeal rights and undermine 'voluntary' return initiatives. It should be rejected by the European Parliament and the Council, argues a new analysis published today by Statewatch: Analysis (pdf)

The original Returns Directive was agreed in 2008, but a proposal for a 'recast' version was published by the European Commission in September 2018 as one a number of measures aiming to crack down on "illegally staying third-country nationals" in the EU.

EU chief under fire over 'protecting way of life' portfolio (BBC News, link):

"Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has found herself under fire for nominating a commissioner responsible for "Protecting our European Way of Life".

Critics say the portfolio, which will oversee migration and security, taps into right-wing rhetoric.

One Dutch MEP described the move as "grotesque" while Amnesty International said it was "worrying"."

National Day protest registrations up to 400,000 (Catalan News,link):

"Organizers of annual pro-independence demonstration call on more to sign up with verdict on jailed Catalan politicians and activists soon due"

Roma ghettos in the heart of the EU (El Pais, link)

"Despite slight improvements in recent years, there is still deep-rooted discrimination against the community in Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe.

The Romani community represents around 2% of the Czech Republic’s 10.6 million inhabitants. This is similar to the European average and to Spain, though far lower than in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. There are six million Romanis altogether in the European Union and a number of studies show that there is not one country where they are not discriminated against."

See: Roma integration in the EU (European Commission, link)

New database at Eurojust: Who’s a terrorist? (link):

"The EU has a Criminal Record Information System since 2012, but last week a second database was introduced only for "terrorist threats“. Its added value is unclear and may be the search for "interconnections“. The system also includes "right-wing and left-wing extremist groups“ in Europe."

EU facial recognition (link):

"Police and secret services can currently search facial images only in individual EU Member States. The EU wants to change that

The European Union wants to make it much easier for police to cross-check facial images. In the future, it will be possible to compare search photos with corresponding databases in all member states. Such a search could be carried out with still images from surveillance cameras in order to identify an unknown person. At present, each country in the EU must be contacted individually for this purpose."

See also: Automating the exchange of police data: Council looks to national databases (Statewatch News)

Viktor Orbán’s choice for EU commissioner faces 'rough ride': As justice minister, László Trócsányi oversaw laws that put Hungary and EU in conflict (Guardian, link):

"Viktor Orbán’s choice for Hungary’s EU commissioner faces “a very rough ride” in the European parliament, as MEPs warned that the Hungarian government’s record on the rule of law could not be ignored.

The nominee, László Trócsányi, described as an executor of Orbán’s will, was Hungary’s justice minister from 2014 until elected to the European parliament in May. (...)

He oversaw laws criminalising NGOs for helping refugees and setting up Hungary’s container camps for asylum seekers, as well as measures that led to the Central European University being forced to quit Budapest."

EU: Open letter to Members of the European Parliament: The EU peace project is under threat (pdf) signed by over 60 organisations including Statewatch:

"As a coalition of 61 organisations we are writing to express our deep concern about a number of policy proposals which, taken together, call into question the EU’s founding values of human rights, peace and disarmament."

EU: Over 200,000 persons, vehicle and premises "checked" during transnational police operation: 30 countries team up to combat crime in the Western Balkans (Europol, link):

"The Joint Action Day (JAD) Western Balkans 2019 is an international operation, involving 6 758 law enforcement officers: 6 708 officers on the ground and 50 officers in the Operational Centre at Europol’s headquarters. Law enforcement officers from 30 countries, as well as 8 agencies and international organisations teamed up to tackle the 4 EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) priorities: firearms trafficking, illegal immigration, document fraud and drugs trafficking."

EU: Automating the exchange of police data: Council looks to national databases

The EU's recently-agreed plans for interconnecting its migration and policing databases are still being implemented (two Regulations were approved in July), but national delegations in the Council are looking to the future - in particular, how to make national law enforcement databases 'interoperable' with EU systems and with one another.

"Obstacles to surveillance“: How authorities insecure 5G telephony (Matthias Monroy, link):

"Following the auction of frequencies, mobile operators are building the new 5G network. This fifth generation of mobile phones is considered particularly secure because of its concept of „Privacy by Design“. Connections can be encrypted end-to-end, which makes interception much more difficult. The device numbers of the telephones and the unique identification of the SIM cards are also transmitted in encrypted form. Under 5G, the registered mobile phones also recognize suspicious mobile cells. This makes the IMSI catcher currently in use unusable for locating and listening to telephones in the vicinity.

The new possibilities for encryption and anonymisation are causing police forces and secret services headaches. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior complains of „additional technical hurdles in the monitoring of telecommunications and the implementation of technical investigation measures“ and announces „adjustments“ of the telecommunications legislation."

See: Statewatch Analysis: A world without wiretapping? Official documents highlight concern over effects 5G technology will have no "lawful interception" (pdf)

UK: Defence secretary under fire for appearing to condone torture (The Guardian, link):

"Defence secretary Ben Wallace was accused of appearing to condone the use of mock executions after comments he once made that soldiers “might pretend to pour petrol” over prisoners taken on the battlefield resurfaced.

The former Scots Guard captain and future cabinet minster had declared that “battlefield short sharp interrogation where the prisoner is manhandled fairly roughly … is absolutely the norm” to a newspaper in 2003.

Trying to obtain information at the point of capture was critical, Wallace told the Scotsman in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq war. “It’s taught to soldiers that’s how it’s done. You might pretend to pour petrol over them, when it’s actually water.”"

BELGIUM: PNR: 94 terror suspects caught when booking airline flights, says report (Brussels Times, link)

"The system of Passenger Name Record (PNR) in operation in Belgium since January 2018 has managed to track down 94 suspected terrorists and suspects involved in a variety of crimes, according to the government’s crisis centre.

...The centre qualifies its results, however, by pointing out that 40 of the 94 terrorism suspects were on an existing register of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), and that none of the suspects captured by PNR is actively wanted or has ever been the subject of a conviction. As a result, the men in question were detained, questioned and investigated further and then released.

The 54 men and women were flagged on PNR after being named in a case of terrorism or radicalisation, but were otherwise unable to be traced by police. They were identified with the help of BelPIU."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-8.9.19) including:

Middle East Eye journalist refused entry to cover UK arms fair (Middle East Eye, link):

"A senior Middle East Eye journalist has been denied access to a British government-backed arms fair for unspecified reasons on the advice of the event’s security team.

Ian Cobain, a veteran reporter and author who has previously worked for The Guardian and The Times newspapers, was told on Wednesday that his application to cover next week’s DSEI arms fair in London had been rejected by the security team.

Cobain was initially told that his accreditation was being held up because the event's "security team" wanted to check that he was a suitable journalist to be covering an arms fair."

The Commission’s Rule of Law Blueprint for Action: A Missed Opportunity to Fully Confront Legal Hooliganism (Verfassungsblog, link):

"n its first Communication entitled “Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the Union” published on 3 April 2019, the Commission offered a useful overview of the state of play while also positively inviting all stakeholders to make concrete proposals so as to enhance the EU’s “rule of law toolbox”. In reply to this invitation, the present authors put together along with other colleagues a submission on behalf of the RECONNECT project which was subsequently published as a RECONNECT Policy Brief. On 17 July 2019, the Commission released a comprehensive follow up Communication in which it sets out multiple “concrete actions for the short and medium term” having first recalled the extent to which the rule of law must be understood as a shared value and a shared responsibility within the EU."

Boris Johnson seeking to rewrite EU defence pledges (Guardian, link):

"Exclusive: Move sparks fears PM will use European security as Brexit bargaining chip.

Boris Johnson has told Brussels he wants to rewrite the defence pledges in the current Brexit deal, sparking EU fears that he will use the security of European citizens as a bargaining chip."

EU admits some countries infringed EU arrest warrant (euobserver, link):

"The EU has recognised that there are member states which do not comply with the procedures of the European arrest warrant, reported Spanish newspaper El Mundo."

UK: Johnson’s immigration policies: hostile chaos? (IRR News, link): Written by Frances Webber:

"If Boris Johnson’s government survives, the chaos of the immigration system it plans to impose will lead to untold misery."

Irish border will see checks after no-deal Brexit, EU warns (euobserver, link):

""All the checks will have to be carried out, it will be disruptive because the backstop would have been the only way that could have avoided disruptions," an EU official said."

European Coimmission: Press release: Brexit ‘no-deal' preparedness: Final Commission call to all EU citizens and businesses to prepare for the UK's withdrawal on 31 October 2019 (link)

"With 8 weeks to go until the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union on 31 October 2019, the Commission has today – in its 6th Brexit preparedness Communication – reiterated its call on all stakeholders in the EU27 to prepare for a ‘no-deal' scenario. In light of the continued uncertainty in the United Kingdom regarding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement – as agreed with the UK government in November 2018 – and the overall domestic political situation, a ‘no-deal' scenario on 1 November 2019, remains a possible, although undesirable, outcome."

UK court backs police in facial recognition lawsuit (Politico, link):

"Ruling is a blow for privacy advocate who led legal challenge.

In a battle over the limits of high-tech police surveillance, Big Brother has just won a round.

On Wednesday, a U.K. court dismissed a case brought against the South Wales Police over its use of live facial recognition technology, which allows police to scan the faces of thousands of individuals in real time and match their likenesses against a database of suspects."

Launch of Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register at Eurojust - Speeding up and strengthening the judicial response to terrorism (link):

"A Counter-Terrorism Register (CTR) has been launched at Eurojust to reinforce the judicial response in Member States to terrorist threats and to improve security for citizens. The CTR, which entered into force on 1 September, centralises key judicial information to establish links in proceedings against suspects of terrorist offences.

The CTR is managed by Eurojust in The Hague on a 24-hour basis and provides proactive support to national judicial authorities. This centralised information will help prosecutors to coordinate more actively and to identify the suspects or networks that are being investigated in specific cases with potential cross-border implications."

Google siphoning personal data to advertisers, new evidence suggests (euractiv, link):

"Google is using a “surreptitious mechanism” to leak personal data to advertisers, according to new evidence presented to the Irish Data Protection Commission as part of an ongoing investigation.

The evidence, sourced by Brave, a competing web browser to Google’s Chrome, “gives the Irish DPC concrete proof that Google’s ad system did broadcast personal data” belonging to Johnny Ryan, the chief policy officer at Brave."

UK: Two members of far-right Generation Identity group ‘serving in royal navy’ (The Independent, link):

"Two alleged far-right extremists were able to join the royal navy in spite of their white nationalist views, it has been claimed.

The men are accused of being active in the UK branch of Generation Identity, a pan-European group which spreads a conspiracy theory that motivated the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker in New Zealand."

UK: Police investigate officer who infiltrated environmental groups (The Guardian, link):

"A former undercover police officer who infiltrated environmental groups for seven years is under investigation by police for deceiving women into sexual relationships and allegedly leaking secrets.

Police chiefs are conducting a criminal investigation into Mark Kennedy, whose covert deployment was exposed principally by one of the women he had deceived.

The investigation is examining whether Kennedy conducted “inappropriate sexual relationships” and whether he broke the 1989 Official Secrets Act, according to police."

EU: The political reform agenda of Ursula von der Leyen (EPC, link):

"Ursula von der Leyen is looking to strengthen her support among pro-European forces. Her agenda for democratic reform of the EU is central to her mission. Only she, and not the European Council, is capable of setting an ambitious political agenda for the next five years. Andrew Duff argues that the Conference on the Future of Europe, which von der Leyen supports, is the best way to prepare for the next round of EU treaty revision. But the top priority must be to reform the electoral procedure of the European Parliament to introduce a real transnational element and to salvage the controversial Spitzenkandidat concept."

UK: 'Hundreds of stories going untold' at city magistrates' court every week, study finds (Press Gazette, link):

"A study of a single magistrates’ court based in a major UK city found there were “hundreds of potential stories left untold” every week, painting a “grim picture” of the state of court reporting.

Just three articles were published about proceedings at Bristol Magistrates’ Court during one week in January 2018, according to research published by journalism and law academics at the University of the West of England.

The study, published this month, said 240 cases passed through the court over the period, but its observers spotted only one working journalist."

See: It is criminal: The state of magistrates’ court reporting in England and Wales (Journalism, link)

UK: Hairdressing college closed for failing to keep students "safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism": Disastrous Ofsted inspection forces city centre college to close (Liverpool Echo, link):

"A city centre hairdressing college has shut down just months after being slammed with a disastrous Ofsted inspection.

Michael John Academy in the city centre was given an 'inadequate' rating in May, for failing to keep students "safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism."

...One of the main issues outlined in the report, was that apprentices at the college "do not have an adequate awareness of the dangers associated with radicalisation and extremism.""

UK: Leaving the War on Terror: A Progressive Alternative to Counter-Terrorism Policy (TNI, link):

"This report offers an account of the failures of current counter-terrorism policies, an analysis of the reasons why they do not work and an outline of a progressive alternative that we hope will be the basis for a future Labour government’s approach."

UK: Court rules police use of facial recognition is legal; survey finds majority of public want restrictions on the technology

"The high court in Cardiff has ruled that the legal regime governing South Wales Police's use of facial recognition "is adequate to ensure the appropriate and non-arbitrary use" of the technology. The judgment comes two days after the publication of survey results showing that the majority of the British public are willing to accept facial recognition technology in certain circumstances, "but want the government to impose restrictions on its use."

Statewatch Analysis: Spain-Morocco: "Migration control, not rescue": squeezing search and rescue in the Mediterranean

As the EU's member states continue to discuss half-hearted plans for search and rescue and the disembarkation of migrants, they are also putting in place measures to prevent their own maritime safety authorities from carrying out rescues. At the same time, they are pressuring under-resourced and unwilling non-EU states to take on rescue tasks. As reports from Spain show, the results are deadly.

The myth of the free speech crisis (The Guardian, link) by Nesrine Malik:

"Freedom of speech is not a neutral, fixed concept, uncoloured by societal prejudice. The belief that it is some absolute, untainted hallmark of civilisation is linked to self-serving exceptionalism – a delusion that there is a basic template around which there is a consensus uninformed by biases. The recent history of fighting for freedom of speech has gone from something noble – striving for the right to publish works that offend people’s sexual or religious prudery, and speaking up against the values leveraged by the powerful to maintain control – to attacking the weak and persecuted. The effort has evolved from challenging upwards to punching downwards."

Home Office planning to end family reunion for children after Brexit - Exclusive: Current system for asylum-seeking minors set to end the day after UK leaves EU (Guardian, link):

"The Home Office is preparing to end the current system of family reunification for asylum-seeking children if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the Guardian has learned.

The government has privately briefed the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other NGOs that open cases may be able to progress, but a no-deal Brexit would mean no new applications after 1 November from asylum-seeking children to be reunited with relatives living in the UK."

UK: Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper (Guardian, link):

" Exclusive: leaked report says at present there is no deliverable alternative to the backstop.

All potential solutions to the post-Brexit Irish border are fraught with difficulty and would leave smaller businesses struggling to cope, experts have said, as leaked government papers outline major concerns just two months before Britain is due to leave the EU."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.8.19-1.9.19)

UK: House of Commons report: The Role of Parliament in the UK Constitution: Authorising the Use of Military Force (pdf):

"We found a consensus in the inquiry concerning the post-2003 convention; that the Government is expected to seek prior authorisation from the House of Commons before taking military action, subject to certain exceptions where public debate before military action would not be possible or appropriate. The exceptions to the convention are important as the Government requires discretion in relation to the most effective means of protecting the UK’s security and interests.

There is, however, a legitimate concern that the Government remains the sole arbiter of what military action requires prior approval under the post-2003 convention, something which could create uncertainty." [emphasis added]


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