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April 2017

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-24.4.17)

CZECH REPUBLIC: Gov't plans tougher anti-terror protection of busy places (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech government approved on Wednesday a plan of enhancing the protection of places with a high concentration of people against terrorist attacks, including preventive measures such as an information campaign and instruction courses, PM Bohuslav Sobotka has tweeted.

According to the concept drafted by the Interior Ministry, the state and society must prepare for a potential terrorist attack, in view of attackers' current tendency to hit easily accessible targets.

The new plan is another step the government has taken to enhance security in face of new threats, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) wrote.

A part of the plan is the creation of a national system of soft targets protection that would enable a complex and rapid reaction to threatening attacks.

Its another goal is to make most of the soft targets capable of reacting to an attack in a way to maximally reduce the inflicted damage."

UK: Cleveland Police used surveillance powers to spy on two Press Association reporters, probe uncovers (Press Gazette, link):

"Cleveland Police used anti-terror powers to spy on two Press Association journalists, an internal review by the scandal-hit force has uncovered.

It brings the total number of journalists known to have been unwittingly snooped on by Cleveland Police to five.

Staff reporter Tom Wilkinson and photographer Owen Humphreys were both targeted after critical stories were published in July 2013 about a senior civilian officer’s resignation."

And see: Reporters' spy saga gives glimpse of UK surveillance culture (AP, link)

EU: €25 million for military research includes investigation into "swarming" naval drones

The European Commission recently approved the budget for the EU's 'Preparatory Action on Defence Research', seen as paving the way for a full-blown military research budget to be launched in 2020. €25 million is going towards the Preparatory Action, which will be managed by the European Defence Agency and supported by a a group made up of "governmental experts in defence". It includes a project on technology "to demonstrate that situational awareness in a naval environment can be significantly improved" through the use of unmanned vehicles, which will examine the possibility of "swarming behaviours".

NORTHERN IRELAND: 'Sponger' is slang for Catholic, says PSNI language guide (The Irish News, link):

"The newly-unearthed paper seeks to ensure officers and staff use language that is respectful and does not discriminate, stereotype or offend.

In the process, it provides a comprehensive list by religious, community and minority grouping of terms considered off-limits.

While most of the words and phrases regarded as offensive are understandable, some are unexpected.

In a list of unacceptable terms for Catholics, the word 'sponger' is included.

The others are 'Chuck/Chuckie', 'Fenian', 'Taig', 'Tim', 'Mick/Micky', 'Paddy' and 'Free Stater'.

For Protestants, the offensive words include 'Hun', 'Prod', 'Orangie', 'Jaffa', 'Snout' and 'Flag Hag'."

UK-EU: The legality of EU sanctions: government response to parliamentary inquiry (pdf)

"The Government welcomes the inquiry by the Justice Sub-Committee of the European Union Committee into the legality of EU sanctions including the evidence session on 11 October 2016 and the report published on 2 February 2017.

This paper sets out HMG's response to the Committee's conclusions and recommendations, as contained in Chapter 5 of the report. The Committee's recommendations I questions are in bold and the Government's response is in plain text. Paragraph numbers refer to the Committee's report. The response to paragraphs 102 and 103 is combined."

See: Report on the legality of the EU sanctions calls for procedural improvements and continued cooperation post-Brexit (Statewatch News Online, 3 February 2017)

EU pays for "watch towers" on the Georgia-Turkey border

The recent newsletter of the Eastern Partnership Panel on migration provides updates from the first quarter of 2017 on relations between the EU and the 'Eastern Partnership' countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. This includes events such as the EU providing €3.4 million of "communication, surveillance and detection equipment for the strengthening of Georgia’s capabilities of guarding the green border with Turkey," including "watch towers".

UK: Petition: Stop using NHS patients’ personal information for immigration enforcement (38 Degrees, link):

"The UK government and NHS Digital, the NHS body that stores patient information, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in January to give the Home Office easier access to patient information. This allows immigration officials to use NHS patients’ personal details, such as their addresses, to track down, arrest and deport undocumented migrants.

Patient confidentiality is essential for NHS staff to be able to do their job – and yet there has been no consultation with NHS staff or the public about this deal. Concerns raised by medical organisations have been ignored and the agreement was made in secret.

The deal makes some of the UK’s most vulnerable people scared of getting healthcare. The medical charity Doctors of the World regularly sees people in urgent need, including pregnant women and cancer sufferers, who are scared to see a doctor for fear that their details will be passed on. Creating a society where everyone can see a doctor easily and safely is also important for public health.

Sign the petition to demand that NHS Digital withdraws from the MOU and no longer provides information to the Home Office, so that our healthcare service is safe for everyone living in UK."

See: Crackdown on migrants forces NHS doctors to 'act as border guards' (The Guardian, link)

Migrants and refugees are "routinely abused by law enforcement officials in the Western Balkans"

Migrants and refugees in the Western Balkans who are trying to access the territory of the EU "are being routinely abused by law enforcement officials," who are "subjecting people to violence and intimidation and denying access to asylum procedures to those seeking international protection," says a new report by Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association and Oxfam.

EU-USA: Transatlantic data transfers and privacy protection: an ongoing battle (OpenDemocracy, link):

"In an era of ‘big data’ and mass surveillance revelations, it appears that everything is data and data is everything.

Everyday activities, such as traveling or using different means of communication, may be accessed by law enforcement authorities, not only within the EU, but also shared with the US officials on the other side of the Atlantic.

It goes without saying that this ‘collect-it-all’ mentality, as Lyon puts it, places an enormous burden on the fundamental right to privacy, as enshrined in Articles 7 EUCFR and Article 8 ECHR), which according to some skeptics is already dead anyway.

In this context, we aim to highlight two main points: the emergence of a global level-playing field on privacy through the development of transatlantic agreements; and the challenges to such developments, including US efforts to circumvent data protection provisions with a view to expanding their extraterritorial reach."

UK: Plan to opt out of rights accords in future wars dangerous, inquiry hears (The Guardian, link):

"Government plans to opt out of international human rights agreements in future conflicts would be dangerous and prevent British soldiers from obtaining justice, according to evidence submitted to a parliamentary inquiry by the Law Society and Liberty.

The proposal to temporarily suspend enforcement of the European convention on human rights (ECHR) in the next war would only protect the Ministry of Defence from scrutiny in the courts and damage the UK’s international reputation, the two organisations have told the joint committee on human rights (JCHR)."

See: The Government’s proposed derogation from the ECHR inquiry (www.parliament.uk, link)

EU: Fear and Trembling: Perspectives on Security in Europe (Green European Journal, link):

"The world around us seems increasingly filled with mechanisms to enhance protection and minimise risks yet, paradoxically, the level of fears and anxieties is rising across our societies, with a tendency to fixate on the most sensational, direct, and violent sources of risk. Identifying where the true threats lie is a challenging but crucial enterprise and the Green European Journal contends that progressive forces around Europe need to take the question of security seriously. This edition provides contributions that look beyond today’s politics of fear, towards a politics of hope."

ITALY: Juvenile Justice System in Italy; How Effective is it for Foreign Youths? (Fair Trials, link):

"Since the implementation of this law [Presidential Decree 488 of 1988 (DPR 488/88)] incarceration really has become a last resort. In 1988 there were approximately 7,500 youths in prison facilities across Italy, in 2014 that number was approximately 1,000. Of the youth that make it to trial, judges only convict and sentence approximately 20% to prison. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the application of probation with a high level of success, 84% of cases had a positive exit.

Given the most recent available data it appears that the legislation governing the juvenile justice system is functioning well. However a closer look at the data reveals an interesting dichotomy, in fact the system works better than it appears for Italian youth however it functions poorly for foreign youth.

...Available data highlights the disproportionate incarceration of foreign youth in the Italian juvenile justice system. 20% of the youth in the system are foreign however they make up 40% of the youth in prisons. The disproportionality is worse in the north where 70% of the youth entering incarceration are foreign. It’s clear that the diversion options available to Italian born youth are not being offered to foreign youth."

UK: "Double disadvantage" for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women in the criminal justice system

A new report by Agenda and Women in Prison examines the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women in the UK's criminal justice system, including their perceptions of court procedures and practices, experiences of discrimination and racism in prison from both staff and other prisoners, and the impact on their families, for example through being separated from their children.

Scottish ministers facing slap down for freedom of information failures (The Ferret, link):

"Scotland’s information watchdog is threatening tough legal action against Scottish ministers for repeatedly failing to respond to information requests, The Ferret can reveal.

Rosemary Agnew, the retiring Scottish Information Commissioner, describes the performance of ministers on freedom of information as “totally unacceptable” and “rude”. They are denying citizens their legal rights and damaging public trust in government, she warns.

She has given ministers six months to make improvements, and will respond with “the full force of the law” if they fail. “I wouldn’t say I’m slapping them yet, but I’m definitely threatening to slap them hard,” she says."

German intelligence agency spied on Interpol and news organizations: Spiegel (DW, link)

"The respected news magazine "Spiegel" has reported that Germany's BND spied both on international police agencies and media outlets for years. The latest revelations come as a result of another spy scandal in the US.

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, spied on Interpol, the international police agency based in Lyon, France, as well as national offices in dozens of countries, including the United States, Austria and Greece, the German news magazine "Spiegel" reported on Saturday.

The magazine cited documents it had viewed, reporting that the spying had taken place over many years. It said the BND included the email addresses and phone and fax numbers of police investigators in its sector surveillance list.....

The BND also monitored the European police agency, Europol, which is based in The Hague, the report said."

See also: German intelligence BND spied on Interpol offices in dozen countries like in Greece and USA (Keep Talking Greece,link):

"Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency spied on the Interpol international police agency for years and on the group’s country liaison offices in dozens of countries such as Austria, Greece. Belgium, Spain, Denmark and the United States, German magazine Der Spiegel said. The BND spied also the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France. The spying started in year 2000 the latest and continued over several year."

We Know All About You by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones review – the dangers of our surveillance society (Guardian, link); Book review:

"A readable history of snooping in Britain and US argues that private spying organisations have done as much harm as the state"

UK: Mayflower Myths (link): Concern over Mayflower 400

"There’s no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it."
(Said by Irwin in ‘The History Boys’ Film 2006 (based on the play by Alan Bennett))

To date, education and history appear to have been framed to service a tourist attraction, emphasizing the details of the 1620 journey and the make-up of the passengers rather than its colonial character and context.....

To date [January 2017] neither include materials about colonialism, slavery or the dramatic losses of Indigenous and African American lives and cultures that occurred both prior to and after the landing in late 1620. Moreover, it should be noted that Indigenous American organisations are currently campaigning over water and land rights and there are also campaigns over commemorations, such as Columbus Day..."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20-21.4.17)

Biometric data exchange with the US military: Europol seconds liaison officer for Operation Gallant Phoenix (link):

"Police forces in the EU member states could be able to use fingerprints and DNA traces collected by the US military in Syria and Iraq in the near future. Intelligence services would also be granted access....

Alongside Operation Gallant Phoenix, the US Government has offered to set up a database on “foreign fighters” for a number of EU member states and to compare this information with the biometric data of incoming refugees. According to another paper by the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this is “battlefield data from Syria and Iraq and other conflict zones”.

See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, Valletta, 1-2 March 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 7163-17, pdf) and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no 6717-17, pdf)

Council of the European Union: Relocations, Eurodac & Skilled migrants

Implementation of Relocation Commitments (LIMITE doc no:, 8168-17, pdf):

The Note asks: "How many applicants for international protection will you be relocating from Greece and Italy over the coming five months (May-September) and how many will you be relocating per month?"

The latest 11th Report on relocation by the Commission says that: "Right now, Malta and Finland are the only two Member States so far on track to meet their obligations in time for both Italy and Greece."

And records that since September 2015 only 11,339 refugees have been relocated out of 63,302 from Greece (just 18%) and 5,001 of 34,953 from Italy (just 14%)

Eurodac Regulation: Inclusion of colour copies of passport or ID documents in Eurodac (LIMITE doc no: 8221-17, pdf):

"Where available, a scanned colour copy of an identity or travel document, and if not available, of any other document which could facilitate the identification of the third-country national or stateless person for return purposes.... Most Member States indicated that while the document should be scanned and uploaded in Eurodac immediately, establishing the authenticity of the documents should be done at a later stage."

Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 8280-17, 76 pages, pdf): Latest Council negotiating position with 152 Member State positions in Footnotes.

D66 MEP questions use of laws on money laundering and terrorism financing to target NGOs (link)

SPAIN: Report denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at Spain's southern border

Press release published by the Andalucian Association for Human Rights (Associación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) on 29 March 2017. Emphasis in original.

APDHA denounces the radicalisation of policies that violate fundamental rights at the southern border - During 2016 deaths increased 34% at European coasts and 125% at Spanish coasts

Council of Europe: CPT urges European states to hold persons in remand detention only as a measure of last resort and in adequate conditions (link)

"The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) urges the 47 Council of Europe member states to use remand detention only as a measure of last resort and to provide remand prisoners with adequate detention conditions. During visits to prisons throughout Europe, the CPT has often found that remand prisoners are held under very poor conditions and an impoverished regime....

In many European countries the persistent problem of overcrowding in prisons is due to a large extent to the high proportion of remand prisons among the total prison population.

In its annual report, published today, the CPT stresses the need for member states to ensure the use, to the extent possible, of alternative measures to pre-trial detention such as provisional suspension of detention, bail, house arrest, electronic monitoring, removal of passports and judicial supervision."

See: Annual report (pdf)

Pirate Bay Founder Launches Anonymous Domain Registration Service (link):

"Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde has a new privacy-oriented startup. Today he launches the domain registration service Njalla, which offers site owners full anonymity, shielding them from the prying eyes of outsiders. "Think of us as your friendly drunk (but responsibly so) straw person that takes the blame for your expressions.""

See also: Want to set up a website? The ‘Five Eyes’ want your personal data (Statewatch Analysis)

UK: Why did Operation Herne publish obviously wrong dates on spycop Roger Pearce’ career? (Undercover Research Group, link):

"Recently the Pitchford Inquiry confirmed Roger Pearce as a former undercover police officer (as ‘Roger Thorley’); the Undercover Research Group had already exposed him last year. We had managed to identify him based on details released the first report from Operation Herne, the police’s own investigation into the abuses by notorious spycop unit, the Special Demonstration Squad. And as our profile of Pearce demonstrates, he did not shy away from talking about undercover policing publicly – coming forward to justify relationships and the theft of identities of dead children."

UK: CPT publishes report on its UK visit: criticism levelled at spiralling violence and lack of safety in prisons; and inadequate safeguards to protect patients in mental health settings highlighted (link):

"raises serious concerns over the lack of safety for inmates and staff in prisons in England. Causes include prison violence spiralling out of control, poor regimes and chronic overcrowding. The report also examines the treatment afforded to patients in a number of psychiatric hospitals. It notes the caring approach by staff in these institutions but is critical of the safeguards concerning forced treatment, the use of force on patients and the use of long-term segregation and night-time confinement in high secure hospitals. Treatment of detained persons by the police and the situation in immigration centres are also covered in the report."

See: Report (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Shrinking space for civil society: the EU response (pdf):

"The shrinking space phenomenon is getting worse. The global clampdown on civil society has deepened and accelerated in recent years. Over a hundred governments have introduced restrictive laws limiting the operations of civil society organisations (CSOs)...

The closing space is part of a general authoritarian pushback against democracy, but it is not only that...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.4.17) including: Greek and Italian detention centres massively overcrowded; child refugees in France face daily violence; UK plans new express deportation system; and more.

USA: The Return of Commercial Prison Labour (Global Labour Column, link):

"Prisons are seldom mentioned under the rubric of labour market institutions such as temporary work contracts or collective bargaining agreements. Yet, prisons not only employ labour but also cast a shadow on the labour force in or out of work. The early labour movement considered the then prevalent use of prison labour for commercial purposes as unfair competition. By the 1930s, the US labour movement was strong enough to have work for commercial purposes prohibited in prisons. In the decades following, the number of prisoners decreased to a historic minimum. But with cutbacks in the welfare state, the prison population exploded from about 200 000 in 1975 to 2 300 000 in 2013 (Scherrer and Shah, 2017: 37) and prison labour for commercial purposes became legal again. Today, about 15% of the inmates in federal and state prisons perform work for companies such as Boeing, Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret. Migrants detained for violating immigration laws are one of the fastest growing segments of prison labour. Under the Trump administration, their numbers are most likely to increase."

EU: E-privacy: MEPs look at new rules to safeguard your personal details online (press release, pdf):

"The EU could soon have new privacy rules to take account of new practices such as internet-based messaging and allow users better control of their privacy settings, especially when it comes to cookies. Parliament's civil liberties committee discussed the plans by the European Commission on 11 April. Marju Lauristin, the MEP responsible for steering the rules through Parliament, said that if companies providing communication services wanted to be trusted they needed to ensure confidentiality."

UK: Taser statistics: weapons fired less in 2016 but are "gaining compliance of members of the public"

The Home Office recently published statistics on the use of tasers by police forces across England and Wales during 2016. Overall, there has been an increase in the number of times tasers were drawn by police - reaching an average of 30 a day - but a small decrease in the number of times they were actually fired, leading the Police Federation to argue that "by virtue of possession of a Taser, police officers are gaining compliance of members of the public," thus justifying increased deployment of the electroshock weapons.

EU-AFRICA: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community report 2016: "an unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis"

The Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community (AFIC) "has now reached an enhanced level of maturity," according to the body's annual report for 2016, and is an "unparalleled platform for information-sharing and joint analysis with African countries" which has "captured further attention from the key policy makers in Europe and Africa."

Romanian EU-funded project accused of data protection violations (EurActiv, link):

"The Romanian government has been accused of bias in its awarding of EU funding to the country’s intelligence services. The e-Governance project is also facing serious allegations that it violates European and domestic laws on personal data protection.

A group of Romanian NGOs has submitted a claim to the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) alleging that over €26 million in EU funding has been misappropriated by the Romanian Intelligence Services (SRI) and that the process launched to award the money was unfair.

(...)

More serious still, the intelligence services’ venture has been accused of violating the fundamental rights of Romanian citizens and the EU’s 1995 directive on personal data, according to which the unambiguous consent of a person must be obtained before data is used.

(...)

The scheme is meant to bring together various data sources from the country’s tax, health and internal affairs authorities. The number of entries is estimated to be at least 35 billion and the call for tender claims that the data “will be indefinitely stored”. Again, the NGOs claim this violates data law."

SPAIN: How to End a War (Harper's, link)

"Some say that Arnaldo Otegi is an assassin. Others call him a peacemaker. Given his history, he might be a little of both. Otegi used to be a member of E.T.A., the armed militant group that fought in Spain for fifty years for an independent Basque state, first against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in the 1960s and ’70s and later against the country’s democratically elected government. Otegi has gone to jail on terrorism charges three times, and is now the leader of the second strongest electoral force in the Basque Country. His actions led to E.T.A. issuing a ceasefire seven years ago, but the group still hasn’t disbanded."

USA: Filmmaker learns why she endured airport stops for years (AP, link):

"Laura Poitras' travel nightmare began more than a decade ago when the award-winning filmmaker started getting detained at airports every time she tried to set foot back in the United States.

She was stopped without explanation more than 50 times on foreign travel, and dozens more times on domestic trips, before the extra searches suddenly stopped in 2012. Only now is Poitras beginning to unravel the mystery, which goes back to a bloody day in Baghdad in 2004."

GREECE: Detention centres for migrants and refugees on Greek islands at 150% of capacity

The latest figures released by the Greek government show that the "strutures" and "hosting facilities" used to hold migrants and refugees on Greece's Aegean islands - principally Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos - currently have 13,003 "guests" but officially room for just 8,696 people.

See: Summary statement of refugee flows at 10:00 18.4.2017 (pdf)

EU-GREECE: Report on asylum process: delays, lack of advice and assistance, controversial involvement of EU asylum office

A new report by AITIMA details the problems faced by asylum-seekers in Greece, including a lack of access to the asylum procedure, the issues raised by restrictions on residence that confine people to islands in the Aegean, the "extremely limited" legal advice and assistance available, and the involvement of the European Asylum Support Office in the first instance asylum procedure that "raises issues of competence".

UK-IRELAND: Undercover policing: secret Garda report on Mark Kennedy's activities in Ireland: Information Commissioner's decision

On 13 April 2017 the Irish Office of the Information Commissioner published a decision ordering the Department of Justice and Equality to release a 2011 report by An Garda Síochána (Ireland's police force) on the activities of exposed undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. A subsequent article in The Times, based on the report, said that it shows "the gardaí defended having a relationship with international police forces that allowed spies to work here and defended keeping such arrangements a secret from the government."

NORTHERN IRELAND: PSNI urged to reconsider use of stop and search on under-18s (The Detail, link):

"Police in Northern Ireland have used stop and search powers on under-18s nearly 25,000 times in the last five years, the vast majority of which did not result in any further action.

A Detail Data investigation has found that between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2016 a total of 23,323 operations were conducted that did not result in arrest - including 59 incidents involving children aged 10 and under.

Although a small number of these incidents (2,070) led to some action - such as a caution, community resolution or report to PPS more than 91% resulted in no further police action."

A Cautionary Tale of Regulating Corporate Human Rights Abuses (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, link) by Stéfanie Khoury & David Whyte:

"The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is currently developing a legally binding instrument on the human rights responsibilities of corporations. In its deliberations, the HRC can draw lessons from the record of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on this issue. Under the OECD ‘Guidelines’, member states are obliged to set up National Contact Points (NCPs) responsible for addressing issues of implementation in specific instances of human rights violations.

The Guidelines cover a wide range of standards of conduct that corporations are expected to comply with, including: human rights standards; employment and industrial relations; and environmental protection. By far the largest single category of cases reviewed by NCPs relate to human rights abuses, and almost all such complaints are made by two types of ‘civil society’ organisations: NGOs and trade unions. Those organisations compile detailed data on the outcome of their cases. It is this data that we analyse here in order to understand something about the OECD process."

SLOVAKIA: Thousands rally against corruption in Slovakia (New Europe, link):

"Thousands of Slovakians took to the streets of the capital Bratislava to protest alleged corruption in the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico.

As reported by The Associated Press (AP), the protesters demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, who is a close ally of Fico’s, police chief Tibor Gaspar and other officials they allege have prevented proper investigations of corruption scandals.

President Andrej Kiska was supporting the student-organised demonstration."

UK: A Woman Who Begged For 50p Was Sentenced To Six Months In Prison In A Hearing Where She Had No Lawyer (BuzzFeed News, link):

"A vulnerable woman who begged two strangers for 50p has been sentenced to six months in prison in a court hearing where she had no lawyer.

She could barely read or write but had to represent herself after she was unable to find public funds or a solicitor.

The case has sparked outrage from legal experts who called it a “damning indictment of our criminal justice system”."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-18.4.17)

EU-USA Justice and Home Affairs meeting - March 2017

- USA expresses "interest" in the EU plan for Big Brother database
- PNR, returns and readmission, Privacy Shield. Visas reciprocity, bilateral agreements on access to ISP data

The meeting of EU-USA Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials in Valletta on 1-2 March 2017 discussed a number of key issues: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, Valletta, 1-2 March 2017 (LIMITE doc no: 7163-27, pdf).

Council of the European Union: Developing its position on the Asylum Procedures Regulation

Cross-cutting definitions: Qualification Regulation, Asylum Procedures Regulation, Dublin Regulation, Reception Conditions Directive (LIMITE doc no: 8044-REV-1-17, pdf): With Member States' positions in Footnotes:

"Annex modifications suggested by the Presidency for cross-cutting definitions from the Qualification Regulation, Asylum Procedures Regulation, Dublin Regulation and Reception Conditions Directive."

Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 8043-17, pdf)

Theme: 'Limiting abuse and secondary movements' - Asylum Procedures Regulation (LIMITE doc no: 8045-17, pdf): Includes 51 Member Stares' positions

AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals (Guardian, link):

"Machine learning algorithms are picking up deeply ingrained race and gender prejudices concealed within the patterns of language use, scientists say.

An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionised the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases.

The findings raise the spectre of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons....

However, as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use, the latest research reveals."

Bulgarian ultra-nationalists set to enter government (euractiv, link):

"Bulgarian ultra-nationalists look set to enter government for the first time after a new pro-Russian “patriotic” alliance agreed on a coalition with former Premier Boyko Borissov’s party following elections on 26 March.

The United Patriots, which includes the anti-Semitic Ataka (“Attack”) party, stoked anti-immigration sentiment to come third in the elections while also railing against Muslims, Roma and gay people."

CIA director brands WikiLeaks a 'hostile intelligence service' (Guardian, link):

"Mike Pompeo said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange portrays himself as a crusader but in fact helps enemies of the United States, including Russia"

Slovenia says tougher EU border checks ‘unacceptable’ (euractiv, link):

"Newly-introduced tougher checks on the EU’s external borders aimed at stopping suspected Islamist fighters from Iraq and Syria are “unacceptable” and should be amended, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said."

See: Statements by Slovenia and Croatia (pdf):

Slovenia: "In Slovenia's view, checks carried out systematically on all persons crossing the external borders, including those enjoying the right of free movement under Union Law, without targeted checks as a basic principle for efficient border checks and without taking into consideration justified exemptions, is a disproportionate measure in relation to the pursued objective of the change. Additional doubts to the efficiency of the new provisions of Article 7(2) of the Code are related to the possible transitional period for border checks at air borders that are especially vulnerable part of the external borders."

Croatia: "the Republic of Croatia regrets that these measures are to be implemented not only at the European Union's external borders but also at internal borders between Member States fully applying the Schengen acquis and Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis. The title of the Regulation itself implies its application at the European Union's external borders, not at Schengen borders. For that precise reason, all Member States should have been treated equally."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.4.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Regulation: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (LIMITE doc no: 7827-17. pdf): With 150 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"JHA Counsellors examined new Presidency compromise proposals on 24 March 2017. Taking into account comments made by delegations on that occasion, this document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency..

Suggested modifications are indicated as follows:

- new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold;
- new text compared to the previous version of this document is in bold underlined;
- deleted text compared to the Commission proposal is marked with […]."

EU: Council of the European Union: Reflection process on data retention issues - Issues to be discussed (LIMITE doc no: 7597-17, pdf): The ongoing debate in the Council to react to the CJEU judgment of 21 December 2016 - Tele 2 and Watson and Digital Rights Ireland of 8 April 2014 - the latter found that the EU's data retention policy had been unlawful since its adoption in 2006.

"the Working party on information exchange and data protection (DAPIX) will meet in a Friends of the Presidency format to facilitate a common reflection...

Targeted data retention criteria: What limitation factors e.g. geographical, technical, or other could be considered regarding:

- categories of data
- the means of electronic communications
- persons concerned
- type of serious crime
- period of retention

Access criteria for competent authorities

What kind of measures could satisfy the Court's criteria on access to data to meet the requirement of limiting the intervention of competent authorities to what is "strictly necessary and justified within a democratic society"?

And by-passing democratic control and accountability by: "Exploring the possibility to compensate availability of data by other measures, e.g. ensuring availability of necessary data through fast track direct cooperation with ISPs.."

Refugee rescue group accuses EU border agency of conspiracy (euractiv, link):

"A Spanish NGO that has been rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean since 2016 accused the EU’s border control agency Frontex on Wednesday (12 April) of plotting to discredit private aid organisations in order to put off donors.

Allegations by Frontex that donor-funded rescue vessels may have colluded with traffickers at the end of last year prompted Italian prosecutors to begin an informal investigation into their funding sources.

“The declarations by Frontex and political authorities are intended to discredit our actions and erode our donors’ trust,” said Proactiva Open Arms head Riccardo Gatti."

Bulgarian Caretaker Government Repeals Regulation on Refugee Integration (CLUE, link):

"The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee says the repeal of the regulation on the integration of refugees is illegitimate, immoral and a threat to national security.

"First and foremost, the unambiguous and direct intervention of the president in the executive powers is unconstitutional. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the president has specific representative functions, and the determination of state policy in any area is not among them."....

"The arguments for repealing the ordinance are that it doesn't suit some municipalities and settlements, where it created tension in the intake of refugees, but these arguments are unsound. Instead of taking sanctions against officials who violated the legal rights of refugees with completely regular status, the government violated the rights of refugees."

""The failure to provide minimal help for the refugees in order to integrate them into our society as active citizens, despite EU financial support, is not only illegal and immoral but also clearly foolish from every point of view.

It only leads to their eventual marginalization, isolation and encapsulation in closed societies, which is a prerequisite for radicalization."

Ireland: Ministers kept in the dark over British spy (The Times, link):

"A secret report on a British police spy has revealed that the former garda commissioner refused to deny that he gave permission for an undercover UK officer to work in Ireland.

Martin Callinan defended “confidential” arrangements that the gardaí could have with British police that would allow undercover agents to spy in the Republic without the Irish government being informed.

Frances Fitzgerald, the justice minister, has been urged to demand answers from the gardaí. Labour has called on the Policing Authority to question Nóirín O’Sullivan, the current commissioner, on whether..."

Central European Democratorship (VIsegrad Insight, link):

"Tens of thousands of protestors went to the streets of Budapest last Sunday marking the biggest demonstration current government has faced so far. It’s time to accept that recent developments in Hungary and Poland, along with the alarming reports on democratic standards in the region, are not just temporary turbulence but a new type of political regime in the making."

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission is scrambling experts from member states to meet in Brussels following traffic chaos and huge traveller delays over new security rules at the external borders.

"When it comes to lengthy queues we are in contact with several member states and we are going to have an expert meeting this week to address these issues," an EU commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday "

European Commission: 11th report on relocation and annexes

Relocation and Resettlement: Steady progress made but more efforts needed to meet targets - Today, the Commission adopted its eleventh progress report on the EU's emergency relocation and resettlement schemes, assessing actions taken since 2 March 2017 (Press release, pdf):

"Whereas some Member States (Luxembourg and Portugal) are steadily progressing on their obligations for Greece and Italy, others (Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia) are relocating on a very limited basis. Whilst Austria has announced it will start relocating soon, others (Hungary and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the relocation scheme at all. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for both Italy and Greece in time."

Eleventh report on relocation and resettlement (COM 212-17, pdf)

Annex 1: Greece (pdf): Formally pledged: 19,603, Effectively Relocated: 11,339, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 63,302, % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 18%

Annex 2: Italy (pdf): Formally pledged: 10,659, Effectively Relocated: 5,001, Commitment legally foreseen in the Council Decisions: 34,953 % of legal commitment effectively relocated: 14%

Annex 3: (pdf): Relocations from Italy and Greece by 10 April 2017:

Annex 4: (pdf): Resettlement State of Play as of 10 April 2017, under 20 July 2015 Conclusions and under the "1:1 mechanism" with Turkey (in application since 4 April 2016)

A European Agenda: On security: State of play: April 2017(pdf): In same press release on terrorism and organised crime...

European Parliament Study: Legal Frameworks for Hacking by Law Enforcement: Identification, Evaluation and Comparison of Practices (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee,
presents concrete policy proposals on the use of hacking techniques by law enforcement. These proposals are driven by a comparative examination of the legal frameworks for hacking by law enforcement across six EU Member States and three non-EU countries, in combination with analyses of the international and
EU-level debates on the topic and the EU legal basis for intervention in the field."

European Parliament Study: Research for CULT Committee - European Identity (pdf):

"This study seeks to examine the concept, challenges and prospects of ‘collective identity’ in a European context. The text acknowledges the complex nature of collective identities in general and a common ‘European identity’ in particular. On that basis, the study critically assesses the potential of cultural and political approaches to foster allegiances with a supranational body politic such as the European Union. Particular attention is paid to the role of history and historical remembrance, as well as that of bottom-up initiatives aimed at active civic engagement, in strengthening a European sense of belonging."

EU launches probe of Hungarian education law (Yahoo News, link):

"BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's executive arm questioned Hungary's commitment to the bloc's fundamental values Wednesday as it launched an investigation of a new law which is widely seen in Europe as targeting a Bucharest university founded by billionaire George Soros.

EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said the investigation of Hungary's amended higher education law would be completed "as soon as possible" and that the commission would consider possible next steps by the end of April."

UK: Law Commission pulls back on official secrets laws plans after Reg exposes flawed report (The Register, link):

"The UK government's Law Commission, reeling from a Reg-led torrent of press, political and even judicial criticism of proposals for punitive new official secrets laws, has branded their first report "only provisional".

Launching an extra round of public consultation this month, the Commission said that "our final recommendations will be influenced by our open public consultation". The deadline to respond "has now been extended to 3 May ... due to the large amount of interest in the project", they added."

See the report: PDF

Europe’s exports of spy tech to authoritarian countries revealed (Information, link):

""In order to prevent dictatorships from abusing European technology to crack down on political opposition, the EU started regulating the export of surveillance technology a few years ago. But that has far from stopped the exports to problematic countries, a cross-border investigation reveals."

Italian Authorities Urged to Act Following Reports of Internet Surveillance System Being Exported to Egypt (PI, link):

"Subsequent to our letter of January 2017 to the Italian export authorities expressing our belief that the export of an internet network surveillance system to Egypt poses a clear risk to human rights, the Ministry of Economic Development has confirmed in a press release that the authorisation has been revoked.

While the decision is to be welcomed, a feature documentary broadcast yesterday on Al-Jazeera shows the severity of the surveillance industry’s threat to privacy and other human rights and the urgent need for its exposure. The documentary, relying on undercover footage, shows a number of Italian and international surveillance company representatives willing to export surveillance equipment with little regard to human rights."

Schengen Borders Code: Systematic checks of EU citizens crossing external Schengen borders mandatory as of today (Commission, DG Home, link)

"Friday, 7 April, 2017: As of today, Member States are obliged to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases on EU citizens who are crossing the EU's external borders, in addition to the systematic checks already being carried out on all third-country nationals entering the Schengen zone. Proposed by the Commission in a direct response to the attacks in Paris in November 2015 and the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters, the new rules - adopted by the Council on 7 March - strengthen the management of our external borders."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.4.17) including: mounting evidence of Hungarian police violence against refugees; Frontex quibbled with distress definition to avoid search and rescue

New evidence shows Frontex "quibbled with definitions of distress" to avoid search and rescue

A report recently published by The Intercept examines Frontex's Operation Triton - introduced as a meagre follow-up to the Italian-led Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean - and suggests that the available evidence shows that the EU border agency has been "deliberately patrolling in the wrong area and quibbling with definitions of distress, meaning that its ships would almost certainly arrive late [to distress calls], if at all." An accompanying article argues that recent claims by officials and politicians that non-profit search-and-rescue operations in and around Libyan waters act as a "pull factor" are overblown.

Research paper on automatically tracking "hundreds of people in extremely crowded scenes"

"Multi-object tracking has been studied for decades. However, when it comes to tracking pedestrians in extremely crowded scenes, we are limited to only few works. This is an important problem which gives rise to several challenges. Pre-trained object detectors fail to localize targets in crowded sequences. This consequently limits the use of data-association based multi-target tracking methods which rely on the outcome of an object detector. Additionally, the small apparent target size makes it challenging to extract features to discriminate targets from their surroundings. Finally, the large number of targets greatly increases computational complexity which in turn makes it hard to extend existing multi-target tracking approaches to high-density crowd scenarios. In this paper, we propose a tracker that addresses the aforementioned problems and is capable of tracking hundreds of people efficiently... We show that the proposed formulation can track hundreds of targets efficiently and improves state-of-art results by significant margins on eleven challenging high density crowd sequences."

See: Binary Quadratic Programing for Online Tracking of Hundreds of People in Extremely Crowded Scenes (IEEE, link)

EU-BRAZIL: Today, Brazil and Europol signed an agreement to expand cooperation to combat cross-border criminal activities (Europol press release, pdf):

"Leandro Coimbra, Director-General of the Brazilian Federal Police (BFP) and Europol's Director, Rob Wainwright, today signed a strategic cooperation agreement to expand cooperation to combat cross-border criminal activities. The agreement will enable both partners to work on some key areas such as migrant smuggling, cybercrime, drug trafficking, asset recovery, money laundering, organised property crime and trafficking in human beings.

The agreement allows for the exchange of general strategic intelligence as well as strategic and technical information and operational information with the exception of personal data, and will lead to the secondment of a Brazilian Liaison Officer to Europol."

UNHCR urges suspension of transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary under Dublin (UNHCR, link):

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today called for a temporary suspension of all transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary from other European States under the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin regulation is an EU instrument that determines which European State is responsible for examining an asylum seeker’s application.

“The situation for asylum-seekers in Hungary, which was already of deep concern to UNHCR, has only gotten worse since the new law introducing mandatory detention for asylum-seekers came into effect,” said Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Given the worsening situation of asylum-seekers in Hungary, I urge States to suspend any Dublin transfer of asylum-seekers to this country until the Hungarian authorities bring their practices and policies in line with European and international law,” he added."

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission is scrambling experts from member states to meet in Brussels following traffic chaos and huge traveller delays over new security rules at the external borders.

"When it comes to lengthy queues we are in contact with several member states and we are going to have an expert meeting this week to address these issues," an EU commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday (10 April).

The rules are part of a larger anti-terror effort after EU nationals that had fought alongside militant extremists in Syria then returned to launch attacks in Paris.

National authorities are required as of last week to ID check, using security databases, every EU citizen that leaves or enters the outer fringes of the Schengen area of 26 EU states."

Turkey must listen to the demands of the hunger strikers

Some 187 Kurdish political prisoners in 20 different prisons in Turkey are on hunger strike in protest over inhumane prison conditions, gross human rights violations such as solitary confinement and denial of basic rights such as a prison ban on books.

Council of Europe: Prison statistics for 2015: overcrowding still a problem

The Council of Europe recently published its annual prison statistics report, covering the year 2015. The organisation highlighted the fact that from 2014 to 2015 the number of prisoners in Europe fell by 6.8%, but prison overcrowding remains a problem in 15 countries.

UK: HMP Woodhill inmate death families in High Court bid (BBC News, link):

"Families of two men who died in prison have brought a High Court case over the "exceptionally" high rate of self-inflicted deaths there.

Ian Brown, 44, and Daniel Dunkley, 35, died following incidents in their cells at HMP Woodhill last July.

Their relatives claim Woodhill's governor has not complied fully with Prison Service Instructions (PSIs).

But the governor and the Secretary of State say the judicial review claim is "neither appropriate or necessary"."

UK: Innocent man reveals his five-year ordeal at hands of 'out of control' officers after they launched a vendetta which led to his loyal police wife being hounded out of her job (Daily Mail, link):

"It would be shocking enough to discover that Mr Gilly was charged in December 2015 with causing the policemen ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ under the Public Order Act [after overtaking a police van and being handcuffed and pepper-sprayed]. His ordeal only ended last week when Newcastle-under-Lyme magistrates found him not guilty and it emerged that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was investigating the use of the pepper spray.

But what makes this story truly alarming is that the case was the culmination of what would appear to be a five-year vendetta waged by Staffordshire Police against Mr Gilly, an entirely innocent man."

Evidence mounting for Hungary’s brutal treatment of migrants (Atlatszo, link):

"There is an increasing number of reports that Hungarian authorities are extremely brutal to migrants trying to get to Western Europe. Two representatives of the Helsinki Committee human rights advocacy visited a transit site in February and told Atlatszo.hu about experiences, where defenseless refugees were tied up with barbed wire or had dogs set on them."

NGOs Are Vital to Democracy – Here's Why (Liberties.eu, link):

"Anti-democratic governments don’t like NGOs. They help the public keep an eye on whether politicians are misusing public money or breaking the law. They help the public get organised and make their opinions known to our representatives, for example through petitions or peaceful protests. And they take governments to court when they try to take away our rights or steal our taxes."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.4.17) including: EU funds to Sudan may worsen refugees' fates; attacks against asylum seekers' homes in Austria double; and more.

HUNGARY: Fidesz calls on gov’t not pay legal fees due for NGO on European Human Rights Court ruling (Politics.hu, link):

"The governing Fidesz party has called on its own government to refuse to pay the Hungarian Helsinki Committee NGO compensation that the Strasbourg court ordered in connection with the case of two Bangladeshi asylum seekers who were detained and deported in 2015. Fidesz spokesman János Halász noted the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ordered Hungary to pay the NGO, which represented the two asylum seekers, 2.7 million forints (EUR 8,700) in legal fees for wrongly detaining and deporting them in 2015. It ruled that a further 6 million forints should be paid to the two asylum seekers."

UK: The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops (Corporate Watch, link):

"In 2012 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a new approach to immigration: to make Britain a “hostile environment” for people who have “no right to be here”.The introduction of compulsory ID checks in hospitals, due to start this month, is just one element. The plan is to make it ever tougher for people without the right immigration papers to get a job, rent a flat, use a bank, drive a car, get medical treatment, send kids to school, or otherwise live a normal life.

This report outlines 13 of the main hostile environment policies introduced so far... [there are] three basic themes across all these measures: mass information sharing, criminalisation of migrants, and widespread citizen collaboration."

UK: Ministry of Justice accepts failings in care after inquest held into death of HMP Leeds prisoner (Yorkshire Evening Post, link):

"The Ministry of Justice has accepted there were significant failings in the care given to a prisoner at HMP Leeds who took his own life while in segregation.

It follows critical findings recorded at the end of a three-week inquest into the death of Chris Beardshaw on December 30, 2013.

(...)

There have been a further 10 self-inflicted deaths at the prison since Mr Beardshaw died on December 30, 2013.

It is second highest rate in any prison in England and Wales, with only HMP Woodhill recording a higher number."

EU-SUDAN: EU funds to Sudan may worsen fate of refugees (EUobserver, link)

"These improved EU-Sudan relations may also mean EU support for Sudan’s notorious Janjaweed militia, rebranded the Rapid Support Force (RSF) in 2013. And just like their Janjaweed predecessors, the RSF is well-known for its extensive human rights violations within Sudan...

the very same Rapid Support Force has also been hired to curb migration via EU funds. In January, the RSF thwarted an operation to smuggle a group of illegal migrants across the desert to Libya, according to what a state official from North Darfur told The Sudan Tribune, who added that the captured migrants came from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen.

The RSF also said that it had handed over 1,500 alleged illegal migrants to the interior ministry earlier that month, claiming to have captured the migrants near the Sudan-Libya border in Northern State. The RSF’s involvement in anti-migration efforts was corroborated last August after RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti”, explicitly claimed that his force had been patrolling the Sudan-Libya border on the EU’s behalf."

BELARUS: Lukashenka: End of an era? (EUobserver, link):

"It is ironic that the political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season sets in.

The break from repressions that the country had enjoyed since summer 2015 is now over. In a wry twist, it ended with mass arrests on Freedom Day on 25 March, but people are desperate enough to keep demanding changes anyway.

On the day, there was limited public transport in the city centre and slow internet.

Journalists and human rights defenders were prevented from doing their work.

Riot police massively outnumbered protestors and passers-by, with police trucks and water cannons lined up on the streets of Minsk city centre.

All of this has become normal during the soon-to-be 23 years of president Aleksander Lukashenka’s rule.

But despite the deja vu, there were differences."

The "shrinking space" for civil society: what does it mean and what are the problems with the concept?

"Individual and collective activism is facing a global pushback from states, corporations and the Far Right. The metaphor of 'shrinking space' has been widely embraced as a way of describing a new generation of restrictions on political struggle. However there is a need to deconstruct this narrative and unpack some of the problems inherent in the concept."

See: On “shrinking space” - a framing paper (TNI, link)

ITALY: Asylum system overhauled: "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules"

A new decree (the Minniti-Orlando immigration decree) has been heavily criticised by Lorenzo Trucco, president of the Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (ASGI), who notes that the new rules mean "the entire asylum system will be changed, for the worse," and that "there are so many ways you can build walls: with concrete or with rules."

See: Lorenzo Trucco (Asgi) on Minniti-Orlando decree : “A wall of laws that limit the right to asylum” (ASGI, link)

UK: Photo of woman defying EDL protester in Birmingham goes viral (The Guardian, link):

"A photograph showing a young woman smiling bemusedly at an incensed English Defence League protester has been widely shared as a symbol of Birmingham’s defiance in the face of the far right.

The image, which has been shared thousands of times on social media, was captured during a demonstration by the far-right group in Birmingham city centre on Saturday. It shows a man, wearing an EDL T-shirt, staring into the eyes of the young woman, who is looking back at him unfazed. A police officer appears to be restraining the man."

UK: Court of Appeal: Cuts to legal aid for prisoners are unlawful (The Howard League, link):

"Cuts to legal aid for prisoners are unlawful because they are inherently unfair, the Court of Appeal ruled today (Monday 10 April) in its judgment on a legal challenge brought by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS).

The ruling is an important step forward in making sure that people in prison move through the system more safely and more efficiently. This will make the public safer and ease pressure on a prison system at breaking point.

Since cuts to legal aid for prisoners came into force in December 2013, violence and self-injury in prisons have risen to record levels. Almost 300 people have lost their lives through suicide."

See the judgment: R (Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice
Service) v The Lord Chancellor
(pdf) and the press summary of the judgment (pdf)

SPAIN: Interior minister announces three new migration detention centres

On Tuesday 4 April the Spanish interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, announced the creation of three new migration detention centres (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros, CIEs) in Malaga, Algeciras and Madrid.

EU-HUNGARY: Late to the party: Commission will hold its first debate on Hungary's "illiberal" drift on 12 April

The European Commission will reportedly hold its first debate "over the drift towards 'illiberal democracy' in Hungary" on 12 April after years of critiques and protests over the situation in the country from human rights groups, journalists, commentators and others. Meanwhile, MEPs within the European People's Party Group in the European Parliament - also home to MEPs from Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban's governing party, Fidesz - have said that the use of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows Member States' voting rights in the Council to be suspended, may be invoked "if the situation with Hungary continues".

EU: Council of the European Union: High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) (LIMITE doc no: 7430-17, pdf): With pages 5-32 on:

" GAMM UPDATE: 8 March 2017

This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

This covers: Part 1 - The regional processes; (A) The Prague Process (B) The Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum (C) The Africa-EU Migration and Mobility Dialogue (D) The Rabat Process (E) The Budapest Process (F) The Khartoum Process (G) The ACP-EU Migration Dialogue (H) The EU-CELAC Migration Dialogue (I) The Valletta Summit

Part 2 - The bilateral dialogues (A) Turkey (B) Southern Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon) (C) Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus) (D) Russia (E) African countries (Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa) (F) Asian countries (China, India) (G) United States of America (H) Brazil

Part 3 - The global processes: Global Forum for Migration and Development, United Nations

And see: EU: Beyond the borders: overview of "external migration dialogues and processes" (Statewatch database)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6-9.4.17)

Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights: The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations (CoE, link):

"In recent years I have noticed a clear trend of backsliding in several European countries in the area of freedom of association, particularly in respect of human rights organisations and defenders. The growing pressure and increased obstacles can take a variety of forms: legal and administrative restrictions; judicial harassment and sanctions, including criminal prosecution for failure to comply with new restrictive regulations; smear campaigns and orchestrated ostracism of independent groups; and threats, intimidation and even physical violence against their members.

In some cases, the climate is so negative that it forces human rights work to the margins or even underground."

UK:  Victims of political policing demand accountability at Undercover Policing Inquiry, in London (Real News, video, link):

"Two years have passed since the establishment of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing. Participants say that as of yet, no oral evidence has been taken and that the police are seeking to delay the process in perpetuity. TRNN Researcher Mohamed Elmaazi attended the first Hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on April 04th 2017, and interviewed participants and their supporters."

Viewpoint: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers

A new European Commission evaluation of EU laws on migrant smuggling concludes there is a need to improve the situation around "the perceived risk of criminalisation of humanitarian assistance" to "irregular" migrants. The Commission argues that the answer to the problem is "effective implementation of the existing legal framework" - but it is the laws currently in place, which let Member States decide whether or not to punish humanitarian assistance, that permits the existence in some EU Member States of a very real risk of criminalisation.

See: Hindering humanitarianism: European Commission will not ensure protection for those supporting sans-papiers (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Discussion on Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS)

The Council is discussing its position on: AVMS: Definitions, hate speech and terrorism, accessibility and protection of minors - Presidency compromise proposals (LIMITE doc no: 6597-17, pdf) Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) is discussing an ever-widening list of types of content that should be censored by internet companies. It includes: Provisions related to HATE SPEECH AND TERRORISM: Article 6.

Why is Hungary trying to shut down a university? The attack on CEU is a reminder of the dark path the Hungarian government is on (aljazeera.com, link):

"The cabinet led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban pushed through a proposal which on the surface looks like it is to reform the regulation of international private universities working in Hungary.....

The fate of the CEU might now be in the hands of the Constitutional Court, which despite leaning strongly towards the government, will have plenty of reasons to annul the law. In rare occasions the court has already annulled some governmental decisions and if international pressure continues to grow, the government might be tempted to use the court to withdraw the measure without losing political face. However it may be, the CEU case is yet another reminder that the Hungarian government is heading down on a dark path from which there might be no return."

See also: Hungarian charities fear proposed law aims to 'discredit' them - Hungarian charities fear proposed law aims to 'discredit' themHungarian charities fear proposed law aims to 'discredit' them (politico, link)

EU starts systematic checks at external borders today (euractiv, link):

"Europeans will face systematic checks at the external borders of the EU’s Schengen beginning on Friday (7 April) under legislation designed to tackle “foreign fighters” returning from Iraq and Syria.

“Member states will as of tomorrow have an obligation to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases at the external borders, also on EU citizens,” a European Commission spokeswoman said Thursday (6 April)."

Austrian Socialists consider ending ban on far-right alliances (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s ruling Social Democrats are responding to rising anti-establishment sentiment in a way that would be unthinkable in most European nations, by moving towards lifting a self-imposed ban on coalitions with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ)."

European Parliament: Data Privacy Shield: MEPs alarmed at undermining of privacy safeguards in the US (Press release, pdf):

"New rules allowing the US National Security Agency (NSA) to share private data with other US agencies without court oversight, recent revelations about surveillance activities by a US electronic communications service provider and vacancies on US oversight bodies are among the concerns raised by MEPs in a resolution passed on Thursday.

In the resolution, adopted by 306 votes to 240, with 40 abstentions, MEPs call on the EU Commission to conduct a proper assessment and ensure that the EU-US “Privacy Shield” for data transferred for commercial purposes provides enough personal data protection for EU citizens to comply with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and new EU data protection rules. The first annual review of the Privacy Shield framework is expected in September...

New rules that from January 2017 allow the NSA to share vast amounts of private data, gathered without warrant, court orders or congressional authorisation, with 16 other agencies, including the FBI,....

the fact that neither the Privacy Shield Principles nor letters from the US administration demonstrate the existence of effective judicial redress rights for EU individuals whose data are transferred to the US." [emphasis added]

Stop feeding the beast! A review of ‘My Country: A work in progress’ (IRR News Service, link) by LIz Fekete:

"A play built around seventy long interviews with ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ about their feelings after the Brexit vote, inadvertently, provides insights into the immigration debate.

The liberal consensus on immigration has broken down. That’s what Brexit has taught us, or at least that’s what the establishment tells us that Brexit has taught us. The Conservative leadership risk no crisis of confidence within its ranks when it comes to pandering to anti-immigration sentiment – the nastier, the more hard-line, the better its coverage in the Daily Mail and the Sun.....

Once again, a door opens to a wider perspective – one in which immigration is merely a sign that stands in for something else, namely the indignities and dislocations that arise with the end of an era that promised full employment. Addressing the loss of meaning that ordinary people have experienced as their workplaces have been destroyed, and the dislocation of neighbourhoods and communities, that have been abandoned by successive governments, now that certainly is ‘a work in progress’."

Macedonia: ECHR: Publication of former communist official's details in historical collaboration investigation breached right to privacy and fair hearing

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a former high-ranking state official had his right to a fair hearing and right to privacy violated by an investigation into officials who collaborated with state security bodies during the communist regime. Press release from the ECHR: Karajanov v. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (no. 2229/15)

The applicant, Petar Karajanov, is a Macedonian national who was born in 1936 and lives in Skopje. The case concerned lustration proceedings brought against him. These were proceedings aimed at exposing persons who had worked for or collaborated with the State’s security services during the communist period.

MEPs demand action against Hungary after law targets Soros (euractiv, link):

"A group representing a majority of European Union lawmakers said on Wednesday (5 April) that they want the Parliament to start disciplinary proceedings against Hungary after a crackdown on foreign universities by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Hungary’s parliament approved a law on Tuesday (4 April) that could force out a university founded by financier George Soros – the Central European University (CEU) – despite international condemnation and protests by thousands of Hungarians."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-5.4.17) including: Member States enthusiastic about Commission deportation plans; Tusk committed to keeping Balkan route "closed"; five-month detention of asylum-seekers did not infringe rights.

EU: Police attempt to change scope of undercover officers inquiry (The Guardian, link):

"Police have launched an attempt to change the scope of a judge-led public inquiry into the alleged misconduct of their undercover officers in England and Wales who spied on hundreds of political groups.

The police are arguing that the inquiry, led by Lord Justice Pitchford, should scrutinise fewer undercover officers than planned at the moment, a hearing on Wednesday heard.

They are also pushing for an extra seven months to prepare legal applications to keep secret the identities of many of their undercover officers.

In August 2016 they were given a deadline of 1 March to submit these applications but failed to submit any."

EU: Member States enthusiastic about Commission's "how low can you go?" deportation recommendations

The EU's Member States have given a warm welcome to recent proposals from the European Commission to lower human rights standards in order to increase the number of deportations, according to the secret minutes of a meeting of one of the Council's migration working parties which Statewatch is publishing here in full.

BELGIUM: European Court of Human Rights: Detention of asylum-seeker at Belgian border did not infringe right to liberty and security

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Thimothawes v. Belgium (application no. 39061/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

no violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the five-month detention of an Egyptian asylum-seeker at the Belgian border.

The Court found in particular that any measure depriving a person of his liberty had to be prescribed by law. Where the legal provision in question originated in international law, only the domestic courts, except in the case of an arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable interpretation, were empowered to interpret domestic law pursuant to the supranational provisions in question. The Court only scrutinised the conformity of the effects of that interpretation with the Convention.

In the present case, the scrutiny of lawfulness conducted by the domestic courts of the detention order had taken account of the case-law of the Court. Moreover, the issue of the applicant’s mental health was not, on its own, sufficient for a finding that his detention had been arbitrary. Finally, the assessment of the facts of the case supported a finding that his period of detention had not been unreasonably long."

See: press release: Detention of an asylum-seeker at the Belgian border did not infringe the right to liberty and security secured under the Convention (pdf) and judgment: AFFAIRE THIMOTHAWES c. BELGIQUE (French only, application no. 39061/11, pdf)

GREECE: Returns to be Turkey to be accelerated as Chios at "breaking point" following attempted self-immolation

"As the inflow of undocumented migrants to the islands of the eastern Aegean rises with the improving weather, the government is planning action to ease the pressure on increasingly overcrowded reception centers.

In the coming days, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas is expected to issue a circular, banning migrants who appeal against a rejection of their application for political asylum from a voluntary repatriation scheme being run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)."

See: Greece to accelerate return of migrants to Turkey as arrivals pick up (Ekathimerini, link)

And: Mouzalas says situation on Chios has reached breaking point (Ekathimerini, link)

"Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Friday that the situation at migrant camps in Chios has reached breaking point.

Speaking to Parliament in the aftermath of a suicide attempt of migrant that set himself on fire, Mouzalas said “the situation on Chios is exceeding its limits.”

According to the minister, 2,500 refugees and migrants have been transferred to the Greek mainland, while another 1200 moved by themselves."

EU: Tusk on tour: statements from meetings in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Slovenia ignore the reality of the Balkan route

Donald Tusk, the recently re-elected President of the European Council, has recently been in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Slovenia where he emphasised the important role those countries have to play in guarding the "Balkan route" to central and northern Europe. The route has been followed by thousands of migrants and refugees and despite its official "closure" in March 2016, it remains in use and continues to be a lucrative business opportunity for people smugglers. Numerous countries have recently committed to working together more closely to try to ensure control.

UK: New report on the impact of the "right to rent" scheme requiring immigration checks from landlords and letting agents

"This report examines the impact of the 'right to rent' scheme a year on from its nationwide roll-out in England. The scheme requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and refuse a tenancy to irregular migrants. If they fail to fully comply with the scheme they face a fine of up to £3,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years. The report builds on JCWI's independent evaluation published in 2015.

The report reveals that foreigners and British citizens without passports, particularly those from ethnic minorities, are being discriminated against in the private rental housing market.

In addition, the Government is failing to adequately monitor the scheme to measure whether or not it is working as intended, or whether it is causing discrimination, enforcement under the scheme is low and there is no evidence to suggest that the scheme is encouraging irregular migrants to leave the UK."

See the report: Passport Please (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, link)

BELGIUM: Peace activists protest at EU workshop for arms dealers (War Resisters' International, link):

"On 28th March, a group of twenty peace activists took action at the European Defence Agency (EDA) in Brussels, to protest an EU workshop designed to inform arms dealers about the financial support that Europe has to offer them. The peace activists covered themselves with red blood-like paint, preventing access to the European Defence Agency. “While the Middle-East is burning, arms dealers are filling their pockets with our tax money,” explained one of the activists. “The EU is funding an industry which has blood on its hands”.

The EU has recently started subsidising the arms industry with a military research programme. The first funding will amount to €90 million, but this is only a preparatory programme. The European Commission’s long term objective is to set up a fully-fledged European Defence Research Programme worth €3.5 billion between 2021-2027."

UK: The Women Activists Who Fell In Love With Police Spies And Are Still Waiting For Justice (Huffington Post, link):

"When Alison* told her family that her partner, who had disappeared without a trace after a five year relationship, was actually a police spy, her suspicions were dismissed as those of a spurned spouse.

The pair had began their relationship in May 1995 and it wasn’t long until they moved in together. It seemed like the “ideal” relationship, Alison recalls. But one day in 2000, she came home from work to find that Mark had disappeared, leaving only a note. Alison has not seen him since, but she wasn’t alone.

Between 1968 and 2008 Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) deployed undercover officers to infiltrate hundreds of political groups. In an information gathering exercise, male police officers struck up relationships with female activists, often lasting years and sometimes even resulting in children.

These officers told lies, created completely fictitious personalities and seduced scores of female activists into affairs in a bid to infiltrate groups fighting for environmental, political and social justice causes."

EU-BELARUS: Schengen visa facilitation: jeopardised by fear of migrants? (Belarus Digest, link):

"Recent statements by Belarusian officials have confirmed that the country's citizens should not expect a more liberal visa regime with Europe in the foreseeable future. Belarus's decision to introduce a conditional visa-free regime for nationals of eighty countries, many of them European, does not mean Europe has to reciprocate.

Georgia and Ukraine, Belarus’s fellow inmates in the Soviet camp, will soon join Moldova in the group of countries which enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone. Meanwhile, Belarusians are subject to the strictest Schengen visa regime amongst all Eastern European nations.

Differences between Minsk and Brussels over the readmission procedure, concerning migrants who attempt to cross the Belarusian border into the EU, have dashed hopes for imminent visa facilitation. Does this mean citizens of Belarus will continue to be targets of expensive, complicated, and sometimes humiliating visa procedures?"

And see: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus (Statwatch News Online, 1 February 2017)

UK's 'extreme' web surveillance project takes shape, but hurdles remain (ZDNet, link):

"The UK's new web snooping rules are still taking shape: while the legislation governing it -- the Investigatory Powers Act -- became law late last year, there is still much left unresolved.

The Investigatory Powers Act represents a major extension of the surveillance power of the state. It requires internet companies to keep customers' web-surfing history for 12 months.

It also gives spying agencies and police powers to conduct mass hacking of IT infrastructure, PCs, smartphones, and other devices and was described by NSA-contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden as "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy".

...While the legislation received royal assent in November last year, it actually takes rather longer for such a significant piece of legislation to be fully in place."

UK: MI6, rendition, and cover-ups of cover-ups: in some respects "Guantanámo is a marked improvement" on the British justice system

"It... came as a salutary surprise to watch recent proceedings in courtroom 72 at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the UK government applied, for the first time in a renditions case, for a secret hearing (euphemistically referred to as a Closed Material Proceeding or CMP) under the Justice and Security Act 2013. The British judge has just granted the government’s application for this CMP.

This is a case where – for more than a decade – ministers have been misled by MI6, and have in turn misled parliament and the people. It is a case of great significance. If such a cover-up were attempted in Guntown (a real place in north-eastern Mississippi) it would be laughed out of court. The US military would have no more success on the Guantánamo Naval Base.

Open justice has been a casualty in the post-9/11 world. Rights are being eroded at the margins, and those who care about British justice need to look around themselves."

See: Secrets and lies (The Law Society Gazette, link) by Clive Stafford-Smith.

And see: UK: High Court rules Blair-era rendition case can be heard in secret (Reprieve, link):

"The High Court has today ruled that a Blair-era renditions case should be heard in secret, following a request from the government under the controversial Justice and Security Act."

UK's need for post-Brexit trade deals will trump human rights concerns - Theresa May’s hopes for ‘global Britain’ may set new standard for hypocrisy that will boost repressive regimes everywhere (Guardian,link):

"Theresa May’s argument that it is better to engage with unsavoury foreign governments who abuse human rights than “stand on the sidelines, sniping” has been made by British politicians since the days of South Africa’s white minority apartheid regime. Critics find it no more convincing today than it was then."

See also: UK: Parliament: Joint Human Rights Committee: Human Rights and Business 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability (pdf)

UK-EU: Guide to the Brexit Negotiations (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

" Last week the Brexit process formally got underway, as the UK formally sent the ‘Article 50’ withdrawal letter to the EU on March 29, and the EU in turn drew up a draft of its Brexit negotiating guidelines.

The following is a detailed annotation of the text of the EU’s draft guidelines, which I compare throughout to the UK position – which is most fully set out in Theresa May’s Chatham House speech in January (discussed here). The draft guidelines might be changed before final adoption (due for April 29), but at present it seems unlikely there will be radical changes (if any), so my analysis is based on the text as it now stands. I will update this blog post if there are significant amendments."

Trump signs repeal of U.S. broadband privacy rules (Reuters, link):

"U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed a repeal of Obama-era broadband privacy rules, the White House said, a victory for internet service providers and a blow to privacy advocates.

Republicans in Congress last week narrowly passed the repeal of the privacy rules with no Democratic support and over the strong objections of privacy advocates."

See also: First EU-US Privacy Shield annual review to take place in September - Framework continues to draw criticism from campaigners (The Register, link)

EU must make stand against Hungary’s contempt for European values (euractiv, link):

"The Central European University has been a beacon of European values for over two decades but is now under threat from the Hungarian government. Budapest’s machinations are also completely contrary to the spirit of the Rome Declaration, warns Chrys Margaritidis."

This Map Shows the UK’s Surveillance Exports (Motherboard, link):

"IMSI catchers, intrusion software, internet monitoring solutions: UK companies provide it all.

The UK is a worldwide exporter of surveillance technology. From devices that hoover up phone calls and text messages, to hardware for monitoring internet traffic, Her Majesty's Government has granted myriad licenses to ship spying gear over the past few years.

Some of the recipient countries will have legitimate uses for such products, but many—Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia—also have abhorrent human rights records, especially when it comes to abusing powerful surveillance tech. "

Rise of robotics will upend laws and lead to human job quotas, study says - Report predicts rise in robotics will usher in ‘industrial revolution 4.0’ altering working practices and legal frameworks (Guardian, link):

"Innovation in artificial intelligence and robotics could force governments to legislate for quotas of human workers, upend traditional working practices and pose novel dilemmas for insuring driverless cars, according to a report by the International Bar Association.

The survey, which suggests that a third of graduate level jobs around the world may eventually be replaced by machines or software, warns that legal frameworks regulating employment and safety are becoming rapidly outdated."

See report: Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Their Impact on the Workplace (pdf)

UK: How His Majesty’s Secret Service spied on His Majesty — and then denied it for 80 years (National Post, link):

"On the first weekend of December 1936, Thomas Robertson, a 27-year-old MI5 intelligence officer, was posted at dead of night to the deeply unglamorous undergrowth of Green Park, central London. Tar, as he was known to friends and family was, on the orders of the Home Secretary, to find the telephone junction box that served Buckingham Palace and place a wiretap on the royal phones.

Shivering in the cold, with his headphones on, the Scottish spy listened in on a private call between King Edward VIII and his brother Bertie, the future George VI. Thus he became the first person beyond the immediate Windsor family to learn that the King intended to abdicate, to choose the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and so precipitate a crisis that would threaten to sink the monarchy."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-3.4. 17) including: 1,600 people arrive in Greece in March; Council documents on new Eurodac proposal and resettlement scheme; brutal attack on a young asylum-seeker in London.

UK: Prediction, pre-emption and limits to dissent: Social media and big data uses for policing protests in the United Kingdom (New Media & Society, link) by Lina Dencik, Arne Hintz and Zoe Carey:

A detailed article examining the use of data extracted from social media for the policing of protests in an environment dominated by concerns over "domestic extremism". The article provides some crucial context, based on interviews with senior officers, on the role human agency plays in the interpretation and "operationalisation" of big data in a policing context.

"The collection and analysis of social media data for the purposes of policing forms part of a broader shift from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ forms of governance in which state bodies engage in big data analysis to predict, pre-empt and respond in real time to a range of social problems...

For this article, we [interviewed] five senior members of the British police force identified at the time of interview as:

Head of Open Source and Social Media, National Counter Terrorism Police Functions Command (Interviewee A)
Head of Digital Engagement at the College of Policing (Interviewee B);
Previous Head of NDEDIU and the Chief Officer Lead for the National Police Co-ordination Centre (NPoCC) (Interviewee C);
Head of the Communications Data Investigators team (Interviewee D);
Regional Prevent Officer leading a social media taskforce (Interviewee E)."

EU: 16 Member States press ahead with European Public Prosecutor's Office

"16 member states notified the three institutions of their intention to launch an enhanced cooperation to establish a European public prosecutor's office (EPPO). The EPPO will be in charge of investigating, prosecuting and bringing to justice the perpetrators of offences against the Union's financial interests.

The notification letter received today includes 16 signatories: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Other member states are expected to join the cooperation, which they are entitled to do at any time before or after the adoption of the EPPO regulation.

Negotiations at the Council will now resume in order to finalise the text."

See: European public prosecutor's office : 16 member states together to fight fraud against the EU budget (press release, pdf) and the most recent text of the Regulation, on which the Council will now restart negotiations: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Draft Regulation (5766/17, pdf)

FRANCE-EU: How will the new French President impact on EU’s future? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"The two major traditional political families that have structured French politics in the past few decades are in their death throes. Neither the Socialist Party (social-democratic) nor the Republicans party (centre-right) are assured of being in the run-off. This development generates high unpredictability with regard to the policies of the next French government, at a time of deep distress for the EU. This report assesses the likeliest directions in which France can lead the EU depending on who wins these unprecedented Presidential elections."

BELGIUM: Travel surveillance and profiling: from planes to buses, boats and trains

"On Friday, the Minister’s council approved a royal decree that would apply the PNR law (Passenger Name Record) to airplane passenger data.

Other decrees for train, boat and bus passengers will follow.

The bill adopted on Friday will mean passenger’s names and other data can be recorded before they board a plane. They will be compared to black lists of terrorist’s names, the Home Affairs Minister Jan Jambon said on Friday. The new bill will also mean the data on the ticket can be compared to the data on the passenger’s identification."

See: Belgium ready to check passenger data at Airports (The Brussels Times, link)

Romania tightens border controls starting April 7 (Romania Insider, link):

"Romania will tighten the border controls starting April 7, as new regulation amending the Schengen borders code, which was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council, enters into force.

This means that, starting this Friday, the border control authorities of EU countries, including the Romanian Border Police, will carry out systematic checks at the entry and exit points from member states. The waiting time at the borders will most likely increase.

The Border Police will check the travel documents of those who want to cross the border, and will consult the relevant databases on all persons, including those enjoying the right of free movement under EU law (i.e. EU citizens and members of their families who are not EU citizens) both at the entrance and at the exit from the country, according to a statement from the Romanian Border Police."

UK: Far-right demonstration falls flat as only 300 turn up to London march (The Guardian, link):

"At least 14 people have been arrested after rival groups clashed during protests in central London, the Metropolitan police have said.

Fewer than 300 members of the far-right groups Britain First and the English Defence League turned up for their “march against terrorism”, a turnout castigated by opponents as a lame attempt to whip up Islamophobia in the wake of the Westminster attack.

The anti-Islam groups had organised separate demonstrations that finished on the Victoria Embankment, close to Westminster Bridge, where a terror attack 10 days ago killed four people and injured 50. A similar number of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) demonstrators convened a short distance away chanting “Racist scum”, but were kept at bay by several lines of police."

UK: Five appear in court following 'brutal attack on asylum seeker in Croydon' (Evening Standard, link)

"Five people have appeared in court charged with violent disorder after an alleged hate crime left a teenage asylum seeker fighting for his life in Croydon.

Daryl Davis, 20, Danyelle Davis, 24, Barry Potts, 20, George Walder, 20, and Jack Walder, 24, spoke only to confirm their names and addresses during the short hearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Monday afternoon.

George Walder was also charged with racially aggravated grievous bodily harm.

Kurdish Iranian Reker Ahmed, 17, was chased and subjected to what police described as a "brutal attack" after a gang discovered he was an asylum seeker."

Afghans deported from Europe arrive home, to war and unemployment (Reuters, link):

"Two more planes carrying Afghans deported from Europe landed in Kabul this week, failed asylum seekers sent back under an agreement between the European Union and Afghan government.

The arrivals mean 248 people have been deported from Europe to Afghanistan this year, compared with 580 throughout 2016, said Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.

The number of Afghans deported from Europe is small compared to the thousands returning voluntarily, but deportations are rising and some migration experts say expelling people to a country where the government controls less than two thirds of territory amid a Taliban insurgency is wrong.

Fifteen deportees arrived by chartered flight from Germany on Tuesday, while 19 landed on Wednesday from Austria and 10 from Sweden. Another flight, from Finland, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday."

UK: How UK police helped unmask one of their own undercover spies (The Guardian, link):

"The police have gone to great lengths to argue that the identities of their undercover officers must be concealed forever.

However it was the police themselves who are responsible for helping to unmask the latest undercover officer whose identity has been confirmed.

The public inquiry into undercover policing confirmed last Wednesday that Roger Pearce had been an undercover officer for the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). He had used the fake identity of “Roger Thorley” during his deployment. "

EU: Commission visits Silicon Valley to "step up voluntary cooperation with internet companies" on counter-terrorism

A meeting between EU and Member State officials and representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter took place in Silicon Valley in mid-March in order to "step up voluntary cooperation with the internet companies" on topics such as "the automatic detection of abusive content", access to electronic evidence and the EU's Civil Society Empowerment Programme, which was launched this year and promises to support "civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices... to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists."

OPEN ARMS: PRESS RELEASE: Common Statement from the SAR NGOs operating in the Mediterranean Brussels – Badalona 31st March 2017 (pdf):

"As individual organisations, the attendees have come together in Brussels with the support of MEP Miguel Urban because of the on-going humanitarian crisis on Europe’s southern borders, and the Search and Rescue (SAR) NGOs ongoing essential efforts to save life at sea....

all attendees and representatives have agreed the objective and intent of the First Edition of the voluntary ‘Code of Conduct for Search and Rescue Operations undertaken by civil society Non-Governmental Organisations in in the Mediterranean Sea’ on the basis that the Code aligns with the three core areas for undertaking lawful SAR operations, those being; following accepted international humanitarian principles, defending fundamental human rights and the professionalization of operational conduct."

EU: Council of the European Union: Eurodac and Posted Workers

Extending Eurodac' reach: Eurodac: Addition of persons registered for the purpose of conducting a resettlement and humanitarian admission procedure to Eurodac (LIMITE doc no: 7558-17, pdf):

"Delegations will find in Annex suggestions from the Presidency on the possible addition to Eurodac of data on persons registered for the purpose of conducting a resettlement or humanitarian admission procedure...

Article 1
Purpose of "Eurodac"

(b)assist with the control of illegal immigration to and secondary movements within the Union and with the identification of illegally staying third-country nationals and stateless persons for determining the appropriate measures to be taken by Member States, including removal and returns of persons staying illegally […].

(c) lay down the conditions under which Member States' designated authorities and the European Police Office (Europol) may request the comparison of biometric [or alphanumeric] […] data with those stored in the Central System for law enforcement purposes for the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist offences or of other serious criminal offences.

Article 2
Obligation to take biometric data […]

1. Member States are obliged to take the biometric data […] of persons referred to in Article 10(1), 12a(1), 12d, 13(1) and 14(1) for the purposes of Article 1(1)(a), (aa) and (b) of this Regulation and shall impose on the data-subject the requirement to provide his or her biometric data […]
[emphasis added]

And more powers for Eurodac? Possible inclusion of colour copies of passport or ID documents in
Eurodac
(LIMITE doc no: 7549-17, pdf):

"During the discussion on the draft Eurodac Regulation under the Slovak Presidency, certain Member States requested the inclusion in the Eurodac database of coloured copies of travel or identity documents, if available, in order to facilitate the identification of third country nationals during the return process....

The inclusion of coloured copies of passports or ID documents has an impact on the capacity of the database. With today’s traffic, the current Eurodac capacity of 7 million records will be enough to sustain the volume of transaction if coloured copies or ID documents are included, without considering the additions foreseen in the Proposal. On the other hand, if all proposed changes in the Eurodac Proposal are applied in parallel with the addition of coloured copies or ID documents, the system should be sized closer to 13 million records to be able to sustain the traffic of the next 5 years. Moreover, it is pertinent to note that this Assessment does not take into account the possible inputting of data on admitted persons"

Posted workers : Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 96/71/EC of The European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services (LIMITE doc no: 6933-17, pdf): Council Presidency puts forward substantial changes:

"a Presidency compromise proposal. The changes in relation to the Commission proposal are marked by bold; deletions are marked by […]. The changes in relation to the previous Presidency compromise proposal (doc. 6002/17) are marked by bold underline, deletion are marked by […].

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement and the SIS

Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 7396-17, pdf): Extends its scope to include a "Humanitarian Admission Framework". With 128 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

New measures for checks at external borders and internally - so-called "police checks": Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks

Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters - Revised compromise version of articles common to both instruments (LIMITE doc no: 6158-17, pdf)

Two column chart for each aspect. A lot of Member State scrutiny reservations.

Hungary: Fidesz’s Attack on Central European University (LEFTEAST, link):

"On Friday evening a new legislative proposal suddenly appeared on the website of the Hungarian Parliament. The draft put forward a number of modifications to the statute regulating higher education, alterations mainly affecting the activity of foreign universities in Hungary. The step was widely interpreted as a governmental attack on Central European University (CEU), a 25-year-old Budapest institution founded by the international financier, George Soros. In effect CEU won’t be able to carry on its activities if the law is passed, being the only foreign university affected "

March 2017

UK-EU: The "Great Repeal Bill - White Paper: Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)

See: The White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill: Invasion of the Parliamentary Control Snatchers (EU Law Analysis, link)

See also: 'Great repeal bill' will create sweeping powers to change laws for Brexit - David Davis tells critics bill transposing EU legislation into UK law will allow for technical but not substantive changes (Guardian, link)

Statewatch comment: Statutory Instrument law-making: SIs are a form of legislation that allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be brought into force or altered without a formal Act of Parliament (they are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation). SIs are subject to "parliamentary approval" only in the sense that they "laid before Parliament". Draft SIs in fact automatically become law after a short period if no-one objects.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-31.3.17) including: Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants, new report on migrant integration in the EU.

Hungary insists on bill that could shut down Soros university (EurActiv, link):

"Hungary said it will not withdraw new legislation to regulate foreign universities that a Budapest school founded by American philanthropist George Soros says could force it out of the country.

The Central European University (CEU) said yesterday (29 March) that the bill proposed this week was unacceptable and that it threatened academic freedom in Hungary, whose Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has clashed with Soros-funded organizations.

CEU rector Michael Ignatieff met with Education Secretary Laszlo Palkovics late on Wednesday and told him the university demanded the bill be withdrawn and that rules ensuring foreign universities can operate freely are put in place.

The government said it was open to negotiations but would not withdraw the bill."

UK: Doubts over stated "benefits" of titan prison plans

"Our Director, Richard Garside, has written to the Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, calling for her to publish a secret Ministry of Justice report on the economic impact of new prisons.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice announced plans to build four new prisons in Yorkshire, Wigan, Rochester and Port Talbot. According to the Ministry, the new prisons will 'act as a boost to regional economies' and create 'new opportunities for local businesses.'

According to the Justice Secretary, the prisons would be an 'economic lifeline for the local community – creating hundreds of jobs for local people'.

The Ministry's claims of a jobs bonanza are based on a secret report written by consultants, Peter Brett Associates, called Economic Impact of a New Prison. The report remains unpublished, despite a Freedom of Information request made by our Senior Associate, Rebecca Roberts."

See: Letter to Justice Secretary on prison jobs bonanza claim (CCJS, link)

Background: Four 'supersized' prisons to be built in England and Wales (The Guardian, link):

"[Ministry of Justice officials] also stressed that the new jails would create 2,000 jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries and provide a boost to regional economies across the country."

UK: Security and Visions of the Criminal: Technology, Professional Criminality and Social Change in Victorian and Edwardian Britain (British Journal of Criminology, link) by David Churchill:

"The later 19th century saw the formation of two distinct visions of serious criminality. Previous studies of the weak-willed, ‘degenerate’ offender, have neglected the simultaneous appearance of the modern professional criminal. This essay reveals that the rise of the security industry in the Victorian era served to reshape notions of criminal professionalism, imbuing them with a new emphasis on the technical proficiency of thieves. This image of the criminal provided an outlet for ambivalent reflections on social and technological change, much as similar, high-security visions of the criminal have ever since. Hence, this essay both traces the origins of a neglected aspect of modern criminological thought and reconstructs the historical role of security provision in shaping visions of the criminal."

GREECE: European Court of Human Rights Rules in Favor of Bangladeshi Migrant Workers in Greek Abuse (Open Society Foundations, link):

"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Greece to pay a group of migrant Bangladeshi agricultural workers €588,000 in compensation, in its first ever ruling dealing with the exploitation of irregular migrant labor.

The case, Chowdury and others v. Greece, was brought by 42 workers following violence directed against strawberry pickers in Nea Manolada in the Peloponnese in 2013, after they protested and their employers' failure to pay wages for several months. More than 30 workers were injured after armed guards at the site started shooting at the protestors.

Subsequently, the employers involved were charged by Greek prosecutors with labor trafficking, but acquitted because the workers were physically free to leave the farm. The two guards who opened fire were convicted of causing dangerous bodily harm, but their sentences were commuted to fines."

See also: joint statement by PICUM and the AIRE Centre: Court rules in favour of undocumented workers' rights (pdf) and the ECHR press release (pdf) and judgment (French only, pdf)

What lies beyond criminal justice? Developing transformative solutions (EG Press, link) by JM Moore and Rebecca Roberts:

"Criminal justice failure has been well-documented. The traditional response to this failure has been to seek out alternatives. However, by their very nature, alternatives are usually conceived and positioned in relation to the failed criminal justice interventions they seek to replace. In this paper we focus on an initiative, Justice Matters, which seeks to provide a model, not for developing alternatives to criminal justice failure, but instead the creation of transformative solutions to a range of social problems. To illustrate the potential of this approach we explore two examples: drugs and violence against women.

Central to our argument is that for nearly all social problems, solutions already exist. But they exist beyond the boundaries of criminal justice and its experts. By drawing on appropriate knowledge – health for drugs and feminism for gendered violence; – aligned to a political commitment to social justice, we argue it is possible to develop transformative solutions which can provide the foundation for a society that lies beyond criminal justice."

Libya asks EU for ships and radars to stop migrants: sources (Reuters, link):

"Libya has asked the European Union to provide it with ships and radars to help its forces stop the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean, sources in Brussels said.

They said EU foreign ministers would review the "shopping list" at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, but would not be able to meet all the requests.

The bloc is supporting the government of Prime Minister Fayez Seraj in the hope it can gain control over the whole country after years of chaos and fighting. In exchange, it wants his help on preventing African refugees and migrants from embarking from the coast of Libya for Europe."

And see: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, February 2017)

UK: Prison system’s ‘failings’ caused death of Pentonville inmate found hanged (Islington Tribune, link):

"THE death of a Pentonville prisoner was caused by “numerous failings… from the time he came under care until the moment of his death”, an inquest has found.

Multiple areas of the system at the Caledonian Road jail were at fault, a jury examining the death of John Williams concluded on Friday.

Mr Williams, a Catholic, was found hanged in his cell after being refused permission to go to the prison church in June last year."

UK: Roger Pearce confirmed as spycop (Undercover Research Group, link):

"Today, the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing confirmed that former Special Branch commander Roger Pearce had been a spycop. This was something that the Undercover Research Group had first publicly identified in October 2016, having stitched together material from various sources.

It was the police’s own Operation Herne which led the way, giving us the nugget of information that N85, a Special Branch commander had previously been an undercover officer and leading us to the identification. However, when we delved into Pearce’s public appearances, there were plenty of other clues, not least in the way he publicly spoke about spycops."

See: Undercover Policing Inquiry press notice: No anonymity sought for Roger Pearce (pdf)

ECHR-GREECE: Migrants who were subjected to forced labour and human trafficking did not receive effective protection from the Greek State (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Chowdury and Others v. Greece (application no. 21884/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 4 § 2 (prohibition of forced labour) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned 42 Bangladeshi nationals who did not have work permits and were subjected to forced labour. Their employers had recruited them to pick strawberries on a farm in Manolada (Greece) but failed to pay the applicants’ wages and obliged them to work in difficult physical conditions under the supervision of armed guards."

Judgment (French only): AFFAIRE CHOWDURY ET AUTRES c. GRÈCE (application no. 21884/15, pdf)

EU: Regulation on a European Travel Information and Authorisation System: Presidency compromise proposals for Council negotiating position

A document produced by the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU suggests a number of compromises for a substantial part of the proposed Regulation for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will be used to vet individuals who don't require visas to visit the EU in a similar manner to the United States' Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

EU: Council Presidency seeks Member States' views on whistleblower protection

The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU is seeking the views of other Member States on the issue of whistleblower protection, inviting them to contribute to an ongoing European Commission consultation on the topic. The note, classified as LIMITE but published here, notes that protecting whistleblowers can contribute to "safeguarding the public interest, reinforcing integrity, transparency and accountability in both public and private organisations."

SPAIN: Proposed law on whistleblowing and corruption is "perverse, megalomaniacal and authoritarian"

A draft whistleblower protection and anti-corruption measure in Spain has been condemned as "a perverse proposal of megalomaniac and antiquated authoritarianism" by civil rights organisation Xnet, who have said that it would create a new organisation able to investigate "any person without any guarantees of legal protection and with no oversight from any system of checks and balances."

UK: Self-harm, depression and child detention uncovered in detention centre inspection

"The number of people self-harming in one of the UK’s immigration detention centres has increased three-fold in four years, an inspection report has revealed, prompting NGOs to highlight an “urgent” need for detention reform."

UK denies woman visa to attend Green Party conference because she's single (The Independent, link):

"Britain’s immigration authority has denied a woman a visa to attend a political conference in the UK on the basis that she is single, according to documents seen by The Independent.

The woman, who is not being named, was set to be a delegate from the Pakistan Green Party to a worldwide congress of Green parties. She had applied for a five-day visa to attend the congress, which runs for four days from Thursday 30 March, and is to be hosted at the ACC in Liverpool.

In her rejection letter from UK Visas & Immigration, dated 15 March, the woman was told that she would not be permitted entry to the UK for reasons hinging on “the fact that you have declared yourself to be single, with no one dependent upon you”."

EU: Dubious cooperation between European secret services in The Hague (Andrej Hunko, link):

"The European Commission has now proposed that a “hub for information exchange” among European police and secret services be established. According to the proposal by the Commission, a “Fusion Centre” could be set up within the remit of the CTG with Europol as a partner. This “more systematic interaction between these authorities” will not be restricted to terrorism, but could also encompass serious cross-border crime. The Federal Government has stated that it has “yet to adopt a conclusive position” on this extension. However, the Federal Ministry of the Interior had relayed its positive experiences of this police and secret services cooperation at the Joint Counter-Terrorism Centre in its briefing to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.

It is already virtually [impossible] to keep tabs on the cooperation between secret services at the European level. No information pertaining to the Club de Berne or to its informal alliance the Counter Terrorism Group has been disclosed to German parliamentarians. With the new “operative platform” in The Hague, the web of secret services is sinking even further into the mire of secrecy."

IRELAND: Belfast law firm to challenge Irish government over inquiries into suspicious deaths (The Detail, link):

"THE Irish government faces a potential High Court challenge over the terms of reference for inquiries into Garda handling of four suspicious deaths.

The families of Patrick Nugent, James Clancy, Shane Touhey, and John Kelly, who died in separate incidents between 1984 and 2008, were granted a statutory inquiry under Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act last year.

But now the families are set to launch a High Court challenge unless the terms of reference are changed to address what they believe is a failure to comply with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)."

UK: Charges brought against 17 Stansted deportation flight activists

"A total of 17 people have been charged following a protest at Stansted Airport that prevented a deportation flight taking off.

The nine women and eight men were each charged with obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity and organising or taking part in a demonstration likely to interfere or obstruct the major Essex airport."

Ukraine: Poroshenko Signs Law Targeting Activists, Journalists and NGOs (OCCRP, link):

"Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday signed into law controversial amendments to legislation that will require anti-corruption NGOs, journalists and activists to publicly declare their income and assets.

The amendments, which will take effect in 2018, mean that any individual working to fight corruption must file publicly accessible e-declarations, in the same way that state officials are required to do. If they fail to comply, they could face criminal penalties.

Jose Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International, said the new provisions "must be abolished immediately," and called them "a vindictive retaliation by lawmakers who are angry that they are required to declare their wealth."

Critics warn that the measure signals the return of authoritarianism and that it will block NGOs’ work and even apply to third parties cooperating with or getting funds from NGOs, such as journalists investigating Ukrainian officials."

Meanwhile: Timeline: Parliament’s continued support for Ukraine (European Parliament, link):

"A visa-free regime for Ukrainians travelling to the EU is just the latest step in the European Parliament’s continued support of Ukraine. The Parliament has consistently shown solidarity by condemning Russia’s military involvement and illegal annexation of Crimea and promoting political and economic reforms."

UK-EU: Brexit Letter to EU (pdf)

"We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement. We want to agree a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU, taking in both economic and security cooperation."

"In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened" [emphasis added]

See also earlier: White Paper (pdf)

And: Statement by the European Council (Art. 50) on the UK notification (pdf); Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the UK notification (pdf)

Reunifying Ireland: An EU law perspective (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On 23 June 2016, Northern Ireland was one of the two UK constituent nations that voted to remain in the EU. Following that, Sinn Féin has called for a referendum for the unification of Ireland and thus for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU. This discussion has intensified after the most recent Northern Ireland Assembly election where the Unionist vote was significantly reduced....

if in the future, the majority of the people in Northern Ireland democratically decide to secede from the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, the EU legal order is able to accommodate such political development. The secession of Northern Ireland will not mean the creation of a new (Member-)State. Instead, it will trigger the territorial expansion of an EU Member State to which EU law already applies in accordance with Article 52 TEU.." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-29.3.17)

EU to propose new rules on police access to encrypted data in June (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission will propose new measures in June to make it easier for police to access encrypted data on internet apps like WhatsApp, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová said yesterday (28 March), heeding calls from national interior ministers.

Jourová said she will announce “three or four options” including binding legislation and voluntary agreements with companies to allow law enforcement authorities to demand information from encrypted apps “with a swift, reliable response”.

Non-legislative measures will be provisional “to have a quick solution”, since negotiations over EU laws can drag on for years before they are passed."

CoE: Ireland should remove obstacles to the equality of Travellers, women and children (link):

"Government should ensure that the economic upturn benefits the most vulnerable groups and should promote equality of Travellers, women and children by removing the barriers that disproportionately hinder them from fully enjoying their rights”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, in a report released today based on a visit to the country carried out in November 2016."

Germany rejects Turkish request to spy on Gulenists (euractiv, link):

"Germany launched a second investigation yesterday (28 March) into suspected spying by Turkey and its interior minister said Berlin would not tolerate foreign espionage on its soil.

Tensions are running high between the two NATO allies ahead of a referendum in Turkey next month that proposes expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Berlin infuriated Ankara by cancelling several campaign rallies by Turkish ministers on German soil, drawing accusations from Turkey of “Nazi” tactics."

Council of the European Union: Progress report on EES and ETIAS

The Council Presidency has produced a report for COREPER and the Mixed Committee (which includes 4 non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) on the "state of play" on: Information Technology (IT) measures related to border management a) Entry/Exit System (EES) b) EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) = Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 7064-17, pdf).

UPDATED: EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 27-28 March 2017 Brussels:
Press release: Final 27-28-3-17 (pdf)
Agenda "B" Points (for discussion)
Agenda "A" Points (Non-legislaitve, adopted without discussion
Background Note (pdf)

EU should stop delivering visas to African officials over migrants: Germany (New Europe, link):

"The European Union should consider restricting visas for senior officials from African and other states which refuse to take back illegal immigrants from Europe, Germany’s interior minister said.

Thomas de Maiziere said in Brussels the EU needed to use all the levers at its disposal to ensure countries cooperated with Europe’s efforts to deport those arriving who were not entitled to asylum.

Last Thursday, Thomas de Maiziere appeared in front of the German parliament to argue for a new draft law that would impose stricter rules on asylum seekers. De Maiziere said that the German public would only support Germany’s generous asylum policies if the government enforced deportation regulations and protected German society against potential threats from migrants."

ECHR: Failure to properly investigate alleged anti-Roma hate crime (pdf):

"In June 2013, two men racially abused the applicant’s partner on the basis of his Roma origin, before attacking both him and the applicant herself. The two assailants were prosecuted and convicted on charges that included a hate crime against the applicant’s partner. However, the men were not charged for a racially motivated crime against the applicant herself. The authorities rejected her complaint of a hate crime, finding that there was no indication that the men had attacked her because of hatred towards Roma, as she is not of Roma origin. The applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights of a lack of an effective procedural response of the Croatian authorities in relation to a racially motivated act of violence against her.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Škorjanec v. Croatia (application no. 25536/14) the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights."

Shock tactics: how the arms industry trades on our fear of terrorism (Guardian, link):

"In his book Indefensible – Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade, Paul Holden points to the weapons industry’s role in generating today’s wars."

EXCLUSIVE: Google working with UK government on counter-extremism strategy (Middle East Eye, link):

"Web giant, which is accused of failing to tackle extremism, is providing 'digital support' to campaigners backed by counter-terrorism officials.

Google has been providing "digital and communications support" to counter-extremism campaigners backed by the Home Office, even as it faces a backlash from ministers over extremist content online, Middle East Eye can reveal.

The internet search giant’s work with the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), which is based in the Home Office and is responsible for the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy, has included social media and video training for Muslim civil society organisations that dates back at least five years...."

Letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP from civil liberty groups, lawyers and other parties concerned about the consultation into the Codes of Practice for the Investigatory Powers Act (Open Rights Group, link)

Home-grown radicalisation on top of Home Affairs ministers’ meeting in Brussels (New Europe, link):

"The first day of Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting is taking discussion on security a step further, as new challenges emerge at the aftermath of last week’s London attack.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, offered his condolences and thoughts to victims and Londoners, giving the agenda of Monday’s ministerial meeting.

“Home-grown radicalisation stands on top of our agenda, it is one of the biggest challenges we are confronted with,” said Avramopoulos.

On migration issues, Avramopoulos repeated: On relocation, no more excuses. It is the moment for all member states to deliver by the end of September.” According to the Commissioner, efficient migration policy comes with four pillars: The EU needs to keep doors open and “provide protection for ones in real need”. The three more pillars require the return of the ones who do not have the right to stay in Europe, the further strengthening of external borders and cooperation with third countries."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25-27.3.17)

Relocation of refugees in EU has failed so Council turns to draconian returns policy - including the targeting of children for detention

The Council Presidency is working on a plan to "significantly improve the return system within the EU" and "improve cooperation on readmission".

See: EU: Council of the European Union: Return Policy: enhancing effectiveness a) Commission Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC b) Commission Communication on a more effective return policy in the European Union - A renewed Action Plan = Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 7112-17.pdf)

A policy poposed proposed on 1 June 2015 by Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos in a Letter to EU Home Affairs Ministers which presents a dehumanised portrayal of refugees and shows how to by-pass three detention related provisions of the Returns Directive.

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: how should the authorities respond to children accompanying "Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees"?

A recent report produced by the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator suggests numerous ways national authorities could deal with children returning to Europe with individuals who have engaged in terrorist activity abroad, including the possibility of using "closed child facilities" - i.e. detention - in certain cases.

See: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Member States' approaches to dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children: Results of the questionnaire and follow-up (6900/17, LIMITE, 6 March 2017, pdf)

The report is based on the findings of a questionnaire on "dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children" that was issued to all Member States.

Restricted Eurojust report highlights use of intelligence in terrorism court cases across the EU

A restricted report prepared in November 2016 by Eurojust, the EU's judicial cooperation agency, provides a detailed overview of the ongoing response to "foreign terrorist fighters" in law and jurisprudence, focusing in particular on the use of intelligence in legal proceedings and the prosecution of women who have travelled to conflict zones where terrorist groups are active.

See: Eurojust, Foreign Terrorist Fighters: Eurojust's Views on the Phenomenon and the Criminal Justice Response - Fourth Eurojust Report (November 2016) (1/R/2016, RESTRICTED, November 2016, 13MB pdf)

Spain: Numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in Spain by boat on the increase

According to the information received by the delegation of Associación Pro Derechos Humanos Andalucía in Cádiz, it was confirmed on the morning of 21 March 2017 that two dinghies carrying more than 50 people arrived on the coast of the Bay of Cádiz. They arrived without the need for any intervention by the authorities and, according to the Red Cross, it is believed that there have been no injuries or people lost at sea.....

EU: European Commission: Statement by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the meeting with five Member States on progress towards full visa reciprocity with the United States (pdf):

"we are committed to continue working in a constructive and positive spirit, in close coordination between us, and the United States, to achieve this goal as soon as possible, including searching for mutually acceptable interim steps."

Note: From the US side there is little enthusiasm to change its mind. The USA continues to apply restrictions on citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania

TURKEY: After Germany, UK clears Gulenists of ‘coup’ accusations (euractiv, link):

"On Saturday (25 March) the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report on the UK’s relations with Turkey, in which the Erdogan government’s claim that Gülenists masterminded the 15 July coup attempt is refuted"

See: Foreign Affairs Committee: The UK’s relations with Turkey (pdf): "our impression has been of two countries that share interests more than they share values, and the UK risks being perceived as de-prioritising its concern for human rights in its drive to establish a “strategic” relationship with Turkey."

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: EU:Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on the Commission action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud (pdf)

Ex-cyber security chief says Government is 'using' Westminster attack to grab unnecessary spying powers (Independent, link): "Major General Jonathan Shaw said decrypting social media messages would see terrorists use other secure methods to communicate."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Regulation: Latest draft position: Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection (pdf): 163 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"This document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles, except for the following items placed between square brackets and which will be discussed as a later stage...

Suggested modifications are indicated as follows: - new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold - new text compared to the previous version of this document is in bold underlined - deleted text is in strikethrough."

Real-Time Face Recognition Threatens to Turn Cops’ Body Cameras Into Surveillance Machines (The Intercept, link):

"Last year, a Russian startup announced that it could scan the faces of people passing by Moscow’s thousands of CCTV cameras and pick out wanted criminals or missing persons. Unlike much face recognition technology — which runs stills from videos or photographs after the fact — NTechLab’s FindFace algorithm has achieved a feat that once only seemed possible in the science fictional universe of “Minority Report”: It can determine not just who someone is, but where they’ve been, where they’re going, and whether they have an outstanding warrant, immigration detainer, or unpaid traffic ticket.

For years, the development of real-time face recognition has been hampered by poor video resolution, the angles of bodies in motion, and limited computing power. But as systems begin to transcend these technical barriers, they are also outpacing the development of policies to constrain them. Civil liberties advocates fear that the rise of real-time face recognition alongside the growing number of police body cameras creates the conditions for a perfect storm of mass surveillance." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24.3.17)

European Commission: Report on the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2016/369 on the provision of emergency support within the Union (COM 131-17, pdf):

European Commission Factsheet published on 13 January, 2015 alerted the EU in “Questions and Answers: Smuggling of Migrants in Europe and the EU response" that: In 2014, more than 276,000 migrants irregularly entered the EU, which represents an increase of 155% compared to 2013. Syrians together with Eritreans were the largest group apprehended at EU external borders trying to enter the EU in an irregular manner.”

This report notes that: "In 2015 and 2016, close to 1.1 million persons, who may be in need of international protection, and irregular migrants (hereafter referred to as 'refugees and migrants') made their way to the European Union (EU) along the Eastern Mediterranean route."

So why did it take until 2 March 2016 for the Commission to adopt a proposal on the provision of emergency support within the Union. (the Regulation was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016)? Why was the "experience of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department" not immediately activated at the beginning of 2015?

It should also be noted that:

"Greece was the only Member State that met the two 'eligibility' conditions set out in the Regulation:

the exceptional scale and impact of the disaster give rise to severe wide-ranging humanitarian consequences in one or more Member States; and no other instrument available to Member States and to the Union is sufficient.

As a result, all the actions funded under this Regulation to date were exclusively aimed at tackling the humanitarian situation in Greece."

UK: Four new “Supersized” Prisons – Our Response (Cage, link):

"Justice secretary Liz Truss today announced that four new “supersized” mega-prisons, with a combined capacity of at least 5000, are now earmarked for construction. The sites: Port Talbot in South Wales, Wigan in Greater Manchester, Rochester in Kent and Full Sutton in East Yorkshire."

Erdogan says Turkey will review EU ties ‘from A to Z’ (euractiv, link);

"Turkey will review all political and administrative ties with the European Union after an April referendum, including a deal to curb illegal migration, but will maintain economic relations with the bloc, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday (23 March)."

EU: eu-LISA Single Programming Document 2017-2019 (pdf):

"The purpose of the Single Programming Document of the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice is to give a structured overview of the main objectives and activities to be achieved and performed in 2017. It reveals the connections and the logic in the breakdown of the long-term strategic goals into multiannual and annual objectives and outcomes....

The Agency successfully delivers its core task: of providing operational management of the VIS, SIS II, and EURODAC systems."

UK: Coppers 'persistently' breach data protection laws with police tech - Staff association warns that systems 'increasingly' being used for personal reasons (The Register, link):

"Coppers in England and Wales are "persistently" committing data breaches, according to the Police Federation's head of misconduct.

Technologies from the Police National Computer (PNC) systems through to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) databases are "increasingly being used by officers for non-work related reasons" according to the Police Federation, the statutory staff association for officers – all of whom are barred from joining an ordinary trade union under the Police Act 1996."

See also: PCSOs jailed after implicating innocent man in an attempted murder (BBC News, link) and Safe in Police hands? How Police Forces suffer 10 data breaches every week and still want more of your data (Big Brother Watch, link)

Slovenia: More should be done to ensure that Roma, migrants and those in poverty are not left behind (CoE, link);

"Slovenia from 20 to 23 March, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, examined the situation of Roma, migrants and asylum seekers and of the increasing number of people living in poverty in the country. He stressed the centrality of human rights to ensure that Slovenian society is truly inclusive."

EU: Divides deepen between member states over posted workers bill (euractiv, link):

"After a year of stalled negotiations, fresh changes to draft rules affecting workers temporarily sent to other EU countries are further deepening rifts between eastern and western member states. A new compromise draft from Malta, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, has caused outrage among some eastern EU countries.

A group of countries including Poland, Romania and Hungary has fiercely opposed any legal changes to 21-year-old posted workers rules and called western EU member states protectionist for pushing measures to raise pay for workers from lower wage countries."

And see: MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay (euobserver, link)

Greece: Turkish asylum requests on the rise (ekathimerini.com, link):

"An increasing number of Turkish nationals have been finding their way to Greece since the failed coup attempt in the neighboring country and the mass purges that followed.

More specifically, 236 Turks requested political asylum in Greece from last July until February. According to official data from the Asylum Service seen by Kathimerini, the rising trend in the number of requests was already discernible by early 2016...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.3.17)

EU Council of the European Union: Criminal justice in cyberspace - Improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 7479-17, pdf):

"The fight against crime has become more than ever dependant on access to electronic data - data which do not belong to law enforcement or judicial authorities, nor can be regulated by JHA policy makers alone. However, the availability of and access to these data has been reduced due to technical and/or legal reasons: cloud-based storage, limited retention of data, use of encryption, use of Carrier Grade NAT solutions or virtual currencies. Collaboration and coordination with partners and stakeholders is therefore essential to establish workable solutions."

As working on these matters needs to take account of various sectors and legitimate interests (e.g. of LEA/judiciary, data protection/human rights, internal market/trade, electronic communications), there is a clear need of improved coordination and collaboration at national and EU level between the different policy fields....

Regular cyber and/or ICT dialogues with third countries would facilitate international cooperation, in particular with those third countries where most of the service providers are located." [NB:"third countries" particularly include the USA] [emphasis in original]

See also: 6890-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf) and Encryption: Challenges for criminal justice in relation to the use of encryption - future steps - progress report (LIMITE doc no: 14711-16, pdf)

EU: European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security{ (COM 29-17, pdf):

"despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Article 2 provides that the scope of the Agreement covers flights with a US nexus. The use of an override mechanism to access non US nexus PNR data is subject to a number of conditions and subject to oversight. The number of overrides has increased since the 2013 review and DHS need to record detailed reasons of why overrides have been used to better understand why they occur.

In relation to Article 5, the number of personnel with access rights to PNR data has increased since the previous review in 2013. Whilst the EU team is satisfied with the oversight mechanisms in place, DHS is invited to continue to monitor the number of staff with access rights to PNR data to ensure that only those with an operational need to use and view the data can do so....

In relation to Articles 16 and 18, DHS should provide further information on exactly what data is being collected under these provisions and be in a position to provide further information on data that has been shared with other US authorities, and police, law enforcement and judicial bodies within the EU."

See; 2012 EU-USA PNR Agreement (pdf)

And see: Staff Working document: SWD-14 (SWD, 45 pages, pdf) and Letter from US Homeland Security: SWD 20 (pdf)

European Commission report: On the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (pdf):

"This report concerns the fourth joint review of the Agreement since it entered into force and covers a period of 22 months between 1 March 2014 and 31 December 2015."

And see detailed Staff Working Docuent: SWD 17 (52 pages, pdf): "In how many cases was information derived from accessing these payment messages provided to competent authorities in the EU, including Europol and Eurojust?

During the 22 months of the current review period, U.S. investigators supplied 93 TFTPderived “reports” consisting of 2,680 leads pursuant to Article 9 and an additional 8,998 “leads” pursuant to Article 10 to competent authorities of EU Member States and Europol. A single TFTP report may contain multiple TFTP leads. For example, a single Article 9 spontaneous report provided to Europol during the review period contained 147 TFTP leads."

EU: Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception (link):

"The European Investigation Order in criminal matters allows judicial authorities in all EU Member States to instruct each other to collect evidence. It also sets forth provisions for cross-border telecommunications surveillance. The European standardisation institute ETSI is consequently working on interfaces for the hand-over of intercepted phone calls."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 27-28 March, 2017: Background Note (pdf) Substantial items on refugees, migration and asylum.

Dissent is not a crime: News from Netpol March 2017 (link):

"Welcome to the March 2017 edition of our newsletter, with an update on the policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire and news of a new Netpol campaign launching next week."

USA: Why does WikiLeaks keep publishing U.S. state secrets? Private contractors. (Washington Post, link):

"By outsourcing key intelligence work, the government has made classified material more vulnerable....

When WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 files about the CIA’s global hacking programs this month, it dropped a tantalizing clue: The leak came from private contractors. Federal investigators quickly confirmed this, calling contractors the likeliest sources. As a result of the breach, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said, the CIA had “lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal.”"

EU: Humanitarian Visas, still an open question (balcanicaucaso.org, link):

"The recent verdict of the European Court of Justice comes as a blow to those who want to see safe and legal access to the EU for refugees. But the reform of the Code on Visas offers another chance for change, and the European Parliament is keen on not letting it get away."

Germany to quash 50,000 gay convictions (BBC News, link):

"Germany's cabinet has backed a bill to clear men handed sentences for homosexuality after World War Two under a Nazi-era law.

The notorious Paragraph 175 of the penal code was eventually relaxed in 1969, but not before 50,000 men were convicted. Many were sent to jail and some took their own lives because of the stigma. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said it was a flagrant injustice and those still alive would be given compensation."

Commissioner warns of ‘growing menace’ of right-wing terrorism in EU (euractiv, link):

"EXCLUSIVE/ EU Security Commissioner Julian King warned of the ‘growing menace’ of violent, right-wing extremism, as a possible backlash against the ongoing attacks by jihadists."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.3.17) including: police violence at the Hungarian border; 1.2 million asylum application in EU in 2016; child migrants suffer abysmal conditions.

Bulgaria Bans Book That Attacks Government Critics (OCCRP, link):

"Bulgaria halted Wednesday the distribution of a book that slammed several journalists, activists and politicians as "foreign mercenaries" who want to take control of the country with the help of philanthropist George Soros.

"Robbers of Democracy" was released Monday and handed out for free alongside the highest circulation newspaper in Bulgaria, the Telegraph daily, owned by media mogul Delyan Peevski.

The country’s Central Election Commission halted the distribution following a complaint made by the Yes, Bulgaria! party, which the book condemns as a Soros orchestrated power-grab."

EU: European Commission registers two European Citizens' Initiatives on the rights of Union citizens after Brexit and rejects one on preventing Brexit (press release, pdf):

"The European Commission has today registered two European Citizens' Initiatives concerning the rights of Union citizens in the context of the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU and rejected a third proposal entitled 'Stop Brexit'.

The first invites the Commission to separate Union citizenship from Member State nationality in light of the UK withdrawal from the EU ("EU Citizenship for Europeans: United in Diversity in spite of jus soli and jus sanguinis"), and the second calls on the Commission to uphold the right of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the European Union ("Retaining European Citizenship"). At the same time, the Commission has rejected as inadmissible a third proposal calling on the Commission to prevent the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU ("Stop Brexit").

The Commission's decisions concern the legal admissibility of the proposed initiatives. At this stage, the Commission has not examined the substance of the initiatives."

Countering online "radicalisation": EU Internet Forum: Civil Society Empowerment Programme (European Commission, link):

"The Civil Society Empowerment Programme supports civil society, grass roots organisations and credible voices.

Using the positive power and tremendous reach of the internet, it empowers these different groups to provide effective alternatives to the messages coming from violent extremists and terrorists, as well as ideas that counter extremist and terrorist propaganda.

The Civil Society Empowerment Programme is an initiative under the umbrella of the EU Internet Forum, which was launched in 2015 by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, to tackle terrorist content online."

And see: the currently non-public: 2017-2019 Joint Activity Plan (JAP) for the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP) (pdf):

"This Joint Activity Plan (JAP) summarizes the main activities of the programme in 2017 and describes specific contributions of Facebook, Twitter and Google. This JAP details the specific contributions of all partners. The adoption of the JAP is scheduled for 31 January 2017, during a first of three meetings of all partners to coordinate its contributions to the CSEP. For now, the 2017 contributions are detailed, and possible cooperation in 2018-2019 is mentioned tentatively. In late 2017, a 2018 update of this JAP could be produced, to detail the specific contributions of all partners in the forthcoming year."

HUNGARY-SERBIA: Police violence against migrants and refugees at Hungarian-Serbian border

A video by the Serbian volunteer group Fresh Response has collected the testimonies of numerous people who have suffered violence and mistreatment at the hands of Hungarian police whilst trying to cross into the country from Serbia. The film includes numerous accounts of beatings with batons, the use of dogs and pepper spray, and the confiscation of shoes and clothes in freezing conditions. The group argues that many of the testimonies describe "acts that can be only seen as torture," and that "the enormous scale and clear pattern of violence leave no doubt: these are not just rare and isolated acts of brutality."

UK: Government plans for online courts threaten principles of open justice

"Government plans for online courts will lead to more unrepresented defendants, challenge the principle of open justice and could make it too easy for defendants to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.

A report by the charity Transform Justice published on Wednesday warns that the Ministry of Justice’s £1bn court reform programme contains digital trial proposals that may confuse anyone entering a plea."

UK: High Court rules Blair-era rendition case can be heard in secret (Reprieve, link):

"The High Court has today ruled that a Blair-era renditions case should be heard in secret, following a request from the government under the controversial Justice and Security Act.

In reaching his judgment, Mr Justice Leggatt warned that secret hearings are a “serious derogation from the fundamental principles of open justice and natural justice.”

The case involves two Pakistani men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, who were detained by the UK in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US forces.

The pair were then rendered to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan where they were tortured and held without charge or trial for a decade."

EU official: we can make members accept refugees (Associated Press, link):

"The European Union's commissioner for migration says there are ways to make all EU members states comply with the program of relocation of migrants among them.

Dimitris Avramopoulos made the statement Tuesday in Warsaw, where he is visiting the growing European border guard agency, Frontex.

...Without naming Poland, Avramopoulos said the EU has the "tools, the means and the power" to convince all members to comply and will make an assessment of response by the end of September. He mentioned no sanctions."

BREXIT: How Brexit hits EU External Action: the UK’s European legacy (German Development Institute, link) by Thomas Henökl:

"It remains to be seen over the coming months and years to what extent the EU and the UK will continue to work together on EU foreign policy and, especially, in the area of international cooperation and development policy. We can expect this new relationship to be largely unstructured and primarily interest driven, on a case-by-case basis."

UK: Met police accused of using hackers to access protesters' emails (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists.

The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers.

The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating."

Trump to visit ‘hellhole’ Brussels on 25 May (EurActiv, link):

"US President Donald Trump, who last January called the Belgian capital a “hellhole”, will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on 25 May in Brussels, the White House said yesterday (21 March).

Trump’s visit will give him an opportunity to press his case for why many NATO allies need to boost defence spending to help spread the cost of the security umbrella.

Trump has made key European allies nervous with his demands that they increase defense spending and his talk of establishing an alliance with Russia to counter Islamic State militants."

EU: Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions' (EUobserver, link):

"Children who trekked alone to reach Europe often find themselves living in "abysmal conditions" upon arrival and are being denied free legal aid.

The findings are part of a thematic report, released on Wednesday (22 March) by Strasbourg-based human rights overseer the Council of Europe.

Spearheaded by Tomas Bocek, the report says children left to fend for themselves are sometimes found begging in Turkey and, in some cases, arrested and detained."

See the report: Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children: Prepared by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees (pdf)

GREECE: You can't evict a movement: a story of squatting and migration in Athens (OpenDemocracy, link):

"An inside look at one of the most remarkable stories to come out of Greece's ongoing economic and refugee crisis - the intersection of the anarchist and migrant solidarity movements in Athens."

And see: Greece's Anarchists Are Taking Better Care of Refugees Than the Government (VICE, link)

BELARUS: UN Special Rapporteur concerned about recurring violence against demonstrators in Belarus (UN Special Rapporteur, link):

"GENEVA – Belarus is being urged by a UN human rights expert to stop acts of violence and harassment against demonstrators and to respect freedom of peaceful assembly.

The appeal comes from the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and follows reports of mass arrests and intimidation of activists protesting against the presidential decree “On the Prevention of Social Dependence”, also referred to as the “anti-parasitism” law.

The order by President Lukashenko allows fines to be imposed on anyone who does not work more than 183 days and is not declared officially unemployed. As implementation began last month, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in protest."

EU: Polish approach weakens V4’s leverage to influence the future of Europe (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"Right when the European unity is more vocally proclaimed around its 60th celebration, it was challenged once more during the latest European Council in Brussels, when Donald Tusk was re-elected as Council’s President. Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, voted against his compatriot’s appointment and was outvoted 27-1 by the other Member States.

The Polish government has been increasingly drifting away from the core of the EU during the past couple of years and this event will likely accelerate this trend. In this report, we look at the voting behaviour of Polish representatives into the broader EU decision-making picture (Council and European Parliament), which highlights increasing divergence even with traditional allies, such as Hungary’s FIDESZ."

POLAND: Can pre-trial detention last for nearly eight years? A view from Poland (Fair Trials, link):

"Michal started to be detained pre-trial in mid-May 2009. The pre-trial detention decision was consecutively extended no less than 29 times, and each time the criminal court would repeat the same justifications: a) a severe penalty is to be imposed on the defendant, if he is found guilty, b) prima facie evidence indicates that he had committed the imputed offences and c) the defendant risks to pervert the course of justice. However, none of the courts has ever indicated how the man could have possibly interfered with the proceedings lasting for almost eight years. In the end, Michal has been detained for seven years and ten months despite the fact that the case was sent to a retrial and the non-final sentence of 10 years of imprisonment was not challenged by the prosecution."

FRANCE: At the crossroads: homeless and undocumented people in Paris since the Calais evictions (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Porte de la Chapelle is a gathering place for the ‘new’ migrants and refugees of Paris – the ones people mean when referring to the ‘crisis’ – although it’s not the only one. Across the city there is an untold number of people in transit. Pushed back from the UK border by the Calais evictions last October, many hope to move on to Germany or Sweden, or simply seek to somehow negotiate the obstacles of the over-stretched French asylum system and the Dublin Agreement. If your fingerprints have been taken in another European country, you have little chance of remaining ‘officially’ in France.

Some have family or help or a place to stay. Some have been housed by the state or a charity, or after too much hardship and exposure have decided to take their chances in the wildly varying ‘Centres d’Accueil’ outside of the capital, the reception centres to which many of the Calais people were taken. But far too many are sleeping rough in the grey Paris winter, living from day to day."

EU: Statistics on asylum application in 2016 published: 1.2 million first-time asylum seekers registered

"In 2016, 1 204 300 first time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), a number slightly down compared with 2015 (when 1 257 000 first time applicants were registered) but almost double that of 2014 (562 700)

Syrians (334 800 first time applicants), Afghans (183 000) and Iraqis (127 000) remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States in 2016, accounting for slightly more than half of all first time applicants."

See: Asylum in the EU Member States - 1.2 million first time asylum seekers registered in 2016 (press release, pdf)

And: Asylum statistics - statistics explained (pdf): "This article describes recent developments in relation to numbers of asylum applicants and decisions on asylum applications in the European Union (EU) ."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch elections: little to celebrate (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Should the outcome of the Dutch elections be celebrated as a victory over right-wing forces that contagiously spread throughout the western world? Many seem to believe that Mark Rutte’s victory marks a decisive turning point that will allow for the safe homecoming of centrist liberal politics. We would like to disagree with such self-congratulating sentiment and, instead, warn for the dangerous trend towards an already existent and increasingly violent normalisation of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, as well as the continuing dismantling of the welfare state through neoliberal restructuring.

While Wilders’ ‘loss’ may seem important in preventing the far-right from winning in other European countries, the fact remains that the VVD’s win should arguably be seen as a win for right-wing populists rather than a success for progressive forces."

New ICPR report describes vast disparities in use of imprisonment in 10 countries around the world (prisonstudies.org, link):

"Overcrowding, inhumane and degrading detention conditions and disproportionate harm to marginalised groups are some of the consequences of the rapid, unrelenting growth of imprisonment worldwide, according to Prison: Evidence of its use and over-use from around the world, published today [16 March] by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (link is external) (ICPR), Birkbeck, University of London, and the NGO, Fair Trials.

...The report, by Jessica Jacobson, Catherine Heard and Helen Fair, draws on ICPR’s unique World Prison Brief database and describes patterns and trends in imprisonment in ten contrasting countries across all five continents."

See the report: Prison: evidence of its use and over-use from around the world (pdf)

HUNGARY: Calm before the storm for Hungary's NGOs (BNE Intellinews, link):

"The government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban began 2017 with a threat against foreign-funded NGOs. On January 10, a senior government official said a number of NGOs would be "swept out" of the country by a law due in the spring. However, on March 8 the bill was delayed.

Hungary’s NGOs have been kept in a state of uncertainty ever since the start of the year. Details of the bill, which will put further transparency demands on a handful of Hungary’s tens of thousands of NGOs, have remained elusive. So much so, that the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ last week asked the government to release the text of the draft bill and hold consultations.

However, the ruling Fidesz party has announced that the bill has been delayed, because it has not yet found the threshold required to impede "Soros' hired hands", while not inconveniencing "decent" NGOs. Again, that leaves the targets of the legislation largely in the dark.

Nevertheless, statements from numerous government figures have given the NGOs clues as to what requirements they should anticipate. That includes a wealth-declaration requirement for their leaders and extra registration requirements. NGOs who receive funding from the US-Hungarian financier Gyorgy Soros can expect to be in the very centre of the crosshairs."

And see: Statement by the President of the Conference of INGOs and the President of the Expert Council on NGO Law (Council of Europe, link):

"In our capacity as President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe and President of the Expert Council on NGO Law we are concerned about the statements made by certain Hungarian politicians and information reported by the media, labelling some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as foreign agents..."

UK: London, 5 April 2017: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing

"Join us to demand disclosure on political policing abuses in the UK

Where? Royal Courts of Justice
When? 9-10am April 5th 2016 – on the first day of the hearing
What? Picket – bring banners, & placards
Who? Anyone who cares about our democracy

It is over six years since the undercover policing scandal broke, creating shock that the police could commit such abuses against social, animal, and environmental justice campaigners in our country. Women have been deceived into abusive intimate relationships, miscarriages of justice have been perpetrated, families fighting the police for justice have been spied on, trades union activists have been blacklisted. They, and we, need to know what has happened and why, so that we can repair the damage done to our lives and our democracy."

See: Picket at Undercover Policing Inquiry hearing (Police Spies Out of Lives, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.3.17)

EU- AFRICA-LIBYA: Council of the European Union: EU targets Libyan refugees

Migration policy: implementation: - External aspects: contribution of Ministers of Interior = Discussion paper (LIMITE doc no: 7110-17, pdf): Following the 3 February 2017 Malta Declaration (pdf) the Council Presidency reports that "its implementation has now taken off." The aim is to cut or halt refugees arriving in the EU via Libya and the same for the neighbouring states to Libya. This includes:

"Supporting IOM in significantly stepping up assisted voluntary return activities...

"IOM would need to recruit more staff, post international staff in Tripoli (IOM office planned to be open by the end of March 2017) and more importantly, assist the country of origin's consuls in neighbouring countries to increase their capacity to issue travel documents. This is currently considered the main bottleneck in carrying out assisted voluntary returns from Libya." [emphasis added]

And: "Helping to reduce the pressure on Libya's land borders, keeping track of alternative routes and possible diversion of smugglers' activities as well as deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration with all countries neighbouring Libya."

Also from the Valletta Plan:

"enhancing adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya and neighbouring countries for migrants;
- improving the socio-economic situation and resilience of host communities in Libya and neighbouring countries;
- enhancing border management capacity on Libya's land borders.."
[emphasis added]

"Reception capacities" equals holding centres.

See also: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch): With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management". See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: EU digitalises passenger registration to make travelling by sea safer: Council agrees its position (Press release, pdf):

"The EU is moving to digitalise the registration of ship passengers to ensure that, in the event of an accident, search
and rescue services have immediate access to information on the people on board. To make it easier to assist
victims and their relatives, the recorded data will include passengers' nationality."

The press release makes no mention of the security aspects of the changes.

Council: General approach (6937-17, pdf) The information collected on each passenger will be:

"the family names of the persons on board, their forenames, their gender, their nationality,their date of birth, when volunteered by a passenger, information concerning the need for special care or assistance in emergency situations."

National designated authorities will transmit the data: "by means of the Automatic Identification System."

European Commission proposal for Directive: Amending Council Directive 98/41/EC on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community and amending Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States (pdf)

1998 Directive: Council Directive 98/41/EC of 18 June 1998 on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community (pdf)

Experts criticize US electronic devices ban on some flights from Middle East (Guardian, link): "New TSA requirement blocks passengers from bringing laptops, iPads, Kindles and cameras, with a lack of specifics on whether flight crews are included in rule."

EU: Council of the European Union: Data Retention & International criminal law agreements

• Data retention: Retention of electronic communication data (LIMITE doc no: 6726- REV-1-17. pdf):

On 8 April 2014 the Court of European Justice (CJEU) ruled that the 2006 Data Retention Directive had been unlawful since it was adopted. Now nearly three years later the EU has failed to respond and adopt a new measure to meet the Court's judgment.

Europol says in its submission that:

"The overturning of the Data Retention Directive by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in its ruling of 8 April 2014 in Digital Rights Ireland 1 has created a scattered legal landscape for law enforcement and prosecutors to obtain relevant data from private parties. The annulment of the Data Retention Directive as such had no immediate effect on the national implementing legal acts. Therefore, in some Member States (MS), there is currently still legislation in place to ensure that telecommunication companies retain such data for law enforcement purposes, whereas in others, the national legislation has been annulled in the wake of the ECJ judgment....

This underlines, from an overall perspective, the operational need for a harmonised framework on the retention of electronic communication data."

The document contains a compilation of the contributions provided by the Member States and Europol: Annex I - Belgium, Annex II - Czech Republic, Annex III - Germany, Annex IV - Hungary, Annex V - Ireland, Annex VI - Portugal, Annex VII - Sweden, Annex VIII - Slovenia, Annex IX - Europol.

•.Criminal law: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - Inventory (LIMITE doc no: 6892-17, pdf):

"CATS agreed that the practice of keeping an inventory of present and future international agreements that raise an issue of EU competence in the area of criminal law should be maintained with a view to further improving coordination in the area of external action. An updated inventory is found in the Annex."

And see: International agreements that concern EU competences in the area of criminal law - systematic examination (LIMITE doc no: 12275-16, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.3.17)

Surveillance and protests: State surveillance of protest and the rights to privacy and freedom of assembly: a comparison of judicial and protester perspectives (pdf) by Val Aston

"This paper considers the approach taken by the UK courts to the use of visible, overt police surveillance tactics in the context of political assemblies. Contrasting judicial attitudes to the direct experiences of protesters themselves, the paper argues that the narrow approach taken by the courts to questions of privacy, based on informational autonomy and the 'reasonable expectation of privacy' test, has led to the insufficient recognition of the psychological, social and political harms arising from intensive surveillance operations.

The paper argues for a broader view of privacy, or in the alternative, a more robust application of the right to freedom of assembly, to protect protest mobilisations and assemblies from disruptive and intrusive aspects of overt state surveillance."

UK-EU: Brexit could place 'huge burden' on Parliament (BBC News, link):

"Parliament might have to scrutinise up to 15 new bills to deliver Brexit, leaving little time for other legislation, the Institute for Government has warned.

The IFG says legislation will be needed to establish new policies on areas such as customs and immigration. The extra measures will place "a huge burden" on Parliament and government departments, the think tank says."

See: Institute for Government report: Legislating Brexit The Great Repeal Bill and the wider legislative challenge (pdf)

UK: Take off for police drones air force: Remote-controlled 'flying squad' to chase criminals and hunt for missing people (Daily Mail, link):

"First 24-hour police drone unit to launch in Devon and Cornwall in summer
The dedicated force will be shared with Dorset and save helicopter costs
They will be used to picture crime scenes and track antisocial behaviour
But fears raised that technology could lead to cuts to officer numbers."

European Parliament: Revision of the Schengen Information System for border checks (pdf):

"In December 2016, the European Commission put forward a legislative package containing several proposals aimed at responding more effectively to new migration and security challenges. One focuses on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of border checks. It provides for more effective use of fingerprints and facial images in the SIS and would oblige Member States to record all entry bans issued to third-country nationals staying illegally in their territory."

And see: Revision of the Schengen Information System for law enforcement (pdf):

"One of these proposals is focused on improving and extending the use of the SIS in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It clarifies procedures, creates new alerts and checks, extends the use of biometrics, and enlarges access for law enforcement authorities." [emphasis added]

BREXIT: House of Lords European Union Select Committee: xBrexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses? (pdf): The Committee's conclusions included:

"If the Government continues to apply its anti-CJEU stance too rigidly it will severely limit its post-Brexit options for adequate alternative arrangements. It is clear that regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, civil justice cooperation of the type dealt with by these Regulations will remain a necessity. We are in no doubt that without adequate alternative arrangements post- Brexit there will be great uncertainty for UK businesses and citizens. Given the importance of these Regulations, we call on the Government to publish a coherent plan for addressing their post-Brexit application."

European Ombudsman launches Inquiry into availability of Council legislative documents

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director comments: "the root of legislative secrecy lies in secret trilogues"

On 10 March 2017 the European Ombudsman launched an inquiry into: "the disclosure of documents from discussions on draft EU legislative acts in Council preparatory bodies."

See: Access to documents relating to Council preparatory bodies when discussing draft EU legislative acts (pdf)

The letter to the Council observes that:

"The General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) does not proactively make available documents reflecting the positions of individual Member States during negotiations. This approach, however, is without prejudice to the right of public access to documents provided for in Regulation 1049/20015. These documents can be made available after the act in question has been adopted, provided that they are not covered by any exception laid down in Article 4 of Regulation 1049/2001." [emphasis added]

The notion that legislative documents are only made public after a measure is adopted has no place in a democracy.

The reality is that Member States positions in the Council developing its negotiating position are hidden in LIMITE documents see for example: RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions.

Historical images of para-military policing by Tony Bunyan: The following images are of para-military policing and the army in civil society

The story and images (pdf)

•.
1st Image (pdf) The first probably came out of the Kent State shooting or Massacre on 4 May 1970 by the Ohio National Guard

•.
2nd image (pdf) The second is the front cover of "Movement" (February 1973) which highlighted the emergence of para-military in the UK following on from "Bloody Sunday" in Derry. The adapted image form a soldier to a policeman was done by an artist at Hornsey Art College (Crouch End Hill, North London) as a linotype on brown cartridge paper."Movement" was a libertarian socialist magazine collective which went on to become "Writing on the Wall" and then "The Leveller".

3rd image The above image, with the permission of the artist, was used on the front cover of "The history and practice of: The Political Police in Britain" by myself. It was written after the 1973-1974 miners strike and the emergence of the coercive state. It is still available from Statewatch

4th image The fourth image - remarkably similar to its predecessors - is now being given out at British Army Arms Sales Exhibitions.

Police Scotland confirms secret G8 file on notorious undercover police unit (Herald Scotland, link):

" POLICE Scotland has confirmed that a secret file was created on the activities of a disgraced undercover unit at the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

The "intelligence briefings" on the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, whose officers had sex with the protestors they spied on, will now be examined by a watchdog as part of its covert policing probe. Police Scotland said they would not comment on the contents of the file.

Two Met-based units – the Special Demonstration Squad and the NPOIU – were set up to keep tabs on so-called subversives and domestic extremists. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: Humanitarian Visas: Court case

Humanitarian visas - Reference for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code (Case C-638/16 PPU, X and X v. Belgium) (LIMITE doc no: 7271-17, pdf):

"On 7 March 2017, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) gave its judgment in Case C-638/16 PPU, Humanitarian visas. It concerns the interpretation of Article 25(1)(a) of Regulation 810/2009 (Visa Code) and of Articles 4 (on prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 18 (on right to asylum) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and more particularly the question of whether Member States were obliged by the Charter to deliver visas of limited territorial validity under Article 25(1)(a) of the Visa Code to a family of Syrian nationals having requested such visas at the Belgian consulate in Lebanon with a view to apply for international protection in Belgium. As the preliminary ruling was about the interpretation of the Visa Code, and not about its validity, the Council did not intervene. This Case had raised a lot of concern among Member States, 14 of which intervened in support of Belgium......

One can draw from this judgment that should the EU decide to adopt harmonising legislation regarding the issuance of long-term visas or the examination of asylum or international protection applications submitted in the territory of third countries, the relevant authorities of the representations of Member States in these countries would fall within the scope of EU law and therefore within the scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights"

EU: Council struggles to formulate policy to get full access to all communications while respecting fundamental rights

The Council is seeking to find a common position on access all content everywhere for the purpose of gathering evidence in possible criminal cases and intelligence-gathering, including breaking encryption, while at the same time respecting fundamental rights:

See: Criminal justice in cyberspace - improving collaboration and coordination (LIMITE doc no: 6890-27, pdf):

European Parliament Study: The Brexit Negotiations: An Assessment Of The Legal, Political And Institutional Situation In The UK (pdf):

"The research analyses the post-Brexit political developments in the UK, the various parameters that should be taken into account, by both the UK government and the 27, in view of the Article 50 negotiations and the possible shape of the final deal and the future economic relationship, taking into account the EU obligations and the constraints of Theresa May’s government."

European Parliament: WORKSHOP: Civilian and military personnel in CSDP missions and operations (pdf):

"The workshop was organised on January 26, 2017 at the initiative of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) with the aim to highlight trends, challenges and recommendations regarding civilian and military personnel deployed in CSDP missions and operations in particular in the areas of force generation, training and the national follow-up on crimes and offences perpetrated during deployment."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.3.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: ETIAS and Reception Directive

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (LIMITE doc no: 6929-17, pdf):

"The issue of which Member State is responsible to decide on an application for travel authorisation only arises when there is a "hit" in the context of the automated processing and the application is therefore transferred to manual processing. If there are no "hits" when the application is submitted, the travel authorisation is issued in an automated manner and no Member State needs to be involved.

If there are one or more “hits”, it is the ETIAS National Unit of the responsible Member State which will issue or refuse the travel authorisation...."

RECEPTION DIRECTIVE: Proposal for a Directive of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no 7004-17, pdf) 97 Footnotes with Member State positions. Substantial,changes proposed by the Council Presidency:

"New text to be discussed at the meeting on 16 March is indicated with addition in bold„ and the deleted text is indicated in strikehtrough"

EU: European Commission: Commission proposes a new EU Action Plan on Drugs to enhance action against drug use and trafficking (pdf):

"Building on the findings of the evaluation of the EU Drugs Strategy for 2013-2020 and the Action Plan for 2013-2016, the new Action Plan on Drugs provides a strengthened response to the newly-emerging health and security challenges in the area of illicit drug use and trafficking. While maintaining and updating the core policy areas and cross-cutting themes of the overall EU Drugs Strategy,..."

And see: Evaluation of the implementation of the EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 and of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2013-2016: a continuous need for an EU Action Plan on Drugs 2017-2020 (COM 195, pdf)

EU leaders bash Turkey over the Netherlands (euobserver, link):

"European Council chief Donald Tusk and senior MEPs hit back at Turkey in a widening diplomatic dispute between Ankara and the Netherlands."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.3.17)

London Launch of report: Migrant detention in the European Union: a thriving business Outsourcing and privatization of migrant detention (pdf): 6pm Tuesday 28th March Praxis, Pott Street, London E2 0EF (round corner from Bethnal Green underground, buses 8, 106, 254, 388; easy access and toilet facilities for wheelchair users and pushchairs):

"In the UK, corporations like G4S, Serco, Mitie and Capita make millions locking up migrants in privately run detention centres. Many other less known companies also jostle for contracts in the detention industry, for example providing healthcare, cleaning or construction services. Britain is a pioneer in detention outsourcing, hurtling towards the model of the massive US private prison industry.

But detention outsourcing is also taking off across Europe. This meeting will present a new research report by Migreurop, the European and African migration network, which maps the rise of the privatised migration detention business across the European Union."

Organisers: Migreurop, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Corporate Watch, Statewatch.

See: Facebook Events (link)

UK: A National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales Surveillance Strategy (pdf):

"Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner launches a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

This strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community to enable system operators to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations (such as those contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act)."

Headscarf bans at work: explaining the ECJ rulings (EU Law Analyses, link):

"When can employers ban their staff from wearing headscarves? Today’s rulings of the ECJ have attracted a lot of attention, some of it confused. There have been previous posts on this blog about the background to the cases, and about the non-binding opinions of Advocates-General, and there will hopefully be further more analytical pieces about today’s judgments to come. But this post is a short explanation of the rulings to clear up any confusion."

European media ‘deeply regrets’ EU plans to ditch search engine payouts (euractiv, link):

"European media groups voiced concern Tuesday (14 March) that the European Union could ditch plans to force search engines like Google to pay them when their content is used."

England and Wales have highest imprisonment rate in western Europe - Incarceration rate of 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 people is almost three times that of the Netherlands (Guardian, link):

"England and Wales have the highest rate of imprisonment in western Europe, according to the Council of Europe’s annual penal statistics.

The prison population in England and Wales has stabilised at nearly 86,000 in recent years but the incarceration rate, at 148.3 prisoners per 100,000 population, remains higher than in Spain (137.9), France (98.3), Italy (86.4) and Germany (77.4)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.3.17)

EU taskforce highlights security failings that facilitated terror attacks (Guardian, link):

"Leaked report suggests need to enhance Schengen area security, raising possibility of internal border police checks"

See also: EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases and Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

EU: Parliamentary Tracker: Revision of Dublin, Qualification Directive, Refugees situation in Greece, EASO reform.. (LIBE debates on March 9,2017) (link)

UK-EU: Deal to allow individual Britons EU rights must go both ways, Theresa May told (Guardian, link): "Eastern European politicians say if UK wanted to let its citizens apply for freedom of movement it would have to be reciprocal."

EU-GREECE: Greece: Reject EU Pressure on Asylum Seekers (Human Rights Watch, link):

"(Athens) – The Greek Parliament should resist external pressures and reject any changes to legislation based on the European Commission’s Joint Action Plan for the EU-Turkey agreement, that will further worsen the situation for people seeking safety and a better life in Europe, 13 nongovernmental organizations said today in an open letter.

As the Greek Parliament is expected to vote within the coming days on these changes, the organizations are calling on Greek Members of Parliament not to support amendments to Greek Law 4375/2016 already published in the EU Joint Action Plan that will remove safeguards for vulnerable people and families. The parliament should stand by the protections enshrined in Greece’s current asylum legislation by making sure that most vulnerable persons and those eligible for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation are exempted from accelerated admissibility procedures aimed at sending them back to Turkey."

See: Urgent appeal from 13 NGOs not to approve amendments in Greek Parliament that will be harmful to asylum seekers (Human Rights Watch, link)

FRANCE: Breaking France’s addiction to its state of emergency (OpenDemocracy, link):

"France needs to adopt a clear path out of the state of emergency. The parliamentary commission monitoring the state of emergency suggested in December setting an upper limit on the extension of a state of emergency but parliament ignored it and voted a fifth extension with almost no debate. Candidates in the upcoming presidential election have largely avoided talking about the issue, perpetuating the procrastination strategy by the political class, and journalists have not pushed them on the issue.

It is no longer enough to wait and hope that the security threat will simply vanish or that the future president or legislature will finally decide to tackle the issue. The debate about lifting the state of emergency should become a priority topic in this presidential election. Like any addict hoping to recover, France needs to start by recognizing the problem and begin a serious conversation on how to quit."

UK: Investigatory Powers Act: do you know who's watching you?

"The power of the digital realm has been demonstrated in recent months like never before. Hacking and cyberwars dominating geopolitics; algorithms and ‘filter bubbles’ supposedly influencing elections; increased anxiety around the ‘internet of things’. So when leaked emails revealed that US police forces keep tabs on Black Lives Matter protesters with the help of a private company data-mining social media sites, was it so surprising?

We know that the rich online map of our lives and activities is a dream tool for governments and companies seeking to quell protest and resistance. And yet in the UK, we’ve now granted authorities unprecedented spying powers."

See: Do you know who's watching you? (OpenDemocracy, link)

EU: The risks of transparency in times of rising populism (Access Info, link):

"Madrid, 10 March 2017 – It’s not often that your own colleagues working on democracy issues actually question the wisdom of pressing for greater transparency, but this has happened to me a few times lately.

Most recently, I’ve been asked about the wisdom of pursuing Access Info’s high profile campaign to get the European Commission to publish the travel expenses of EU Commissioners.

The fear seems to be that this very peculiar time in European history – with sensitive elections in France and the Netherlands, with Brexit negotiations likely to be tense, with democracy struggling in Hungary and Poland, and of course with the terrifying spectre of tweeting President Trump on the other side of the Atlantic – is a delicate context, and that any scandals about the EU’s senior politicians might further undermine faith in the democratic system and push people into the arms of anti-democratic populists.

The paradox is that Access Info’s Commissioners’ travel expenses campaign has only come about because of the extreme reluctance of the European Commission over the past couple of years to provide the data."

EU: Council: updated draft conclusions on the EU policy cycle on organised crime 2018-21

"Delegations will find attached a revised version of the above-mentioned draft Council conclusions, based on the outcome of the discussions in the COSI [Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security] Support Group on 22 February and 7 March 2017 and the written comments received."

EU: Casting the PNR net wider: Netherlands offers recommendations for customs authorities

An updated paper produced by the Dutch delegation to the Council of the EU's Customs Cooperation Working Party offers a series of recommendations on how national customs authorities can make use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, due to be gathered and analysed by law enforcement authorities across the EU according to the April 2016 PNR Directive.

ITALY: Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming (The Guardian, link):

"An Italian migrant rights organisation, the Proxyma Association, estimates that more than half of all Romanian women working in the greenhouses are forced into sexual relations with their employers. Almost all of them work in conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation.

Police say they believe that up to 7,500 women, the majority of whom are Romanian, are living in slavery on farms across the region. Guido Volpe, a commander in the carabinieri military police in Sicily, told the Observer that Ragusa was the centre of exploitation on the island.

...The number of Romanian women travelling to work in Sicily has increased hugely over the past decade. According to official figures, only 36 Romanian women were working in Ragusa province in 2006, rising to more than 5,000 this year. Romanians overtook Tunisians this year as the largest group working in Ragusa’s fields.

“Greenhouse owners are now afraid of being prosecuted for facilitating illegal migration by hiring undocumented migrants,” says Giuseppe Scifo, a union leader for CGIL, Italy’s largest union. “So the new targets for exploitation are EU citizens, who are willing to accept low wages because of the desperate situation in their home countries.”

The Refugee Archipelago: The Inside Story of What Went Wrong in Greece (Refugees Deeply, link):

An important, detailed article examining the response by the EU and Greece to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from early 2015 onwards. It examines in detail the overlapping responsibilities (or lack thereof) of Greek state ministries and agencies, the EU and major humanitarian organisations that have had such a high human and financial cost.

"A sequence of events beginning with the record refugee flows into Greece in June 2015 and culminating in the photograph of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi woke the world to the refugee crisis. The effect of that awakening was to tip the entire humanitarian complex toward Greece, sending resources tumbling out of the developing world into the European Union. It prompted an unprecedented number of international volunteers to descend on the country, the U.N. refugee agency to declare an emergency inside the E.U., and the E.U. to deploy its own humanitarian response unit inside Europe for the first time. In the process, it became the most expensive humanitarian response in history, according to several aid experts, when measured by the cost per beneficiary.

...Officials from the E.U.’s humanitarian operations directorate, ECHO, believe the cost per beneficiary was unprecedented from their operations. And yet, one senior aid official estimated that as much as “$70 out of every $100 spent” had been wasted."

UK: The evidence is clear: LASPO isn’t working (Legal Voice, link):

"The government recently announced the long-promised post-implementation review of LASPO [the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012].

...Over the past few years, there has been no shortage of reports flagging many ways in which the consequences of LASPO have proved to be as bad as its critics predicted at the time of its passage through parliament. In its evidence to the Bach Commission, the Law Society highlighted many such problems. The society observed how some of the high level principles underpinning the government’s approach had proved flawed. The market and the not-for-profit sector did not find ways to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of legal aid, as the coalition government asserted would happen. Focusing legal aid on the most serious cases has meant withdrawing the vital early help that can stop problems turning into serious cases. Taking vast areas of law out of the scope of legal aid has led to an explosion in the number of litigants in person, and the courts are struggling to cope."

Challenging Patriarchy Through the Lens of Privacy (Privacy International, link):

"Many of the challenges at the intersection of women’s rights and technology as it relates to privacy and surveillance, come down to control. Such challenges have come sharply into focus as societies trend toward surveillance by default and foster data exploitative ecosystem.

And whilst control, in the context of privacy, should be about one’s control of their data, the limitations that are set, and the boundaries one erects between one’s self and others, unfortunately the dominant narrative has been about something else. The focus has been about the powerful, the State, industry, and dominant males, being given legitimacy within patriarchal societies to exercise their control over people, over women, in the name of security, economic prosperity, and self-empowerment. Feminists argue that surveillance itself is tool of patriarchy which controls and limits the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms online and offline."

And see: International Women's Day 2017: A PI Network Highlight Reel (Privacy International, link): "In this special briefing for International Women’s Day 2017, we explore through the work of the Privacy International Network some areas of concern being addressed in relation to privacy, surveillance, women’s rights, and gender."

EU: Council plans to "map" security checks on refugees, migrants and EU citizens at external borders on all available databases

The Council Presidency is preparing to launch a "mapping exercise" on all movements in and out of the EU at its external borders and also internally ("police checks"). See Note to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI): Security checks in case of irregular immigration - mapping exercise (LIMITE doc no: 6717-17, pdf)

For both all "third country nationals" including refugees and migrants and EU citizens the legal basis for carrying out "security checks" is:

"verification that the person concerned is not likely to jeopardise the public policy, internal security, public health or international relations of any of the Member States. Such verification shall include direct consultation of the SIS and other relevant Union databases, without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-12.3.17)

EU:Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Period of validity for residents permits (LIMITE do no: 6926-17, pdf):

Some Member States want to set "minimum standards" - 3 years for refugees and 1 year for subsidiary protection. While other back between 5 and 10 years for refugees and 1 to 5 years for subsidiary protection.

EU: Council Presidency treads a tricky path in trying to get Member State "solidarity" on refugees

The last Council Presidency (Slovakia) sought to resolve the issues of "solidarity" in responding to the refugee crisis with the majority of Member States failing to respond to calls for relocation and set the results out in a report to Delegations: Solidarity and responsibility in the Common European Asylum System - Progress report by the Slovak Presidency (LIMITE doc no, 15253-16, pdf). In the public version of this document pages 3-5 are deleted).

The Presidency lays out the dilemma as: "there is broad consensus that the current Dublin system is not ready to face substantial migratory pressures and that this has to be remedied."

Venice Commission: Proposed constitutional amendments in Turkey would be a “dangerous step backwards” for democracy (link):

"The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, warn against a one-person regime in Turkey in a definitive, as-adopted, opinion on proposed constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum next month.

The Venice Commission warns that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system."

“They are Nazis” Turkey lashes out after Netherlands denies FM’s landing permission (Keep Taking Greece, link):

"Turkey lashed out at Netherlands on Saturday after the Dutch government decided to deny landing rights for foreign minister Mevsut Cavusoglu. Immediate was the reaction of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who spoke of “Nazis and fascists” and wondered “let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey.” Several European countries cancelled Turkish Referendum rallies in their soil.

Speaking at a referendum rally in Istanbul just hours after the Hague denied landing permission to Cavusoglu, Erdogan said."

UK: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee report: Article 50 negotiations: Implications of ‘no deal’ (pdf):

"Uncertainty for UK participation in the EU’s common foreign and security policy... In the event of no agreement at the end of the Article 50 period, however, legal and political uncertainty could be cast over the status of UK assets deployed as part of ongoing EU CSDP missions.... Leaving the EU without any withdrawal deal would also mean immediately leaving the European Defence Agency (EDA), which was established in 1994 to foster co-operation in capabilities-building, procurement and the defence industry across the Member States."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.3.17) including: rights violations in hotspots; Austria and Poland tighten asylum rules; four million sets of fingerprints now held in Eurodac; Member States look to restrict refugees' socio-economic rights in Council discussions.

EU: Hotspots for refugees in Italy and Greece have led to "serious fundamental rights violations"

A major study on current EU policies and practices regarding refugees warns that the "hotspot" system of detaining, registering and processing migrants "has led to instances of serious fundamental rights violations in both Italy and Greece," and that the failure of EU Member States to meet their commitments under the relocation scheme should "be taken seriously as a threat to the rule of law at the EU level, which may warrant exploration, as well as formal enforcement action."

EU: Europol "threat assessment" paves the way for increased operational police cooperation

EU policing agency Europol has published its latest 'Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment' which focuses on "crime in the age of technology" and argues that there are more than 5,000 organised crime groups currently under investigation in the EU, whose activities are "increasing in complexity and scale" and for whom "technology is a key component of most, if not all, criminal activities".

UK: New documents on the policing of the miners' strike accompany renewed calls for public inquiry

A new batch of documents on the policing of the 1984-85 miners' strike, primarily related to the Battle of Orgreave in 1984, have been released by the National Archives. The documents show "hints of political direction of the police" according to the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, and reveal that the Thatcher goverment feared a "witch hunt" were any public enquiry held.

DENMARK: Surveillance: illegal Danish data retention law to stay in place and defence intelligence agency to receive PNR data

Two new articles published by EDRi explain how the Danish Defence Intelligence Service is to obtain access to Passenger Name Record (PNR) data; and that while the Danish law on data retention does not meet the standards laid down by the European Court of Justice in the recent Tele2 ruling, it will remain in place "until new rules for targeted data retention have been fully implemented."

German Bundestag greenlights further surveillance measures (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The new security resolution was agreed by the Bundestag during a marathon parliamentary session in the early hours of Friday morning. The measures will place greater weight on public safety concerns when deciding whether video surveillance technologies should be installed in certain locations.

In effect, the bill will make it simpler for private firms to install surveillance systems in public areas, particularly in shopping centers, by football stadiums and in car parks.

On the back of the government's increasing emphasis on public safety, new updates to Germany's data protection act stipulate that the protection of life, health or freedom carry particularly important interest. This key amendment to the act, which has historically valued privacy rights, is expected to make it significantly more difficult for privacy advocates to block any future surveillance measures."

EU: European Council, 9 March: Conclusions by the President of the European Council: economy, security and defence, migration

"The European Council deliberated on the attached document. It was supported by 27 Members of the European Council, but it did not gather consensus, for reasons unrelated to its substance.

References to the European Council in the attached document should not be read as implying a formal endorsement by the European Council acting as an institution."

See: Conclusions by the President of the European Council (pdf). Poland blocked unanimous adoption of the conclusions due to its displeasure with the re-election of Donald Tusk as the President of the European Council. See: Poland reacts with fury to re-election of Donald Tusk (The Guardian, link)

And see: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

ISRAEL: Your Fingerprint: Coming Soon to a Terrorist Near You (Haaretz, link):

"More than 80% of the policemen investigated by the internal affairs unit admitted to using the police database for personal needs, sometimes for profit, a high-ranking cop told Haaretz in June 2016. Now the biometric database law has come into being, ruling that from now on, Israeli identity cards and passports will all bear a chip with our biometric information, meaning a portrait photo and fingerprint. The law will come into force from July, after regulatory amendments, until which time the biometric pilot program will continue to operate.

It took the law nine years to pass through the Knesset, not least because of frenetic opposition. One of the amendments to be enacted has to do with police use of the biometric database."

FRANCE-USA: France warns construction firm Lafarge over offer to build Trump’s wall (France 24, link):

"France’s government on Thursday urged the French-Swiss construction giant LafargeHolcim to reconsider its offer to sell cement for building US President Donald Trump's controversial US-Mexico border wall.

"It (Lafarge) should reflect upon what its interests are. There are other clients who will be stunned by this," French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told France Info radio on Thursday, a few days after LafargeHolcim’s chief executive Eric Olsen said he was prepared to supply the materials for it.

"Lafarge says it doesn’t do politics. ... Very well, but I would say companies ... also have social and environmental responsibilities," added France’s top diplomat."

ENGLAND/WALES: Upgraded Taser authorised for England and Wales police (BBC News, link):

"An upgraded Taser model is to be made available to police in England and Wales, the Home Office has announced.

The Taser X2 - featuring a second back-up cartridge if the first charge fails - will eventually replace the X26, which is no longer in production.

Policing minister Brandon Lewis said officers would have the "tools they need to do their job effectively".

But a lawyer specialising in Taser-related injuries said a public consultation should have taken place."

UK: Marking the Home Office’s homework on immigration detention – urgent improvement needed (Unlocking Detention, link):

"What is true is that fewer people are being detained. In the last three months of 2015, 7702 people were detained. Between July and September 2016, this decreased a little, down to 7196 people. But, shockingly, what the Home Office’s own statistics show is that despite the reduction in the number of people entering detention, those who are in detention are being held for longer. At the end of December 2015, the month before the Shaw Review was published, 453 people who were being detained had been there for longer than 4 months. Nine months later, that number was 553.

Not only are people being detained for longer, but the impact of that is that despite fewer people entering detention, the number of people detained at any one time is actually higher than it was. On December 31 2015, 2,607 people were being detained. By the end of September 2016, this had jumped to just below 3,000."

UK-ECHR: Depriving suspected terrorist of British citizenship was lawful

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the British government acted lawfully in depriving a dual Sudanese-British national of his citizenship due to suspected involvement in activities related to terrorism in Somalia.

ENGLAND/WALES: Research on pre-trial detention informs legal changes in England and Wales (Fair Trials, link):

"Between 2015 and 2016, Fair Trials carried out a regional research project on the use of pre-trial detention in 10 EU countries. Through their research, our local partners from England and Wales even contributed to the reform of the region’s Criminal Procedure Rules. "

EU: Ombudsman to Council on secrecy in law-making: "there has never been a more critical time" for openness

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has said that "there has never been a more critical time for the European democratic process to be seen by EU citizens as open and transparent," in a letter urging the Council to provide more information on how it plans to respond to the Ombudsman's inquiry on secret "trilogue" meetings between the Council, Parliament and Commission. The letter was sent to the Council in February but is classified as LIMITE and has been kept from public view.

EU: New Statewatch briefing on cooperation between Frontex, non-EU states and international organisations

The purpose of cooperation between Frontex and third countries is principally to try to minimise the number of people arriving at the EU’s borders by extending the use of EU “border management” policies, techniques and technologies to those countries. Indeed, “measures in third countries” make up the first step of the “four-tier access control model” that was part of the EU’s original concept of ‘Integrated Border Management’. The other three were “border control, control measures within the area of free movement, including return)”.

This briefing provides a comparative overview of current agreements between Frontex and non-EU states and international organisations. It examines the overall framework for concluding such agreements, the types of agreements currently in force and their content, coordination and management of the agreements and other related issues such as forthcoming agreements.

EU: How to deal with democracy in crisis in Southeast Europe (Deutsche Welle, link)

"Many of the crisis symptoms that European democracy is currently experiencing have been growing for a long time and have anchored themselves in countries in the southeast of the continent: The democratic crisis in Southeast Europe is clear for all to see, and the "idea of liberal democratic consensus no longer exists," Florian Bieber from the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria told Deutsche Welle.

Yet the crisis is not a result of an acute depression, emphasizes Michael Hein, a professor at Berlin's Humboldt University, but rather, has grown out of a long, negative process. Hein analyzed and evaluated a number of statistics and indicators that measure various developmental, legal and social parameters. They show the same tendencies across the board: All of the countries of Southeast Europe, with the exception of Kosovo, and regardless of whether they are EU member states or not, have exhibited a constant downward trend over the last ten years.

This pertains to objectively measurable declines, but also to subjective parameters, such as citizens' faith in political and social institutions, which show the same downward tendency."

EU: Eurodac: over four million sets of fingerprints now held

The EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems recently published the annual report on the use of Eurodac, the EU database that holds the fingerprints of asylum-seekers in order to enforce the Dublin Regulation on responsibility for asylum applications. The number of fingerprint sets stored in the system has increased massively, by some 51%, growing from over 2.7 million at the end of 2014 to almost 4.1 million at the end of 2015.

EU: Council adopts child rights guidelines days after Commission recommends more child detention

On 6 March the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted a revised set of Guidelines on protecting and promoting the rights of children just days after the Commission adopted a Recommendation on returns policy that called for, amongst other things, stepping up the detention of children.

EU: European Council, 9-10 March: draft conclusions including security, defence and migration plus EP study on commitments to date

On 9 March there will be a meeting of the European Council followed on 10 March by an "informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government". The main themes of the Council meeting are migration, security and defence and the economy, while the informal meeting is concerned with "a political discussion on the content of the Rome declaration on the future of the EU that they are expected to adopt in Rome" on 25 March.

RUSSIA-ECHR: Incarcerating prisoners thousands of miles away from their relatives violated their right to family life (press release, pdf)

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Polyakova and Others v. Russia (application nos. 35090/09, 35845/11, 45694/13 and 59747/14) the applicants are either prisoners, or the family members of prisoners, who were adversely affected by decisions of the Russian Federal Penal Authority (“the FSIN”) to imprison individuals thousands of miles away from their families. The applicants complained that the decisions to allocate prisoners to remote penal facilities - and their subsequent inability to obtain transfers – had violated their right to respect for family life. The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of each applicant.

The Court held that the distance between the penal facilities and homes of the prisoners’ families – ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 kilometres – was so great that it had inflicted hardship on the persons concerned."

Judgment: CASE OF POLYAKOVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (35090/09 and three others, pdf) and see another recent case: FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf)

MALTA: Schengen Information System: 49 people caught using false documents since start of 2016 (Malta Independent, link):

"49 persons were caught entering Malta with false documents since the start of 2016, with 14 people being caught while Schengen was temporarily closed, the Police have confirmed with The Malta Independent.

The numbers show that 28% of people using false documents were caught during a 20-day period when Schengen was suspended – between 21 January 2017 to 9 February 2017 - while the remaining 35 were caught throughout the rest of the year. This indicates that more people using false documents can cross borders undetected when Schengen is in place."

Council of Europe: Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity, prevent human trafficking and strengthen its child-protection system (CoE, link):

"“Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity and integration policies, prevent human trafficking and combat corruption in the migration-related services sector” are the main recommendations in a report published today by the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Bocek.

The Special Representative also stressed the need to strengthen the protection of refugee and migrant children; called upon the Italian authorities and the EU to expedite the examination of asylum claims and of relocation and family-reunification requests; and pointed to the risk that weaknesses in the system for voluntary and forced removals might be encouraging the arrival of more irregular economic migrants."

See: Report of the fact-finding mission to Italy by Ambassador Tomáš Bocek, Special Representative of the Secretary General on migration and refugees, 16-21 October 2016 (pdf)

EU-US: CIA used Frankfurt consulate to spy on Europeans (EUobserver, link):

"The US intelligence agency, the CIA, has used the American consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base to carry out digital spy operations, Wikileaks revealed on Tuesday (7 March).

The Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, based in the German city, was the base for CIA hackers covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Wikileaks said. The information is based on documents from the agency's internal discussion forum."

See: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Wikileaks, link) and: The Wikileaks CIA Stash May Prove Interesting, But Not Necessarily for the Hacks (MIT Technology Review, link)

EU: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): data protection warning

"The [ETIAS] proposal would require visa-exempt travellers to undergo a risk assessment with respect to security, irregular migration and public health before entering the EU.

...The proposal provides for the establishment of screening rules, a profiling tool that would enable the ETIAS system to single out individuals suspected of posing such risks. In his Opinion, the EDPS stresses that profiling techniques, as with any other form of computerised data analysis, raise serious technical, legal and ethical questions, related to their transparency and accuracy, and calls on the Commission to produce convincing evidence establishing the need for their inclusion and use in the ETIAS system."

UK-EU: Statement on Homelessness charities and local authorities complicit in detention and deportation of EU nationals rough sleeping (North East London Migrant Action, link):

"Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative) are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.

Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported."

And see: The Round-Up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration (Corporate Watch, link):

"Several nights a week, immigration patrols are out targeting rough sleepers in London, now a prime focus for raids under Theresa May's “hostile environment” policy.

EU: Council of the European Union: Resettlement, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) and Refugee rights

• Massive re-draft of Council position: Resettlement: Proposal for a Regulationl establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 (LIMITE doc no: 5332-17, pdf): With 150 Footnotes on Member State positions.

• "Blue Card": Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 6633-17, pdf): With 150 Member State positions in Footnotes. Council developing its negotiating position.

• Social rights of refugees: Theme: Socio-Economic Rights of Asylum Seekers and Beneficiaries of International Protection (LIMITE doc no: 5405-17,pdf). Highly detailed Member State objections in Footnotes.

This affects the Reception Conditions Directive, Recast Dublin Regulation and Qualification Regulation.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.3.17)

WIKILEAKS: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed (Press release, link):

"oday, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina."

See: Documents (link)

And see: WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents (NYT, link): "WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions."

German Parties and Ministries Vulnerable To Hacking Attacks

Politicians in Germany are warning about the threat of hacking attacks, but when it comes to their own data, many are too careless. SPIEGEL reporting has determined that some German political parties are failing to take advice from the country's information security authority seriously enough.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.3.17) including: EU plans on return will create more harm and suffering, EP committee wants "forced fingerprinting" procedure; and more.

EP study: The budgetary tools for financing the EU's external policy (pdf):

"In recent years, the European Union (EU) architecture for financing external policies has become more complex. In addition to the EU’s financing instruments in the EU budget, several innovative funding tools and mechanisms have been established. Driven by the need to respond to new challenges and unforeseen crises in times of tight public budgets, the EU has considerably diversified its toolbox for funding external policies. This toolbox now includes new funding tools, such as trust funds (TFs), and mechanisms, such as blending facilities, that combine funds from the EU budget with other resources. Instruments in the budget are also evolving to address the need for greater flexibility and simplification in the financing of the EU’s external policies.

As a result, EU funding for external policies is becoming more complex. This complexity creates challenges. Besides making the EU budget less transparent in the eyes of European citizens, these developments also pose challenges to the European Parliament (EP) in terms of budgetary oversight. As reform dynamics are picking up pace, it is important to take stock of the evolving architecture for financing EU external policies."

EU: Call for tough asylum fingerprinting measures backed in draft EP budget committee opinion

A draft opinion on the new Eurodac Regulation written for the European Paliament's budgets committee calls for the adoption of "an EU procedure for forced fingerprinting," taking a similar line to an earlier draft report produced for the civil liberties (LIBE) committee.

UK: ‘Unacceptably haphazard’: Steven Avery’s lawyers support open justice campaign (The Justice Gap, link):

"Steven Avery’s lawyers have lent their support to a new campaign calling for an end to the Ministry of Justice’s policy of destroying vital court records.

Dean Strang who featured in the Netflix hit documentary Making a Murderer was speaking at a meeting at parliament on Tuesday to launch the Open Justice Charter, an initiative which comprises a series of demands for greater transparency and accountability in the justice system.

The charter, which features in the latest issue of Proof magazine, highlights the automatic destruction of court transcripts. ‘That the MoJ would destroy court transcripts at all, let alone after a period as short seven years, should deeply disturb all Britons,’ Dean Strang said in an interview for the Justice Gap ahead of the meeting. ‘When you have lost the transcript of trial proceedings you have made it, if not impossible, then a damned sight harder for anyone to review the safety or reliability of that conviction. I find that unacceptably haphazard.’"

See: Destruction of court records 'hampers miscarriage of justice inquiries' (The Guardian, link) and the campaign: Open Justice Initiative: Increasing accountability by opening up access to information (Centre for Criminal Appeals, link)

EU: Protect rights at automated borders (Nature, link):

"Around the world... technologies are transforming the nature of regional and national borders in radical ways. Booths that recognize people's irises, faces and fingerprints are proliferating at airports, ports and other checkpoints. E-gates that compare identities against biometric records stored on chips in passports are supposedly faster, cheaper and more reliable than human border guards, and are presented as technical add-ons to the existing system. But, unmanaged, such technologies can threaten human rights and open up new forms of discrimination."

EU: Commission White Paper Option Six: A Europe of Democracy And Social Justice (Social Europe, link) by Paul Mason:

"The White Paper by Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 March 2017 is a poor answer to the crisis of the European Union. In response, I am proposing that parties and movements committed to internationalism and social justice offer the following alternative to the five options Juncker outlines."

See: See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf)

Will This British Citizen on Death Row in Ethiopia Ever Walk Free? (Newsweek, link):

""But after almost three years away, Hailemariam is hopeful that her partner may return home soon. Earlier in February, three top British legal officials penned a letter to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, urging him to push for Tsege’s release from detention, which they say is “in violation of international law.” This development, along with what Hailemariam believes is the Ethiopian government’s fatigue at holding him—the country is dealing with other problems, including a wave of anti-government protests since November 2015, while Tsege’s ongoing detention is likely straining ties with the U.K., a major donor to Ethiopia—has renewed the family’s hope of getting Tsege back. “[But] I don’t know if I’m being too much of an optimist,” she says.""

AIDA reports on Italy, Malta and Spain – Southern borders a laboratory for deflection policies (ECRE, link):

""“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.""

See the reports: Italy, Malta and Spain (links to pdfs)

Terror and Exclusion in EU Asylum Law Case – C-573/14 Lounani (Grand Chamber, 31 January 2017) (European Law Blog, link):

"The on-going conflict in the Middle East has profound implications for the global legal order in two areas of law in particular: asylum law and anti-terrorist law. The European Union and EU law have not been immune from this development and in many respects are closely affected by these geopolitical developments and their legal impact. After a fitful start, the EU has become a major actor in the area of criminal law, and in particular anti-terrorist law, on the one hand and in asylum law on the other. The two fields meet in Article 12(2)(c) of the Qualification Directive, itself reflecting Article 1F of the Geneva convention, providing that an individual shall be excluded from eligibility for refugee status for acts contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations, acts which have been held to include acts of terrorism. Furthermore, Article 12(3) of the Qualification Directive extends that exclusion to ‘persons who instigate or otherwise participate in the commission of the the crimes or acts’ mentioned in Article 12(2). The status of terrorist and refugee are legally incompatible and mutually exclusive; one simply cannot be a terrorist and also a refugee. What, however, constitutes a terrorist for the purposes of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive? That essentially is the question at stake in Lounani."

See: Opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston (pdf) and judgment: Case C-573/14, request for a preliminary ruling in: Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides v Mostafa Lounani (pdf)

FRANCE-SPAIN: Three ETA members held in prison in Lyon: no “interference” with their right to respect of family life (ECHR press release, pdf):

"In its decision in the case of Labaca Larrea v. France and two other applications (applications nos. 56710/13, 56727/13 and 57412/13) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously decided to join the applications and declared them inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case concerned the detention in France of three ETA members in a prison located at a great distance from the residences of their families.

The Court considered that the transfer of the applicants to the Lyon-Corbas prison had not been such as to significantly impede their right to receive visits. They had not been the subject of measures to restrict or limit their right to contact with their families and there was no evidence that the journeys which their relatives had had to make had caused any insuperable, or even particularly difficult, problems."

Judgment: Case 56710/13 (pdf, French only)

EU to step up backing for military missions

"On 6 March the Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence. The conclusions assess what has been done to implement the various lines of action agreed by the European Council on 15 December 2016. They form the basis of a report for the European Council of 9 and 10 March 2017.

The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations, which contains measures to improve the EU's capacity to react in a faster, more effective and more seamless manner, building on existing structures and in view of enhancing civilian-military synergies, as part of the EU's comprehensive approach.

These measures include the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), within the existing EU Military Staff of the European External Action Service, for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions..."

See: press release: Security and defence: Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missions (pdf)

Adopted: Council conclusions on progress in implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence (pdf) and: Concept Note: Operational Planning and Conduct Capabilities for CSDP Missions and Operations (pdf)

UK-FRANCE: Presidential elections should not let us forget the fate of migrant children from Calais (HRW, link):

"The outlook for child migrants took a turn for the worse when on 8 February, the UK immigration minister, Robert Goodwill, announced that the UK had ended transfers under the Dubs amendment—even though the government had spoken of accepting between 1,000 and 3,000 children when the provision was debated in Parliament. The UK’s decision to end this humanitarian program tarnishes its history as a refuge for thousands of refugee children during World War II. The UK should restate its commitment to the Dubs amendment and ensure that an overly narrow application of the criteria does not lead to unfair or arbitrary decisions.

(...)

The fate of these young migrants depends also on the French government response. The French government has left these young migrants in limbo, placing them in CAOMIs outside the regular asylum and child protection system as an interim measure. The agencies hired to run the centers have varied in quality—while some have done an excellent job, others have lacked experience in supporting unaccompanied child migrants. Communication between the young migrants and French social workers or government officials has often been difficult due to the absence of qualified translators. In one shelter that I visited in December, a crowd of young migrants gathered around me to voice their anger and distrust toward the staff running the place."

This Is Why Encryption Is Such a Headache for Lawmakers (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Encrypted smartphones and messaging apps that prevent even the companies that make them from decrypting their data are unreasonably hindering criminal investigations, and the situation is worsening, say law enforcement officials. A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent bipartisan policy think tank, helps quantify the scale and complexity of the issue."

See: The Effect of Encryption on Lawful Access to Communications and Data (CSIS, link):

"Terrorists and criminals find creative ways to leverage the latest technologies to evade law enforcement. Technology continues to evolve, making unrecoverable encryption easier for individuals to obtain and use. Furthermore, any U.S. policy on encryption might set a precedent that other countries would be tempted to follow. While the debate thus far has pitted privacy and individual security against the critical task of stopping criminals and terrorists, there may be technical and policy solutions that can balance national security and public safety with protection of privacy, civil liberties, and a functioning global Internet ecosystem."

FRANCE: National Front plans for the constitution threaten democracy

"Ms. Le Pen’s constitutional program echoes a current practice in some dictatorial regime, which consists in using the referendum in order to justify authoritarian backslidings. If the constitutional program is adopted, no constitutional disposition would be safe from any authoritarian tendencies. Amending the constitution through referendum would allow Ms. Le Pen to propose constitutional reforms which go beyond her original constitutional program. It is already the case with the reestablishment of death penalty since she recently announced that this question will be asked by referendum.6) Moreover, nothing would inhibit Ms. Le Pen to use the referendum in order to extent or renew the presidential mandate, or to modify the electoral system of the NA if the latter is too troublesome."

Analysis: Marine Le Pen: a Constitutional Program Threatening the French Constitutional Regime (Verfassungsblog, link)

See also: National Front tones down manifesto ahead of presidential elections (Deutsche Welle, link) and problems in the European Parliament: Le Pen takes the Parliament to the EU Court of Justice in the assistants’ case (New Europe, link):

"The embattled French Front National leader Marine Le Pen announced plans to take the European Parliament to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in the assistants’ case.

Marine Le Pen refuses to return the sums linked to the dubious employment of a parliamentary assistant."

EU: Germany rejects Franco-Italian proposal on Defense Eurobonds (New Europe, link):

"Germany opposes a Franco-Italian proposal to finance European defense public procurement via a €5,3bn Eurobond issue, Handelsblatt reports on Monday.

The German financial daily sites government sources, insisting on the principle that defense procurement must be financed by member states alone rather than mutualized debt. Berlin is ready to veto any such an initiative.

The European Commission has proposed a fund that would lower the cost for the procurement of helicopters and planes. Paris and Rome followed up with the idea of funding defense procurement with Euro bonds guaranteed by EU member states."

UK: Illegal rendition cover up continues: Government seeks secret hearing for first time in victims’ case (Reprieve, link)

"The Government is asking the High Court to use secret proceedings in a case brought by victims of a UK-US rendition during the ‘War on Terror’. This is the first time such powers are set to be used in a rendition victims’ case, and it is being sought so the Government may avoid embarrassing revelations on how parliament and the public continue to be misled as to what happened.

At a hearing next Tuesday (7th), lawyers for the Government will argue that the case of two men who were rendered to Afghanistan in 2004 should be heard in secret.

The men, Amanatullah Ali and Yunus Rahmatullah, are challenging the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence over the UK’s involvement in their rendition."

NORTHERN IRELAND: DUP puts Sinn Féin in driving seat, but road ahead is unclear (The Detail, link):

"THE shock election result in Northern Ireland that has seen unionism lose its majority status is an overnight sensation that has been years in the making.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

The 2011 census revealed that the once unassailable Protestant/unionist majority was in decline, while the growing Catholic/nationalist population was likely to become the largest community.

The DUP has known for a long time that a shift in politics was possible, but the party did nothing, despite holding power for the last ten years."

UK may return tortured asylum seekers to country they fled, says immigration minister (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not consider a person having been tortured in the country they are fleeing reason enough alone to accept a claim of asylum, the immigration minister has said.

Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary debate on torture that not all proven survivors of past torture “automatically qualify for protection” if they cannot produce additional evidence that they would be at risk of further serious harm upon being sent back to where they had fled."

How does the ageing process affect automated facial recognition systems?

"The two underlying premises of automatic face recognition are uniqueness and permanence. This paper investigates the permanence property by addressing the following: Does face recognition ability of state-of-the-art systems degrade with elapsed time between enrolled and query face images? If so, what is the rate of decline w.r.t. the elapsed time? While previous studies have reported degradations in accuracy, no formal statistical analysis of large-scale longitudinal data has been conducted. We conduct such an analysis on two mugshot databases, which are the largest facial aging databases studied to date in terms of number of subjects, images per subject, and elapsed times. Mixed-effects regression models are applied to genuine similarity scores from state-of-the-art COTS face matchers to quantify the population-mean rate of change in genuine scores over time, subject-specific variability, and the influence of age, sex, race, and face image quality. Longitudinal analysis shows that despite decreasing genuine scores, 99% of subjects can still be recognized at 0.01% FAR up to approximately 6 years elapsed time, and that age, sex, and race only marginally influence these trends. The methodology presented here should be periodically repeated to determine age-invariant properties of face recognition as state-of-the-art evolves to better address facial aging."

See: Longitudinal Study of Automatic Face Recognition (IEEE, link)

EU: DATA RETENTION: Council calls in the "experts" to try and get round the law

Retention of electronic communication data - next steps (LIMITE doc no: 6713-17, pdf):

In the Watson/Tele2 case the Council recognises that:

"the Court ruled that Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC (the ePrivacy Directive), read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation "which, for the purpose of fighting crime, provides for general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication", as well as national legislation that "governs the protection and security of traffic and location data and, in particular, access of the competent national authorities to the retained data, where the objective pursued by that access, in the context of fighting crime, is not restricted solely to fighting serious crime, where access is not subject to prior review by a court or an independent administrative authority, and where there is no requirement that the data concerned should be retained within the European Union,,,

Many delegations expressed their concerns on the implications of the judgment, which might hinder the effectiveness of the investigations and prosecutions of crimes. The majority of delegations reiterated the support expressed at the informal ministerial meeting in Valletta on 26-27 January 2017 for a coordinated approach at EU level and for discussions to continue at expert level." [emphasis added].

The Commission 3 years after the Digital Rights and now confronted by the confirmation by the Court that such laws are unlawful is considering:

"how national data retention laws can be construed in conformity with the judgment:"

See: In December 2016: Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf) and in 2014: "Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger and others": The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf) - the CJEU declared the measure was unlawful since it was adopted in 2006.

UK: Watchdog to launch inquiry into misuse of data in politics - Investigation follows revelations of digital firm’s involvement in Brexit (The Observer, link):

"The UK’s privacy watchdog is launching an inquiry into how voters’ personal data is being captured and exploited in political campaigns, cited as a key factor in both the Brexit and Trump victories last year.

The intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) follows revelations in last week’s Observer that a technology company part-owned by a US billionaire played a key role in the campaign to persuade Britons to vote to leave the European Union."

EU: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM (EES): Council of the European Union: Council negotiating position for trilogue with the European Parliament:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 6572-17, 161 pages, pdf):

"The new addition are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the documents are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission proposals are marked as […]...

A number of delegations have recalled the work carried out by the High Level Experts Group on Information Systems and Interoperability, and have called for a consistent approach on the issue of law enforcement access across the pending legislative proposals. It is suggested that a Council declaration on this issue (as revised following the discussion in the JHA Counsellors meeting of 23 February) is attached to the minutes of Coreper." [emphasis added]

See also: High-Level Expert Group interim report (pdf) and:

Correction (LIMITE doc no: 6572-COR-1-17, pdf) See important amendments regarding non-EU agency access.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.3.17)

EU: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report

Third Progress Report on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (pdf):

"this Report is linked to the renewed Action Plan on a more effective return policy and the Recommendation on the implementation of the Return Directive adopted in parallel by the Commission. Substantial progress on returns also depends on making legal and administrative processes inside the EU simpler and more effective, and also on ensuring full cooperation with third countries of origin....

The Commission, in close cooperation with the European External Action Service, will take stock of the approach and its results in reducing irregular migration flows, addressing its root causes and improving return rates when it reports in June, one year on from the launch of the Partnership Framework....

Progress in the negotiations of the EU-Nigeria readmission agreement is of the utmost importance: the first round took place in October 2016, but a second round of talks has been postponed several times by Nigeria...

Dialogue and cooperation with Mali on return suffered a setback following inaccurate media reports in December 2016 about the signature of a formal agreement on return with the EU which never took place, and Mali did not sign Operating Procedures on readmission." [emphasis added]

Comment. "Confusion" in the media was caused by the EU trying to "jump the gun" by saying it had signed the agreement - but Mali had not agreed: see: Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks" with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration Partnership Framework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (Press release) pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African state:

"Tangible progress has been made with the five African priority countries, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Senegal but efforts need to be stepped up to deliver results. Along the Central Mediterranean route, work is taken forward to better manage migration, continue saving lives, step up the fight against smugglers and traffickers and offer protection to migrants in need and increase
resettlement and assisted voluntary returns."

Annex (pdf): Detailed targets for "priority" states.
FAQ (pdf)

And see:

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements (Statewatch)
New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch)
Viewpoint: Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch, pdf)
EU-Africa: Fortress Europe’s neo-colonial project (Statewatch, pdf)

EU-TURKEY DEAL: Question to the Commission: Effects of the General Court’s orders on the EU-Turkey Statement (pdf) from Barbara Spinelli MEP:

"if the EU-Turkey Statement had to be considered an international instrument, what would be the legal basis for the involvement of the EU institutions in its implementation?

Does the Commission consider the commitments already made on the basis of this text to be compatible with the orders issued by the General Court?"

See: EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

EU: Parliament asks EU Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (Press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visafree access to nationals of five EU countries. In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months”.

The text prepared by the Civil Liberties Committee was adopted by a show of hands.

Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free."

And see: Parliamentary Tracker : a new episode of the EU-US visa waiver saga… (ASFJ, link)

UK: Inclusion of CAGE as “controversial” in PREVENT training manual shows how the policy strangles debate on crucial issues (link):

" The inclusion of CAGE on a PREVENT training presentation as a “controversial” organisation whose views should be mitigated on campuses, is indicative of the securitisation of universities under PREVENT and the creeping infringement of the government on free speech.

Although CAGE was singled out in the manual, we are just one of the many dissenting voices targeted by PREVENT, which also takes aim at Muslims who question foreign and domestic policy, environmental activists and pro-Palestinian groups.

It is alarming that criticism of PREVENT and government policy is seen as a marker for ‘extremism’, especially since all our events feature presenters that call for due process and the rule of law."

The Growing International Movement Against Killer Robots (Harvard International Review, link):

"Six weapons have been internationally banned: poison gas, biological weapons, chemical weapons, blinding lasers, antipersonnel landmines, and cluster munitions. The bans on the latter three were all achieved in the past 21 years, and, in each case, civil society was the driving force in bringing the issue to the forefront and convincing governments to agree to a ban. All three bans were rooted in the desire to better protect civilians during warfare and its aftermath, and to strengthen further international humanitarian law. "

Refugee crisis: Commission: Draconian Recommendations to "substantially increase rate of return"

Commission: Recommendation on making returns more effective when implementing the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (pdf) Publication was delayed several hours:

"The objectives of such an integrated and coordinated approach in the area of return should be to: ensure swift return procedures and substantially increase the rate of return...

put in place measures to effectively locate and apprehend third-country nationals staying illegally...

Member States should ensure that return decisions have unlimited duration, so that they can be enforced at any moment...

ensure that return decisions are followed without delay by a request to the third country of readmission to deliver a valid travel documents or to accept the use of the European travel document...

provide in national legislation for a maximum initial period of detention of six months that can be adapted by the judicial authorities in the light of the circumstances of the case, and for the possibility to further prolong the detention until 18 months in the cases provided for in Article 15(6) of Directive 2008/115/EC;

bring detention capacity in line with actual needs, including by using where necessary the derogation for emergency situations as provided for...

provide for the shortest possible deadline for lodging appeals against return decisions established by national law...

Risk of absconding

(15) Each of the following objective circumstances should constitute a rebuttable presumption that there is a risk of absconding:

(a) refusing to cooperate in the identification process, using false or forged identity documents, destroying or otherwise disposing of existing documents, refusing to provide fingerprints;
(b) opposing violently or fraudulently the operation of return;
(c) not complying with a measure aimed at preventing absconding imposed in application of Article 7(3) of Directive 2008/115/EC, such as failure to report to the competent authorities or to stay at a certain place;
(d) not complying with an existing entry ban;
(e) unauthorised secondary movements to another Member State."

European Commission pushes for returns and readmission - having given up on relocating refugees within the EU

Press release: European Agenda on Migration: Commission presents new measures for an efficient and credible EU return policy (pdf):

"the Commission is today following through with a renewed EU Action Plan on Return and a set of recommendations to Member States on how to make return procedures more effective.....

Remove inefficiencies by shortening deadlines for appeals, systematically issuing return decisions that do not have an expiry date and combining decisions on the ending of a legal stay with the issuance of a return decision to avoid duplicate work...

Tackle abuses of the system by making use of the possibility to assess asylum claims in accelerated or, where considered appropriate, border procedures when it is suspected asylum claims are made merely to delay the enforcement of a return decision...

Prevent absconding by detaining people who have received a return decision and who show signs they will not comply such as refusal to cooperate in the identification process or opposing a return operation violently or fraudulently....

Overcoming the challenges of readmission by working to swiftly conclude the negotiations of Readmission Agreements with Nigeria, Tunisia and Jordan and striving to engage with Morocco and Algeria.

Within the Partnership Framework, employ collective leverage in a coordinated and effective manner through tailor-made approaches with third countries."

Communication: On a more effective return policy in the EU - A renewed Action Plan (COM 200-17, pdf)

Annex 1 (pdf): Detailed plan

FAQ: Returns and readmission (pdf)

Returns and readmission via "Partnership Frameworks with African states: Commission calls for accelerated delivery under the Migration PartnershipFramework and further actions along the Central Mediterranean Route (pdf) including "Factsheets" on target African states

European Commission: Relocation, EU-Turkey "deal" and EU Border Agency

"Solidarity" is a eupemism for failure of reclocating refugees within the EU:
Commission calls for renewed efforts in implementing solidarity measures under the European Agenda on Migration (Press release, pdf):

"Ahead of next week's European Council and in the form of three progress reports, the Commission is today making a renewed call on Member States to pick up the pace of relocation to alleviate pressure from Italy and Greece, with few having met their commitments in full....

the current pace of relocation is still well below expectations and below the European Council endorsed target...

the current pace will not allow for the relocation of all eligible applicants currently present in Greece and Italy by September 2017 – despite this being perfectly feasible. So far, only two Member States (Malta and Finland) are on track to meet their obligations for
both Italy and Greece, whereas some (Hungary, Austria and Poland) are still refusing to participate in the scheme at all and others are doing so on a very limited basis (Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia)....

soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers under the Treaties for those who have not complied with the
obligations stemming from the Council decisions, noting that the legal obligation to relocate those eligible will not cease after September."
[emphasis added]

•  Tenth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 202-17, pdf)

•  Annex 1: Relocations: Greece (pdf)
•  
Annex 2: Relocations: Itay (pdf)
•  
Annex 3: Relocations from Italy and Greece by 28 February 2017 (pdf)

•  Fifth Report on the Progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM 204-17, pdf)

•  Annex (pdf)

•  Second report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM 201-17, pdf)

EU: European Commission: Fifth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 203-17, pdf):

Sweeping agenda for more controls and surveillance:

"This is the fifth monthly report on the progress made towards building an effective and genuine Security Union and covers developments under two main pillars: tackling terrorism, organised and cyber crime and the means that support them; and strengthening our defences and building resilience against those threats.

A prerequisite of building an effective and genuine Security Union is ensuring the timely adoption and full and effective implementation of EU legislation."

UK: Watchdog says police cuts have left forces in 'perilous state' - Government austerity blamed in report, which shows stretched forces downgrading calls and leaving suspects at large (Guardian, link):

"Policing in England and Wales is in a “potentially perilous state” as government cuts lead to investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects remaining at large, a watchdog has warned.

In a report on effectiveness in policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) uncovered a range of “dangerous” and “disturbing” practices that have arisen out of police forces’ approach to dealing with budget cuts in excess of 20%."

See: HMIC: PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 (pdf) And: Breakdown by force (link)

EU-BREXIT: Ombudsman urges appropriate Brexit transparency

"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has asked the European Commission to set out the arrangements that it plans to put in place to ensure transparency and to secure appropriate stakeholder input during the upcoming Brexit negotiations. These should cover the types of information and documents the Commission intends to publish - including the timeline for negotiations and reports on negotiating rounds - and when."

See: Letter from the Ombudsman to President Juncker concerning information for the public on the upcoming negotiations aimed at reaching agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.3.17): EU not responsible for EU-Turkey deal, says ECJ; migrants sentenced to years in prison in Hungary; relocation figures; and more.

HUNGARY: Szeged court issues final guilty verdict in case of 10 immigrants charged with rioting (Budapest Beacon, link)

"A Szeged court has reached a final guilty verdict in an appeal hearing against 10 immigrants for their involvement in clashes with police at the Hungarian-Serbian border near Röszke in September, 2015. Among the convicted are an ill, elderly woman, a man who walks with a cane, and a man in a wheelchair. The court ruled that all of the accused had illegally crossed Hungary’s border as participants in a riot, index.hu reports.

The court sentenced four of the defendants to one year and two months imprisonment and banned them from Hungary for four years. Another man, who was observed speaking to the crowd through a megaphone during the border clashes, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and banned for six years from the country. That man, 22-year-old Syrian national Yamen A., was the only defendant to appear at the sentencing, and reportedly wept upon hearing the verdict. He has been in custody for nearly 18 months.

Each of the 10 immigrants spent at least nine and a half months in custody while awaiting the verdict in last year’s first-degree trial."

And see from December 2016: Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link)

HUNGARY: Orbán speaks of the necessity for ethnic homogeneity in speech to business leaders (Budapest Beacon, link):

"In an address to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán boasted of successful economic policies before pointing to the maintenance of Hungary’s ethnic homogeneity as a key to improving its international standing.

...“Hungary’s ethnic relations are complex, so this isn’t an easy issue,” he said, adding that the country’s competitive labor market makes “such ideas completely unimaginable”.

To improve Hungary’s international standing, it must protect its ethnic homogeneity because “too much mixing causes problems.” Being a “single color” was important (the statement released on his website uses the word “egyszínuség”, which in English would translate to the exact opposite of “diverse”), as was strong public safety, and having a “clean, green Hungary”."

EU: Final text of the 2017 Directive on Combating Terrorism

See: DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA (pdf)

And: Joint statement by the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission (pdf)

The text is still to be published in the Official Journal.

Full background and documentation on the Statewatch European Monitoring and Documentation Centre (SEMDOC): Directive on combating terrorism

EU: European Citizens’ Initiative: General Court rules on the Commission’s obligation to give reasons for refusing to register proposals (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On Friday the 3rd of February, the General Court (GC) annulled for the first time a Commission Decision refusing registration of a proposed European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), on the ground that the Commission infringed its duty to give reasons for its decision. Minority SafePack is a short judgment concerning procedural matters yet at this early stage of the ECI, which was established in 2012, any judgment clarifying the applicable legal framework is worthy of attention from those interested in the ECI and more generally in the opportunities for citizens’ participation in EU lawmaking."

See the judgment: Case T-646/13 (pdf)

ISRAEL: Knesset committee approves landmark biometric database law after 8-year experiment (Jerusalem Post, link):

"The Knesset late on Monday approved a landmark law by a 39-to-29 vote limiting the use of biometric databases for smartcard identification, following its passage by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in its final readings.

The law’s final version reflects a number of compromises made to address privacy concerns that have made it the center point of a grand battle for years. "

GREECE: Official figures on refugees and migrants in the Aegean, 1 March 2017

The detention centres on Lesvos, Samos and Kos are still massively overcrowded, with Samos holding 1695 "guests" despite its capacity of 850. As of 8:00 on 1 March, 139 people had arrived on Greece's Aegean islands.

EU: Citizens should get access to data on firm owners to fight money laundering (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"EU citizens could access registers of beneficial owners of companies without having to demonstrate a “legitimate interest,” and trusts would have to meet the same transparency requirements as firms, under amendments, agreed by MEPs on Tuesday, to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive."

HUNGARY: Court Agrees With HCLU: Hungarian Police Discriminated Against Roma (Liberties.eu, link):

"The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) initiated an actio popularis lawsuit based on the Equal Treatment Act of Hungary (ETA) against the Heves County Police Department in order to enforce the rights of Roma in the village of Gyöngyöspata. The aim of the lawsuit was to have the court affirm that the actions of the police in Gyöngyöspata in 2011 were unlawful and violated the right to equal treatment of local Roma.

The judgment represents a particularly important and decisive development in terms of the protection of rights and case law in Hungary: this was the first time that the Curia stated in a public interest lawsuit that the police committed negative discrimination against Roma citizens."

For more detail, see: Supreme Court: the police discriminated against the Roma of Gyöngyöspata (HCLU, link):

"Despite the dismissal of the ethnic profiling part of the case, the HCLU is very proud of the judgment regarding the issue of state protection against racist harassment. The Kúria emphasized in the oral reasoning that the Gyöngyöspata incidents were the second most serious racially motivated events in Hungary since the regime change (the most serious were the racist serial murders), and the police clearly had the positive obligation to take measures against racist harassment which they failed to do. The inaction of the police amounted to harassment under the Equal Treatment Act. This ruling of the Supreme Court of Hungary is a considerable success."

EU: Commission outlines 5 scenarios for future of EU in white paper (Politico, link):

"The European Commission has outlined five scenarios for the future of the European Union in a white paper obtained by POLITICO ahead of its publication on Wednesday.

The scenarios are entitled “carrying on,” “nothing but the single market,” “those who want more do more,” “doing less more efficiently,” and “doing much more together.”

The paper is an attempt by the Commission, led by President Jean-Claude Juncker, to shape a major debate about the EU’s future following Britain’s shock decision to leave. The document is also intended to influence a declaration by the 27 countries remaining in the EU at the bloc’s 60th anniversary summit on March 25 in Rome."

See: European Commission: WHITE PAPER ON THE FUTURE OF EUROPE: Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025 (COM(2017)2025, 1 March 2017, pdf) and annex: Five scenarios offering a glimpse into the potential state of the Union by 2025 (pdf)

EU-USA: U.S. says Trump order will not undermine data transfer deals with EU (Reuters, link):

"An executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine two data transfer agreements between the United States and the EU, Washington wrote in a letter to allay European concerns.

An executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of U.S. immigration law rattled the European Union as it appeared to suggest Europeans would not be given the same privacy protections as U.S. citizens.

The order directs U.S. agencies to "exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.""

On the other hand: The Trump Administration Is Threatening to Publicly Release the Private Data of Immigrants and Foreign Visitors (ACLU, link): "The U.S. government promised it would protect Europeans’ personal data as a condition of these agreements. But both agreements may be in jeopardy if the Trump administration goes forward with its plans."

EU-Turkey deal: who is responsible? Not the EU, says the Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice has ruled that it has no competence to judge the legality of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees as "neither the European Council nor any other institution of the EU decided to conclude an agreement with the Turkish Government on the subject of the migration crisis." The case was brought by three individuals seeking asylum in Greece, who sought to challenge the legality of the deal as it posed a risk that they might be returned to Turkey.

EU-POLAND: Case not closed: 20 NGOs demand Commission holds Poland to account over rule of law

The recent claim of the Polish Foreign Minister that his government's dispute with the European Commission over legal changes undermining the rule of law is now "closed" appears to have been rather premature. Twenty-six international and Polish NGOs have written to the European Commission to demand that it "halt Poland's backsliding from the EU's founding values," by activating Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which ultimately makes possible the removal of a Member State's voting rights within the Council if a "serious and persistent breach" of the EU's founding values is confirmed.

See: Joint NGO letter: Open Letter to the College of Commissioners regarding the situation in Poland (16 February 2017, pdf)

Berlin furious after Turkey arrests German journalist (EUobserver, link):

"The Berlin and Ankara rift continues to widen following the arrest of a German newspaper correspondent on terrorism related charges earlier this week in Turkey.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel had already spoken out against the arrest followed by demands on Tuesday (28 February) by the German foreign ministry for Ankara to explain the charges against the reporter.

A judge in Turkey on Monday ordered the arrest of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist for the Die Welt newspaper.

Yucel had been detained since mid-February over a story on a hacker attack against Turkey's energy minister, who is also president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son in law."

February 2017

EU tells France: Take "immediate measures" to identify and deport migrants living in and around Calais

See: Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of France (Pas-de-Calais) on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (Commission LIMITE doc no: 26-17, pdf)

At the behest of the EU Greece is to install a "coastal surveillance system covering the whole sea border between Greece and Turkey"

The latest report from the Hellenic delegation to the Council of the European Union on "serious" deficiencies in the application of the Schengen acquis envisages the construction of a: "National Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (NIMSS)":

See: Schengen evaluation of Greece - 3rd Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies identified in the 2015 evaluation on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external borders (LIMITE doc no: 6311-17, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.2.17)

European Parliament: EU borders: Civil Liberties MEPs vote to step up checks and data protection (pdf):

"Civil Liberties MEPs voted on Monday for stronger protection and a shorter retention period for data stored in the new EU entry/exit system, which is designed
to modernise and step up checks on non-EU nationals travelling to the European Union.... The draft resolution was adopted by 38 votes to seven, with one abstention.

Stronger data protection

MEPs backed the EU Commission’s proposal to store a combination of four fingerprints and a facial image of travellers arriving in the Schengen area. However, they say data should be stored for only two years, and not the five years proposed by Commission. They also want to ensure that the text is in line with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation, for example by allowing the data subject the right to access his or her own data.

Clearly-defined purpose

The purposes of data processing in the new system should also be clarified, MEPs say. Migration handling should be the first purpose and law enforcement a further one. The two should be treated separately, as the conditions for the use and storage of the data are not the same, they underline."

Britain's child migrant programme: why 130,000 children were shipped abroad (Guardian, link)

"The national child abuse inquiry is hearing testimony from people shipped as children to Australia. Some children sent to former colonies between the 1920s and 1970s faced servitude, hard labour and abuse."

EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.2.17): EU visa waiver rules amended to try to ensure readmission cooperation; border walls in Hungary and Turkey; ECJ victory for human rights in asylum proceedings.

EU: Pre-trial prisoner population in Europe falls by 42% since 2000

"Today sees the launch of the third World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List. The List provides comprehensive data on pre-trial/remand prisoner populations, as at the end of November 2016, for 216 countries and dependent territories across the world. It shows that at least two and a half million prisoners are detained pre-trial. But taking account of those not reported in official data, or from the ten countries where no official data are published, the worldwide total is likely to be close to three million.

What are the main trends since 2000?

...The biggest positive is that the total European pre-trial prisoner population has fallen by 42% since 2000. In Russia, numbers halved; and they fell substantially in most other former Soviet republics and former socialist countries of central and Eastern Europe. There has also been progress in much of southern and western Europe. I’m heartened to see this, having worked at Fair Trials during the first stages of its European pre-trial justice campaign."

See: Catherine Heard discusses today’s release of the latest global pre-trial detention data (Fair Trials, link) and: World Prison Brief: World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List: third edition (pdf)

EU: Internal market: European Parliament study on extending the scope of the geo-blocking prohibition: An economic assessment

A new study for the European Parliament "illustrates the prevalence of geo-blocking in e-commerce and summarizes available relevant evidence. It also discusses the economic impact of lifting geo-blocking restrictions in online goods and copyrighted digital content services."

From the executive summary:

"Geo-blocking occurs when traders operating in one Member State block or limit the ability of customers from other Member States to order their goods or online services, a practice that restricts cross-border commerce and specifically e-commerce. Surveys demonstrate that European consumers are frustrated by the level of geo-blocking; moreover, it can be viewed as a significant barrier to the Single Market.

At the same time, geo-blocking is a complicated issue where solutions need to be crafted with care in order to avoid unwanted and possibly undesirable consequences."

See: Extending the scope of the geo-blocking prohibition: An economic assessment (pdf)

EU: Visa waiver rules amended to allow suspension if third countries fail to cooperate on readmission

"On 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation to revise the suspension mechanism which can be applied to all existing visa liberalisation agreements.

(...)

The objective of the revised regulation is to strengthen the suspension mechanism. It does this by making it easier for member states to notify circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send annual reports to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria.

The possible grounds for suspension have been extended, and include a decrease in cooperation on readmission, a substantial increase in the refusal rate of readmission applications, including for third-country nationals in transit, and a substantial increase in the risk to public policy or the internal security of the member states."

See: Council of the EU press release: Visas: Council adopts a revision of the visa waiver suspension mechanism (27 February 2017, pdf) and European Commission: Revision of the Visa Suspension Mechanism - Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

UK: Scathing report on the imprisonment of young people and children calls for urgent change

A report by the Youth Custody Improvement Board (YCIB), which was set up by Conservative government in May 2016 "to explore and report on the current state of the youth custodial estate and recommend how the system could be improved," has issued a damning report on Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) and Secure Training Centres (STCs) in England and Wales.

EU: Proposed Directive on equal treatment: discussions and disagreement continue

The Member States of the EU are still debating a Directive on the equal treatment of persons regardless of their religion, beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation, which was first proposed in 2008. The record of the latest discussions in the Council's Working Party on Social Questions revolve around the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity.

BORDER WALLS: Hungary starts second wall, Turkey's wall with Syria half-finished

"Hungary has begun building a second line of fence along its southern border with Serbia, a government spokesman said on Monday (27 February), a move likely to exacerbate criticism from some of the country’s European Union partners.

...A barbed-wire fence is already in place, erected in 2015, when Hungary was part of the main overland route for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees, many fleeing the war in Syria.

It effectively blocked that route to Germany, where many were heading, but Hungary has said a second fence would make the barrier more effective and hold back migrants while processing their asylum requests."

See: Hungary starts construction of second border fence (EurActiv, link)

And: Turkey builds more than half of Syrian border wall (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Turkey has erected 290 kilometers (180 miles) of a planned 511-kilometer (317 miles) "security wall" along its border with war-torn Syria, local media reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the body building the structure.

The wall is made from portable concrete blocks each weighing seven tons. The blocks are 2-meters thick (6.5-foot) at the base and 3-meters (10-foot) high, topped by a meter of razor wire. Along the entire wall roads are being built for military patrols and watch towers are being erected."

UK: Draft guidance for police following death or serious injury angers officers' organisation

"If approved by the Home Secretary, all police forces in England and Wales will be obliged to make use of the guidance in the event of fatalities or serious injuries resulting from firearms operations, incidents in custody or other police contact."

UK-EU: BREXIT: Poland sees 100,000-200,000 Poles coming home after Brexit (Reuters, link):

"Between 100,000 and 200,000 Poles living in Britain may return home as a result of Britain leaving the European Union, a Polish government ministry said on Monday.

"The situation around Brexit combined with improvement in the socio-economic situation in Poland may mean that some Poles (an estimate of 100,000-200,000) presently living in Great Britain will decided to return," Poland's Development Ministry said in a reply to a question by a member of parliament.

Some 916,000 Poles live in the United Kingdom, according to 2015 data from Britain's Office for National Statistics."

UK: BBC dismayed at German 'BND spying on journalists' (BBC News, link):

"The BBC has voiced dismay over alleged German spying on foreign journalists, including some working for the BBC.

Germany's foreign intelligence service BND spied on media e-mails, faxes and phone calls, including more than a dozen BBC numbers in London and Afghanistan, Spiegel news reported.

The surveillance, which began in 1999, also extended to Reuters news agency and the New York Times, it is alleged.

"We are disappointed to hear these claims," a BBC spokesperson said."

And see: Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (Der Spiegel, link)

EU: Europol report on European Migrant Smuggling Centre's first year of operations

"The EMSC one year activity report, published today, details how almost 12 000 operational messages were submitted via Europol’s secure communication network SIENA, representing a 34% increase compared to 2015. The operational messages contained data on over 17 400 new suspected migrant smugglers and helped launch 2057 new international investigations. Nearly a quarter of these investigations were related to identity and/or document fraud, as investigators reported detecting 2589 identity documents that had been forged, counterfeit or reported as lost or stolen. In addition, 22 print shops or document forgery factories were identified and dismantled. The EMSC’s ‘list of vessels of interest’ has grown and currently includes information on over 500 vessels that have potentially been used by criminals to smuggle migrants."

See: Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre: One year on (press release, pdf) and the report: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Activity Report: First year (pdf):

"The EMSC was officially launched on 22 February 2016, during the 2nd Europol-Interpol Forum on Countering Migrant Smuggling Networks.

This report looks at the evolution of migrant smuggling and the development of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre in 2016."

EU-BELGIUM: Belgian Act on Passenger Name Records published (Lexology, link):

"On 25 January 2017, the Belgian Act on the processing of passenger name records (“PNR Act”) was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. The PNR Act implements three EU directives in the Belgian legal order: Directive 2016/681 on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, Directive 2010/65 on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States, and Directive 2004/82 on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data.

The PNR Act obliges carriers and travel operators in the different transport sectors to transmit their passenger data to a central database called the “Passenger Database”, so that these data can be analyzed in the framework of terrorism, violent radicalization, and other forms of serious crime. This will allow law enforcement agencies to determine new trends and phenomena and to assess which passengers could be a danger to the public order. Transport companies and travel operators risk fines of up to €600 000 if they do not comply with this obligation.

However, before the PNR Act can enter into force, some implementing measures have yet to be taken. For instance, a new service called the “Passengers Information Unit” has yet to be established within the Federal Public Service Internal Affairs. This Unit will be in charge of the Passenger Database and cooperate with the Passenger Information Units of other member states, with Europol, and with third countries."

And see: PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure (Statewatch News Online, 21 December 2016)

UK: A Grandmother Has Been Deported With Just £12 In Her Pocket Despite Living In Britain For The Past 30 Years (BuzzFeed, link):

"A grandmother who made headlines for being placed in immigration detention after living in Britain for nearly 30 years was forcibly removed from the country on Sunday.

BuzzFeed News revealed earlier this month that Irene Clennell, 53, was being held in Dungavel detention centre in South Lanarkshire because the government wanted to remove her to Singapore.

She is the main carer for her sick British husband, John, and has two British sons and a British granddaughter.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News from the plane on the runway at Edinburgh airport, she said she had just £12 in her pocket, nobody to stay with in Singapore, and no change of clothes.

Clennell had been planning to see a new lawyer on Monday morning to discuss the potential for a fresh case. She believes her sudden removal was planned for a Sunday so she would have no chance of getting hold of a lawyer to stop it."

See: UK: Foreign spouse income rules do not breach of human rights – Supreme Court (Migrants' Rights Network)

Thousands of Romanians form EU flag at anti-government rally (Reuters, link):

"Thousands protested in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Sunday against the Social Democrat government that tried to weaken a crackdown on corruption earlier this month.

In early February, the cabinet of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu approved an emergency decree that would have decriminalised several graft offences.

The move drew criticism from Western allies and triggering nationwide protests that at their height drew at least half a million people onto the streets.

The ruling coalition rescinded the decree, which would have shielded dozens of public officials from prosecution, and on Wednesday it reshuffled the cabinet, hoping to draw a line under the matter.

While the numbers of protesters has fallen sharply since early February, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people gathered outside government headquarters on Sunday demanding the resignation of a government they say they cannot trust. Many were carrying pins that read "Resist"."

See also: Romanian anti-government protesters form EU flag at rally (Politico, link):

"In an interview with POLITICO last week, Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu praised the protesters. “I want to look at the good part of what happened: The civic part of our society reacted on this topic. It’s a very good thing for the country,” he said."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive, "Blue Card" Directive, EES and ETIAS

• QUALIFICATIONS: Proposed Regulation on qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection (LIMITE doc no: 5402-REV-1-17, 88 pages, pdf): Council developing its position with 144 Member State footnotes.

• "Legal migration"/Blue Card: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 5899-17,pdf) Council developing its position with 157 Member State footnotes. Modifications are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with strikethrough.

• Nearly agreed Council position on Entry/Exit System (EES): Draft mandate to open interinstitutional negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 6323-17, 154 pages, pdf): Major deletions of parts of Presidency compromises are
marked as (…).

• Issues within the Council concerning ETIAS:
Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 6324-17, pdf): Issues include:

"Defining the responsible Member State as the Member State of first entry would not lead to a fair distribution between Member States of the workload linked to the authorisation process. It is likely that Member States with large airports or with a land border with a third country would receive the highest number of applications....

One should consider what happens in practice in relation to applicants who need a visa to enter the EU: often, the actual Member State of first entry is not the one that was declared by the traveller in his application...

"Duration of the authorization: While some Member States are fine with the five-year duration of the authorization, others find this
validity period too long and have suggested shorter terms. Such suggestions have varied from single use to two years (the latter being the case of the US ESTA system)....

Considering that the main concerns by Member State relate to having only an assessment once in a 5-year period of time, would the possibility for additional re-assessment in case new alerts are introduced in the systems solve the Member States concerns (i.e. extend the re-assessment foreseen in Article 35(3) and (4) in case of new alerts in SIS and the ETIAS watchlist to other systems)?"

SPIEGEL Exclusive Documents Indicate Germany Spied on Foreign Journalists (link):

"Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, apparently spied on large numbers of foreign journalists overseas over the course of several years, including employees of the BBC, Reuters and the New York Times. Critics see a massive violation of press freedoms....

the surveillance of journalists documented in the papers SPIEGEL has seen was almost certainly not inadvertent. The search terms used clearly targeted the journalists or the newsrooms whose contact information is on the BND list. The German intelligence agency declined to comment on the allegations. "Regarding operative aspects of its activities, the BND comments exclusively to the German government or the committee responsible in the German parliament," the BND press office stated."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-24.2.17)

EU Council of the European Union: HLWG: Migration and GAMM report & European Council Draft Conclusions

High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 5657-17, pdf): Includes: Detailed Global Approach to Migration and Mobility: GAMM UPDATE: 19 January 2017 (pages: 4-29):

"This document provides an updated overview of the main external migration dialogues and processes implemented in the framework of the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM). The document is compiled for the information of the EU High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration by the responsible European Commission services, in association with the EEAS."

European Council (9 and 10 March 2017) - Draft guidelines for the conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 5575-17, pdf): Includes:

"MIGRATION: On the basis of the report of the Maltese Prime Minister (see above), the European Council will take stock of the follow up to the guidance provided at the informal meeting in Malta on 3 February 2017, with a focus on operational measures. It will also encourage further efforts by the Council to rapidly deliver on all aspects of the EU's comprehensive migration policy
during the current Council Presidency."

"European Public Prosecutor's Office (draft conclusions): Following the referral by 17 Member States pursuant to Article 86(1), second subparagraph, TFEU of the draft Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, the European Council discussed the draft and noted that the condition set out at the beginning of Article 86(1), third subparagraph was met, thus opening the way to the possible establishment of enhanced cooperation on the basis of that draft."

UK: Police told to delete on request millions of images of innocent people (Guardian, link): "Home secretary says any ‘unconvicted persons’ can request that police delete their images from national database.

The home secretary has ordered police forces to delete on request millions of images of innocent people unlawfully retained on a searchable national police database.

A Home Office review published on Friday found that police forces make extensive use of more than 19 million pictures and video, known as custody images, of people they have arrested or questioned on the police national database.

Despite a high court ruling in 2012 that keeping images of innocent people was unlawful, police forces have quietly continued to build up a massive database without any of the controls or privacy safeguards that apply to police DNA and fingerprint databases.

The review, ordered by ministers in the wake of the high court ruling, found five years ago that more than 16 million images had been enrolled in the facial recognition gallery on the police national database making it possible to search them using facial recognition technology."

See: Home Office: Custody Image Review (pdf) "The total numbers of images stored by the forces that participated in this Review ranged from 26,816 in the smallest of the eight forces, to 7.8 million in the largest. "

Comment: Note you have to request removal of your image - ..It would be more impressive if they just deleted them all.

European Parliament Study: The European Unions Policies on Counter-Terrorism Relevance, Coherence and Effectiveness (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, identifies (counter-) terrorism trends, threats and policies in the EU, focussing particularly on seven themes, including database access and interoperability, measures on border security, criminal justice and prevention of radicalisation."

New legal framework for predictive policing in Denmark (EDRI, link):

"After the terrorist attack in Copenhagen in February 2015, the Danish government presented an action plan to strengthen the data analysis capacity of the police and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET). The action plan, called “A Strong Guard against Terror”, specifically mentions monitoring of social media posts in order to discover possible terrorist attacks being planned."

See also: How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World (The Intercept. link)

UK: London Internet Exchange members vote no to constitution tweak (The Register, link): "Peering peers reject proposed rules on keeping quiet about secret govt gagging orders."

Inside Europe - Protests in France over alleged police brutality (DW, link):

"There are new claims of police brutality in France targeting racial minorities. Along with calls for reforming policing, the controversy has also cast a spotlight on France’s gritty banlieues - the low-income, immigrant heavy suburbs, with their poverty, high unemployment and crime. Some reject that stereotype - as Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of Bobigny."

Situation of Polish journalists is ‘untenable’ (euractiv, link):

"NGO Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has called on the European Commission to defend press freedom in Poland, after the country fell 29 places in the RWB’s global ranking. EURACTIV’s partner Ouest-France reports."

France, Germany get backing from Brussels on security proposals (euractiv, link):

"France and Germany won backing from the European Union’s executive yesterday (22 February) for proposals to tighten security across Europe, which include giving more powers to governments to monitor frontiers with other EU states.

Both governments face elections in the coming months against nationalists who say Europe’s open internal borders are at least partly to blame for Islamist bloodshed in Berlin, Brussels and Paris. Their interior ministers wrote jointly to the European Commission this week listing ways to improve public safety....

Schengen rules are due for review and meanwhile governments and the Commission have found ways to maintain the controls if necessary on security grounds. But the two ministers suggested both extending possible exemption limits and allowing more frontier checks even in normal circumstances.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.2.17) including: Afghan returns policy built on false narrative; new Irish asylum procedure must allow for quality legal advice; and more.

EU: Germany proposes EU rules making migrant deportations easier (EurActiv, link):

"German officials have proposed that the European Union relax some human rights safeguards so that more asylum seekers can be deported while awaiting the outcome of their cases, according to a working paper seen by Reuters.

The paper is among many under discussion in Brussels as the EU, which has taken in more than 1.3 million migrants and refugees since the start of 2015, makes it tougher for them to get in and be allowed to stay.

The paper said the proposal would only kick in at times of a “mass influx” of people to the bloc. “This is another element in efforts to energise readmission of people to wherever they came from,” said one Brussels-based diplomat."

And see: Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions (Statewatch News Online): The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration" and Germany-France Letter (20 February, French, pdf)

NORTHERN IRELAND: Theresa May on the attack over Troubles' soldier cases (BBC News, link):

"The Prime Minister has attacked those she claims have made a business of dragging soldiers through the courts over incidents in Northern Ireland.

Theresa May told MPs the government will ensure any Stormont investigative bodies have a legal duty to be fair, balanced and proportionate.

The PM said it was essential the justice system reflects that 90% of killings in NI were by terrorists.

She said treating them more favourably than army or police would be wrong."

And see: Now even our legacy issues have legacy issues (The Detail, link)

Malware Lets a Drone Steal Data by Watching a Computer’s Blinking LED (Wired, link):

"A few hours after dark one evening earlier this month, a small quadcopter drone lifted off from the parking lot of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel. It soon trained its built-in camera on its target, a desktop computer’s tiny blinking light inside a third-floor office nearby. The pinpoint flickers, emitting from the LED hard drive indicator that lights up intermittently on practically every modern Windows machine, would hardly arouse the suspicions of anyone working in the office after hours. But in fact, that LED was silently winking out an optical stream of the computer’s secrets to the camera floating outside.

(...)

But the simplest countermeasure by far is simply to cover the computer’s LED itself. Once, a piece of tape over a laptop’s webcam was a sign of paranoia. Soon, a piece of tape obscuring a computer’s hard drive LED may be the real hallmark of someone who imagines a spy drone at every window."

EU: Afghan Returns Built on False Policy Narrative (Refugees Deeply, link):

"The idea that returning refugees will drive development in Afghanistan ignores reality, says researcher Marieke van Houte. She argues that the mass return of Afghans will further destabilize the country and drive a new exodus.

(...)

The economic, security and political challenges of the current transition period have set in motion a new episode of large-scale outward migration of Afghans. Instead of trying to manage and contain these migration flows, and treating the next large-scale arrival of Afghans as a “refugee crisis,” we should facilitate the resilience and ongoing determination of people to find a better life. If migration is to contribute to development and security, it should be facilitated rather than contained."

When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig (The New Yorker, link):

"I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”"

CROATIA-SAUDI ARABIA: Croatia Sells Record Number of Arms to Saudi Arabia in 2016 (OCCRP, link):

"Zagreb sold a record amount of aging weapons and ammunition to Saudi Arabia in 2016, ignoring evidence the arms are regularly being diverted to Syria.

Croatia has drastically increased its sales of decades-old arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia despite mounting evidence that the deliveries are being diverted to Syria in breach of European Union (EU) and international law."

EU: Ring of Pakistani migrant smugglers prosecuted (Europol press release, pdf):

"Law enforcement authorities of Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia, in strong cooperation with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, have dismantled an organised crime group that arranged smuggling of migrants from Hungary to Italy.

Coordinated investigations revealed that members of the smuggling network were Pakistani citizens who formed their criminal enterprise in Italy. More than 100 migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan were smuggled by them in the last couple of years, to destinations in Italy or Germany.

On each occasion between 20 and 36 migrants were transported, hidden in the cargo bays of minivans. The perpetrators rented their vehicles in either Italy or Hungary using fake documents. The illegal transportation was always secured by lead cars, which were also rental vehicles."

UK: Foreign spouse income rules do not breach of human rights – Supreme Court (Migrants' Rights Network, link):

"The Supreme Court has ruled today, 22 February, that the Family Migration Rules do not breach the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 8 concerning the right to family and private life.

But the court added that the Home Office’s rules and instructions failed to take full account of their legal duties in respect to the children involved or to allow alternative sources of funding to be considered.

So the ruling could give limited hope to some of the separate families with children but the four families who brought the appeal will not find out whether they can live together in Britain until their cases are reconsidered."

See also: Supreme court backs minimum income rule for non-European spouses (The Guardian, link)

And: Supreme Court: five cases on appeal: MM (Lebanon); Abdul Majid (Pakistan); Master AF; Shabana Javed (Pakistan); SS (Congo): judgment ([2017] UKSC 10, pdf) and press summary (pdf)

POLAND: Polish recruiting agencies illegally exchanging data: official (Radio Poland, link):

"Some Polish recruitment agencies are illegally exchanging personal data, creating “blacklists” of unwanted potential employees, Deputy Labour Minister Stanislaw Szwed has said.

“We have received information that recruitment agencies have created blacklists of people they … did not like during the recruitment process,” Szwed told Poland’s PAP news agency.

He said that the problem is one that is hard to investigate, adding that his ministry is considering different ways of preventing such activities.

Szwed also said he had received reports of some agencies discriminating against women."

UK: Young man deported for a murder he didn't even witness (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, link):

"On Friday February 17, Edward Conteh was put on a plane at Gatwick and flown to Belgium, deported as a convicted killer.

Conteh, 23, maintains he is innocent, that he did not kill 16-year-old Nicholas Pearton in 2011. The courts agree - it was never suggested Conteh played any active role in the crime, yet he was convicted of manslaughter, imprisoned for years and deported.

“It doesn’t seem right for them to send me away for something I didn’t do,” he said.

Also 16 at the time, Conteh was convicted using a controversial law known as joint enterprise, which allows prosecutors to scoop up groups of suspects and prosecute them for the same crime."

See: JENGbA: Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (link): "We campaign on behalf of, and with, those wrongfully convicted. We're campaigning to reform legal abuse by Joint Enterprise."

IRELAND: Rush to implement new asylum procedure should not be at expense of quality legal advice and representation say Irish Refugee Council (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"The Irish Refugee Council (IRC) today called for clarification from the International Protection Office (IPO) on the consequences of not submitting a questionnaire within 20 days and for more resources to be provided for comprehensive legal representation for people in the asylum process.

Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council said: “The requirement that people complete a 60 page questionnaire within 20 working days, even with an ‘if possible’ caveat, has created understandable alarm. Our Drop-In Centre and Law Centre have seen a considerable increase in requests for assistance since the new application packs were sent out.”

He continued, “We are asking that the IPO state publicly on their website that flexibility will be provided so that people can obtain legal advice and representation and receive assistance in completing the questionnaire.”"

See: Government warned asylum seekers 'in distress' after changes to application process (Irish Examiner, link)

EU: Home Affairs Commissioner speech after meeting with German Interior Minister

"This morning our discussions focused on the internal and external dimensions of migration, security and border management. We agreed that in the coming months we need to find more common ground for the reform of Dublin based on the principles of solidarity and fair responsibility-sharing among Member States.

The Dublin reform is part of our wider effort to develop an effective and comprehensive asylum system. And I hope that we will find an agreement swiftly on the reform, which will improve our procedures, guarantee refugee rights and avoid abuses.

We need to protect those who need protection, prevent irregular migration and return those who have no right to stay.

With Thomas, we are on the same line on all these issues. In this context, I have also informed the Minister of the Commission's intention to put forward next week an Action Plan on Return and a Recommendation to Member States on the efficient implementation of return procedures."

See: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos after his meeting with German Minister of the Interior de Maizère (pdf)

EU-POLAND: With Hungarian support, Poland defies EU over rule of law (EurActiv, link):

"Poland dismissed on Monday (20 February) demands that it implement judiciary reforms deemed essential by the European Commission to uphold the rule of law.

Poland risks being stripped of its voting rights in the 28-member bloc, but such a move requires unanimity, while Hungary said it would not support sanctions.

The European Commission has set the Polish government a late February deadline to implement measures to protect the powers of the Constitutional Court, after a series of new appointments and reforms appeared to weaken its independence."

And see: Rule of law concerns: case closed, says Polish FM (Radio Poland, link):

"Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Tuesday that he considers the issue of the state of the rule of law in Poland a “closed” case.

He was speaking a day after Warsaw said it had submitted a detailed response to European Commission recommendations issued amid concern in Brussels over sweeping legal changes introduced by Poland’s ruling conservatives."

UK-USA: British Muslim teacher taken off US-bound flight: I was treated like a criminal (The Guardian, link):

"A young British Muslim teacher escorted off a New York-bound flight by US officials in front of the school party he was helping lead has spoken of his concerns that he was targeted simply because of his religion.

Maths teacher Juhel Miah, 25, who was born in Birmingham and brought up in Swansea, said his treatment left him feeling humiliated. Both he and his school are demanding an explanation from the US authorities."

EU: Amnesty: "we cannot rely on government to protect our freedoms"

Amnesty International has published its annual report on human rights around the world, noting a "pervasive weakening of the rule of law and an erosion in the protection of fundamental rights" across Europe that has often been led by "anxious establishment parties" borrowing many of the policies favoured by new and resurgent "populist" parties.

The report states bluntly that: "We cannot rely on governments to protect our freedoms, and so we have to stand up ourselves. We have to come together and resist the roll back of long-established human rights. We must fight against the deceitful narrative that we have to trade of our rights in exchange for prosperity and security."

UK: Ukip MEP compared to Donald Trump after citing non-existent police statement on illegal immigration (The Independent, link):

"A Ukip MEP has been compared to Donald Trump after she cited a police statement to claim hundreds of illegal immigrants are arriving in the UK every week, only for the police force in question to say the statement does not appear to exist.

Jane Collins, Ukip’s Home Affairs spokeswoman, said during a speech to the party’s conference in Bolton that the “hundreds” of illegal immigrants were not being arrested when they are caught.

When later challenged about the claim, Ms Collins said her comment was a “direct quote” from Sussex Police.

However, a spokesman for the force told The Independent it had no records of this statement."

Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil (EUobserver, link):

"An internal report from the EU's border mission for Libya provides a bleak account of the country's misfortunes, casting a long shadow over EU aims to control its migration flows towards Italy.

The assessment broadly echoes statements made by the UN's Libya envoy, Martin Kobler, who told BBC Newshour over the weekend that efforts to deliver services to Libyans "is getting from bad to worse."

Kobler's comments follow the EU's announcement last month to channel some €200 million into Libya-centric migration and border projects throughout much of north Africa.

It is not yet clear how much of that budget will go to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

An European Commission official said on Monday (20 February) that they are still in the "identification phase"."

See: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state (Statewatch News Online, 17 February 2017)

SPAIN-MOROCCO: More than 300 people climb the fence into Ceuta, eleven taken to hospital

Just days after some 500 people clambered over the razor-wire-topped fences seperating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Moroccan territory, another 300 people reached Spanish soil by climbing the fence early in the morning of 20 February during heavy rain and high winds, according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Diario. Eleven people were taken to hospital, three with fractures and eight with other injuries.

HUNGARY: Atlatszo.hu sued government for withholding corruption investigation records (Atlatszo.hu, link):

"Hungary’s government is happy to rely on a recently completed OLAF report exposing the questionable practices in the construction of the M4, Budapest’s fourth metro line. Since the objections raised are mainly targeted at the political sides preceding the current power in office, the state started leaking portions of the document to friendly media. However, when we filed a request for the release of the entire document we were rejected. Atlatszo.hu has consequently sued the Prime Minster’s Office, we are hopeful that the result will pave the way for the general public’s access to OLAF studies. After we filed our lawsuit, the government suddenly released the full document."

EU: Declassified Council reports on cybercrime (Greece, Slovenia) and financial crime (Malta)

The Council of the EU has recently declassified a number of reports setting out the findings of evaluations on "the practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime" in the Greece and Slovenia; and "financial crime and financial investigations" in Malta.

USA: Boom foreseen in surveillance technology for private prison and detention companies

"Cristina remembers the first time her ankle monitor talked at her. It spoke in Spanish.

From the surveillance device affixed to her ankle with a rubber medical grade strap came a man’s voice. “The monitor said, ‘you need to report to the ICE official,’” she tells Inverse through a translator, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “I called the ICE office and said, ‘I’m in court, they scheduled two meetings for the same time.’”

Cristina, who asked to have her last name withheld, was in the middle of an immigration hearing in San Antonio, Texas during this unsettling episode, back in May 2016.

...If her story sounds unbelievable, it shouldn’t. The official website for BI Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of private prison company Geo Group, advertises a GPS monitoring device that allows officers to “send pre-recorded voice messages to offenders through the tracking unit, useful for appointment reminders or to notify an offender upon entering a forbidden zone.”"

See: This Low-Tech Device Is Primed for a Comeback (Inverse, link)

EU: IP addresses: Industry lawyers trying to undermine Internet privacy (Daten-Speicherung.de, link):

"In Breyer vs. Germany (Case C-582/14) the European Court of Justice concluded that the IP address used when browsing the Internet come under the protection of the data protection directive if there are legal means for operators of online services to have offenders prosecuted using their IP address. In consequence Internet content providers such as Google or Facebook may retain an IP address only if they have a legitimate interest in it outweighing the user’s right to privacy. In my opinion there is a prevailing interest in using online media anonymously and without tracking, meaning that a blanket retention of all users IP addresses is illegal (this question is yet to be decided).

Industry lawyers from White&Case are now trying to find a loophole: In an essay they argue that the General Data Protection Regulation sets a different standard when saying:

'To determine whether a natural person is identifiable, account should be taken of all the means reasonably likely to be used, such as singling out, either by the controller or by another person to identify the natural person directly or indirectly.'

They argue that is is unlikely that a random user’s IP address would ever be identified. But this argument is completely misleading."

UK: Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership challenge (BBC News, link):

"A heterosexual couple have lost their Court of Appeal battle to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, from London, challenged a ruling that said they did not meet the legal requirement of being the same sex.

The judges said there was a potential breach of their human rights, but the government should have more time to decide the future of civil partnership."

UK Govt spends £¾ million on torture cover-up attempt (Reprieve, link):

"The British Government has spent £744,000 in its attempts to ensure a case involving the kidnap and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife is never heard in court, documents obtained by Reprieve show – even though the victims have offered to drop the claim in return for an apology."

And see: MI6 chief’s role in abduction of Gaddafi foe Belhaj set to be revealed (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s role in the seizure and alleged torture of a Libyan opponent of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi looks set to be exposed after a court decision that will set alarm bells ringing in the intelligence services.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.2.17)

EU: See: Council of the European Union targets Greece and Italy's failure to implement the Schengen acquis and control-return refugee arrivals

Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (EU doc no: 6354-17, pdf

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6365-17, pdf)

• Greece: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Greece on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the common visa policy (6352-17, pdf):

• Italy: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of return (6538-17, pdf)

• Italy: Council implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Italy on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of management of the external border (EU doc no: 6357-17, pdf)

Malta anger over plans for web crackdown (euobserver, link):

"A draft bill which aims to regulate online news in Malta has worried opposition politicians and added a motive for several thousands of Maltese to take to the streets on Sunday (19 February).

A protest organised by opposition centre-right Nationalist Party was against the government's handling of the Panama Papers scandal, but also against a proposed legislation which opposition leader Simon Busuttil said would be “the beginning of the end of freedom of expression on the internet”.

The draft bill, proposed last week, would update Malta's defamation and libel laws. But its broad definitions have given rise to fear that ordinary citizens would be required to register before being able to express their views online."

Turkey: Statement: BHRC trial observers call on Turkish authorities to ensure the fair trial rights of Taraf journalists (British Human Rights Committee of England and Wales):

"BHRC continues to express grave concern about potential violations of international human rights law, following the second hearing in Istanbul in the ongoing trial of five former journalists from the daily newspaper Taraf."

UK Govt spends £¾ million on torture cover-up attempt (Reprieve, link):

"The British Government has spent £744,000 in its attempts to ensure a case involving the kidnap and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife is never heard in court, documents obtained by Reprieve show – even though the victims have offered to drop the claim in return for an apology."

Increase in arms transfers driven by demand in the Middle East and Asia, says SIPRI (link)

"The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war.

The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the Americas and Africa. The five biggest exporters—the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany—together accounted for 74 per cent of the total volume of arms exports."

See: Press release (pdf)

How E.U.'s Migration Policy Enables Migrant Smuggling (Real News, link)

Statewatch's Chris Jones says the European Union Border and Coast Guard Agency is less concerned with human rights and far more preoccupied with border control, surveillance and the interception of migrants.

Robots and Brexit: Indicators of the EU’s future? (euractiv, link):

"Many British people voted to leave the EU because they felt like they had been abandoned by the European project. The Union cannot afford to let the same happen when it comes to robotisation, warns Nomi Byström."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.2.17): huge pro-refugee protest in Barcelona; Belgian politicians want to check asylum-seekers' phones; asylum seekers "in distress" in Ireland; and more.

EU-USA: MEPs reassert call for asylum for Edward Snowden following appointment of new CIA chief

At the end of January the US Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo the new as Director of the CIA. Pompeo has said that Edward Snowden should be executed for being a "traitor". His appointment as CIA Director led a group of four MEPs to ask the Council of the EU what steps it will take to "urge" Member States to meet with October 2015 demands from the parliament for Edward Snowden to be given international protection and protected from extradition or rendition "in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender."

SPAIN: Massive demonstration in Barcelona in support of migrants and refugees

The organisers of a huge demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday 18 February have said it was the largest protest seen in Europe so far in support of migrants and refugees and estimated that half a million people attended. The police put the number of attendees far lower, at 160,000, but in either case it was the largest protest seen in the city since those against the Iraq war in 2003.

UK: Britain attempts to brand journalists as spies (Al Jazeera, link) by Jim Killock:

"British journalists could be treated as spies, and given up to 14 years in prison for handling state secrets, if proposals by the UK's Law Commission become law.

In 2015, the Commission, whose remit is to review and recommend reforms to UK legislation, was asked to examine laws relating to official data. Its recommendations, published last week, suggest the definition of the offence of espionage is changed so that it is "capable of being committed by someone who not only communicates information, but also by someone who obtains or gathers information" (PDF).

It would also lift restrictions on who can commit espionage. They would no longer have to be employees of the state, but could include journalists, NGOs or whistle-blowers, who wouldn't be able to use a public interest defence to protect themselves.

We don't have to look further than the 2013 Snowden leaks to understand the implications of the proposed changes - in fact they can be seen as a direct attack on the newspaper that broke the story."

BELGIUM: Face recognition on new motorway cameras? (Expatica, link):

"New smart cameras that are being introduced on roads across Belgium in coming years will be able to do a lot more than just recognise number plates.

According to the weekly Knack the cameras will take photos of the entire vehicle and will be able to see who is in the vehicle. The tender drawn up by the federal police also calls for face recognition.

The federal government decided last year to introduce some 1,000 ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras along the motorways. The cameras are already in use at several border crossings and at the airports of Zaventem and Charleroi. Other airports are to follow soon. The cameras are intended to heighten road safety but will also be used in the fight against terrorism and organised crime."

BELGIUM: Draft Law Calls for Deporting Foreigners Born in Belgium (Morocco World News, link):

"On Thursday, a draft law against terrorism was adopted by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. One of its chapters is sparking controversy, as it provides for the possibility of deporting foreigners born in Belgium or arriving before the age of twelve.

Belgian newspaper, Le Soir, reported that the Chamber approved two bills on Thursday setting up a new framework for the deportation of foreigners who are legal Belgium residents. This bill, which worries a majority of the opposition, was issued by the Government for the sake of the protection of public order and national security."

And see: Belgium: Counter-terrorism Law Allows Deportation of Belgians & foreigners, Moroccans in Target (The North Africa Post, link)

EU-USA: Remarks by President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence (pdf):

"Today I heard words which are promising for the future, words which explain a lot about the approach of the new administration in Washington. I repaid our guest by offering honesty in my assessment of the situation; I shared our concerns and hopes. Given that I am an incurably pro-American European who is fanatically devoted to transatlantic cooperation, I could afford to be outspoken even more.

I asked the Vice President directly if he shared my opinions on three key matters: the international order, security and the attitude of the new American administration towards the European Union...

...In reply to these three matters, I heard today from Vice President Pence three times "yes"! After such a positive declaration, both Europeans and Americans must simply practise what they preach."

UK: One Day Without Us: National Day of Action (link)

"1 Day Without Us is a National Day of Action on 20th Feb 2017 to celebrate the contribution of migrants to the UK, to coincide with UN World Day of Social Justice.

For 24 hours, we are inviting migrants from inside and outside the European Union, and everyone who supports them, to celebrate the contribution that migrants make.

Some may choose to do this symbolically, by wearing badges and lanyards, posting selfies or pictures that show your support, or putting posters in their windows. Some may wish to have a communal meal or a party with the migrants they have known as friends, colleagues, workmates and neighbours. Workers may take a five-minute silence or a mini-rally at lunchtime or tea-time. There are also those who may wish to highlight migrant contributions to the UK in more direct ways.

There are many ways that you can take part in this day. Do what you feel able to do and what you feel is most appropriate to your situation.

Whatever your nationality and place of origin; wherever you live and work, join us and make February 20 a day of protest, solidarity and celebration."

UK: Judicial review and human rights challenge launched against HM Coroner's refusal to open an inquest into the death of David Clapson (Leigh Day, link):

"The sister of David Clapson, a 59-year-old ex-soldier who died in 2013 after he was ‘sanctioned’ by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has issued a judicial review and human rights claim in the High Court, challenging the refusal by the Senior Coroner for Hertfordshire to hold an inquest into her brother’s death.

Mr Clapson, an insulin dependent Diabetic, was found dead in his home on 20 July 2013. His benefits had been stopped by DWP staff who knew that he suffered from diabetes. It appears that at the time of his death David had been unable to pay for electricity as he had been rendered destitute by the sanction. His insulin could not be refrigerated due to the absence of electricity, and he had no food available to feed himself. In effect, Mr. Clapson starved to death and died because he could not feed himself or refrigerate his insulin without access to State benefits.
"

UK: Fractured Childhoods: The Separation of Families by Immigration Detention (Border Criminologies, link):

"Fighting an immigration case – with the power of the state against you – has never been simple. Yet successive government reforms have been directed at making that task even more challenging. The right to a family and private life is enshrined within the European Convention of Human Rights under Article 8. But UK governments have sought – with some success – to erode that right by imposing increasingly harsh – `hostile’, in the words of then Home Secretary Theresa May – conditions on immigrants. The removal of publicly-funded legal aid for deportation cases in 2012 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act has significantly affected foreign nationals fighting to maintain their family and private life in the UK.

...The ace in the government's hand, however, is access to justice. Much of the legal aid that was previously available for immigration cases has been cut. This means that few families facing separation because of deportation are able to access any legal advice or representation that would allow them to put forward their case."

UK: New Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation appointed (gov.uk, link):

"The Home Secretary has appointed Max Hill QC as the government’s new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Mr Hill has been a QC for 9 years and has extensive experience both defending and prosecuting complex cases involving terrorism, homicide, violent crime, high value fraud and corporate crime. He successfully prosecuted the 21/7 bombers, and appeared in the inquest into the 7/7 bombings. Mr Hill takes over the role from David Anderson QC, who has held the post since 2011."

POLAND: The Ever-expanding National Security State in Europe: the Case of Poland (FREE Group, link):

"Up to now, France is the only EU Member State to have formally declared a state of emergency on national security grounds for terrorism-related acts on the last couple of years. However, other Member States have passed laws in fast-track processes and engaged in operations in response to real or perceived security threats. A clear example comes from Austria and Hungary, which have recently invoked the threat of terrorism in the context of the refugee crisis with profoundly negative impact on the right to seek and enjoy asylum in Europe.

One of the countries which is currently attracting the attention of several NGOs working in the field of human rights protection is Poland. Several cases of human rights violations as well as dismantlement of the rule of law have been reported since the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc) party came to power in October 2015.

In June 2016, Poland enacted a new Counter-terrorism Law following a fast-track legislative process. This law consolidates sweeping powers in the hands of the Internal Security Agency (ISA) and, combined with other recent legislative amendments, it creates conditions for violations of the rights to liberty, privacy, fair trial, expression, peaceful assembly and non-discrimination."

AUSTRIA: Proposed surveillance package in Austria sparks resistance (EDRi, link):

"The Austrian coalition parties have renegotiated their government programme in January 2017. This new programme contains a so-called “security package” that encompasses the introduction of several new surveillance measures and additional powers for the Austrian security agencies. These changes in the law are to be implemented by June 2017.

However, so far no evaluation of already existing surveillance measures and investigatory powers has been carried out. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the new measures will bring about an increase in security, whereas they will severely limit fundamental right to privacy and dial back on existing data protection measures."

UK: Neo-Nazi pipe bomb teenager given rehabilitation order (BBC News, link):

"A neo-Nazi teenager who made a home-made pipe bomb has been sentenced to a three-year youth rehabilitation order.

The 17-year-old from Bradford, who cannot be named, was also ordered to receive intensive counselling from a deradicalisation expert.

The teenager had been convicted of making the pipe bomb at Leeds Crown Court in January.

During his trial it emerged he was a member of the "secretive neo-Nazi" group National Action.

The boy, who praised the killer of MP Jo Cox, was arrested after he put a photo of the pipe bomb online.

Last month he was found guilty of making explosives but acquitted of the preparation of terrorist acts."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Parliament: Safety net for democratic freedoms or sleepnet? (EDRi, link):

"Currently, Dutch parliament is doing everything they can to get a dragnet surveillance bill approved before the elections on 15 March 2017. If they succeed, soon the online communications of Dutch citizens can, on a massive scale, get caught up in the secret services’ dragnet. So what’s happened since the last time we reported to you on this subject?

In September 2016, Rob Bertholee, head of the General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands (AIVD) gave a notorious interview, in which he stated that he was fed up with discussions about privacy. A month later, and despite a serious backlash, Minister Ronald Plasterk decided to advance his plans to carry out bulk interception of innocent citizens’ communications: he sent the definitive dragnet bill for the new Intelligence and Security Services Act to the House of Representatives."

Privacy is Power - Why the fight for privacy matters (Standard Journal, link):

"But privacy isn’t just about you or me, and what immediate returns we may see on our investment. It’s about the future of power. Of ensuring a system of checks and balances between ourselves and our governments and other large entities. There is a reason the information we produce is so cherished by these entities, and they will fight till the end to make sure our information is in their control. And because these entities are already so much more powerful than the collective privacy conscious, self-doubt and defeat is a reoccurring event.

Battles may be lost, but never doubt the significance of this cause. A paranoia is in the air, like the paranoia of 1776. Don’t ignore it. Don’t believe it isn’t real. Don’t believe it’s not important.

You are creating a better future for the people of 2217."

Italy curtails appeal rights and expands rebranded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"On 10 February, the Italian Council of Ministers adopted a law that foresees the acceleration of asylum procedures and returns, following heavily criticised plans set out in the second half of 2016. The Decree Law is only provisionally binding until it is voted on in the Parliament.

The new law creates specialised immigration chambers to hear asylum appeals. These chambers are established in 14 courts (Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Catania, Catanzaro, Florence, Lecce, Milan, Palermo, Rome, Naples, Torino and Venice), and are competent to decide on asylum appeal cases under a single judge. The reform also limits the possibility to be heard in such appeals: asylum appeal procedures are to be accelerated, as a decision by the specialised chamber must be taken within four months instead of six, and the decision can no longer be appealed to the Court of Appeal."

NETHERLANDS: Far-right leader Geert Wilders calls Moroccan migrants ‘scum’ (The Guardian, link):

"The Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders sparked outrage on Saturday when he launched his election campaign with a stinging attack on the country’s Moroccan population. The anti-immigration MP called them “scum” and said he wanted to make the Netherlands “ours again”.

Wilders, 53, was surrounded by police and security guards when he made his remarks during a walkabout in his party’s stronghold of Spijkenisse, part of an ethnically diverse industrial area just south of Rotterdam.

“The Moroccan scum in Holland … once again not all are scum … but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who make the streets unsafe, mostly young people ... and that should change,” he told journalists as he attempted to take a stroll in a market."

EU-UK: BREXIT: An Independent Scotland and the EU: What Route to Membership? (European Futures, link):

"In the event of independence, how might Scotland pursue EU membership? Kirsty Hughes and Tobias Lock explore the principal options, arguing that ensuring Scotland’s continuity with EU laws and policy would ultimately be more important than attempting to secure a fast-tracked route to membership, which would be completed in any case after Brexit."

BELGIUM-EU: ECJ to rule on humanitarian visas on March 7th (The Brussels Times, link):

"The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will rule in the Belgian case regarding visas for a Syrian family on Tuesday March 7th.

...This is a high profile case, relating to a family of four who wish to seek asylum in Belgium by means of a humanitarian visa initally requested from the Belgian embassy in Beirut (in the Lebanon).

Theo Francken is refusing to issue the humanitarian visa, despite several court judgments on penalties in such cases. The CCE is requesting that the Court rule on how the Visa Code should be interpreted.

On February 7th, the Advocate General, Paolo Mengozzi, opposed the Secretary of State's reasoning. Mr Mengozzi maintains the following. Member states should issue a visa “when there are substantial grounds for believing that refusing it will risk those seeking international protection being subject to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.”"

See: ECJ press release: According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (pdf)

In a seperate but related story, four Member States (Austria, France, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) recently demanded that it be made clear, in negotiations with the European Parliament on the EU's Visa Code, that the EP's demands for humanitarian visas were a "red line" that the Council would not cross. The minutes record that: "The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP." See: Visa Working Party: Summary of discussions on 17 January 2017 (5668/17, pdf)

UK: MI6 chief’s role in abduction of Gaddafi foe Belhaj set to be revealed (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s role in the seizure and alleged torture of a Libyan opponent of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi looks set to be exposed after a court decision that will set alarm bells ringing in the intelligence services.

The high court has said that it will hear an application for a judicial review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge MI6’s former counterterrorism director, Sir Mark Allen, over the abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife who were transferred to Libya in a joint CIA-MI6 operation in 2004.

The decision means Belhaj’s legal team can apply for confidential documents about MI6’s part in the rendition of Belhaj to be shown to the court, a move that could embarrass the CPS."

See: High Court to review CPS decision in Libyan renditions case (Reprieve, link):

"The CPS took two years to decide that it would not charge the lead suspect, ex-MI6 counter-terror director Sir Mark Allen, due to ‘insufficient evidence’. The CPS did however find that Sir Mark was involved in the renditions and had “sought political authority for some of his actions.”

The decision was taken despite London’s Metropolitan Police providing a file of over 28,000 pages of evidence. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has since confirmed that the Met sought “to demonstrate that the conduct of a British official amounted to misconduct in public office.”"

Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions

- The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration"

-
Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex comments:

"the plan is that (implicitly) all those entering the EU would be removed to non-EU countries willing to host them, and kept there in conditions which minimally guarantee their survival

Overall, the drafters of this proposal have made no serious attempts to think through its feasibility; and while they make a show of support for human rights principles, their plan demonstrates an underlying contempt for them.".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.2.17)

Germany bans doll for being 'hidden spying device' (The Local.de, link):

" German regulators have banned an internet-connected doll called "My Friend Cayla" that can chat with children, warning Friday that it was a de facto "hidden spying device".

Parents were urged to disable the interactive toy by the Federal Network Agency which enforces bans on surveillance devices.

"Items that conceal cameras or microphones and that are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit data without detection, compromise people's privacy," said its head, Jochen Homann."

UK Snoopers' Charter gagging order drafted for London Internet Exchange directors - Rushed proposal opens rift in internet giants' club (The Register, link):

"London Internet Exchange (LINX) – Europe's major internet traffic hub – faces a growing backlash over changes to its rules that would gag its directors applying secret government orders to monitor networks, under Britain's Investigatory Powers Act.

LINX members – hundreds of internet companies – have been given less than two weeks' warning of an effect of a proposed new LINX constitution (called "memorandum and articles") that would allow secret surveillance orders or requests to be implemented without members' knowledge.!

Trump’s clash with U.S. spy agencies spooks intelligence allies abroad (Washington Post, link):

"European and Middle Eastern agencies that have information-sharing relationships with the U.S., already wary of the Trump team’s perceived closeness to Russian officials, are now watching with increased trepidation as a vicious fight boils over in Washington over intelligence leaks surrounding the Flynn case, current and former officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday.

“Our foreign partners are deeply alarmed and unsettled by what they’re seeing in Washington,” said one senior Republican national security source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

And see: United States asked Canada to help spy on candidates during 2012 French election: WikiLeaks (National Post. link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17-.2.17): Italy woos Libyan mayors; Tunisia to take intercepted migrants; secret EU report on Libyan state structures; French-Italian "migrant hunt" on trains, and more.

EU-TUNISIA: Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf

According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.

CYPRUS-UK: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus (CPT, link):

"A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out, for the first time, a visit to the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Akrotiri (Western Sovereign Base Area) and Dhekelia (Eastern Sovereign Base Area) on Cyprus from 9 to 11 February 2017.

The visit provided an opportunity to examine the treatment and safeguards in place for persons deprived of their liberty by the SBA Police and the British Forces Cyprus and to assess the conditions of detention and treatment of persons held in Dhekelia Prison. The CPT’s delegation also briefly assessed the situation and existing safeguards for migrants held within the SBA."

EU: New anti-terrorism powers passed by European Parliament

The European Parliament voted on Thursday 15 February to approve the controversial new Directive on combating terrorism, as well as amendments to the Schengen Borders Code that will mean all EU citizens now have to be checked against the Schengen Information System, Interpol's Lost and Stolen Travel Documents database, and "other relevant databases" whenever they enter or exit the Schengen area.

Workplace surveillance: Your Cubicle Has Ears—and Eyes, and a Brain (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Employers have long wanted to know how their workers spend their time. New office surveillance technology is now making the task far easier.

Bloomberg reports that an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks—anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving.

The raw data is just the beginning. New Scientist recently reported that a startup called StatusToday uses software to crunch information on everything from key card swipes to what applications people are using on their computers to understand how employees—and the business as a whole—operate."

NATO: Juncker calls on Europe to reject the US ultimatum on defense expenditure (New Europe, link):

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to US Defense Secretary’s ultimatum on Thursday by calling on Europe not to increase military expenditure.

Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference, the President of the European Commission reacted to the ultimatum presented by US Defense Secretary Mattis on Wednesday, who called for more military spending.

“It has been the American message for many, many years {to increase expenditure}. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said, noting that Germany would not have a budget surplus if Berlin did reach 2% military expenditure.

President Juncker stated that foreign aid should be seen as part of the security spending equation, specifying that “if you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different.”"

See also: Defense Secretary Mattis Tells NATO Allies to Spend More, or Else (New York Times, link) and: Military spending by NATO members (The Economist, link): "Does America contribute more than its fair share?"

UK: Metropolitan Police seek to limit scope of Undercover Police Inquiry

"Scotland Yard is pressing to change the scope of a judge-led public inquiry which is examining the controversial activities of undercover officers who infiltrated hundreds of political groups.

Lord Justice Pitchford, the senior judge heading the inquiry, wants to ask for evidence from all the undercover officers who are still alive, as he is not confident that all the documents relating to their covert operations still exist.

But the Metropolitan Police is arguing that the inquiry may not need to examine the conduct of every undercover officer in great detail."

See: Met presses undercover police inquiry to examine fewer officers (The Guardian, link); see also: Police Try To Water Down Spying Probe (Morning Star, link)

See: Undercover Policing Inquiry (Pitchford Inquiry) documentation: Application for an extension of time by the Metropolitan Police Service (pdf) and PRESS NOTICE: Inquiry Announces Hearing 5 April 2017 (pdf)

UK-GERMANY: Tasers: black and mixed-race Londoners disproportionately targeted; Berlin police to be armed with electroshock weapons

"Black and mixed-race people in London have been on the receiving end of more than 40% of police Taser use since 2014, despite accounting for less than one in six of the capital’s residents, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures obtained by a freedom of information (FoI) request show police are disproportionately targeting people of black or mixed white and black ethnicity with the electric stun guns, raising fresh concerns of racism in the force.

Between January 2014 and September 2016, 1,530 of a total of 3,815 cases – 40.1% – where police drew, aimed or fired Tasers involved people of black or mixed white and black ethnicities. According to the 2011 census, people from those groups comprise 15.6% of London’s population."

See: Black and mixed race people in London more likely to be Tasered (The Guardian, link)

And: Berlin police introduces electroshock weapons for patrolling officers (Mattias Monroy, link):

"In the future, Berlin police officers will carry taser guns when patrolling the districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg. After a test phase of three years, these weapons could be introduced across the board."

See also: UK: More powerful two-shot TASER set to be handed to Cambridgeshire police (Cambridge News, link)

ITALY-FRANCE: "Migrant hunt" on trains between Italy and France violates the law and human rights

What is legal in the push-backs carried out directly on trains by French police? "Basically nothing," says ASGI lawyer Anna Brambilla, who has long been following the situation at the French-Italian border: "The problem is a very complex one, and there are many violations."

EU: Half of former EU commissioners now work as lobbyists (European Post, link):

"A recent Transparency International report shows that 50% of former EU commissioners are currently working for lobbying companies.José Manuel Barroso left the Commission to work as chairman of Goldman Sachs, a few months ago, provoking widespread criticism.

About 30% of former MEPs switched their main working activity from politics to lobbying."

EU: Diagram of databases and information exchange networks for justice and home affairs

As negotiations on new databases and information systems continue - for example the Entry/Exit System and the European System for Travel Authorisation - and as the Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' discusses the interconnection of existing systems, "the General Secretariat of the Council has made an attempt to map the existing (and some future) information exchange instruments, networks and databases in the JHA field."

See: Overview of the information exchange environment in the justice and home affairs area (6253/17 pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Problems loom in Article 50 negotiations over Northern Ireland and Scotland

"Brexit is the most "dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition", the leader of the SDLP has warned.

Colum Eastwood told a UTV pre-election debate that any attempts to introduce a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be "economically and politically damaging"."

See: Brexit the most dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition, says Colum Eastwood (Belfast Telegraph, link)

And:

"BRUSSELS is ready to do a separate Brexit deal with Scotland, according to leaked European Parliament negotiating documents.

In a confidential report, seen by The National, senior EU figures say they’re ready to explore how to make the Scottish Government’s proposals for a differential Norwegian style post-Brexit model work.

The only stumbling block for Scotland’s future relationship with Europe is Prime Minister Theresa May."

See: Europe is willing to consider a special deal to keep Scotland in the single market, leaked report shows (The National, link)

USA: I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you. (freeCodeCamp, link) by Quincy Larson:

"A few months ago I wrote about how you can encrypt your entire life in less than an hour. Well, all the security in the world can’t save you if someone has physical possession of your phone or laptop, and can intimidate you into giving up your password.

And a few weeks ago, that’s precisely what happened to a US citizen returning home from abroad.

...What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life."

EU: Meijers Committee: requirements for meaningful democratic scrutiny of Europol

Europol's new legal basis (Regulation 2016/794) will come into force on 1 May 2017. A new note from the Meijers Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law examines some requirements for meaningful and effective parliamentary scrutiny of Europol, required under Article 51 of the new Regulation.

"The implementation of Article 51 into practice is currently debated, e.g. in the interparliamentary committee of the European Parliament and national parliaments.1 As specified by Article 51 (1) of the Europol regulation, the organisation and the rules of procedure of the JPSG [Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group] shall be determined.

The Meijers Committee wishes to engage in this debate and makes, in this note, recommendations on the organisation and rules of procedure."

See: Meijers Committee: Note on the interparliamentary scrutiny of Europol (pdf)

UK: Large or Small, Why Protests Still Matter (Netpol, link)

"...whether future protests are large or small, symbolic or more confrontational, it is essential we collectively reassert that the police have no absolutely business making what are always political judgments about their legitimacy.

That is why we are calling for an end to the labelling of political dissent as ‘domestic extremism’. This highly politicised vilification of campaigners, one that the police and the government have found impossible to legally define, is used simply to provide a justification for targeting a particular cause for increased surveillance.

Even if protesting is temporarily disruptive, or if organisers fail to provide advance notice, or if it leads to arrests, it is still a fundamental right, one that has been instrumental to every significant example of political progress and social change anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, all those who label protesters as ‘extremists’ have found themselves, almost always, on entirely the wrong side of history."

EU-LIBYA: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state

With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".

See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

Press release: EU border agency targeted "isolated or mistreated" individuals for questioning

Statewatch press release, 16 February 2017. Also available as a pdf

Guidelines produced for border guards participating in an EU joint operation instruct the targeting of "migrants from minority ethnic groups, and individuals who may have been isolated or mistreated during their journey, as such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences."

Written by the EU's border agency, Frontex, the guidelines on the "debriefing of migrants for intelligence purposes" were attached to the 2012 plan for Operation Hera, a Frontex-coordinated joint operation that was launched in 2006 to halt irregular migration by sea from north-west Africa to the Canary Islands.

Debriefing officers were recommended to seek out potential interviewees as soon as possible after arrival: “Once arriving migrants integrate with others in the camp, there is a tendency for them to become more reluctant to cooperate.”

There are no instructions what to do regarding any possible need for medical attention, fundamental rights or legal information for any subsequent claims for protection.

The guidelines are one of many annexes to the Operational Plan 2012 for Operation Hera, which Statewatch has made available here (pdf) with the majority of the censored parts removed. The guidelines have also been reproduced in a more easily-readable format.

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Referendums on EU matters (pdf):

"It argues that we have entered a period of increasing political uncertainty with regard to the European project and that this new political configuration will both affect and be affected by the politics of EU-related referendums. Such referendums have long been a risky endeavour and this has been accentuated in the wake of the Great Recession with its negative ramifications for public opinion in the European Union."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Priorities for providing advice in 2017: The implementation of our advisory role to the EU legislator (pdf):

"We have identified three areas of strategic importance for this year:

• Ensuring the protection of confidentiality and privacy in electronic communications, in particular in the context of the ongoing review of the ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC

• Contributing to a Security Union and stronger borders based on respect for fundamental rights, including the proposals on ETIAS, the revision of SISII and ECRIS, as well as the issue of interoperability between these systems.

• Towards a new legal framework for the EDPS: the proposal for a new Regulation on data protection EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies."

And see: Annex (pdf)

Amnesty International: EU-Turkey "deal": A Blueprint for despair: Human Rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal (pdf):

"The dramatic scenes that saw a million refugees and migrants cross the continent prompted a backlash that continues to echo resoundingly, prompting a raft of measures increasingly focused on blocking future arrivals. Solidarity between EU member states and solidarity with a record global number of refugees has been in short supply."

European Parliament debates on binding anti-terrorism measures (New Europe, link):

"The proposals have already taken the national ministers approval the European Council’s trilogue procedure and await their final ratification by the European legislators."

See Statewatch: Directive on combating terrorism (link)

 Video shows Libyan coastguard whipping rescued migrants (The Times, link):

"Libyan coastguard officers have been accused of regularly whipping and beating the migrants they rescue, and threatening even to kill them — and the claims are backed up by video footage shown to The Times.

It shows heavily armed men in military fatigues repeatedly assaulting the migrants they have fished out of the Mediterranean near Sabratha, west Libya. Dozens of sub-Saharan Africans, including women and children, can be seen cowering in the flimsy boats they set sail in as they are lashed with plastic pipes, kicked in the face and screamed at."

EU: Frontex wants "human intelligence" sources, Europol wants "integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches"

EU agencies Frontex (dealing with border control and returns) and Europol (dealing with police cooperation) have published documents setting out their plans for the coming years. The Frontex 'Programming Document' covers the period 2018-20 and includes a proposal to develop "human intelligence" (HUMINT) sources; Europol's equivalent covers 2017-19, including the agency's work programme for 2017, and states an intention to "deliver feasibility analysis on a concept of integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches."

Hungary hits snags with squad to stop migrants (BBC News, link):

"A new police unit in Hungary, launched to reinforce patrols along the 175km (110-mile) border fence with Serbia, is struggling to find suitable candidates despite a massive recruitment drive.

Many fail the psychology test, one of several designed to weed out inappropriate applicants.

Several YouTube videos with a recruitment theme have disabled all comments. Where comments are still possible, one failed applicant complained that visible tattoos were a criterion for rejection.

Xenophobia is at record levels in Hungary, after two years of anti-migrant rhetoric from the conservative Fidesz government.

Work is continuing on a second, electronic fence parallel to the first, designed to prevent illegal entry. Hungary now accepts only 10 applicants for asylum a day from Serbia, where up to 7,000 asylum seekers are waiting for the chance to move on to western Europe."

Council of Europe: Anti-torture committee visits Cyprus and Albania

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has recently concluded visits to Cyprus and Albania (Council of Europe, links).

EU: The time has come to complain about the Terrorism Directive (EDRi, link):

"Nearly a year has passed since we told that you’d be now complaining about the Terrorism Directive. On 16 February, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on the draft Terrorism Directive. EU policy-makers have meaningfully addressed only very few of the concerns that EDRi and other NGOs have raised since the beginning of the EU legislative process."

And see: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms (Statewatch News Online)

UK: Police pay out at least £22m to informants in five years (BBC News, link):

"Police forces across the UK paid out at least £22m to informants over the last five years, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live.

The Met, the largest force, topped the list, spending £5.2m from 2011-16, the data showed.

One critic said it did not stop the "cycle of crime", however, the National Police Chiefs' Council said it was "a cost effective tactic".

A Home Office spokesman said it was "an operational matter for police".

Informants can get anything from a few pounds for basic information, up to several thousand pounds for helping break up organised crime."

UK: Hate crimes rise by up to 100 per cent across England and Wales, figures reveal (The Independent, link):

"The number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces rose by up to 100 per cent in the months following the Brexit vote, new figures show.

Dorset saw the greatest increase, with the 104 offences logged between July and September 2016 equating to double the total from April to June. Across England and Wales the rise was 27 per cent.

In total, 10 force areas saw rises of 50 per cent or more. Below we publish the full list."

IRELAND: Access to a lawyer: is Ireland turning back the clock? (Fair Trials, link):

"For the last three years, suspects detained by the Gardai (Irish police) for questioning about an offence have enjoyed the entitlement, or so it seemed, to have their solicitor present at all times during their interrogation. This stemmed from the seemingly inexorable tide of European, and UK, cases, in particular those of Salduz and Cadder, and an apparent concession by the Irish state that the presence of a lawyer during questioning was an international best practice norm, even if, as a matter of Irish law, the opposite was the position.

(...)

However on January 18th 2017, a potential bombshell landed. In the case of DPP v Barry Doyle, an appeal against conviction for murder, the Supreme Court, in the person of Judge Charleton with support from Chief Justice Denham, ruled clearly that suspects are not entitled to representation during interviews... His judgement is clear and unambiguous, and has been met with a stunned silence from the authorities. So far, there has been no recorded instance of a suspect being refused the presence of his solicitor despite this clear expression of the law."

See: the judgment: The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions) v Barry Doyle (Appeal No. 40/2015, pdf):

"17. The constitutional right is a right of access to a lawyer. The right is one of access to a lawyer, not of the presence of a lawyer during an interview."

And: Supreme Court information note (pdf)

EU: Declassified Council reports on cybercrime (Czech Republic, Hungary Poland) and financial crime (Ireland)

The Council of the EU has recently declassified a number of reports setting out the findings of evaluations on "the practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime" in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland; and "financial crime and financial investigations" in Ireland.

UK: Zombies At The Royal Wedding? Protester Arrests And The Right To Liberty (RightsInfo, link):

"On the day of the Royal Wedding in April 2011, police arrested several people in central London, some who were dressed as zombies.

The police thought they might try to disrupt the wedding causing a ‘breach of the peace’. However, after taking their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court the case was dismissed, the judges concluding that the police must be able to reasonably perform their duties.

(...)

The Supreme Court decided, in this case, to throw out the appeal. While they acknowledged people should be protected from arbitrary detention, they said this shouldn’t make it “impractical” for the police to do their job.

The judges added that police would be “severely hampered” if they couldn’t lawfully arrest and detain a person for a “relatively short time” (this means when the time is far too short to take anyone to court). The Court concluded that early release from detention for preventive purpose would not breach the right to liberty if the lawfulness of the detention could be challenged later and decided on by a court."

See: the judgment: R (on the application of Hicks and others) (Appellants) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Respondent) ([2017] UKSC 9, pdf) and Supreme Court press summary (pdf)

Background: Arrests, raids and wedding parades (Statewatch Journal, vol 21 no 2, April-June 2011)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.2.17)

Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf) by Vera Wriedt and Darius Reinhardt (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR):

Operation Hera is coordinated by the EU’s external border agency Frontex and aims to stop migration along the maritime route from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Frontex, the operation has been a success: the scale of unauthorised maritime crossings along this route was reduced from five-digit to three-digit numbers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) focused on Operation Hera, seeking to increase transparency about border enforcement operations and to reduce the agency’s unaccountability for human rights violations.

Frontex’s approach to transparency and accountability is evinced again in section 12.10 of the Handbook to the Operational Plan entitled "List of potential fundamental rights violations within Frontex activities". The whole section (including the headline) is completely redacted and could only be uncovered because the index lists the section. The argument that the publication of this section would affect public security seems particularly inappropriate in the context of human rights violations.

In conclusion, the partial concealment of border enforcement procedures underlines the inherent structural accountability and transparency deficits of Frontex specifically and EU agencies in general. Frontex redacted significant parts of the documents provided, including information on potential human rights violations. The provided documents do not give information on the methodologies of the operation in order to ascertain whether Frontex and the involved member states violate national, European and international human rights provisions.

EU -UK: Justice and Home Affairs after Brexit

European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): Briefing Note for the Committee: Contribution on the UK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) (pdf):

Overall the UK has already indicated in statements to the House of Commons and this Briefing says:

"The UK Government has already made it clear that strong security cooperation with the European Union will be one of its four overarching objectives in forthcoming negotiations3. In that respect, the area of Justice, Home Affairs will be a key component of both the withdrawal agreement and the future EU-UK relationship agreement."

It could be that that in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs cooperation, criminal law and operations and counter terrorism, plus areas of internal and external security special provisions will be made for the UK's continued participation.

See also:

Home Office: The UK’s cooperation with the EU on justice and home affairs, and on foreign policy and security issues (pdf)
House of Lords Select Committee report:
Brexit: future UK-EU security and police cooperation (pdf)

And see: View of the EP Legal Affairs Commitee (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Counter-terrorism cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood (pdf):

"Since the EU adopted its Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005, it has focused on forging closer ties with third countries in the fight against terrorism. Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood in this field is particularly important. Every single country within this region is affected by terrorism to different degrees and terrorist attacks on European soil are increasingly linked with the Middle East and North Africa."

Europol chief calls for more online powers for police (France 24, link):

"Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, sat down with FRANCE 24 in The Hague. He says that unfortunately there will "probably" be further terrorist attacks in Europe. He points out that a number of planned attacks have been stopped in time over the past two years and says the sharing of information between EU countries has improved "tenfold" since 2015.

The UK is one of the more active members in terms of sharing and participating in Europol actions. But it is set to leave the EU, which means it will no longer be a full member of Europol either. Europol does, however, have agreements with non-EU members, so Wainwright expects the UK to have "some kind of associate membership".

UK: No 10: Official Secrets Act proposals 'project of previous prime minister' - Downing Street vehemently denies claims it plans to outlaw investigative journalism and public interest whistleblowers (Guardian, link):

"As a row erupted over a Law Commission report which suggested that the maximum penalty of two years in prison for leaking official information might be too low when set against 14 years in comparable jurisdictions, Downing Street on Monday night vehemently denied that it was trying to stifle a free press.

“This is a consultation by an independent body instigated by a previous prime minister,” a No 10 source said. “It will never be our policy to restrict the freedom of investigative journalism or public service whistleblowing.”

See: See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

Satellite location boosts EU emergency services (euractiv, link): "The single European emergency number, 112, can now pinpoint the location of callers, thanks to technological advances funded by the European Union"

Ireland: Data commissioner tells court US law fails to protect privacy (Irish Times, link): "Regulator cites lack of access to effective remedies in US if data privacy is breached."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-13.2.17)

UK: The Guardian view on official secrets: new proposals threaten democracy - Editorial (Guardian, link):

"The Law Commission’s proposals appear tailored to stop the Guardian ever again publishing something like the Snowden files...

it proposes powers that would herald a new journalistic ice age. Anyone that published an intelligence- or foreign affairs-related story based on a leak would be open to criminal charges. Reporters, as well as the whistleblowers whose stories they tell, would be under threat of sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest and even if there were no likelihood of damage.

This all began in 2015, when the government asked the barrister Professor David Ormerod, the law commissioner for criminal law and evidence, to examine the protection of official data. The date is significant: the Guardian, together with other European and American newspapers, had recently published some of the huge volume of material leaked by Edward Snowden about surveillance techniques...."

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

Vice-versa: Racial profiling in Germany (euractiv, link):

"Germany and the EU: How do they cooperate? Where do their approaches conflict and where are their interests aligned? Euractiv Germany’s new Vice-Versa series continues to take a look at one issue from both a European and federal government perspective."

Austria should improve integrity rules in parliament and independence of the judiciary: anti-corruption report (Council of Europe, link):

"In spite of commendable progress that Austria has made in recent years in domestic anti-corruption policies, those for parliamentarians are still at an early stage. Rules are needed to manage conflicts of interest when they arise and a code of conduct should be put in place to improve poor public perceptions of elected officials, according to a new report by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)."

UK: Union Leaders Call for Hogan-Howe to Explain Shredding (COPS, link):

"We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.

Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith."

EU: Council of the European Union: Registering ID to combat fraud: Commission Questionnaire on Issues related to Registration of Identity (Doc no: 5633-17, pdf):: Uniform registering of personal IDs:

"Delegations will find attached a questionnaire suggested by the services of the Commission on issues related to Registration of Identity in the context of the follow-up to the Commission's Communication on an Action Plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud (COM(2016) 790 final)."

And see: Commission Communication: COM 790-16 (pdf)

UK: Government accused of 'full-frontal attack' on whistleblowers (Guardian, link)

"Outcry follows plans to radically increase prison terms for revealing state secrets and to prosecute journalists...

Draft recommendations from the government’s legal advisers say the maximum prison sentence for leakers should be raised, potentially from two to 14 years, and the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive information, as well as passing it on."

Also: Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies (The Register, link)

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Vulnerable refugees in four measures & Humanitarian visas

Vulnerable refugees - redraft of clauses: Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 5939-17, pdf) With 68 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"In the framework of the theme "Guarantees for those with special needs", delegations will find attached modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to:

- Articles 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 32 of the Asylum Procedures Regulation;
- Articles 11, 17a (3), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Reception Conditions Directive;
- Articles 22 (4) and (5) and 36 of the Qualifications Regulations; and
- Article 8 of the Dublin Regulation.

The changes in the text are marked as follows: added text is marked in bold and underline and deleted text from the original Commission proposal is marked in bold and single strikethrough."

• Humanitarian visas: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee - Outcomes (LIMITE doc no: 5668-17, pdf): Including Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast):

"AT, supported by FR, SK and CZ, reported that the EP had not yet given up on the idea of the humanitarian visa and strongly invited the Presidency to make it clear during the negotiations with the EP that this was a red line for the Council. Therefore, as long as the humanitarian visa was included in the compromise amendments, they stressed that the Council would not be in a position to agree on anything.

The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP."

EU: Statewatch Briefing: EU-wide biometric databases, “soft targets”, cybersecurity and data protection: Commission’s fourth report on building the ‘Security Union (pdf) by Chris Jones:

At the end of January the European Commission issued its fourth report on "building an effective and genuine Security Union”, examining four topics: “information systems and interoperability, soft target protection, cyber threat and data protection in the context of criminal investigations." The report puts significant focus on the need for “interoperability” between EU and national-level information systems and databases, in order to enable EUwide biometric surveillance, one of the current favourite topics of EU security officials.

See:
European Commission, Fourth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2017) 41 final, 25 January 2017, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.17)

French enquiry finds ‘insufficient proof’ police raped young man with truncheon (France 24, link)

"An initial French police investigation has found insufficient evidence to support allegations that a 22-year-old black man was anally raped with a police truncheon, a police source said Thursday.

The outcome of the internal police inquiry emerged after violence flared in the northern suburbs of Paris and elsewhere in France following the incident involving the man identified only as Theo.

The youth worker required surgery for severe anal injuries after he was allegedly assaulted with a truncheon and also suffered head trauma in a case that has revived the contentious issue of policing in France's deprived suburbs.

The police's own investigation into last Thursday's incident in the gritty suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois has concluded that the injuries were not inflicted intentionally.

...However, an investigating magistrate has charged one of the police officers with rape and is still examining the case."

And see: Two jailed as riots follow alleged police rape (RFI, link): "A French court has jailed two young men for six months for their part in riots that have broken out in response to the alleged police rape of a young black man. The violence continued on Wednesday night."

UK: Mental health patient kept in Norfolk police cell for three days (Eastern Daily Press, link):

"A mental health patient was kept in a police cell for three days in King’s Lynn because no bed could be found for him.

A second person needing mental health treatment was detained at Aylsham police station for 36 hours as the region’s mental health service struggled to find a bed.

The two cases, both from January, raise further concerns about the number of psychiatric beds in Norfolk and Suffolk which have been cut by 136 - around a quarter - since 2012."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.17)

UN: Special Rapporteur releases annual report - "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights" (link):

"UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai is pleased to announce the release of his mandate's third and final annual report, "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights."

The report tells the story of 2016 from the perspective of assembly and association rights and recaps the Special Rapporteur mandate's work during the year. The report also features Kiai's farewell letter, in which he reflects on his nearly six years in the mandate.

When the Human Rights Council created his mandate in 2010, Kiai writes, "the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights - known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century."

"And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War," he adds.""

European Parliament: Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers

A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

Serbia and Belgium ink police cooperation agreement (b92.net, libk)

"Deputy prime ministers and interior ministers of Serbia and Belgium on Tuesday signed an agreement on police cooperation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: No unanimity on the creation of the European Public Prosecuror's Office:

See: European Public Prosecutor Office : Council takes first step towards a possible enhanced cooperation (Press release, pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council registered the absence of unanimity in support of the proposal for a regulation creating a European Public Prosecutor's office (EPPO). This opens the way for a group of at least nine member states to refer the text for discussion to the European Council for a final attempt at securing consensus on the proposal. If this does not prove possible, enhanced cooperation can be considered.

"EPPO has been part of the Treaties since 2009. However, as the last six and a half years have shown its establishment has been elusive. I am positive that the Maltese presidency will achieve concrete results by continuing to act as an honest broker so that those member states who wish to launch enhanced cooperation do so under this presidency”, said Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice of Malta."
[emphasis added]

EU announces digital deal, but where is the text? (euobserver, link):

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That's what EU diplomats often say when they are asked about the progress of legislative negotiations.

Their PR machines however seem to have a different maxim....

The deal was reached behind closed doors between the European Parliament and national governments meeting in Council, brokered by the European Commission, in a process called trilogue....

But when EUobserver asked around for the actual text, it emerged that there would be another “clean-up meeting” on Friday, and that the final text “should be ready on Monday” – six days after the press releases. A second source said the text "will be ready at the earliest on Friday"."

Reporters' spy saga gives glimpse of UK surveillance culture (AP, link):

"British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance.

In the months that followed Breen's exclusive, investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The two were stunned when they eventually discovered the scale of the spying.

"It just never even crossed our minds," Breen said in a recent interview in the newsroom of The Northern Echo, in the English market town of Darlington. "I don't know if I was quite naive, but on a regional newspaper you don't expect your local police force to do this."

The Echo's editor, Andy Richardson, said his paper's brush with police spying carries a warning as surveillance laws stiffen up and down the continent ."

And see: Court rules that Cleveland Police acted unlawfully by using telecoms spying powers to find newspaper sources (Press Gazette, link):

"Surveillance court judges have today ruled that a police force’s use of spying powers on two former officers in a bid to find the source of information leaks to journalists was “unlawful”."

Investigatory Powers Tribunal: judgment: Case between (1) Mark Dias (2) Stephen Matthews and The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police ([2017] UKIPTrib15_586-CH, pdf):

"This complaint was brought by two former police officers in the Cleveland Police Force against the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police alleging that the acquisition of their communications data had been unlawful. The Tribunal determined that the applications for and approvals of the obtaining of communications data relating to the claimants were unlawful and must be quashed."

President Radev: Risk to European citizens unless Bulgaria given access to Schengen Information System (Sofia Globe, link):

"There is no way for Bulgaria to effectively protect Europe’s external borders unless it is given access to the Schengen Information System – and the country’s lack of access to the system increases the risk for all European citizens, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said during an official visit to Berlin."

FRANCE: Police officer ‘raped black youth with a truncheon as colleagues watched’ (Metro, link):

"Rioting has broken out in Paris after a police officer was charged with raping a young black man with his truncheon.

CCTV footage allegedly shows four officers attack him, one of them forcing his police truncheon into his anal passage after they stopped him in the street during an identity check.

The man, a 22-year-old youth worker, was so severely injured that he is still in hospital after undergoing an operation, his lawyer said."

See also: New protests after French police accused of baton rape (RFI, link) and: Paris suburb simmers after youth allegedly raped by police (France 24, link):

"A Paris suburb has been subjected to two nights of violence, including burned cars and fireworks aimed at police, following the alleged rape of a young man by police during a violent arrest on Thursday. "

Google to appeal against order to hand over foreign emails (Computer Weekly, link):

"UK firms urged to consider the risks of non-UK cloud service providers and to encrypt data in the light of another US warrant to access emails held by a US cloud services firm on non-US servers

Google reportedly plans to appeal against a court order to hand over to the FBI emails of Gmail users stored outside of the US, arguing that doing so will put the privacy of non-US citizens at risk.

In a similar case, the US Department of Justice is considering going to the Supreme Court after an appeals court refused to revisit its July 2016 landmark ruling blocking government access to emails stored on Microsoft servers in Ireland. "

Former Polish President Walesa did help secret police, experts say (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Experts in Poland say they have found proof that former Polish President Lech Walesa collaborated with the country's notorious Communist-era secret police (SB) in the 1970s. The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) released a forensic report on Tuesday containing agreements signed by Walesa to collaborate with the secret police.

Officials revealed they are certain that papers they received from the widow of a Communist-era interior minister prove that Walesa was a spy for the SB and worked under the code name "Bolek" from 1970 to 1976.

The IPN, which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi occupation and the communist era, stated Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement and receipts for payment from the secret police."

UK: MPs criticise £1bn ‘slush fund’ for foreign security forces (Reprieve, link):

"A senior Parliamentary Committee has heavily criticised the Government for failing to allow public scrutiny of a new £1bn fund used for UK security assistance overseas.

In a report published today, MPs on the Joint Security Committee said there was a “fundamental lack of transparency” surrounding the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which was “undermin[ing] the Government’s commitment to transparency.” They described the £1bn CSSF as a “slush fund” that has been used for “questionable” projects in Bahrain and elsewhere.

The report comes after human rights organisation Reprieve raised concerns over some assistance to foreign security forces who carry out abuses, such as torture and the death penalty."

See: Billion pound fund lacks political leadership and accountability (parliament.uk, link) and: Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy: Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.17)

Inquiry into undercover police actions in Northern Ireland moves step closer (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"An anti-globalisation activist has won the first stage of a High Court battle to have a major inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by undercover British police officers extended to cover their activities in Northern Ireland. "

EU: Court of Justice (CJEU): According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (Press release, pdf):

"It is irrelevant whether or not there are ties between the person concerned and the requested Member State."

EU: Council: Schengen area: Council recommends prolongation of internal border controls (pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

Starting from 11 February 2017, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway should prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of three months at the following internal borders:

Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
Germany at the German-Austrian land border
Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."

Western Mediterranean countries plead for increased NATO presence (euractiv, link):

"Defence ministers from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called on NATO to increase its presence in their part of the world.

Spanish Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal said after a meeting of the so-called “Southern Quartet” in Porto yesterday (6 February) that their request for more NATO involvement is justified because “today, the risks facing Europe are different to those in years past and they originate from more sources”.

Cospedal added that “it is true that NATO traditionally does not have a strong presence in the south of Europe”, yet she and her three counterparts are still advocating more Alliance-involvement in their region, especially in the Mediterranean."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.2.17): new reports on asylum in Serbia and Hungary; Italy-Libya agreement in English; latest statistics on the relocation scheme; Greece-Turkey push-back allegations; and more.

UK-IRELAND: Activist 'bitterly disappointed' by 'closed' report into undercover policing (Irish Independent, link):

"Activists who allege a British undercover police officer operated in Ireland have branded a Garda inquiry into his activity a whitewash.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was tasked late last year with a second internal probe into the activities of a spy from London's Metropolitan Police after an original inquiry in 2011 found no evidence of criminality.

Campaigners wrote to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald demanding she seek Ireland's inclusion in a public inquiry in England and Wales over undercover policing.

Activist Kim Bryan, who claims she was targeted by Met spy Mark Kennedy in England and in Ireland, criticised the minister's response.

"I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal garda report into undercover policing," she said."

Munich Security Conference 2017 takes place against the backdrop of transatlantic uncertainty and the crisis of the liberal order (Munich Security Conference, link):

"From February 17 to 19, 2017, the 53rd edition of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) will bring together hundreds of decision-makers in the realm of international security at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. Under the chairmanship of Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, more than 500 participants will debate critical security challenges, including the troubling state of the international order and the rise of illiberalism around the world."

ECHR: Case Watch: How Kosa v. Hungary is Challenging a Gap in Europe's Anti-Discrimination Protections (Open Society Foundations, link):

"a growing number of European countries have established collective redress procedures which allow Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to make claims on behalf of a distinct but indeterminate class of discrimination victims. However, this type of mechanism has proven problematic for the European Court of Human Rights, as the organization making the claim is not a “direct victim”.

It was under this type of collective redress procedures that the Hungarian NGO Chance for Children Foundation brought a legal action for education discrimination in 2008, after the discontinuation of a bus service to a local integrated school forced students in the town of Huszar telep into a Roma-only school. Whilst CFCF convinced lower Hungarian courts that discrimination occurred, they were denied a remedy to terminate the unlawful actions. Both at Hungary’s Constitutional Court—the Kuria—and the European Court of Human Rights, CFCF’s claim was rejected on grounds of standing, because the organization itself was not “directly affected” by the measures leading to segregated Roma education.

...This has created a situation where a domestic claim seeking to address instances of systemic discrimination, under a valid and justified mechanism, has no recourse to the Strasbourg Court. How can the Convention protection against discrimination be practical and effective in such circumstances?"

EU: Foreign Affairs Council: Council conclusions on Libya (pdf)

Adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 February 2017. Including:

"The EU condemns human rights violations and abuses against migrants and urges Libyan authorities to redouble their efforts to improve the protection and promotion of human rights, especially in migrant detention centres"

And:

"Recognizing the need for Libyan ownership in helping to address irregular migration flows and saving lives, the EU will continue its activities through different complementary and coordinated activities in the context of Seahorse Mediterranean Network, European Border and Coast Guard Agency and CSDP, in accordance with international law.

In line with the Malta declaration, the EU will give further priority to the provision of training, equipment and other support, with priority given to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and other relevant legitimate Libyan agencies."

And see: factsheet: EU-LIBYA RELATIONS (pdf)

UK: Domestic Extremism Awareness Day 2017

"As we have argued repeatedly over the last couple of years, the term “domestic extremist” means pretty much whatever the police want it to mean.

It is a critical justification for state surveillance on protest movements in the UK, but both the government and the police have struggled to devise a credible definition robust enough to withstand legal scrutiny.

(...)

If people fear the label of ‘domestic extremist’ may in future affect their immigration status or application for asylum, the safety of families in other parts of the world, their job security or their ability to work with children, or the prospect of routine harassment or preemptive arrest by the police, they are far more likely to think twice about exercising their rights of assembly and free speech.

This is why we are arguing for a complete end to the smearing of campaigners as ‘domestic extremists’. Our campaigns are not ‘extreme’ just because they challenge powerful state and corporate interests."

See: This is Not Domestic Extremism (Netpol, link)

UK: Government doesn't investigate human rights claims against Saudi Arabia before selling arms (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not make judgments over whether countries like Saudi Arabia have violated international humanitarian laws in specific cases before granting arms exports to them.

Ministers have admitted they do not reach any conclusion on whether there have been violations in particular cases, because they say it would “not be possible” in conflicts the UK is not involved in.

Ministers instead try to come to “an overall judgement” that arms sold to a country will not be used to violate international humanitarian laws (IHL), a government spokesman has told The Independent."

UK: Inside the government's mad plan to catalog every video on the Internet (New Statesman, link):

"Imagine a government scheme to catalogue and classify every single video on the web.

But you don’t need to imagine: that’s the bizarre proposal being put forward by Theresa May’s government in the Digital Economy Bill, which reached committee stage in the Lords this week.

The Digital Economy Bill proposes that online video should be classified just as films are now, and by the same people - the British Board of Film Classification."

EU-UK: As Bad as it Gets: the White Paper on Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Yesterday the UK government released its White Paper on Brexit. This tome was reluctantly extracted from the government after months of prompting, but is in the end enormously disappointing: the political equivalent of a cat coughing up a hairball.

As many had expected, the white paper is basically content-free. It's essentially Theresa May's recent speech (which I analysed here), in some cases word-for-word, with a few statistics and graphs added. But even this information refers back to the status quo, and in some cases is inaccurate (a graph suggested British workers get 14 weeks’ paid holiday a year, before it was corrected), out-of-date (the 2011 statistics on UK citizens resident in the EU), or only partial (the migration statistics omit Irish people in the UK, and vice versa).

There’s no proper analysis of different options relating to the UK’s post-Brexit future, with assessments of their relative pros and cons. But then there couldn’t be: the White Paper says little of substance about the very existence of those options. David Allen Green has pointed out that the initial version of the document was time-stamped at about 4am, giving the strong impression it was written overnight by an intern working to a deadline in a student-like coffee-fuelled flurry."

See: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

EU: Release of final evaluation on Eurojust's Action Plan against human trafficking (Eurojust, link):

"The Final evaluation confirms that the complexity of THB cases, due to their multinational nature, the involvement of sophisticated criminal groups and the targeting of vulnerable victims, is the main obstacle to the successful repression of THB in Europe. The Final evaluation highlights Eurojust’s crucial role in facilitating essential cross-border judicial cooperation to dismantle THB networks.

The Action Plan has also yielded promising results. Eurojust and Europol have expanded their cooperation on THB by improving the flow of information between the two bodies and increasing their shared casework. Similarly, over the action period, practitioners in the Member States have gained a clearer understanding of the legal complexities of cross-border THB cases, allowing them to better coordinate their actions, share information and tackle the THB phenomenon."

See: Eurojust: Implementation of the Eurojust Action Plan against THB [trafficking in human beings] 2012-2016 - Final evaluation report (pdf)

Protests continue in Romania after government repeals corruption impunity decree

"About 500,000 demonstrators have rallied across Romania, despite the government revoking a controversial decree that fuelled their discontent.

The left-wing government earlier scrapped the decree, which would have shielded many politicians from prosecution for corruption.

But protesters remain dissatisfied about a revised version of the bill which will now be put to parliament."

EU: We need to remove free movement from the vicious circle of security (OpenDemocracy, link) by Didier Bigo and Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet:

"'Freedom is that possession which permits the enjoyment of all other possessions', wrote Montesquieu. Yet, today we are led to believe that the only way to enjoy personal safety within society, and guarantee our individual and collective freedoms, is through preventive security and reinforced controls.

How have we arrived at a situation where our reasoning has been so thoroughly turned on its head that the movement of millions of people is now being brought into question in case it might – owing to the way it is organised and its great speed – lead either to the departure of combatants abroad (so called foreign fighters) or the entry of clandestine groups with violent intentions?"

Libyans intercept at least 1,131 migrants off western coast in a week - coast guard (Reuters, link):

"TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's coast guard intercepted at least 1,131 migrants near the western city of Sabratha over the course of a week, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Ayoub Qassem said 431 migrants had been intercepted on four inflatable boats off Sabratha's coast on Thursday and some 700 had been picked up on Jan. 27 from three wooden vessels in the same area.

"The illegal migrants are from various sub-Saharan countries and include a big number of women and children," Qassem said of those intercepted on Thursday.

Those intercepted on Jan. 27 also included migrants from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and the Palestinian territories, he said, and smugglers had attempted to block the coast guards from taking those migrants from their boats."

GREECE-TURKEY: Ankara says Greece has ‘forcefully’ sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey (Hurriyet, link):

"Turkey stated on Feb. 3 that Greece had “forcefully” sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey via the River Maritza in recent months.

Officials from the Directorate General of Migration Management, which works under the Interior Ministry, said that Greece sent back more than 3,000 migrants to Turkey in the past four months.

The officials requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

They said Greece was not abiding by the readmission agreement between Turkey and Greece, while also disregarding international laws on human rights."

Press release: the EU and Italy de facto violate the principle of non-refoulement

At the informal Summit held at La Valletta on 3 February, the European Union confirms its policy of agreements for the closure of borders. Italy seconds the EU requests and concludes a shameful agreement with Libya.

The new foreign policy of the EU Commission and Council: development funds instrumentally used as bargaining chips to reach agreements and partnerships with third countries in order to repel migrants and refugees.

ASGI strongly condemns this shameful policy of the EU and the Italian Government to conclude agreements with third countries. “The EU betrays basic rule of law principles and infringes the democratic basis for the peaceful coexistence of citizens” says Lorenzo Trucco, lawyer and president of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI).

EU: Commission: Member States' Relocations (2.2.17, pdf): 8,692 relocated from Greece out of 63,302 places allocated and 3,205 relocated from Italy of 34,953 places allocated. Overall 22,453 places pledged out of 160,000 needed.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.17)

USA: Exclusive: Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam - sources (Reuters, link):

"The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, "Countering Violent Extremism," or CVE, would be changed to "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump's election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase "radical Islam" in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries."

UK: Stop and search: police 'unacceptably slow' to comply with new rules (The Guardian, link):

"Four police forces have made “unacceptably slow progress” to comply with government rules aimed at eliminating discrimination in stop and search, a report has found.

An emergency special inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that forces in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire were still breaking the rules when visited in November 2016. This was despite previous findings that they were in breach of reforms they had agreed to make in 2014 and the government having made its displeasure clear.

Since the inspection four months ago, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Northamptonshire had carried out the changes demanded of them and now obeyed the rules. Derbyshire remained the only one of 43 forces in England and Wales to still not comply with the rules."

See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary: Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme: A summary of the findings of an HMIC revisit of the 19 forces that were not complying with the scheme in 2015 (pdf)

Further information and documentation: Best Use of Stop and Search - second revisits (HMIC, link)

EU-USA: Has President Trump’s Executive Order on “Public Safety” killed off Privacy Shield? (LinkedIn, link) by Chris Pounder:

"President Trump’s Executive Order (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) has caused controversy over its temporary ban on all Muslims entering the USA from certain countries. It has consequences for data protection.

However, law-firm Hunton and Williams has just published a blog which concludes that “the Order should not impact the legal viability of the Privacy Shield framework” (see references). This conclusion is reached because, in the blog’s view, EU nationals still have access to USA courts by the Judicial Redress Act which is unaffected by the Executive Order (unless this access is revoked by the USA).

I agree with the blog’s conclusions relating to the Judicial Redress Act; however, I am not convinced that this overcomes the main data protection problem associated with this Order.

This is because implementation of this Order requires enhanced data sharing between Federal Agencies in the USA. As this data sharing involves EU nationals it directly raises the question: “whether or not the provisions of USA’s Privacy Act 1974 itself offers an adequate level of protection for transfers of personal data to the USA?”.

In other words, the Executive Order will inevitably focus attention on the quality of protections provided by Privacy Act and not on whether these protections are accessible to EU citizens via Judicial Redress Act."

EU: European Council adopts declaration on cooperation with Libya amidst human rights warnings

The European Council meeting in Malta has issued a declaration on the "external aspects of migration", primarily focusing on the "Central Mediterranean Route" and cooperation with Libya.

There are no major changes in the content compared to the draft declaration published by Statewatch yesterday, although an affirmation of a "determination to act in full respect of human rights, international law and European values" has been moved to the first paragraph.

However, these warm words are not backed up elsewhere in the text, for example by including a committment to "a significant expansion of opportunities for safe pathways such as resettlement and humanitarian admission, among others, to avoid dangerous journeys," as called for by the UNHCR and IOM.

ITALY-LIBYA: New Memorandum of Understanding on "illegal immigration" and border security signed

Italy and the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord yesterday (2 February) signed a new Memorandum of Understading on "development, countering illegal immigration, human trafficking, smuggling and on strengthening border security".

See: Memorandum d'intesa sulla cooperazione nel campo dello sviluppo, del contrasto all'immigrazione illegale, al traffico di esseri umani, al contrabbando e sul rafforzamento della sicurezza delle frontiere tra lo Stato della Libia e la Repubblica Italiana (pdf)

EU commission drops anti-corruption report (EUobserver, link):

"The EU commission scrapped plans to publish a report on anti-corruption efforts throughout EU states.

When pressed to explain why, EU commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Thursday (2 February) refused to speculate.

"For the commission, the fight against corruption is not in any way an attempt to interfere or offer value judgments within the political life in a member state," Schinas told EUobserver."

EU-USA: EU party leaders team up to reject Trump ambassador (EurActiv, link):

"The three major “pro-European” groups in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and the ALDE liberals, have taken the position that the EU should reject Ted R. Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, and Guy Verhofstadt, his colleague from ALDE, co-signed a letter to Council President Donald Tusk yesterday (2 February), proposing that the EU rejects Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Separately, S&D leader Gianni Pittella sent a letter, in which he says he tells Tusk and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini that Malloch would not be an acceptable choice and should be declared a ‘persona non grata’."

USA: My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it's not Orwell, he warned, it's Brave New World (The Guardian, link):

"Over the last year, as the presidential campaign grew increasingly bizarre and Donald Trump took us places we had never been before, I saw a spike in media references to Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book written by my late father, Neil Postman, which anticipated back in 1985 so much about what has become of our current public discourse.

(...)

The central argument of Amusing Ourselves is simple: there were two landmark dystopian novels written by brilliant British cultural critics – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – and we Americans had mistakenly feared and obsessed over the vision portrayed in the latter book (an information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state) rather than the former (a technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble). "

EU: Europol announces new network of experts on "the online crime attribution gap"

"European Network of Law Enforcement Specialists on CGN created at Europol to address a little known but major capability gap in law enforcement’s attempts to identify offenders online.

On 31 January 2017, a meeting of European law enforcement cybercrime specialists was held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. This meeting addressed the increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by internet service providers (ISPs). The meeting included presentations from industry experts, to broaden law enforcement understanding of the way in which internet service providers (providing access to the internet) and electronic content providers (websites and communication platforms) operate with regards to CGN."

See: Closing the Online Crime Attribution Gap: European law enforcement tackles Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN) (Europol press release, pdf)

See: EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

UK-ERITREA: Politics before protection: the story of Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK (Right to Remain, link):

"The front page news in the Guardian last week, that “Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers” will not surprise those who have been following the debacle of Eritrean asylum claims in the UK for some time.

The Public Law Project managed to obtain internal Home Office documents that evidenced UK government efforts to seek more favourable descriptions of human rights conditions in Eritrea. This evidence confirms what has been clear for some time – that the UK’s priority has been reducing migration, irrespective of the deaths, torture and persecution that might entail.

Back in Refugee Week 2015, Right to Remain joined 500 Eritrean asylum seekers who marched swiftly and beautifully through the streets of Liverpool to protest the UK Home Office’s treatment of their cases.

It seems like a good time to recap on the what has happened over the last couple of years, and what the legal situation is now."

And see: Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers (The Guardian, link)

Trump’s Yemen raid killed newborn baby and scores of civilians (Reprieve, link):

"An attack on a village in Yemen ordered by President Trump on Sunday caused the death of a newborn baby, alongside as many as 23 civilians, human rights organization Reprieve has discovered.

The Trump Administration oversaw a series of drone strikes and a ground raid on the village of Yakla, Yemen, on Sunday (29th). The Administration initially downplayed reports of civilian casualties, including the death of an eight-year old girl. Yesterday, however, US officials conceded that civilians were “likely killed.”

Reprieve has obtained evidence that many as 23 civilians were killed in the US raid, including a newborn baby boy, and ten children. The heavily pregnant mother was shot in the stomach during the raid, and subsequently gave birth to an injured baby boy, according to local reports. The baby died on Tuesday 31st."

EU: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms

The green light has been given for the approval of the EU's new Directive on Combating Terrorism after confirmation from the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURE) that the legal basis for the new law is acceptable. The European Parliament's plenary meeting on 16 February will vote on the text, which was agreed in secret negotiations and contains a series of highly controversial provisions that have been condemned by civil society groups and legal experts.

See: Letter from Pavel Svoboda MEP, JURE chair, to Claude Moraes MEP, LIBE chair (pdf)

UK: Report on the legality of the EU sanctions calls for procedural improvements and continued cooperation post-Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords' EU Committee says that while sanctions against individuals, companies or institutions in non-EU states "serve an important foreign policy objective in persuading States and regimes to change behaviour," are a number of improvements that need to be made to the "listing" process, in particular regarding transparency and standards of proof.

See: House of Lords European Union Committee: The legality of EU sanctions (pdf)

EU: Police action against migrant smuggling: report on Italian investigations and Europol press release on safe house "bust"

An article published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project highlights how the Italian police have adopted methods used against the mafia in their efforts against migrant smuggling networks operating from sub-Saharan African countries, while a recent Europol press release highlights the "busting" of a "migrant safe house" in Budapest during harmonised operations in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Travel surveillance and profiling: the Indian government wants to join the PNR party

"Airlines will now be required to share passenger reservation data with customs department in advance.

The government has proposed an amendment to the Customs Act for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country. The changes in the rules will bring India in line with countries like Australia, Canada, United States and the European Union which have similar norms in place.

(...)

In case an airline company fails to furnish the information to the customs, it could result in a fine of up to Rs 50,000, according to the Finance Bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

At present, many airlines in India are required to share the passenger information, in advance with immigration authorities prior to departure or arrival, but this is limited to details like passenger name, nationality, passport number etc. Other countries also require airlines to share similar information known as advance passenger information (API)."

See: Now, govt wants aceess to airlines passenger reservation data in advance - This is for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country (Business Standard, link)

EU: Asylum: European Parliament briefing on proposed EU list of "safe countries of origin"

"As part of the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed a regulation on 9 September 2015 to establish a common EU list of safe countries of origin, initially comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The aim is to fast-track asylum applications from citizens of these countries, which are considered 'safe' in full compliance with the criteria set out in the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU and the principle of non-refoulement. Currently, lists are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications, and thus create incentives for secondary movements and asylum-shopping."

See: Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf)

UK: Film tells asylum seeker stories of alleged G4S intimidation (The Ferret, link):

"A new film The Asylum Market features testimony from asylum seekers, including a victim of human trafficking, alleging intimidation and bullying by employees of security giant G4S, as well as claims of sordid housing conditions.

The film was due to be aired on 31 January 2017 on BBC prime-time current affairs show Victoria Derbyshire, to coincide with the release of Westminster’s cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee report on asylum accommodation contracts, which concluded that the provision was “shameful”.

However, the film was pulled from the programme although the BBC did robustly challenge G4s in its package."

And see: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation (pdf):

"Since 2012 accommodation has been provided to asylum seekers via six regional Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services contracts, known as COMPASS... Although the system of three Providers looks straightforward on the surface, below it lies a complex network of contractors, sub-contractors and hundreds of private landlords."

Turkey, Hungary and Romania drive 23% rise in ECHR applications (The Guardian, link):

"Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the attempted coup in Turkey along with poor conditions in prisons in Hungary and Romania have driven a 23% year-on-year rise in the number of applications to the European court of human rights.

In its annual report, the court noted a “very large number of applications” from Turkey in late 2016 after the attempt to topple Erdogan, contributing to the biggest increase in applications in five years.

Turkey declared a state of emergency in July and gave notice of a derogation under article 15 of the European convention on human rights. Such a move releases a government of its obligations to uphold some, but not all, human rights, when a state is faced with a public emergency that threatens “the life of the nation”.

The other two signatory states to fuel the large increase in applications to the ECHR, Romania and Hungary, have struggled with overpopulation in their prisons for a number of years, but the statistics appear to suggest the situation is worsening."

See: European Court of Human Rights: Annual Report 2016 (pdf)

NETHERLANDS: Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin (Buro Jansen & Janssen, link):

"Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story.

We received this story from a person who wants to remain anonymous. We conducted an investigation to the existence of this person and confirmed their existence. The person did not want to answer additional questions about the conversation held with the Dutch secret service (AIVD for its initials in Dutch) and wanted to remain anonymous. We respect this. We publish this account because we think the story is important both for the hackers community and beyond. The person has written the story in English, which we have edited without changing the contents. We have also translated it into Dutch with some slight clarification in relation to some comments, again without changing the contents."

EU: Marine Le Pen: Deadline passes for National Front leader to repay EU funds (BBC News, link):

"A European Parliament deadline for France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen to return more than 300,000 euros (£257,000; $321,000) it says she has misspent, has passed.

The presidential candidate had until midnight to repay the money, but said she had no intention of doing so.

The parliament says she wrongly used the funds to pay an aide at the National Front's headquarters in Paris.

She says she is the victim of a politically motivated vendetta.

If she does not repay the money, the parliament could now respond by withholding as much as half of her salary and allowances, which her opponents say total almost €11,000 a month."

EU: Report from the 2016 'JHATech' conference hosted by the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA)

The theme of the October 2016 'JHATech' conference of the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA) was 'Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security'. The report from the conference gives an overview of speeches from numerous high-level officials discussing the use of technology in EU justice and home affairs policy, covering issues such as border security, biometrics, interoperability between databases and information systems, and PNR.

See: eu-LISA, JHATech 2016: Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security (pdf)

GERMANY: Constitutional Court: neo-Nazi National Democratic Party not illegal as it is "entirely impossible" it will suceed in its aims

The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) advocates a concept aimed at abolishing the existing free democratic basic order. The NPD intends to replace the existing constitutional system with an authoritarian national state that adheres to the idea of an ethnically defined “people’s community” (Volksgemeinschaft). Its political concept disrespects human dignity and is incompatible with the principle of democracy. Furthermore, the NPD acts in a systematic manner and with sufficient intensity towards achieving its aims that are directed against the free democratic basic order. However, (currently) there is a lack of specific and weighty indications suggesting that this endeavour will be successful; for that reason the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court, in its judgment pronounced today, unanimously rejected as unfounded the Bundesrat’s admissible application to establish the unconstitutionality of the NPD and its sub-organisations (Art. 21 sec. 2 of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG).

UK-EU: BREXIT: UK to seek a deal on continued cooperation on crime, policing and terrorism

As indicated previously by Ministers the UK will seek to "deal" on future cooperation with the EU:

"As we exit, we will therefore look to negotiate the best deal we can with the EU to cooperate in the fight against crime and terrorism. We will seek a strong and close future relationship with the EU, with a focus on operational and practical cross-border cooperation. We will seek a relationship that is capable of responding to the changing threats we face together. Public safety in the UK and the rest of Europe will be at the heart of this aspect of our negotiation."

See: White Paper on BREXIT: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-2.2.17)

EU: Malta Summit, 3 February 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"Since the start of the migration crisis the EU has managed to reduce significantly the number of irregular migrants entering Europe. Preliminary data from Frontex indicate a 72% decrease in detections in 2016 across the whole of the EU compared to 2015. By far the largest share of this reduction was recorded along the Eastern Mediterranean route, following the EU decision to fully apply the Schengen Border Code (end the wave-through approach) and the EU - Turkey Statement."

UK mosque wins apology over 'terrorism' database listing (Middle East Eye, link)

"FInancial information company Thomson Reuters on Wednesday apologised to a north London mosque and agreed to pay damages for falsely linking it to "terrorism" in a database used by most of the world's biggest banks.

Finsbury Park Mosque had its banking facilities withdrawn by the HSBC bank in 2014 as a result of the listing on the World-Check database, which is used by banks to assess customer risk."

And see: London mosque case exposes pitfalls of 'terror list' database (Middle East Eye, link)

Police Militarization in the Trump Era (Just Security, link):

"Since his swearing in, President Donald Trump has issued a flurry of controversial Executive Orders. One frequently overlooked yet dramatically important issue that has yet to be addressed by Trump concerns the militarization of the police and the fate of Obama’s Executive Order No. 13688....

As we come to grips with the Trump administration and the global trend that it reflects, we need to discuss the limits of state power on a principled level – precisely since it seems that those principles might be giving way to “alternative facts” and an “anything goes” form of instrumentalism. This is true in general, and much more so in the context of the limits on policing, as the ultimate instrument of state coercion. Law and order should not be conflated with a presumption of threat and the construction of policed communities as domestic enemies."

See also: The Case Against Police Militarization (pdf)

EU: Malta Summit on external aspect of migration

The Maltese Council Presidency is hosting a Summit of the heads of all EU Member States on 3 February to discuss external aspects of migration. As a follow up to a " Coreper breakfast (19 January)" the Presidency drew up a Note summarising possible initiatives: Malta Summit - External aspects of migration (pdf). The Draft Council Conclusions (pdf) do not take up most of the points raised but the Note shows what is under the table for future consideration.

EU head calls Trump a 'threat' to Europe

Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, has described US president Donald Trump as a “threat” to Europe alongside Russia and China. He sent an "Open letter" to EU leaders ahead of the Malta Summit on 3 February, referring to “worrying declarations by the new American administration”.

See: Open letter (pdf)

Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin (burojansen.nl, link):

"Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story."

EU: Foreign fighters' helpers excluded from refugee status: the ECJ clarifies the law (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"What if a person claiming to be a refugee is an alleged terrorist, or at least giving assistance to alleged terrorists? Can they still claim to be a refugee – and if not, how should we define ‘terrorism’ for the purposes of rejecting their claim to be one? Today’s judgment of the EU Court of Justice in the Lounani case usefully clarifies some aspects of this controversial and legally complex issue, but inevitably leaves some difficult questions open. "

See: An application for asylum can be rejected if the asylum seeker has participated in the activities of a terrorist network - It is not necessary that the asylum seeker personally committed terrorist acts, or instigated such acts, or participated in their commission (Press release,pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

January 2017

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-30.1.17): torture and executions in Libya detention centres; millions of euros for consultancy work on smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa; joint NGO report on eastern EU denial of access to asylum procedure; and more.

European Commission: Communication on building a European data economy

"As announced in the DSM [Digital Single Market], the Commission's objective is to create a clear and adapted policy and legal framework for the data economy, by removing remaining barriers to the movement of data and addressing legal uncertainties created by new data technologies...

...this Communication explores the following issues: free flow of data; access and transfer in relation to machine-generated data; liability and safety in the context of emerging technologies; and portability of non-personal data, interoperability and standards. This Communication also sets out suggestions for experimenting with common regulatory solutions in a real-life environment."

See: Building a European data economy (COM(2017) 9 final, pdf) and the accompanying Staff Working Document on the free flow of data and emerging issues of the European data economy (SWD(2017) 2 final, pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Supreme Court on need for parliamentary vote on Article 50: judgment and analysis

The judgment in Miller: Representative Democracy Strikes Back (EU Law Analysis, link): "There are two main issues in the case: the role of Parliament in triggering the Article 50 process, and the role of devolved legislatures. Like the Supreme Court, I’ll take these two points in turn."

“So long (as) and Farewell?” The United Kingdom Supreme Court in Miller (European Law Blog, link): "Lord Neuberger started the announcement in the manner of a history lecture, detailing the United Kingdom’s accession to the then European Economic Community in 1973. This was a fitting introduction to a judgment which at times reads like a lesson in the UK’s constitution. Accordingly, this lesson encompasses the place that EU law occupies within this order. This post will attempt to provide a concise summary of the magisterial judgment, before providing some comment on the salient issues relevant to EU law."

The judgment: R (on the application of Miller and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant) ([2017] UKSC 5]) and press summary (pdf)

EU: Commission: actions recommended for endorsement by EU heads of state or government at 3 February summit in Malta

The Annex to the Commission Communcation issued on 25 January: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf) lists recommendation actions for the Member States to approve under the headings of:

See: ANNEX to the JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf)

And see: Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

USA: Government Accountability Office report on efforts to stop "high-risk travellers" flying to the USA

"CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] data show that it identified and interdicted over 22,000 high-risk air travelers in fiscal year 2015 through its predeparture programs. CBP officers at Preclearance locations determined that 10,648 of the approximately 16 million air travelers seeking admission to the United States through such locations were inadmissible. Similarly, CBP, through its IAP [Immigration Advisory Program], JSP [Joint Security Program], and RCLG [Regional Carrier Liaison Group] locations, made 11,589 no-board recommendations to air carriers for the approximately 88 million air travelers bound for the United States from such locations. While CBP’s predeparture programs have helped identify and interdict high-risk travelers, CBP has not fully evaluated the overall effectiveness of these programs using performance measures and baselines. CBP tracks some data, such as the number of travelers deemed inadmissible, but has not set baselines to determine if predeparture programs are achieving goals, consistent with best practices for performance measurement. By developing and implementing a system of performance measures and baselines, CBP would be better positioned to assess if the programs are achieving their goals." (emphasis added)

See: GAO: CBP Aims to Prevent High-Risk Travelers from Boarding U.S.-Bound Flights, but Needs to Evaluate Program Performance (pdf)

UK: Healthcare data to enforce the "hostile environment" for migrants

"Confidential NHS patient information is being shared with the Home Office to help the government trace suspected "illegal immigrants". NHS Digital – which describes itself as a “safe haven” for patient data – is handing over personal information to the Home Office as part of a new memorandum of understanding between the two bodies and the Department of Health, reports trade magazine Health Service Journal."

See: NHS hands over confidential patient info to Home Office in immigration crackdown (Migrants' Rights Network, link) and the memo: Memorandum of Understanding between Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Home Office and the Department of Health (pdf)

See also: NHS hands over patient records to Home Office for immigration crackdown (The Guardian, link) and joint letter: The NHS should protect patient confidentiality (The Guardian, link):

"The agreement of the NHS to hand over patient information to the Home Office immigration authorities (Report, 25 January) fills us with anger and dismay. Patient confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of an ethical and effective healthcare system. That is why, in the absence of a court order, the NHS does not share even the address of a patient with the police or any other public body, except in the most serious cases of harm to the person, involving murder, rape or manslaughter."

UK-IRELAND-EU: The possible impact of Brexit on the Common Travel Area (CTA)

"British prime minister Theresa May’s long-awaited speech on Brexit on January 17th made it clear that immigration is central to British concerns. Whether from fears about excessive numbers, xenophobia, a nostalgia for the past or a concern with sovereignty and the workings of supranational institutions, including the European Court of Justice, Britain has clearly signalled that it wishes to mark a distance from the EU and to resume full control of its own borders and immigration policy.

The Brexit negotiations will inevitably consider the precise manner in which broader current British concerns about immigration are interwoven with the future of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which has been around in one form or another since the 1920s and which has allowed Irish and UK citizens the freedom to move between, live and work in one another’s countries.

The outcome is unlikely to affect present-day Irish in the UK, although this may depend in part on whatever concessions other EU countries are willing to make regarding UK residents on their territories. It seems unlikely that either the UK or the EU would wish to punish each other’s citizens. However, future migrants are another matter."

See: How could Brexit impact future Irish emigrants to the UK? (The Irish Times, link) by Piaras Mac Éinrí

And Theresa May's speech: The government's negotiating objectives for exiting the EU (pdf)

EU-LIBYA: German report details Libya abuses amid pressure to stem migrant flows (The Guardian, link):

"Conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya are worse than in concentration camps, according to a paper sent to the German foreign ministry by its ambassador in Niger.

The German embassy in Niger has authenticated reports of executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses in camps on the refugee route in Libya, Die Welt cited the report as saying on Sunday.

The warning came as EU leaders prepare for a summit in Malta on Friday to discuss ways to control migration across the Mediterranean from Africa this summer, amid pressure from Italy to take decisive action."

EU-USA: Latest Update from the American Immigration Lawyers Association on Travel to the United States Ban (ILPA, link):

"The US Department of Homeland Security has been ordered by at least four federal courts not to implement the Executive Order known as the “Muslim ban.” The orders are temporary -- either for seven days or until further hearings -- so that those seeking to travel to the US might wish to do so now.

DHS has stated that they will comply with the court orders, but of course legal opinion remains divided about whether they are in fact interpreting them correctly. In the meantime, at least, DHS has “deemed” that the return of green card holders is in the public interest."

EU-USA: "The EU-US PNR agreement is dead. What is the EU, and what are EU citizens and residents, going to do about that?"

"With this Presidential decree, the EU-US PNR agreement is dead.

The next question is when EU institutions will recognize this legal fact, and what they will do about it.

In later sessions at the CPDP conference, some EU and US officials and government advisors tried to argue that the Privacy Shield agreement (1) doesn’t depend on the Privacy Act, and (2) to the extent it does, is made “enforceable” by the Judicial Redress Act.

If this were true, Privacy Shield might not depend on the decision by administrative agencies — which President Trump has now forbidden — to allow foreigners the same “privileges” to which US citizens are entitled under the Privacy Act.

We don’t buy that argument, and neither should European travelers or EU officials. The exceptions and limitations in the Privacy Act, even as it applies to US citizens, make the Judicial Redress Act essentially useless.

Whatever the merits of this attempt to salvage the Privacy Shield agreement, it doesn’t apply to the EU-US PNR Agreement. The PNR agreement clearly and explicitly depends on administrative action in favor of foreign citizens which President Trump’s executive order has now foreclosed"

See: Trump repudiates agreement with EU on PNR data (Papers, Please!, link) and the Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (pdf)

See also: The “Interior Security” Executive Order, the Privacy Act, and Privacy Shield (Lawfare, link)

UK: Legal aid cuts delaying prisoners' release, court will be told (The Guardian, link):

"Prisoners hoping to prepare for life outside jail are being forced to remain behind bars for years extra because they are no longer entitled to legal representation, the court of appeal is to be told.

Thousands of prisoners seeking places on offender behaviour courses that could pave the way to release are unable to challenge delays within the prison system because of government cuts to legal aid, three senior judges will hear next week.

The challenge brought by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service comes at a time of record prison populations in England and Wales and follows violent disturbances in HMP Birmingham in Winson Green."

EU: Commission offers €6 million for private expertise on irregular migration, smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa

The European Commission last week (25 January) published a contract notice offering up to €6 million for four years of work including research and analysis to inform EU policy-making on irregular migration; helping develop "awareness raising campaigns" targeted at non-EU nationals; and to draw up "needs assessments in priority third countries of origin and transit," including the development of "action plans in the area of population data collection, notably civil reigstries and biometric databases" in African countries.

See: European Commission, Tender specifications: Framework Contract for Technical and support services (TSS) in the field of Irregular migration and Legal migration (pdf)

EU: Joint NGO report on denial of access to asylum procedure in eastern EU Member States

"The report Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States presents the situation asylum-seekers often face at the eastern borders of the EU. The picture shown of Europe’s response to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is rather grim as presented by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Organization for Aid to Refugees (Czech Republic), Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) and the Legal-informational centre for NGOs (Slovenia), all members of ECRE – a pan-European umbrella organisation of refugee assisting NGOs. Increased border controls and the construction of physical and legal barriers restricting access to protection for people fleeing war and terror characterize this ‘scary new’ reality. Country responses cited in the report range from violent push-backs, through the denial of entry to proposed legislative changes restricting access to protection."

See: Press Release – Pushed Back at the Door (Organization for Aid to Refugees, link) and the report: Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States (pdf)

EU: Information sharing on counter terrorism in the EU has reached an all-time high (Europol press release, pdf):

"Europe is facing its most serious terrorist threat for over 10 years. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 marked a shift towards a broader strategy of Jihadist terrorism, and the so-called IS in particular, to intimidate Western countries with successive terror attacks across Europe. The potential increase of returnees from conflict zones requires vigilance from all involved actors.

The launch of the ECTC in January 2016 was the EU’s answer to this new threat. Its establishment, including the Internet Referral Unit (IRU) as a new capability to tackle unprecedented levels of online terrorism propaganda, was a major milestone for the EU security architecture. For the first time in the EU there was consensus, in the counter terrorism policy context, that a cornerstone for cooperation at EU level was needed to support national counter terrorism efforts.

Information sharing on counter terrorism, across European countries as well as through and with Europol, had reached an all-time high by the end of 2016. For instance, Europol held more than 10 times as much information on ‘person entities’ in its database, compared with January 2015 when the attack on Charlie Hebdo took place."

And see: One year of the European Counter Terror Centre: Infographic (pdf)

ITALY: Anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (Council of Europe, link):

"The Council of Europe Group of experts against human trafficking (GRETA) has published today a report on the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Italy. The report assesses the specific situation of forced returns of victims of trafficking from Italy and the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers and migrants.

GRETA acknowledges the extreme difficulties which Italy is experiencing due to the unprecedented increase in the arrival of migrants and refugees, and the significant efforts made by the country, with the assistance of international organisations and civil society, to cope with the challenges posed by it.

The report, which was preceded by a visit to Italy in September 2016, reveals gaps in the detection of victims of trafficking among newly arriving migrants and unaccompanied children. Particular attention is paid to the situation of Nigerian women and girls, who have been arriving in Italy in increasing numbers and many of whom are likely to be trafficked for the purpose exploitation in Europe. GRETA raises concerns about the failure to identify them as victims of trafficking at an early stage, the disappearance of unaccompanied children from reception centres, and the manner in which forced returns of victims of trafficking to their country of origin take place."

See: Report on Italy under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for evaluating implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf)

And: press release: Council of Europe anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (pdf)

EU-MALTA: Three projects planned for Malta’s security forces totalling €2.5 million (Malta Today, link):

"The Malta Police Force and the Armed Forces of Malta will be awarded €2.5 million to finance three project aimed at improving operations, according to Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg.

Borg said that the managing authority has approved two projects to the Malta Police Force, valued at just over €1 million, which are aimed at enhancing and furnishing the IT operations rooms and offices of the national section of the Schengen Information System (NS-SIS), as well as extending the Automated Case Management System in order to aid the International Relations Unit offices in police investigations.

On their part, Borg said, the Armed Forces of Malta will receive €1.5 million to upgrade the AFM Integrated Communications systems, to keep on performing the necessary activities in order to fulfill EU obligations at the EU External Borders."

Belgium confronts Trump over travel ban (New Europe, link):

"Belgium announced its disagreement with Donald Trump’s latest decision on migration.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said: “We disagree with the ban on access to US territory for seven Muslim countries.”

“Belgium will not follow this policy and will ask for explanations through diplomatic channels,” said the head of the Belgian federal government.

“Migration policy is the responsibility of the US government and it is a sovereign decision,” admitted Michel. “But Belgium will follow the case closely to evaluate in particular the possible consequences for its own citizens”."

UK: London, 15 February 2017: Strikers & Spycops – from Grunwick to now (Eventbrite, link):

"Spycops and Strikers is part of a series of Grunwick 40 memorial events, organised in co-operation with the Special Branch Files Project, the Undercover Research Group and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

Since the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer inside the environmental movement in 2011, many more so-called #spycops have been found out by the activists they spied upon. We now know that since 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated political and activist groups that they considered a threat, including the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Anti-apartheid movement and CND.

We also know that prominent supporters of the Grunwick strike were bugged and followed and that there were attempts to infiltrate the strike committee. There is now a judge-led Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Pitchford Inquiry; should Grunwick strikers and their supporters be involved to find out more?"

Czech cyber defence must not infringe on freedom, PM says (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) - The Czech government coalition must know for certain that the planned extension of the military intelligence's powers in cyber security will not interfere with the freedoms of the citizens, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said yesterday.

The present legislation does not set the rules for cyber security of the country. A government-sponsored amendment to the law on military intelligence gives the intelligence the power to put active means of cyber defence in Internet networks. In extreme cases, the intelligence could launch a cyber attack.

The amendment is now discussed in the Chamber of Deputies."

UK-EU: European Parliament Study: Brexit and the EU: General institutional and legal considerations (pdf)

"This study was requested by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines the political and institutional steps taken, or to be taken, both by the UK and by the EU in the context of the Brexit referendum vote, and into how matters may evolve in the coming months and years from a legal and institutional perspective.

It analyses, in broad terms, the possibilities for a future relationship between the Union and its departing member and the consequences that the departure of a large Member State may entail for the rest of the policies of the Union and for the Union itself. The study also briefly examines the potential for institutional progress that opens with the departure of the United Kingdom."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

Latest version of the Council developing its negotiating position: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (LIMITE doc no: 5402-17, pdf): With 135 Footnotes giving detailed Member State positions.

"To ensure harmonisation and more convergence in asylum decisions and as regards the content of international protection in order to reduce incentives to move within the European Union and ensure an equality of treatment of beneficiaries of international protection that Directive should be repealed and replaced by a Regulation." [emphasis added]

This replaces the following objective in the current Directive:

"on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted."

"Suggested modifications (by the Presidency) are indicated as follows: added text is in bold and deleted text is in strikehtrough."

USA: Executive Order: Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (link):

See: Trump immigrant curbs cause chaos, panic, anger worldwide (Reuters, link):

"President Donald Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers on Saturday, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights.

Immigration lawyers in New York sued to block the order, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.

The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the moves would protect Americans from terrorism, in a swift and stern delivery on a campaign promise.

The bans affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. "

EU: Council of the European Union: EPPO, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) & Humanitarian visas

European Public Prosecutors' Office: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 5154-17, 156 pages, pdf): Almost agreed Council position prior to trilogue with the European Parliament. However, there is a problem, although most Member States agree on the text:

"One Member State (Sweden) announced that it would in any case not take part in the adoption of the European Public Prosecutor's Office."

This means that there will not be unanimity in the Council so it plans fast-track "enhanced cooperation" under second subparagraph of Article 86(1) TFEU.

Blue Card: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no 5336-17, pdf) The Council working out its negotiating position with 149 Member State objections/positions.

The term "Blue Card" is a euphemism for "legal migration" through which the EU will seek out skilled labour from the South and elsewhere to maintain its standard of living in the face of an aging population and shrinking work force.

Humanitarian visas rejected by the Council and Commission: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU/Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, Liechtenstein): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 15602-16, pdf):

"the Chair reported that the European Parliament (EP) had recently sent the Presidency the four-column table containing new compromise proposals from the Rapporteur, in which the provisions on the humanitarian visa had been maintained. Furthermore, the Chair reported that the Rapporteur had let the Presidency know that he would not agree to put the humanitarian visa on hold and wanted to continue negotiations on the other outstanding issues.

AT, FR, BE, NL, HU, SE, SI, ES and PT were against continuing negotiations....

The Chair announced that a trilogue would be held to formally inform the EP of the Council's decision. COM said that the Commission was attached to its proposal but was also against the idea of a humanitarian visa."

EU-USA: Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us? (The Register, link):

"US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

Section 14 of the Enhancing Public Safety order reads:

"Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information."

By agencies, the president means the NSA, the FBI and so on.....

- The EU-US Privacy Shield, which does not rely on the protections under the US Privacy Act.

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement, which enters into force on 1 February. To finalise this agreement the US Congress adopted a new law last year, the US Judicial Redress Act, which extends the benefits of the US Privacy Act to Europeans and gives them access to US courts."."

Will this affect the EU-USA Umbrella Agreement on the exchange of personal data?

See: Enhancing Public Safety order (pdf) and Attorney-General Notice listing "covered countries" in EU.(pdf) This says in part that: "It is intended that no cause of action shall be afforded by the Judicial Redress Act retroactively with respect to any record transferred prior to the date of the DPPA’s entry into force on February 1, 2017."

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement and the Judicial Redress Act: Small Steps Forward for EU Citizens’ Privacy Rights (CDT.org, link):

"It does not provide citizens of EU countries with redress that is on par with that which US persons enjoy under the Privacy Act."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.1.17): New Frontex powers put into practice; Greece angry over border control demands; Turkey threatens to cancel refugee deal over coup soldiers; EU-Niger actions may backfire; and more.

EU: PNR: Belgium, France, Netherlands to introduce rail ID checks (AP, link):

"Belgium has sealed an agreement with France and the Netherlands to draw up passenger lists and introduce passport checks on Thalys and Eurostar international rail services.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon told VRT broadcaster Friday that the move will tighten security on the high-speed trains and help track criminals who might be using them.

"The aim is to have the system operational by the end of the year," Jambon said.

He noted that Germany has decided not to take part. Berlin attacker Anis Amri drove a truck into a central Berlin market on Dec. 19, killing 12 people. He died in a shootout with Italian police four days later after transiting to Italy through the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

"If the system works they can join in," Jambon said, noting that "there is an election coming up in Germany. Maybe that has something to do with (their decision).""

See an earlier article in response to the proposals: Passenger name regulation could destroy cross-border rail (Railway Gazette, link)

EU: Commemorating the Holocaust in revisionist times (EUobserver, link):

"This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which also marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, comes several months after Poland’s right-wing government passed a law making it illegal to use the term "Polish Death Camps", in an effort to emphasize the responsibility for the Holocaust remains that of the German Nazi regime which occupied Poland.

But banning the term points to a larger trend of Holocaust revisionism across Europe and a revival of nationalist politics whose targets range from Roma and Jews—groups targeted and murdered by the Nazis on "racial" grounds—to refugees, Muslims and other racial, national and religious minorities."

UK: Press release: Gulf Centre for Human Rights in another case against the UK Government (pdf):

"GCHR says UK government should hold firm on its commitment to comply with International Law.

GCHR has been granted leave to appeal so that it can challenge an apparent withdrawal by the UK government from its overarching duty to comply with international law. An article by the legal correspondent of the Guardian published on 26 January 2017 says that: “Threats to pull out of the European court of human rights, the election of Donald Trump and withdrawals from the international criminal court have reinforced fears that global laws are increasingly in danger of being undermined.”

The legal challenge focuses on the deletion from the ministerial code, a core constitutional document, of words setting out the duty to comply with international law. GCHR is determined to do all it can to hold the UK government to its commitments in the international arena."

EU-GREECE: "Solidarity" on refugees: official reports lay bare Greek government frustration with other EU Member States

Statewatch is today publishing two official reports that set out how the Greek government has sought to comply with other EU Member States' demands to control its borders and to prevent refugees leaving the country. Both reports show significant frustration with the failure of other Member States to meet their obligations to relocate refugees and to provide the necessary human and material resources to assist the Greek authorities.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Rapid introduction of new Frontex powers: EU and Member States prefer to shut the door and return refugees than relocate them

In 13 months (the year 2016 plus January 2017) EU Member States have "returned" 11,121 refugees but only relocated within the EU 8,123 refugees entering through Greece and Italy (the two main countries of entry) since September 2015.

EU: European Parliament: factsheet on the Common Security and Defence Policy

"The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) sets the framework for EU political andmilitary structures and for military and civilian missions and operations abroad. The 2016 EU Global Strategy lays out the strategy underlying the CSDP, while the Lisbon Treaty provides legal clarity on institutional aspects and strengthens the role of the European Parliament. The CSDP has undergone major strategic and operational changes recently. Faced with security challenges and popular demand for increased EU responses, the CSDP is continuing to evolve."

See: COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY (pdf)

EU-Turkey refugee deal overburdens Greek islands (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The refugee camp on the island of Samos was built for 850 people, but it hosts more than 1,800 at the moment. More than 600 people are living in 56 sometimes unheated containers, while others are sleeping in tents - or wherever they find a free spot to lie down. Ralf Kist, the Frontex team leader of the German mission, told DW "the conditions at the camp are improving," but current and former residents of the camp complain about a life of misery among mud, dirt and rubbish."

EU: e-Privacy Regulation: Good intentions but a lot of work to do (EDRi, link):

"The proposed draft Regulation contains a number of provisions which, if adopted and effectively implemented, should address some of the current gaps or lack of clarity in protection of the confidentiality of electronic communications and information stored on users devices. The process of consultation and polls have shown that citizens are concerned about their privacy and about how companies make use of their personal information online. Although the Commission has rightly identified and addressed most of the key issues and objectives in the proposal, strong forces seem to have watered down the text considerably, compared to the earlier version that was leaked in December 2016. For example, the reference to “privacy by design and by default” that was changed in Article 10 will need to be put back in order not to lower down the protections to the current “privacy by option”, options on the degree of online privacy that the browser would offer to the user."

See: Proposal for a Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (pdf)

And: the earlier leaked draft (7.5MB, pdf)

EU-AFRICA: Will the EU's anti-migrant smuggling efforts in Niger backfire?

"In the case of northern Niger, however, haphazardly designed anti-smuggling efforts come with an even greater danger: destabilizing one of the few pockets of stability in a volatile region. Aside from the promise of money from Europe, the reality is that the Nigerien government has few incentives to crack down on migrant smuggling, in part because doing so is fraught with political and security risks.

In northern Niger, migrant smuggling is part of a broader political economy that is thoroughly enmeshed within formal and informal political and security structures. In fact, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that state security forces in the region would not be able to function if they did not take bribes paid by smugglers, and would otherwise be unable to purchase basic necessities such as fuel, spare parts for vehicles and food.

Government officials in Agadez have also conceded that everyone from drivers, fixers, landlords, shop owners, currency dealers and even local law enforcement are profiting from the economic boom. “Many are eating off these migrants,” Ahmed Koussa, an assistant to the mayor of Agadez, told the New York Times. Abdourahamane Moussa, deputy-secretary general for the regional government in Agadez, struck a similar tone speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Migrants are buying things, consuming our goods, animating our economy,” he said. “People here are benefitting. … How can we stop it?”

See: The E.U.’s Hollow Success Over Migrant Smuggling in Niger (Refugees Deeply, link)

Migreurop press release: The European Union cannot abolish winter: it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

"At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’."

EU: Revision of Firearms Directive nearing completion

"The provisional deal with the Council on the updated EU firearms directive was endorsed by Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on Thursday by 25 votes to nine, with two abstentions. The revised law tightens the controls on blank firing and inadequately deactivated weapons like those used in the Paris terror attacks. It also requires EU countries to have a monitoring system in place for the issuance or renewal of licences and to exchange information with one another."

European Parliament press release: EU gun law updated to close security loopholes while protecting legitimate users (pdf)

And: Revision of the EU firearms directive: an overview (pdf): "In this background note you will find more information on what was agreed during the “trilogues” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators)."

EU-IRELAND: Gardaí to get access to top EU security database (Irish Independent, link):

"Gardaí are set to gain access to an EU-wide border security database for the first time next year.

The Government is in the process of ensuring officers can get access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II), which allows police and border guards across the EU to exchange information and see alerts about certain categories of wanted criminals or missing people.

The UK has access, but due to the financial crisis, plans here to develop the infrastructure to tap into the system had to be shelved.

"Ireland does not yet have access to the SIS II system, as funding was not available for the works required during the financial crisis," the Department of Justice told the Irish Independent.

"The Tánaiste expects An Garda Síochána should have access to the SIS II system in the course of 2018.""

UK: Spycop’s alias confirmed by public inquiry (The Ferret, link):

"The public inquiry into the policing scandal has confirmed the undercover identity of a police officer who is believed to have operated in Scotland.

The Pitchford Inquiry has confirmed that ‘Simon Wellings’ was the alias used by a so-called spycop who operated north of the border after infiltrating the anti-globalisation group, Global Resistance (GR).

Wellings is the latest spycop name to be confirmed by the inquiry, following ‘Marco Jacobs’ and ‘Carlo Neri,’ both of whom also worked undercover in Scotland according to campaigners."

See: Simon Wellings – profile of #spycop now up (Undercover Research Group, link) and: Undercover Policing Inquiry: Update on anonymity applications - N118 ("Simon Wellings") (pdf)

UK: Video: JUSTICE FOR CAMMELL LAIRDS 37 (GMB, link):

"37 men spent up to a month in jail in 1984 after being arrested at Cammell Laird, in Birkenhead, during a dispute over jobs. They were targeted to put off others involved in industrial action.

The group were on strike for 10 months and occupied part of the site, including a gas rig under construction, and were sentenced to jail in their absence for daring to stand up against the power of the state and all that it had to throw at them.

The men have fought for over 30 years to get the truth about what happened, even taking their battle to the European Parliament in despair, after having exhausted all legal and ‘Freedom of Information’ channels at national level to get access to information and justice.

Several of the men have since passed away and went to their grave with this injustice remaining unresolved and with no remedy or formal apology for their inhumane treatment and this sense of injustice remains with their families

The others are determined to carry on the fight."

UK: LONDON, 9 February 2017: Final conference of the BYTE project on big data

"BYTE will be hosting our project final conference on Capturing the benefits of big data and addressing legal, ethical and social challenges. The conference will include policy-makers, large industry, academics, civil society organisations, SMEs and legal experts.It will focus on the following priority areas for big data practice in Europe:

• Smart cities
• Healthcare
• Environmental data
• Data ethics
• Industrial innovation

The event will showcase BYTE findings and feature presentations by experts in urban transportation, genomics, geo-spatial data, open data and linked data."

See: FINAL CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT (Byte, link). The conference is free and open to all, registration is required.

UK: Morton Hall: another death in immigration detention (IRR, link)

"On 11 January an unnamed 27-year-old Polish man was found dead in Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, the first death this year and the 29th death in immigration detention since 1989.

It was reported by the Unity Centre that the man was found hanged in his room at the centre. He had apparently been refused bail before Christmas as there was no surety and his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the hearing, was unable to travel. Their baby was apparently born on the day of his death. Morton Hall, unlike most other removal centres, is run by the Home Office rather than a private company."

UK: Prison suicides rise to record level in England and Wales (BBC News, link):

"A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show.

The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 self-inflicted deaths - 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since records began in 1978.

It also reported a record high of 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said prisons faced "long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks"."

See: Ministry of Justice: Safety in Custody Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales, Deaths in prison custody to December 2016, Assaults and Self-Harm to September 2016 (pdf)

And: Downsize prison to tackle suicide crisis (CCJS, link)

TURKEY-GREECE-EU: Turkey may cancel readmission deal with Greece after court's failure to extradite FETÖ soldiers (Daily Sabah, link):

"Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey will take necessary measures against Greece following the court's failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt, to Turkey.

Çavusoglu said that Turkey may consider cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants -who traveled through Turkey- to Turkey, in order to be processed before they are sent back to their country of origin, TRT Haber reported.

He highlighted that the Greek court's ruling is a political rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations.

"They're not just petty criminals" Çavusoglu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.17)

Italy: A refugee has drowned while tourists laughed and told him to ‘go back home’ [VIDEO] (The Canary, link):

"Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a refugee drowned in Venice, Italy. The man, thought to be from Gambia, a country which has been on the brink of war, died in the icy waters of the Grand Canal. But instead of helping him, onlookers filmed, laughed and told him to “go back home”.
“Let him die”

The man, named as 22-year-old Gambian Pateh Sabally, died on Sunday 22 January. He got into difficulties in Venice’s Grand Canal as tourist boats went past. But onlookers didn’t care. They filmed the man’s last moments, and shouted abuse.

One person can be heard saying “He’s stupid. He wants to die”. Another said “Go on. Go back home”. Someone else said ““Let him die at this point”. And in the video people can be heard laughing."

And see: 'Let him die' shout onlookers as African refugee drowns in Venice's Grand Canal - The Gambian man was left to drown while passers-by filmed the incident (IBT, link):

"Italian magistrates have opened an investigation after a Gambian man drowned on 22 January in Venice's Grand Canal in front of onlookers who filmed the incident, laughing and shouting racist comments."

USA: Draft Executive Order on Secret CIA Prisons Signals a Return to the Darkness of the Post-9/11 Period (The Intercept, link):

"A draft presidential order being circulated in the Trump administration could signal a return to the executive-branch lawlessness that followed September 11, 2001.

A draft of the executive order obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post calls for senior officials to consider re-opening the CIA’s network of secret prisons, where terror suspects were disappeared and deprived of their rights.

And by rescinding President Obama’s 2009 executive order that banned torture and closed the CIA’s prisons — where many of the worst abuses of CIA’s post-9/11 torture program took place – it paves the way for illegal torture to take place in secret.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer disputed the authenticity of the draft order on Wednesday, saying that it is “not a White House document,” and that he had “no idea where it came from.” But when asked whether the administration was considering re-opening black sites, Spicer refused to answer, saying he would not comment on the document."

See Draft Order (pdf)

UK-EU: BREXIT Article 50 Bill published (pdf) and Explanatory Memorandum (pdf)

The government has published its Bill and MPs are to get just five days to debate and scrutinise. The Bill contains two clauses and is 137 words long.

Brussels wants Schengen zone restored from mid-May, Germany sceptical (euractiv, link):

"The EU executive said yesterday (25 January) emergency border controls imposed within the bloc’s free-travel zone over the migration crisis should get a final three-month extension to mid-May, but Germany wants to keep them in place longer....

“We currently have temporary border controls in place. These are exceptional measures for an exceptional situation,” the bloc’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos said in proposing the extension. He made it clear, however, that he wanted to restore the chief achievement of European integration in full from then on: “It’s a question of three months to come back to normal.”

But Germany, which holds elections on 24 September in which immigration and security will be prominent issues, wants to be able to extend the measures for longer, diplomatic sources said.

With immigration into the European Union under tighter control than at the height of the crisis, that may be hard to justify. That is why Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, will today propose changing the legal justification for the border checks to security issues."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: The Assembly says no to online hate (link):

"Based on the report by Marit Maij (Netherlands, SOC), PACE has proposed, in a resolution, a set of measures to prevent and combat online hate. According to the adopted text, member States should strengthen their national legislation, so that it “allows for the effective prosecution of online hate speech, while fully respecting freedom of expression” and “covers all forms of online incitement to violence, bullying, harassment, threats and stalking”. These laws must take into account a whole range of characteristics, including “sex, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political or other opinion, and disability”, as grounds of protection."

See adopted: Resolution: Ending cyberdiscrimination and online hate (pdf)
Bulgaria’s EU justice monitoring report goes unnoticed (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission’s monitoring report on Bulgaria’s progress in improving its law-enforcement system went largely unnoticed, as its publication yesterday (25 January) coincided with the appointment of a caretaker government in Sofia, pending snap parliamentary elections on 26 March.

The European Commission on Wednesday published its reports on Bulgaria and Romania, under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up as a condition of the countries’ EU accession ten years ago, on 1 January 2007....

The CVM was set up as means to overcome deficiencies in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria in the fight against organised crime. The initial idea was that these deficiencies could be overcome in a couple of years. However, ten years later, the CVM monitoring is still ongoing, and will remain in place during Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the first half of 2018."

See: On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (COM 43-17, pdf)

Eurotunnel: Death at the fences, profits for Goldman Sachs (Calais Research, link):

"At least 15 people were killed in or around the channel tunnel in 2015. Some were electrocuted, some run over by trains, some chased by police into traffic near the entrance. All these deaths were a direct result of people trying to get past the intensive security put in place by Eurotunnel, funded by the British and French governments, to stop them reaching England.

Responding to these deaths, Eurotunnel apologised for the inconvenience caused to its passengers. Its boss Jacques Gounon explained that the migrants dying at his door are “very far from poor unfortunates who seek refuge in England and have a right to a humanitarian approach”, but instead are “veritable commandos, well coordinated” who seek “to make politics and destabilise the government.”....

in 2015 Eurotunnel, which runs the tunnel under a concession lasting until 2086, made a €100 million profit. €97 million of this was paid out as a dividend and handed straight to its shareholders, international investment firms led by major shareholder and creditor Goldman Sachs. Despite this record year, Eurotunnel is demanding millions more in compensation from the governments for “lost earnings” due to the “migrant crisis”."

UK: Parents of Thames mystery death teenager accuse Met of racism Medha and Pradeep Chummun say not knowing what happened to their son made 'every day a battle' (IBT, link);

"Parents of Krishna Chummun, the London teenager whose body was pulled from the Thames in October 2015, have asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case involving their son. The Chummuns say they want a murder investigation launched and accused the Met of racism in the mishandling of the case."

And See: 'They took him away and they didn't look after him – and now he's gone' - Mary Foxall’s world was turned on its head when her 19-year-old son Jake took his own life in a young offender institution (Guardian, link)

Germany to scrap ‘lese majeste’ law after Turkey row (euractiv, link):

"The German government voted Wednesday (25 January) to scrap a “lese majeste” law that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sought to employ against a popular German television satirist."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.1.17)

Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

On Thursday there will be an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta under the Maltese Council Presidency. Among the issues under discussion will be the latest attempt to end the movement of refugees into Libya and then on to Italy. This is set out in a Joint Communication from the Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service): Migration on the Central Mediterranean route, Managing flows, saving lives (JOIN 4-17,pdf)

While Commission President Juncker recognises that: "First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required" most plans are already known. Two new initiatives are speeding up the introduction of the "Seahorse Mediterranean Network" and sending the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to strengthen Libya's southern border controls. Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion (Press release, pdf)

UPDATED: EU-USA PNR: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

SWD: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD 14-17, pdf)

Response by the USA (pdf)

UK: Met police blasted for “abysmal” record on CCTV image collection (IFSEC, link):

"The Met police has an abysmal record when it comes to collecting CCTV images to aid prosecutions, their former CCTV chief has claimed....

Mick Neville, head of the Met’s Central Forensic Image Team until he retired two weeks ago, says the Met’s super recognisers – people with an exceptional talent for recognising faces – could solve thousands more crimes if the force trained officers to understand how to retrieve and use footage from London’s myriad network of video surveillance systems.

“The Met has the best system in the world for identifying suspects who are caught on camera in connection with crimes but it is not getting the images,” he said. “All these cameras are on and capturing images of suspects, but they are not being used to anything like their full potential.”

CCTV images were used in less than 2% of criminal cases in London during an eight month period last year, he said. This is despite the hug coverage afforded by the capital’s CCTV systems, with the average Briton caught on camera 70 times a day."

In 2011 the UK had about 1.85 million CCTV cameras

EU: Commission: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months (Press release, pdf):

"Brussels, 25 January 2017: European Commission: The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months."

And see Proposal for: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 40-16,pdf)

EU races to meet Denmark-Europol deadline (euobserver, link):

"“Why the hell was such a point put to a referendum?”, German social democrat MEP Birgit Sippel said at an European Parliament (EP) hearing on Denmark and Europol, the EU’s joint police agency, on Tuesday (24 January).

She could barely hide her frustration with national votes that forced the EU to make convoluted derogations to keep people happy....

Under the “tricky” deal, Denmark would first be listed as a third-state in relations with Europol, on the same level as China, Norway, Canada and other countries.

A concrete co-operation deal could then be worked out, securing that the police co-operation continues in practice."

Council of Europe: Big Data: we need to protect the persons behind the data (link)

"Big Data is changing the manner in which the society can be understood. It provides valuable insights and offers opportunities for innovation, enhancing productivity and social participation."

See Guidelines (pdf)

Scotland: Victims of police spies condemn inquiry, demand meeting with Justice Secretary (COPs, link):

"Victims of police spying in Scotland have condemned the new inquiry into the scandal. They say Justice Secretary Michael Matheson did not speak to any of them before commissioning HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate infiltration of political campaigns by officers from secret units. The activists targeted have branded the review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims."

See full-text of: Letter (link)

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): The impact of the proposal for a revised Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights (link):

"The European Parliament asked the Agency to provide its Opinion on the fundamental rights impact of the proposed revision of the Eurodac Regulation on children."

See: The impact of the proposal for a revised: Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (pdf)

EU: Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JHA) (link):

"The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will meet in Malta on two separate days (the Home Affairs Ministers will meet on the first day and the Justice Ministers will meet on the second day) to discuss, in a more informal manner, matters that fall within their remit, and to set the way forward on specific issues. "

Hungary: You don’t know which direction this whole political system will go, says Balázs Tóth of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Budapest Beacon, link):

"As far as his outlook for 2017, Balázs says “there is definitely no reason to be optimistic.”

“If you would have asked me in 2010 whether I could imagine the developments that have taken place in Hungary over the past 6 years, I would have said ‘No’. But they did happen, and life goes on. I would say that most people in society don’t like this system, but there is a solid 25-30 percent base of voters who still support this regime, and that is enough to keep them in power. I can’t foresee what is going to happen in the future. We don’t know what Orbán meant when he said 2017 will be the year all the Soros-supported NGOs will be somehow excluded from public life. But if it gets any more serious than what we have seen so far, there may be cause for concern.”"

And see: Space for independent journalism will continue to shrink in 2017, says Direkt36’s András Petho (Budapest Beacon, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.1.17): understanding child migration in Europe; Malta reintroducing border checks for migration summits; humanitarian corridor from Ethiopia to Italy; and more.

UK: GCHQ director Robert Hannigan resigns (BBC News, link):

"The head of Britain's electronic surveillance agency GCHQ has resigned. Robert Hannigan, who has held the post of GCHQ director since 2014, said he was stepping down for family reasons.

He said he was proud of his work but that 20 years in public service roles had "demanded a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family"." Furthermore: "Sources have told BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera that the resignation was not the result of any concerns over policy in the UK or in the US."

See: Statewatch Observatory: EU-UK-GCHQ-USA-NSA: Data surveillance

And: Letter from Robert Hannigan to the Foreign Secretary (pdf)

HUNGARY: Hungarian NGOs prepare for government crackdown (Deutsche Welle, link):

"...as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's vision of illiberal democracy threatens to go global, Soros, 86, has been declared persona non grata in Hungary, and his "open society" ideals are under siege. In mid-January Orban's Fidesz party deputy singled out three Soros-funded NGOs - the human rights organization the Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ and anti-corruption body Transparency International - to be "swept out." The subject has been placed on the legislative agenda for the spring."

See also: Civil activists fear new crackdown in Hungary after Trump election (The Guardian, link) and detailed background on the Orban government's attacks on fundamental rights and the rule of law: Six years of Orbán, 600 laws and measures: EU "must show it is serious" about democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary (Statewatch News Online, November 2016)

EU: Becoming adult: Child mobility in the EU’s refugee crisis: What are the data gaps and why do they matter? (pdf) by Nando Sigona and Rachel Humphris:

"Child migration into Europe is diverse and often invisible in data and policy. Legal definitions, bureaucratic practices, rights and entitlements of child migrants vary across European states. While some segments of this population are visible in public debate and datasets, especially unaccompanied asylum seeking children, others are hardly visible, particularly dependent children to asylum seeking parents and undocumented children."

Via: University of Oxford: Border Criminologies (link)

And see a previous, more detailed paper by the authors: Global Migration Data Analysis Centre: Children and unsafe migration in Europe: Data and policy, understanding the evidence base (September 2016, pdf)

EU-MALTA: Schengen: Malta reintroducing border controls for high-level political summits on migration in February

The government of Malta is reintroducing controls at the country's air and sea borders between 21 January and 9 February, to "ensure internal security is maintained" for two high-level political summits focusing on migration that will be hosted by Malta as part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Reintroduction of temporary border controls at the Maltese air and sea borders (20 January 2017, 5206/17, unclassified, pdf)

UK: SCOTLAND: Women's statement: Full investigation needed on undercover policing in Scotland (Police Spies Out Of Lives, link):

"The review into Undercover Policing set up by HMICS in Scotland is an insult to those of us who were spied on there. It is the Police investigating the police, with the people affected by undercover policing being given no voice. Our experience would lead us to expect a cover up. HMICS is staffed with ex-police, some of whom will return to policing with the force they are examining, and some of whom actually have links to undercover policing in Scotland. It is also limited to events from 2000. Those of us who were spied on in Scotland before that date will not even be included.

We call for a full Public Inquiry to get to the truth of what happened in Scotland, and in all the countries these undercover officers operated in. We call for everyone who was spied on to be given access to the police files held on them in all of these countries. These units were political policing units, akin to the Stasi of East Germany. They must be closed, and held accountable for their actions.”"

This condemnation follows the previous: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link) and see: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

UK: Lords Committee slams data sharing powers in Digital Economy Bill (Open Rights Group, link):

"The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee of the House of Lords has made some very critical recommendations about the data sharing proposals in the Digital Economy Bill.

In a report published today the Committee asks for the “almost untrammeled” powers given to Ministers in the Bill to be severely curtailed, and for all Codes of Practice associated with these data sharing powers to be laid before Parliament in draft for full approval before coming into force."

See the report: House of Lords: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 5-7 (pdf)

"Part 5 [of the Digital Economy Bill] contains a suite of new provisions (divided into seven chapters). These would very significantly broaden the scope for the sharing of information across government departments, local authorities and other public bodies. There are numerous powers to delegate important matters to regulations or codes of practice. Several broadly similar powers appear in each chapter of Part 5."

And: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 1-4 (pdf)

ITALY-ETHIOPIA: Caritas supports humanitarian corridor for Horn of Africa refugees (Caritas, link):

"Italy is opening a humanitarian corridor for refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia with the support of Caritas. An agreement with the Italian government was signed last week.

The women, men and children will come from refugee camps in Ethiopia. Once in Italy, Caritas will help the refugees through the project “Protetto. Rifugiato a casa mia” (Protected: a refugee in my home) which is in its third year of helping house refugees with members of local communities in Italy."

FRANCE: Far-right: the Front National: brief history and overview of electoral results

As presidential elections in France approach, a research note from the UK Parliament published after the European Parliament elections in 2014 provides an overview of previous electoral results of the far-right Front National (FN). The party will publish its new manifesto next month; last weekend (21 January) FN leader Marine Le Pen was the headline speaker at a "counter-summit" of EU far-right parties held in Koblenz, Germany.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.17): Commission needs to assess EU-Turkey deal human rights impact; Malta wants to return migrants to Libya; refugees in freezing weather in south-east Europe.

EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.

MEDITERRANEAN: Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants (Malta Today, link):

"The Maltese government has presented home affairs ministers of the EU with a “non-paper” – diplomatic-speak for a political memo – calling for joint patrols with the Libyan navy in a bid to stop the influx of migrants through the Central Mediterranean route.

Malta has assumed the presidency of the European Union and is currently tasked with the delicate bid to push the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which forces EU member states to process any asylum claims presented at their borders.

In its aide-memoire to European member states, Malta has proposed placing European coast guard patrols just outside the extensive Libyan coast, in joint patrols with Libyan counterparts, who will then take intercepted migrant boats back to Libyan shores."

See also: EU needs Turkish-style migration deal with Libya - Maltese PM (Reuters, link) and more detail on EU-Libya cooperation to date: European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link)

EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

Europol has written to national delegations in the Council of the EU expressing the concerns of law enforcement agencies regarding the use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technology, which hampers "cyber" investigations by making it impossible for officers to "link a particular cyber criminal's activity back to a particular IP address."

See: Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) and the Going Dark Problem - initial debate (5127/17, LIMITE, 16 January 2017, pdf)

UK: Police Taser their own race relations adviser in Bristol (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog has launched an investigation after officers Tasered a race relations champion who has worked to improve links between the force and the black community.

Judah Adunbi, 63, was Tasered by police outside his home in Bristol on Saturday when officers apparently mistook him for a wanted man.

Video recorded by a neighbour shows police scuffling with Adunbi as he tries to get though the gate of his home in the Easton area. He falls to the ground after a Taser is discharged. Adunbi said later he thought he was going to die."

EU-USA: Donald Trump and Europe: A salutary wake-up call (Voxeurop, link):

"With his clear-cut positions and confrontational attitude towards other powers, the thundering businessman who takes up office on January 20th has the merit of centering the attention of the majority of European countries. It's now time to transform this shared attitude into real politics, judges Bernard Guetta."

On the other hand: EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link)

USA: Drone wars, Guantánamo and "homeland security", from Obama to Trump

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, Barack Obama's presidency has been under serious scrutiny. Below is a selection of articles examining Obama's legacy in relation to drone killings; the research, development and deployment of "homeland security" policies and technologies; and Guantánamo Bay.

UK: ABC & Liberty email all headteachers about #BoycottSchoolCensus (Against Borders for Children, link):

"Today, Monday 16th January, every headteacher of primary and secondary schools and academies in England will have received an unprecedented e-mail jointly signed by Against Borders for Children (ABC) and human rights organisation Liberty.

We have asked headteachers to ensure all parents are informed of their right to either refuse the new nationality questions in the upcoming Spring School Census this week, on Thursday 19th January or retract data already collected in the Autumn School Census. The new census data was recently described in a House of Lords debate as having “all the hallmarks of racism”.

As campaigners we have also highlighted that the nationality data collection is explicitly linked to Home Office policy to reduce immigration. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) released in December also allows the Department for Education (DfE) to share the personal details of up to 1500 pupils with Home Office every month for immigration enforcement purposes."

And see: Refuse. Retract. Resist borders for children! (Right to Remain, link)

UK: Detaining torture survivors: the history of a policy facing legal challenge

An article published by Right to Remain gives an overview of the situation regarding the detention of torture survivors in the run-up to a forthcoming judicial review of the government's current 'Adults at Risk' policy, through which the government introduced in 2016 a more restrictive definition of torture than that previously used. The judicial review is based on legal challenges brought by Medical Justice, Duncan Lewis solicitors and Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Selling the tools of state surveillance: how the work of a would be-cyberweapons dealer from India led to the detention of an Italian bodyguard in Mauritania

An article on the Bloomberg website tells the story of how the sales efforts of Manish Kumar, a 30-year-old from New Delhi who markets surveillance tools to governments through his company Wolf Intelligence, led to an Italian bodyguard being held in pre-trial detention in a Mauritanian military barracks (where he has now been for almost a year-and-a-half, accused of fraud and money laundering) after Kumar promised to provide the Mauritanian government with sophisticated covert mobile phone surveillance tools. The article gives an insight into the murky world of the cyber-espionage trade and the individuals involved.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)

EU-USA: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (COM 31-17, pdf)

"the report underlines the important role of Europol in carrying out its verification tasks of requests for data from the EU and proactively initiating a series of requests, thus helping to raise awareness of the TFTP among EU authorities.

The Commission also makes some suggestions to Member States to provide regular feedback on the TFTP data received from the US authorities to further improve the quality and quantity of information exchanged and encourages Europol to further continue its efforts in providing support to Member States. The next review will be conducted at the beginning of 2018."

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

EU: European Parliament: Briefing: Prison conditions in the Member States: selected European standards and best practices (pdf):

"In 2014, prisons across the EU were holding over half a million inmates, including both convicted persons, serving their final sentence, and persons accused of a crime. Living conditions in prisons are regulated by numerous laws and guidelines: from constitutional provisions to national criminal and penitentiary laws and international law principles."

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Spycops Activists Demand Meeting with Scottish Government (COPS, link){

"There has been emphatic condemnation of the terms of the Scottish inquiry into undercover policing. Not only is it a self-investigation by senior police, it is limited to the last few years of abuses. Although the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in 1968, the Scottish review will not examine anything before 2000....

Today, a group of the core participants who were also spied upon in Scotland have written to Michael Matheson requesting a meeting. Here is the text of their letter...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.1.17)

EU: High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability report
"A common repository would be a logical next step after a shared biometric matching service."

Report of the third meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Infomation Systems and Interoperability (dated 29 November 2016, just published): High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability Third meeting — 29 November 2016 Report (pdf)

UK-USA-Libya: Press releases: Supreme Court rules MI6-CIA rendition case against government can go ahead

The UK Supreme Court has [18.1.17] unanimously rejected the government’s attempts to prevent a case brought by victims of a British-American ‘rendition’ operation from being heard.

All seven judges ruled that a claim brought by an anti-Gaddafi dissident and his wife – who was pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, abused and forcibly transferred to a Libyan prison in 2004 – should be heard. Ministers had claimed that, because the operation was carried out jointly by MI6 and the CIA, it would be inappropriate for British courts to rule on activity which involved American officials – even if it involved kidnap, rendition and torture.

ECHR: Court: Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demo (link):

"Human rights judges ruled today that Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demonstration.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Király and Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident."

See: Press release (pdf)

EU-TURKEY: UNHCR cannot monitor the rights of people returned under EU-Turkey deal

"What did the European Commission forget to tell us about the returnees of the EU-Turkey Deal?

So finally UNHCR stated formally, very quietly unfortunately, that has no unimpeded access to the returned refugees to Turkey and cannot monitor the returns under the EU-Turkey deal in any effective manner. In short they haven’t seen much of the returned refugees."

USA: Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam 17 years (arstechnica.com, link): "FBI says it matched suspect's passport photo with pics from nearly 20 years ago."

Anti-surveillance clothing: surveillance for commercial gain - not security purposes - is what really breeds resentment (IFSEC Global, link):

"There has been growing press coverage about anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition..."

And see: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (Guardian, link): "Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology."

EU: Amnesty: major new report denounces Europe's "ever-expanding national security state"

A major new report from Amnesty International examines the expansion of security measures and states of emergency across 14 EU states in the last two years, warning that "the disturbing idea that Europe faces a perpetual emergency is beginning to take hold," because: "Powers intended to be exceptional are appearing more and more as permanent features of national law."

See: Amnesty International, Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe (link)

EU: Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner: Slovenia: Parliament must ensure that legislative reform on migrants complies with human rights obligations (link):

"Slovenian parliamentarians should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that are contrary to international human rights and refugee protection standards by which Slovenia is bound”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia.

Two of the proposed amendments recently introduced by the Government would allow the police to refuse entry into Slovenia and to arrest and summarily return foreigners who entered the country irregularly, even if they express the intention to apply for asylum in Slovenia. The parliament could activate these measures for a renewable 6-month period in case of a change of the migration situation in Slovenia that “threatens public order and internal security."

See: Letter (pdf)

UK: Detention Forum statement – the death at Morton Hall detention centre (link):

"We are saddened by yet another death in immigration detention last week in Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. It has been reported by the Guardian newspaper that a young detained Polish man took his own life, leaving his baby and his partner behind. The baby was born on the day of the man’s death. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and communities.

This is the third death in UK immigration detention in five weeks, and comes at a time when the government’s commitment to detention reform is in serious doubt."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.1.17): Turkey: 330km of border walls built in 2016; new campaign in France against "solidarity offence"; over 100 dead after shipwreck; Spanish court case into migrant deaths re-opened; and more.

EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link):

"Donald Trump has predicted the crumbling of and eventual collapse of the EU. His damaging assertion was met with a depressingly limp response by the European Commission.

“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump told The Times and Bild newspapers.

Trump followed this up by saying the EU was “basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

If the future of the EU is your business, this demands a swift rebuttal – to shore up diminishing confidence if nothing else. But we didn’t get that from the European Commission today.

Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the executive “had read the interview with interest”. Asked if that was all the Commission had to say, Schinas said, “Yes”."

EU: European Parliament studies: gender equality, obstacles to EU citizens' free movement in Poland

Three studies conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service: on gender equality policies in Spain; on the use of EU funds for gender equality Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK between 2014-16, and on obstacles in Poland to EU citizens' and their families exercising their rights to free movement and residence.

EU: European Parliament briefing: Review of dual-use export controls (pdf)

"Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. The regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure."

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems (SIPRI, link) by Dr Vincent Boulanin

"Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed under the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is still at an early stage, with most states parties still in the process of understanding the issues at stake—beginning with the fundamental questions of what constitutes ‘autonomy’ and to what extent it is a matter of concern in the context of weapon systems and the use of force. A number of states parties have stressed that future discussions could usefully benefit from further investigation into the conceptual and technical foundations of the meaning of ‘autonomy’.

This working paper is an attempt to respond to that demand. It aims to clarify some basic understandings about autonomy: what it is, how it applies to weapon systems, how it works, how it is created and what the key technological enablers are. It is based on a substantial review of the literature as well as a background series of interviews with experts from various expert communities."

TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

Thousands rally in Spain for ETA prisoner amnesty (The Local, link):

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bilbao in northern Spain on Saturday, calling for amnesty for prisoners of the Eta Basque separatist group.

Protesters in the Basque country, who hold this demonstration every January, held up placards of a finger pointing to the sky as they denounced the prison conditions endured by Basque separatists.

Almost all members of Eta, a group that gave up armed resistence to Spain in 2011, have been jailed but the movement has refused to disband.

They have been calling for an amnesty for their incarcerated members so they can be reunited with their families.

Basque newspaper Gara estimated the number of people in the Bilbao streets on a rainy day as 78,000, while police declined to give a crowd estimate."

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

UK: 'Specific' terror evidence not necessary for RAF drone strikes (The Guardian, link):

"“Specific” advance evidence of a terror plot threatening UK interests is not legally necessary before launching pre-emptive drone strikes against suspects overseas, according to the the attorney general.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Jeremy Wright QC denied that the threshold for self-defence was being “watered down” but said not knowing the target, type or time of a terrorist attack should not prevent military action."

Wright has said that he is adopting the series of tests set out in: Principles relevant to the scope of a state's right of self-defence against an imminent or actual armed attack by nonstate actors (pdf) by Daniel Bethlehem.

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (pdf):

"In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, in November 2015 the European Commission presented a package of measures aiming to tighten control on the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union, improve traceability of legally held firearms and enhance cooperation between Member States, as well as ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposal to amend the current 'Firearms Directive' (Directive 91/477/EEC) was part of this package. It aims to ban some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, as well as to include some previously excluded actors (collectors and brokers) and blankfiring weapons within the scope of the Directive. Stakeholders commented particularly on the proposed ban on some semi-automatic firearms and the obligation for collectors to deactivate firearms.

After several rounds of trilogue negotiations, the Council and Parliament reached agreement on the proposal in December. The text is now to be submitted for a vote in plenary at first reading."

Note: a plenary reading and vote is currently scheduled for 1 March 2017 (European Parliament, link).

Statewatch Analysis: Eight report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy).

Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migrations and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)

UK: School governors forced to declare nationality to Government (inews.co.uk, link):

"Ministers have been accused of turning schools into “Border Control” after it emerged governors are being forced to declare their nationality to a Government register set up in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” scandal.

Concerns have been raised as to how the information about governors’ nationalities will be used, given the register was created in response to allegations that schools in Birmingham were being taken over by hardline Muslim groups. It has led to fears that the details are being collected as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants and the Government’s efforts to step up its national security measures. ‘

"Shameful’ :The policy affects the estimated 300,000 unpaid volunteers who make up England’s school governing bodies. Civil liberty campaigners have branded the move as “shameful”."

SCOTLAND: Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link):

"The announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

USA: Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (Independent, link):

"Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17) including: EU migration control in the Sahel, Germany to return refugees to Greece from March; questions over push-backs in Spain and Serbia; Malta PM wants EU-Turkey-style deal with other states.

Interpol: Red Alert! How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders (Al Jazeera, link):

"Interpol is the world's largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It's then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate."

And see: People and Power: New documentary shows the impact of abusive INTERPOL alerts (Fair Trials, link):

"A new documentary has been broadcast, showing the devastating impact that INTERPOL Red Notices can have when used on the wrong people."

EU: Data retention and the law: Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson et al: Continuity and Radical Change (European Law Blog, link):

"The CJEU delivered its judgment in Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson on 21 December 2016. The Court had been asked by a Swedish and British court respectively to consider the scope and effect of its previous judgment in Digital Rights Ireland (discussed here). The judgment reflects continuity in so far as it follows in the line of this, and earlier judgments taking a strong stance on data protection and privacy. Yet, the degree of protection it offers these rights over competing interests, notably security, is radical. In particular, the Court unequivocally states that legislation providing for general and indiscriminate data retention is incompatible with the E-Privacy Directive, as read in light of the relevant EU Charter rights. While the judgment was delivered in the context of the E-Privacy Directive, the Court’s reasoning could equally apply to other EU secondary legislation or programmes interpreted in light of the Charter. This judgment will be a game-changer for state surveillance in Europe and while it offered an early Christmas gift to privacy campaigners, it is likely to receive a very mixed reaction from EU Member States as such. While national data retention legislation has been annulled across multiple Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Romania), this annulment has been based on an assessment of the proportionality of the relevant measures rather than on a finding that blanket retention is per se unlawful."

Background: Court of Justice of the EU

Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Digital Rights Ireland case on the Data Retention Directive: The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages (The Guardian, link):

"A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Court: Access to totalitarian archives data not to worsen (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The accessibility of archival sources from the totalitarian era will not worsen, but researchers must take into account the protection of delicate personal data if they publish them, the Czech Constitutional Court (US) ruled on Wednesday.

The US has turned down a proposal opposing the exception granted to historians thanks to which they have easy access to the documents from the Nazi (1939-1945) and Communist regimes (1948-1989).

For this, they do not need the consent of the living people whose sensitive personal data appear in the documents.

In some cases, the researchers need the consent by the living protagonists of past events with the subsequent publication of the documents."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. &#