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November 2019

Enforcement of EU Values and the Tyranny of National Identity – Polish Examples and Excuses (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Professor A. von Bogdandy in his recent piece published at Verfassungsblog analyzes difficulties regarding enforcement of the EU values. He argues that the application of Treaty provisions relating to EU fundamental values should be cautious in order to avoid controversy or pressure.

However, the ‘national identity argument’ is not convincing in the Polish case. It cannot be used by a Member State in an arbitrary or blanket way without being checked and confirmed. Otherwise, it is only an excuse. Unfortunately, the Polish rule-of-law saga offers a number of such excuses, which eventually allowed the rule of law backsliding to flourish."

Women human rights defenders under attack: Amnesty (DW, link):

"Activists continue to be sexually assaulted, threatened, intimidated, criminalized and even killed, the rights watchdog has said. Women human rights defenders even face hostility from members of their own family."

Over 1000 cases set to be dropped against Extinction Rebellion protesters arrested during October’s International Rebellion (Pressenza, link):

"The Metropolitan Police has admitted to the unlawful use of Section 14 of the Public Order Act during the first week of the October protests, following a threat of further legal action by Extinction Rebellion’s lawyers

- The news follows Extinction Rebellion’s landmark victory in the High Court earlier this month in which the Met’s blanket Section 14 ban from the second week of the International Rebellion was ruled to be an unlawful overreach of Police powers

- Extinction Rebellion now expects police investigations and charges against over 1000 of its activists to be dropped."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 2-3 December 2019: Background Note (pdf)

HUNGARY: The legacy of the Orbán era: anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"At just about the same time that Hungarians witnessed an anti-Semitic assault by Fidesz journalists on “alien-hearted” Jews who are unable or maybe even unwilling to “melt” into the majority, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concluded a global survey of 18 countries on the state of anti-Semitism in today’s world. As a result, it was ascertained that what we have suspected all along is in fact the case: while in Western Europe anti-Semitic attitudes have held steady, hateful notions about Jews have been rising in Eastern and Central European countries. The rapid rise of anti-Semitism in recent years is especially striking in Poland, where four years ago 37% of the population held anti-Jewish views but today 48% do. As for Hungary, where the Orbán government ran an anti-immigrant billboards campaign featuring George Soros, only 25% of the population believe that “Jews want to weaken our national culture by supporting more immigrants coming to our country.” That particular campaign, it seems, did not hit its target, but the overall nationalistic tenor of the Orbán regime has had a measurably negative impact. Hungary’s overall anti-Semitism score today is 42%, compared to 40% in 2015."

UK: Netpol launches ‘Restricting the Rebellion’ report (Netpol, link):

"New Netpol report says the Metropolitan Police were far more interested in preventing October’s Extinction Rebellion protests than in facilitating it.

On 20 November, Netpol launched “Restricting the Rebellion”, a report on the policing of Extinction Rebellion protests in London in October 2019, at an event at Doughty Street Chambers hosted by Green Party peer Jenny Jones.

The report found that the police systematically discriminated against disabled protesters by failing to meet their needs. It also questioned the police’s controversial use of Section 14 powers to limit the protests –ruled unlawful by the High Court on 6 November. It found the use of these powers was disproportionate and unreasonable and sought to criminalise what the police saw as an “illegal” movement, rather than judging protesters on their individual actions."

General Court Rules on Frontex: Less Transparency at EU Borders (Frag Den Staat, link):

"The first lawsuit against Frontex by a civil society organisation was not successful: the European Court in Luxembourg, following a joint lawsuit by freedom of information activists Luisa Izuzquiza and Arne Semsrott, decided that the European Border Police do not have to disclose any information about their ships in connection with operations at the EU's external borders.

Frontex itself had published some of its vessels’ names on Twitter, thus showing that there can’t be a harm to public security. The information in dispute is also regularly published by other EU naval missions in the Mediterranean on a regular basis. It is not comprehensible that Frontex shall not be ordered to disclose these details, and to comply with a basic standard of transparency."

Judgment: Case T-31/18: Izuzquiza and Semsrott v European Border and Coast Guard Agency (pdf)

EU: Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission (European Parliament, link):

"New Commission approved by 461 votes to 157 against, with 89 abstentions

College of Commissioners to take office on 1 December for five years

Hearings process established suitability of candidates

First woman Commission President and the largest proportion of female Commissioners to date"

See: EPRS: An analysis of the portfolios of the von der Leyen Commission (pdf) and: Ursula von der Leyen's speech in the EP plenary session (pdf)

Home Office reverses attempt to deport Jamaican man 'to Iraq' (The Guardian, link):

"The Home Office has made a U-turn in the case of a man caring for his terminally ill partner who was told he was going to be deported to Jamaica because officials had concluded that he “failed to demonstrate that his life would be at risk in Iraq”.

The Guardian reported last month that O’Neil Wallfall, 49 – who has never been to Iraq – received a refusal letter that appeared to indicate his case had been confused with that of someone else.

The government also said in the same document that it would not be “unreasonable” or “unduly harsh” to expect his British partner, Karen McQueen, 56, to relocate to his homeland of Jamaica with him. McQueen has a diagnosis of terminal cancer and is awaiting a transplant after kidney failure."

European Data Protection Supervisor: Report on the inspection of Europol's compliance with Article 4 of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (pdf):

"Overall Europol manages well the verifications of the US DoT requests. The different actors complement each other and pay close attention to details.

The EDPS has identified good practices when Europol analyses the US requests. Europol takes into account other information than what is provided in the request to assess the necessity, such as the work experience of Europol staff, trends, statistics and intelligence provided for example in the TE-Sat. In addition, they receive regular training by the Designated Provider (DP) in order to keep staff members up to date as regards the message types and related data categories."

Frontex expands operations in EU neighbouring countries (link):

"After Albania and Montenegro, the EU Commission has concluded a Frontex status agreement with Serbia, to be followed by Northern Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. A first deployment of the EU border troops has meanwhile been increased."

MEPs choose Wiewiórowski to be the EU’s data protection watchdog (EP, link):

"Mr Wojciech Wiewiórowski was selected by the Civil Liberties Committee as their top choice to become the next European Data Protection Supervisor.

MEPs chose their order of preference of the candidates for the position of European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) in a secret ballot on Tuesday morning:

Wojciech Wiewiórowski from Poland was selected as the top candidate with 36 votes, Yann Padova from France gained 25 votes and Endre Szabó from Hungary obtained 3 votes. (...)

The European Data Protection Supervisor will be jointly appointed by common accord of the European Parliament and the Council for a term of five years."

EU: Berlin and Paris outline plan for EU makeover - Two-page document aims to show Franco-German partnership overcoming recent tensions (Politico, link):

"Germany and France have drawn up a blueprint for a two-year "Conference on the Future of Europe" aimed at overhauling nearly all aspects of how the EU functions, including possible treaty changes if need be, with a goal of making the bloc "more united and sovereign," according to a document seen by POLITICO."

A number of documents are this theme are being circulated: Conference on the Future of Europe: Franco-German non-paper on key questions and guidelines (pdf) and Resolution: EPP, S&D, Greens/EFA AFCO (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-25.11.19) including:

EU: 'Roadmap' for implementing new Frontex Regulation: full steam ahead

A 'roadmap' sets out the actions needed for "rapid and full operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) 2.0 Regulation," described as a "top priority for the EU."

EU-AFRICA: Eurafrica: History of European Integration, “Compromise” of Decolonization (EuropeNow, link):

"After the war, European states actually scrambled to preserve their empires and use them to claim geopolitical leverage vis-à-vis the dominant superpowers to the east and the west, the Soviet Union and the US. In fact, rather than a postcolonial project, the EU (or the European Economic Community, EEC, as it was called at its foundation) was from the outset designed, among other things, to enable a rational, co-European colonial management of the African continent.

The relationship between the history of European integration and the history of colonialism is best understood through a compelling geopolitical entity once known as Eurafrica. As we have shown in a recent book by that title, most efforts to unify Europe from 1920 to 1960 systematically coincided with efforts to develop and stabilize the colonial system in Africa."

Western intelligence services tracked Russian spy in Catalonia (El País, link):

"General Denis Sergeev, the Russian spy who traveled to Barcelona in 2017 on the eve of the October 1 illegal referendum in Catalonia, carried out subversive operations in a dozen or so countries in Europe and Asia. Using the false name Sergey Fedotov, this agent linked to so-called “Unit 29155” was detected in the United Kingdom and Bulgaria, where Western Intelligence services have linked him with a number of assassination attempts. The Spanish High Court is currently investigating him, as EL PAÍS revealed on Thursday.

Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev is a veteran of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU, as it is known in Russian by its initials), Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency. With the rank of general, the agent operated for at least a decade in different countries. At the start he did so with his true identity, and later as Sergey Fedotov. Using this name, he was detected in Bulgaria and the United Kingdom. Now, Spain’s High Court is investigating this agent – who has been classed as “dangerous” – and his alleged relationship with events in Catalonia, within the framework of Russian attempts to destabilize other countries.

GERMANY: Hamburg: Social Democrats and Greens plan new police law (World Socialist Web Site, link):

"The “modern” police law planned by the red-green Senate will extend the powers of the police even further. The new law will permit police to use electronic ankle bracelets to monitor so-called “threats” around the clock. In common with other police laws, the new Hamburg law uses the vague term “imminent danger.” This means that persons who have committed no crime, but are considered by the police to be potentially dangerous, can be forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet for up to three months.

In addition, paragraph 49 of the red-green bill allows automated data analysis on a large scale. Extensive databases can be analysed automatically to facilitate the “preventive combatting” of crimes or to avert threats—including for “issues of significant value.” Surveillance software can then be used to allow police databases to research “relationships or connections between individuals, groups of people, organisations, institutions, objects and property.”"

UK: Doctors tell UK authorities Julian Assange 'could die' in jail (Al Jazeera, link):

"More than 60 doctors have written an open letter saying they feared Julian Assange's health was so bad that the WikiLeaks founder could die inside a top-security British prison.

The 48-year-old, who spent seven years holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London before he was dragged out in April, is wanted in the United States to face 18 counts including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.

The 16-page letter, published by WikiLeaks on Monday, said Assange suffers from psychological problems including depression as well as dental issues and a serious shoulder ailment."

See also: UN expert on torture sounds alarm again that Julian Assange’s life may be at risk (UN, link)

EU aid and development funding has provided €215 million for border security in Morocco since 2001

Since 2001, almost €215 million has been provided to Morocco by the EU to finance border security projects. Human rights abuses against migrants and refugees committed by Moroccan authorities call into question whether financial support from the EU to Moroccan border security should continue.

See Statewatch Analysis: Aid, border security and EU-Morocco cooperation on migration control (pdf)

EU-USA talks on the exchange of e-evidence reveals major differences - USA-UK deal muddies the water

The Commission has produced a report on the 2nd round of talks on the EU-USA exchange of electronic evidence held in Washington on 6 November 2019. It shows that many differences need to be sorted out and reveals that a UK-USA bilateral agreement in the US legislative pipeline takes contradictory line to that of the Commission. See:

Report of the Commission services on the second round of negotiations in view of an agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on cross-border access to electronic evidence for judicial cooperation in criminal matters, 6 November 2019 (Council Restricted doc no:13713-19, pdf)

USA: Ban Face Surveillance (Epic.org, link):

"Over the past decade, a powerful identification technology has emerged that will create the engineroom for a new era of mass surveillance across the world. This technique has the capacity to scan and identify the faces of thousands or even millions of people in real time. It must be stopped."

EDRI: ePrivacy: EU Member States push crucial reform on privacy norms close to a dead end (link):

"The ePrivacy Regulation aims to strengthen users’ right to privacy and create protective measures against online tracking. Instead, EU states turned it into a surveillance toolkit,” said Estelle Massé, Senior Policy Analyst at EDRi member’s Access Now. “Today’s rejection should not be a signal that the reform cannot happen. Instead, it should be a signal that states must go back to the negotiating table and deliver what was promised to EU citizens: stronger privacy protections.”"

New agreements: European Union wants to expand use of passenger data (link):

"The EU Parliament is to deal with a new agreement on the exchange of passenger data with Canada. So far, PNR agreements exist only with the USA and Australia, but now the EU Commission also wants to negotiate with Japan. Others could follow after the International Civil Aviation Organization adopts new standards."

MEPs shut out of Hungary Council hearing as rule of law situation worsens (euractiv, link):

"MEPs are reeling after being shut out of a Council hearing under the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for systemic breaches to the rule of law, as the situation in the country further deteriorates.

The Council will hold a hearing on Article 7 proceedings against Hungary on 10 December, Finnish Council presidency representative told the European Parliament’s (EP) committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Several MEPs expressed their disappointment that Parliament representatives will not attend the hearing, despite the EP’s request to participate. The decision to continue proceedings over determining whether Hungary is in serious breach of the EU’s core values comes amid reports of new rules undermining judicial independence."

#PrivacyWins: EU Border Guards Cancel Plans to Spy on Social Media (for now) (PI, link):

"As any data protection lawyer and privacy activist will attest, there’s nothing like a well-designed and enforced data protection law to keep the totalitarian tendencies of modern Big Brother in check.

While the EU’s data protection rules aren’t perfect, they at least provide some limits over how far EU bodies, governments and corporations can go when they decide to spy on people.

This is something the bloc’s border control agency, Frontex, learned recently after coming up with a plan to monitor the internet use of migrants and civil society. After publishing a tender inviting surveillance companies to bid for the project, they mysteriously cancelled it less than a month later while facing questions as to whether such spying was even allowed under data protection regulations."

Why UK’s refusal to name new commissioner is headache for EU (euractiv, link):

"The European Union is due to relaunch its powerful executive arm under the new leadership of the German conservative Ursula von der Leyen from 1 December but faces legal risks after Britain refused to name its representative for the European Commission."

CoE: Commissioner publishes observations on alleged human rights violations of migrants returned from Italy to Libya (link):

"Today, the Commissioner published her written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with the case of S.S. and others v. Italy. This case concerns the interception and rescue operation of a boat in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, carrying around 150 persons who had left Libya, and the alleged human rights violations resulting from this operation.

The Commissioner underscores that changes adopted in member states’ migration practices in the Central Mediterranean, in particular certain types of assistance provided to the Libyan Coast Guard, have resulted in increased returns of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to Libya, despite the fact that member states knew, or should have known, about the risk of serious human rights violations they would face in the country."

European Parliament: Rule of Law in Hungary: Council to update the Civil Liberties Committee (link):

"MEPs will discuss the Article 7(1) process, initiated by Parliament due to concerns about the rule of law in Hungary, on Thursday with the Council.

This is the first substantial discussion on the subject in the current legislative term. The Finnish Presidency of the Council will report to the Civil Liberties Committee on how the first hearing in the General Affairs Council of 16 September went."

Facebook and Google’s pervasive surveillance poses an unprecedented danger to human rights (AI, link):

"Facebook and Google’s omnipresent surveillance of billions of people poses a systemic threat to human rights, Amnesty International warned in a new report as it called for a radical transformation of the tech giants’ core business model."

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee holds talks in Greece (CPT, link):

"The main objective of the talks was to discuss the action being taken by the recently elected Greek Government to address the long-standing concerns of the Committee regarding prison, police and immigration detention issues. In particular, the need to tackle the crisis in the prison system and to improve the treatment of persons detained by the police, including as regards investigating allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials, was discussed.

In this context, the delegation was keen to learn about the measures already taken or being considered by the new Government to tackle the serious problems encountered by the CPT in the course of its most recent visits in 2018 and 2019. The talks were carried out in a spirit of openness and all parties expressed their desire to improve the current situation of persons deprived of their liberty."

UN: Experts of the Committee against Torture express concern about racially motivated police violence and detention conditions in dialogue with Portugal (link):

"The Committee against Torture this afternoon concluded its consideration of the seventh periodic report of Portugal on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Committee Members raised concerns about detention conditions, including the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. They also broached racially-motivated police violence. In that regard, the outcome of the Cova da Moura trial was flagged. "

EU: UK to join police fingerprint database network, but other member states want broader data access

EU member states have recommended that the UK join the 'Prüm' network of police fingerprint databases, but they are also demanding that the country "review its policy of excluding suspects' profiles from automated dactyloscopic [fingerprint] data exchange".

EU: Brussels, 3 December 2019: Workshop on defence and security: How to forge a peace and rights-based EU answer to security threats (pdf):

"This workshop will present the conclusions of three recent reports of the Centre for Peace Studies J.M. Delàs, addressing in particular EU funding for the defence sector,external borders control, and European arms exports; altogether these reports showcase the current trends of EU defence and security policies.

The reports’ outcomes and other experts’ contributions will be the basis for a discussion between civil society and political representatives on how to influence the current EU defence, security and migration policies and what an alternative peace and rights-based approach could be."

Sea rescue NGOs : a pull factor of irregular migration? (European University Institute, link):

"The argument that maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations act as a ‘pull factor’ of irregular seaborne migration has become commonplace during the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’. This claim has frequently been used to criticize humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducting SAR off the coast of Libya, which are considered to provide “an incentive for human smugglers to arrange departures” (Italian Senate 2017: 9). In this policy brief, we scrutinise this argument by examining monthly migratory flows from Libya to Italy between 2014 and October 2019. We find no relationship between the presence of NGOs at sea and the number of migrants leaving Libyan shores. Although more data and further research are needed, the results of our analysis call into question the claim that non-governmental SAR operations are a pull factor of irregular migration across the Mediterranean sea."

UK: Deaths of people following release from prison (INQUEST, link):

"In 2018/19, ten people died each week following release from prison. Every two days, someone took their own life. In the same year, one woman died every week, and half of these deaths were self-inflicted.

This report, co-authored by Dr Jake Phillips of Sheffield Hallam University and Rebecca Roberts of INQUEST provides an overview of what is known about the deaths of people on post custody supervision following release from prison. It highlights the lack of visibility and policy attention given to this growing problem and calls for immediate action to ensure greater scrutiny, learning and prevention."

See: Freed prisoners killing themselves at a rate of one every two days (The Guardian, link)

Emerging Technologies and International Security in the Mediterranean Region (PRIO, link):

"The third TRANSAD workshop will focus on the topic Emerging Technologies and International Security in the Mediterranean Region. Co-organised by PRIO, the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, and the Nordic Centre of Excellence for Security Technologies and Societal Values (NordSTEVA), the workshop will take place in Barcelona on 21 and 22 November 2019."

EU: Deportations: Council Presidency proposes systematic monitoring of readmission cooperation and sanctions for non-compliance

The Finnish Council Presidency wants EU member states to consider new methods for encouraging 'third countries' to accept their own nationals deported from the EU, according to a note (pdf) sent to the High-Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration and the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA).

NOTE from: Presidency: Policies and tools to enhance readmission cooperation - Presidency discussion paper (LIMITE document 13190/19, 8 November 2019, pdf)

International Criminal Court may investigate UK 'war crimes cover-up' (BBC News, link):

"The International Criminal Court could open its first investigation into the British military following a BBC programme about alleged war crimes.

Panorama found evidence the state had covered up killings of civilians by UK troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.The ICC said it took the findings very seriously. The MoD has said the allegations are unsubstantiated."

Rules for a New Surveillance Reality (HRW, link):

"If you’re worried about how facial recognition technology is being used, you should be. And things are about to get a lot scarier unless new regulation is put in place.

Already, this technology is being used in many U.S. cities and around the world. Rights groups have raised alarm about its use to monitor public spaces and protests, to track and profile minorities, and to flag suspects in criminal investigations. The screening of travelers, concertgoers and sports fans with the technology has also sparked privacy and civil liberties concerns.

Facial recognition increasingly relies on machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to sift through still images or video of people’s faces and obtain identity matches. Even more dubious forms of AI-enabled monitoring are in the works."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.10-18.11.19) including:

EU: New report: Data Protection, Immigration Enforcement and Fundamental Rights: What the EU's Regulations on Interoperability Mean for People with Irregular Status

A new report published by Statewatch and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) explains the EU's new rules on interoperable information systems and databases and examines the potential implications for people in an irregular migration situation.

World stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia, warns UN human rights expert (UN Human Rights, link):

"A UN human rights expert has expressed concerns about the emergence of the "digital welfare state", saying that all too often the real motives behind such programs are to slash welfare spending, set up intrusive government surveillance systems and generate profits for private corporate interests.

"As humankind moves, perhaps inexorably, towards the digital welfare future it needs to alter course significantly and rapidly to avoid stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia," the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, says in a report to be presented to the General Assembly on Friday."

See: Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights (pdf)

Greek protesters mark 1973 student uprising (DW, link):

"Some 20,000 people marched under heavy police guard through the capital, Athens, on Sunday, commemorating 46 years since the student-led uprising against the junta.

Around 5,000 police were deployed to prevent clashes with anarchists and other extreme leftist groups, but the march remained mostly peaceful.

It was the first major protest under the conservative administration of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was elected in July after pledging to strengthen law and order."

UK: IPP sentencing regime in England and Wales called 'deeply harmful' (The Guardian, link):

"Justice officials in England and Wales are facing renewed calls to deal with thousands of prisoners still jailed under an abolished Kafkaesque sentencing regime that a report has branded “deeply harmful” for families.

The imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence, scrapped in 2012, was a form of indeterminate sentence in which offenders were given a minimum jail tariff but no maximum for a range of crimes.

Those given an IPP sentence are placed on licence indefinitely after release, and are only eligible to have their licence removed after 10 years."

Council of Europe: Integrating human rights into drug policies (link):

"According to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, meeting in Berlin, member States should “optimise human rights protections in the implementation of drug control policies”.

The report by Hannah Bardell (United Kingdom, NR), adopted today by the committee, highlights that purely repressive policies have generated many human rights abuses, such as discrimination, the use of excessive force, disproportionate sentencing, prison overcrowding, with detrimental impact on public health.

The committee also recommends the adoption of evaluation mechanisms, with the identification of indicators based on international human rights standards and the implementation of data collection methods on the effects of drug policies on health, crime and equality."

See: Drug policy and human rights in Europe: a baseline study (pdf) and: Replies to questionnaire (pdf)

UK: Here to fight: building communities of resistance (IRR News, link):

"Two new anthologies of pieces from the magazines Race Today and Race & Class recall important struggles on the streets, the factory floors and in communities, linking them to both class and global internationalism.

It is salutary that at a time when racism is getting redefined in some sectors and official investigations as identity loss, unconscious bias and microaggression, we are reminded just how connected the struggle against racism was in the 1970s and ‘80s to class, to exploitation, state power and to liberation movements. It is significant that two new collections, A. Sivanandan’s Communities of Resistance: writings on Black Struggles for Socialism (Verso, 2019) and the new Race Today anthology, Here to Stay, Here to fight (Pluto press, 2019), come from magazines that were radicalised into political tools during the heydays of the 1970s."

EU: Fair Trials: Consultation Paper on e-evidence (pdf):

"Faced with increasing use of electronic evidence in the context of criminal investigations, both the US and the EU have expressed the willingness to modernise the tools enabling cross-border access to electronic data for law enforcement authorities, and to cooperate further in the exchange of electronic data. This is an opportunity for the EU and the US to set a gold standard for the world.

It is proposed that the new form of cooperation would, effectively, enable law enforcement authorities directly to seek the preservation or production of electronic data held by private companies overseas. Given the impact of cooperation measures on human rights, it will be crucial for the fair long-term functioning of any future mechanism that it is underpinned by human rights protections. To date, this has been recognised by vague and uncertain principles, but any failure to ensure adequate human rights protections is likely to have a negative impact on the fairness, effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the new mechanism."

Asylum-seekers in Greece, Italy hotspots face ‘years of limbo’

"Asylum-seekers crowded into “hotspots” in Greece and Italy face limbo that can drag on for years because of legal bottlenecks and poorly performing EU schemes, a report said Wednesday.

The document, by the EU’s European Court of Auditors, also found that two agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from member states."

ECHR: Finnish decision to deport an Iraqi man who was killed when he arrived back in his country of origin violated the Convention (Press releaase, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of N.A. v. Finland (application no. 25244/18) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights owing to decisions to deport the applicant’s father to his country of origin, Iraq, where he was subsequently killed."

See: Judgment (pdf)

Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement (DW, link):

"As large numbers of displaced people arrived in 2015, some Schengen countries reintroduced border checks. Six are extending controls. That's illegal, EU observers say, and it undermines the idea of freedom of movement."

The End of Parliamentary Government in Europe (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"Has parliamentary government, after almost two hundred years of honoured service, come to an end in Europe? The fact that Spain had two elections in seven months and is still nowhere near a stable government is just the latest of many signs that it is indeed so – and I wonder what the ruling classes in the European countries, excluding France, are waiting for in order to take note of the fact and to do, night and day, in order to put in place the necessary remedies."

The era of killer robots is upon us (Pax, link):

"Turkey’s state-owned arms manufacturer produces the Kargu, a kamikaze drone that can select targets based on facial recognition. Some reports suggest Kargu will soon be deployed on the Turkish-Syrian theater. The 'Mini Harpy' from Israel can also independently detect, attack and destroy enemy targets."

European Court of Auditors: Special report No 20/2019: EU information systems supporting border control - a strong tool, but more focus needed on timely and complete data (ECA, link)

"The abolishment of border checks at the internal Schengen borders reinforced the importance of effective control and surveillance of the Schengen area external borders. To help border guards control these, the EU has set up a number of information systems. Our audit examined whether the main EU information systems for internal security support border controls efficiently. We found that border guards are increasingly using and relying on the systems when performing border checks. However, some data is currently not included in the systems, while other data is either not complete or not entered in a timely manner."

See: Press release (pdf) and: Report (pdf)

Rule of Law in the EU: lost and found? (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Ursula von der Leyen’s promotional tour before her election did not turn out well. She failed to point to substantive rule of law issues, rather she traced back the division between Eastern and Western European state to emotional components. This text takes a look beyond the political rhetoric and explores what the new Commission might entail for the rule of law in the EU."

Border controls 'the norm' in some EU states since 2015 (euobserver, link):

"Despite the guarantee of free movement of people within the 26 countries of the Schengen area, some countries have introduced permanent border controls since 2015, Yves Pascouau, a senior adviser at the European Policy Centre (EPC) notes in a new study. Although border controls within Schengen cannot exceed a duration of two years, four-year old controls are now into place in Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Sweden and Denmark."

Poland: Independence march of nationalism (euractiv, link):

"Thousands of Poles took part in a nationalist march through the capital Warsaw on Monday (11 November), chanting “God, Honour, Fatherland”, with the march leaders protesting against same-sex liberties, globalism and abortion.

11 November marks the National Independence Day of Poland and yesterday was the 101st anniversary of regaining sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic, after 123 years under the rule of German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires.

But the holiday has become divisive for many in the country, which has become increasingly polarised since the right-wing Law and Justice party came to power in 2015."

Denmark reinstates border checks at crossings to Sweden after bombings (Guardian, link):

"Spot checks at ferry ports and on trains and vehicles follow attacks in Copenhagen area.

Denmark has temporarily reinstated checks at its border crossings with Sweden after a spate of bombings and shootings in the Copenhagen area that authorities say were carried out by members of Swedish gangs.

The spot checks at ferry ports and on trains and vehicles crossing the Øresund bridge separating the Danish capital from Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, were aimed at “preventing serious and organised crime from spreading”, the police said. All travellers should be prepared to show identification, they added."

New report examines the brutal human costs of 'necroborders'

Over 1,000 people died or went missing whilst attempting to reach Spanish soil between January 2018 and April 2019, the result of 70 shipwrecks and 12 missing boats on routes crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, traversing the Alboran Sea and travelling to the Canary Islands.

The figures – and the human stories behind them – are recounted in the report Vida en la Necrofrontera (Life on the Necroborder, link to pdf), which was published by the collective Caminando Fronteras (Walking Borders) in June this year.

Turkey starts ‘sending home’ detained foreign fighters (euractiv, link):

"Turkey said on Monday (11 November) it had deported two captives from Islamic State, a German and an American, starting a programme to repatriate detainees that has caused friction with its NATO allies since it launched an offensive in northern Syria."

See also: Deportation of suspected IS fighters forces Germany to take action (DW, link)

Migrations in Latin America and the Mediterranean compared: Violence, State cruelty and (Un-)Institutional Resistance (pdf):including: Presentation of the English version of the Atlas of Migrations 2019.

Convened by Véronique Beneï (IIAC Paris), Thomas Lacroix (MFO) and Eduardo Posado-Carlo (Latin American Centre Oxford):

Tuesday 12 November, 2.45pm, Latin American Centre, Oxford and Wednesday 13 November, 9.15am, Maison Française d’Oxford.

Turkey starts repatriating IS jihadists (DW, link):

"An "Islamic State" fighter from the US has already been deported and plans are on to repatriate a German and a Danish citizen later on Monday. Ankara is also preparing to return scores of other Europeans. (...)

The move comes days after the Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said his country was "not a hotel for IS members from any country." He also warned that Ankara would begin repatriation even if the prisoners had their citizenships revoked."

European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): E-evidence proposals: DRAFT REPORT on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters (COM(2018)0225 – C8-0155/2018 – 2018/0108(COD)) Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Rapporteur: Birgit Sippel (148 pages, pdf)

EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

Question marks over third country participation in EU military projects (euractiv, link):

"The EU is inching towards an agreement on the conditions under which third countries will be allowed to participate in the bloc’s military projects, which would allow US and UK companies to take part in joint defence projects, potentially removing a source of friction in transatlantic ties."

EU-USA: Meeting on 6 November 2019 discussed agreement on exchange of electronic evidence
- including life imprisonment without review, death penalty and freedom of speech

The European Commission produced: Note ahead of the second negotiating round for an EU-US Agreement on cross-border access to electronic evidence, 6 November 2019 (Restricted document 13369-19, pdf):

The key issues discussed included the "categories of data" to be covered including "both content and non-content data" and the "types of offences and criminal proceedings, including both pre-trial and trial state".

Data-driven policing: The hardwiring of discriminatory policing practies across Europe (European Network Against Racism, pdf):

"We, as activists, as anti-racist organisations, and as racialised communities in Europe, know too well what it means to be over-policed and under-protected. Still, in 2019, we feel the need to evidence racial profiling, to contest narratives placing us as a threat to ‘security’ and essentially to unsettle presumptions as to our criminality.

We are still mastering the techniques with which we contest over-policing, brutality and racial profiling. We must now contend with another challenge. When law enforcement resorts to new technology to aid their practice, we find ourselves at further risk. Not only must we consider our physical safety in our relations with the authorities, we also need to be informed about the security of our data."

EU governments ignore Greek request to help 4,000 child refugees (euractiv, link):

"Greece’s migration minister Michalis Chrisochoidis sent a letter to his EU counterparts asking them to help share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied minor refugees on Greek islands, but just one responded.

Speaking today (6 November) at the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), the Greek minister said they are 4,000 unaccompanied minors on Greek islands who live in conditions that “do not honour the EU”.

Chrisochoidis recently sent a letter to the EU-27 asking them to volunteer to share the burden, but received little response.

“One member state responded. It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilisation,” he said."

EU: Commission hosted a High-Level International Conference on countering the threats posed by drones (link):

"On 17 October 2019, Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Violeta Bulc and Sir Julian King spoke during a High-level International Conference on countering the threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as drones. The conference, which was co-organised by DG Migration and Home Affairs (HOME) and DG Mobility and Transport (MOVE), brought together a wide range of stakeholders from EU Member States, third countries, international organisations, industry, academia and civil society."

See: Chair’s Statement on the outcome of the High-Level International Conference and subsequent EU-internal meeting oncountering the threats posed by unmanned aircraft systems (pdf)

EU: Creation of centralised Justice and Home Affairs database key aim in security plans

The European Commission has published its: Twentieth Progress Report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 552, 2019, pdf).

One of the key sections concerns "Stronger and smarter information systems for security, border and migration management." [emphasis added]

This covers: "The EU has stepped up information exchange, making it easier to tackle identity fraud, strengthening border checks, modernising Europe-wide law enforcement databases, closing information gaps and reinforcing the EU law enforcement agency Europol. Central to this is the interoperability of EU information systems." [emphasis in original]

EU PNR: The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice concerning the obligation to transfer passenger information (pdf)

"The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union in light of the review of the law requiring transportation providers and travel operators to communicate passenger information.

The Court inquires whether the system of the PNR Directive, transposed by the contested law, is compatible with the right to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. In addition, the Court asks several questions regarding the interpretation of the Directive.

Lastly, the Court refers a question to the Court of Justice on the applicability of the API Directive, also transposed in Belgian law, that requires air carriers to communicate certain passenger data to combat illegal immigration and to improve border control.
With respect to flights within the European Union, the question arises as to its compatibility with the free movement of persons."

UK ignores warnings of digital election interference - Despite repeated calls for new electoral rules, British politicians and regulators have dragged their feet (Politico, link):

"As the U.K. general election gets underway, the government has done little to protect voters from malicious and foreign influence online.

Despite a slew of warnings from regulators and politicians, British ministers have not acted to fix vulnerabilities in the U.K.'s antiquated electoral laws. That has raised fears that the December 12 poll will once again be marred by clandestine digital political interference." 

EU: Meijers Committee: Opinion of the Meijers Committee on interstate procedures and the
rule of law

"The Meijers Committee hopes that the newly installed Commission and Parliament will pursue the protection of the rule of law in the EU with equal rigor. Our Committee also calls on the Member States, however, to take serious their own responsibility to protect human rights and democracy in fellow Member States. Crucially, all EU Member States are empowered to bring interstate complaints under both the European Convention on Human Rights (Art. 33 ECHR) and the EU Treaties (Art. 259 TFEU). Although interstate procedures before both the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU are rare, they deserve serious consideration in the current political context for the following reasons (....)"

UK fears stoked over data harvesting ahead of general election (euractiv, link):

"UK political parties have been warned by the country’s data protection watchdog that they must comply with relevant laws concerning the storing and safeguarding of data in the run up to the country’s general election on December 12.

The news comes amid growing pressure to release a report examining purported Russian infiltration in the UK elections, a move which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far been reluctant to make.

The UK’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, wrote to all political parties on Tuesday (November 5), reminding them of the importance of “of the continuing need to comply with data protection and electronic marketing laws.”

See also: Information Commissioner reminds political parties they must comply with the law ahead of General Election (ICO, link)

European Court of Justice: Polish rules relating to the retirement age of judges and public prosecutors, adopted in July 2017, are contrary to EU law (pdf):

"In today’s judgment the Court, upholds the action for failure to fulfil obligations brought by the Commission against the Republic of Poland and held that that Member State had failed to fulfil its obligations under EU law, first, by establishing a different retirement age for men and women who were judges or public prosecutors in Poland and, second, by lowering the retirement age of judges of the ordinary courts while conferring on the Minister for Justice the power to extend the period of active service of those judges."

And see: European Commission statement on the judgment of the European Court of Justice on Poland's Ordinary Courts law (Commission press release, pdf)

Call for Croatia to Be Kept out of Schengen Until it Improves Asylum Practices (liberties.eu, link):

"Croatia has received the green light from the European Commission to enter the border-free Schengen Area, but nine organisations and initiatives working with the victims of border violence have made their objections clear."

European Parliament must push for safeguards for journalists in ‘e-evidence’ proposal (cpj.org, link):

"The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern today that a proposed European Union regulation on law enforcement access to electronic data lacks sufficient safeguards for journalists. The Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders is known as the “e-evidence proposal.”

Under the proposal, prosecutors from one EU member state could order internet service providers in another EU state to store or produce data without oversight from a judge in the target country, and a short timeframe for compliance, according to German news website netzpolitik.org."

CoE: Lord Foulkes: ‘Impunity for crimes against journalists must end (CoE-PA, link):

"Speaking on the eve of the UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November), he said: “There is no effective right to information and no accountable policy-making without media freedom and the opportunity for journalists to look into how public money is spent or investigate corruption and the abuse of power. However, attacks on journalists are continuously on the rise, including threats, harassment, physical aggression, arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances and even murder. Unfortunately, our member States do not always ensure thorough investigations into these crimes.”

Germany: Vigilante patrols pose far-right 'terror threat' (DW, link):

"Right-wing vigilante patrols claiming to fill gaps in state security have popped up in several German states. The government has warned there's not a big leap between these groups and far-right terrorism.

Self-proclaimed citizen militias patrolling German towns are the "beginnings of right-wing terrorist potential," according to the German Interior Ministry."

Dresden: The German city that declared a 'Nazi emergency' (BBC News, link):

"A city in eastern Germany has declared a "Nazi emergency", saying it has a serious problem with the far-right.

Dresden, the capital of Saxony, has long been viewed as a bastion of the far-right and is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement.

Councillors in the city - a contender for the 2025 European Capital of Culture - have now approved a resolution saying more needs to be done to tackle the issue."

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

UK-BREXIT: Add data sharing to list of no deal UK Brexit bumps (gulf-times.com, link)

"The smooth transfer of personal data between the European Union and the UK — from bank details to Uber bills — is vital for almost every British business. A no-deal Brexit threatens to disrupt that relationship and leave companies at risk of fines and lawsuits for breaching the EU’s strict data protection rules."

UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights: Right to privacy “may exist on paper” – but not in online “Wild West”, says JCHR (Press release, pdf):

"- Individuals are giving away “vast amounts of data” and are expected to be risk-aware when using web based services

“The consent model is broken”: Committee calls for robust regulation to govern how personal data is used and stringent enforcement of the rules

- “Deeply troubling” evidence that data being used to discriminate in job and housing ads online

The Committee today reports serious grounds for concern about the nature of the “consent” people provide when giving over an extraordinary range of information about themselves, to be used for commercial gain by private companies."

See: Report (pdf)

MP calls for review into police handling of journalists' data as Northern Ireland pair continue battle (Press Gazette, link):

"A Conservative MP has urged the Government to review police handling of journalists’ data as two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland fight to have their seized material deleted from police databases.

Trevor Birney (pictured left) and Barry McCaffrey (pictured centre) were arrested and had their homes raided last year over an allegation that they had stolen confidential material used in their 2017 film No Stone Unturned."

The FBI Spends a Lot of Time Spying on Black Americans (The Intercept, link):

"The FBI has come under intense criticism after a 2017 leak exposed that its counterterrorism division had invented a new, unfounded domestic terrorism category it called “black identity extremism.” Since then, legislators have pressured the bureau’s leadership to be more transparent about its investigation of black activists, and a number of civil rights groups have filed public records requests to try to better understand who exactly the FBI is investigating under that designation."

CJEU: Advocate General Sharpston: the Court should rule that, by refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for international protection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law (pdf)

"These Member States cannot invoke their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security in order to disapply a valid EU measure with which they disagree."

See also: Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland ‘breached EU law’ by refusing refugees (euractiv, link)

Trustworthy AI requires solid Cybersecurity (ENISA, link):

"At the third annual ENISA-Europol Internet of Things (IoT) Security Conference, it was Artificial Intelligence (AI) that was the newcomer on the scene. The rise of AI technologies requires a new dialogue and awareness of the related cybersecurity challenges."

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