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19th year reporting on civil liberties and the state in the European Union (updated 10.12.17) Editor: Tony Bunyan
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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-10.12.17)
EU: European Council 14 December, 2017:
See: European Council (14 December 2017) Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no 13862-17, pdf): Including:
"SECURITY AND DEFENCE
Further to its December 2016 and June 2017 conclusions, the European Council reviewed progress in the field of security and defence, and:
- welcomes the establishment of permanent structured cooperation and stresses the importance of quickly implementing the first batch of fifteen projects; it calls on participating Member States to deliver on their national implementation plans;
- calls for further work on the European Defence Fund, and in particular the swift adoption in 2018 of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, in time to finance the first capability projects in 2019;(...)
UK-EU-BREXIT: Justice and Home Affairs: The Home Affairs Select Committee has started an inquiry into: Home Office delivery of Brexit: policing and security co-operation: Oral evidence to the Committee, 5 December 2017 (pdf)
EU: E-Justice: Article 29 Working Party: Data protection and privacy aspects of cross-border access to electronic evidence (pdf):
"the WP29 expresses concerns that the adoption of the envisaged production order towards organizations which are not established in the EU could also increase the risk of adoption by non-EU countries of similar instruments that would enter in direct conflict with EU data protection law.(...)
The circumvention of existing MLATs or other applicable legal basis under EU law by a third countrys law enforcement authority is therefore an interference with the territorial sovereignty of an EU member state. Vice versa, EU law enforcement authorities should also - as a general rule - be required to respect existing international agreements such as MLATs or any other applicable legal basis under EU law when requesting access or disclosure from data controllers in third countries."
UK-EU-BREXIT: Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government (pdf) The key paragraph is:
"The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdoms intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement." [emphasis added]
UK: Report by David Anderson QC: Attacks in London and Manchester March-June 2017 Independent Assessment of MI5 and Police internal reviews (pdf):
"The nine classified reports that I have assessed contain detailed and accurate accounts of intelligence-handling prior to each of the four attacks, and a series of pertinent recommendations for operational improvement. They will not remove the risk of terrorist attack: to do so would be manifestly impossible in a free society. But if properly given effect they will strengthen the hand of police and MI5, without compromising the sound legal and ethical framework within which they willingly work. I welcome the care and the energy with which the reviews were conducted, their recommendations, and this opportunity to offer a flavour of them to a wider public."
CROATIA-SERBIA: 'They treated her like a dog': tragedy of the six-year-old killed at Croatian border (The Guardian, link):
"When the train hit six-year-old Madina Hussiny, her family stumbled to the watching Croatian border police begging for help, her body limp in their arms.
The same officers had ordered the exhausted Afghan family down railway tracks towards Serbia in the dark without warning them there might still be trains running, said Madinas mother, Muslima Hussiny. But desperate and terrified, they had nowhere else to turn.
Madina was a casualty of a slow-burning crisis along Europes borders that aid groups and activists say is causing untold suffering."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Conclusions and background documentation
Outcomes and documents discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: eu-LISA, ECRIS-TCN, Freezing and confiscation, PNR Directive, CSDP operations and JHA Agencies, Asylum Package, CEAS: Common Procedures, Reception and Qualifications, Data Retention and EU accession to ECHR.
EU: Frontex training materials for Libyan Coast Guard come up short on human rights
"Respect and protection of human rights are a negligible part of the EUs training to the Libyan Coast Guard, as revealed by the training materials the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed in response to an access to documents request. From a total of 20 documents including a video released, only 0,5% of the content is dedicated to ensuring the protection of human rights."
USA: Trump Lawyers Attempt to Sue an Environmental Philosophy under Anti-Racketeering Laws (Earth First! Newsire, link):
"December 5, 2017, New York, NY On behalf of the environmental magazine the Earth First! Journal, the Center for Constitutional Rights urged a court to dismiss parts of a lawsuit brought by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Energy Transfer Equity (ETE). ETP and ETE are part-owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and have attempted to sue the broad social movement known as Earth First! for racketeering. The ludicrous allegations in the complaint, filed yesterday, drafted by Trumps law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, claim that Earth First! funded a violent terrorist presence at the Standing Rock protests with $500,000 and proceeds from drug sales on the site, and is part of a sprawling conspiracy with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to deceive the public about the environmental risks of pipelines."
EU: Undercover policing update: police admit breaching prohibtion on torture; crowdfunding campaign launched; complaint to UN
Three new developments in the ongoing undercover policing saga and the struggle for justice.
Police militarisation: new online resource highlights the "shift towards militarised policing taking place across each and every continent"
A new online resource on police militarisation has been launched by the organisation War Resisters International (WRI), bringing together articles on a variety of relvant topics and providing an interactive map that "can be used to explore the militarisation of policing" in countries across the globe. WRI state: "The aim of the resource is to illustrate how the militarisation of police forces around the world is happening, how it is rooted in deeper structural violence and to bring to the fore stories of resistance from communities across the globe."
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: "discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU" show failings in law and policy
A major new report from the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that "immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life most often when seeking employment." The findings of the report are based on a survey of 25,500 people of an immigrant or ethnic minority background in all 28 EU Member State.
UK: The Anarchist Cookbook and the Terrorism Act: Is your library criminal? (Doughty Street Chambers, link):
"In 1999 the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, was presenting what was to become the Terrorism Act 2000 to the House of Commons. Answering a challenge about the breadth of its terms he said:
'Of course, we can all invent hypothetical circumstancesfantastic circumstancesin which any of us, according to the criminal code, could be charged and subject to conviction; but there is no point in our doing so. We know that, in the real world in which we live, the criminal law is subject to a significant series of checks and balances, including proper invigilation by the courts of the land and control of the Crown Prosecution Service by Members of Parliament who are answerable to the House of Commons and the other place. Such circumstances therefore do not arise, and I do not believe that they ever will.'
Tell that to Josh Walker; in the summer of 2015 he was organising a student role playing game at his university in Aberystwyth. To make it more real he signed into his student library internet account, searched and printed off a partial copy of the Anarchist Cookbook... At the end of the game the students planned to destroy all the paperwork but Josh forgot and ended taking the partial book and some other random papers home. A year and a half later they were found in the drawer under his bed. In the meantime Josh had seen what was going on in Syria and flown out to help the Kurdish groups who were fighting against ISIS. He came home in December 2016 and was arrested as police tried to work out what he had been doing in the Middle East; he was not charged for helping the same group that the Americans, the French and the UK are assisting, but a police search of his Aberystwyth bedsit found the book and 10 months later he stood trial in Birmingham Crown Court, accused of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist, under section 58 of Jack Straws 2000 Act."
How white engineers built racist code and why it's dangerous for black people (The Guardian, link):
"The lack of answers the Jacksonville sheriffs office have provided in Lynchs case is representative of the problems that facial recognition poses across the country. Its considered an imperfect biometric, said Garvie, who in 2016 created a study on facial recognition software, published by the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, called The Perpetual Line-Up. Theres no consensus in the scientific community that it provides a positive identification of somebody.
The software, which has taken an expanding role among law enforcement agencies in the US over the last several years, has been mired in controversy because of its effect on people of color. Experts fear that the new technology may actually be hurting the communities the police claims they are trying to protect.
If youre black, youre more likely to be subjected to this technology and the technology is more likely to be wrong, House oversight committee ranking member Elijah Cummings said in a congressional hearing on law enforcements use of facial recognition software in March 2017. Thats a hell of a combination."
EU: Latest Council Presidency text of the e-Privacy Regulation
"The Presidency has... analysed various proposals submitted by delegations as well as relevant provisions of the GDPR and put together a number of modifications for delegations' consideration. Delegations will find below the details on those modifications below. For ease of reference, the latest changes are marked in underline."
See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council 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) - Examination of the Presidency text (15333/17, 5 December 2017, pdf)
SCOTLAND: Motion of no confidence in Police Scotland defeated (Holyrood, link):
"The Liberal Democrats came under fire from MSPs of other parties as the party's motion of no confidence in Police Scotland was defeated at Holyrood.
The party called for an independent commission to look at previous reforms which saw local police forces merged into a national force"
HUNGARY: Hungarian MEP charged with spying on EU for Russia (BBC News, link):
"Hungarian prosecutors have charged one of the country's members of the European Parliament with spying for Russia.
Bela Kovacs, 57, from the nationalist Jobbik party, has denied the charges.
A Hungarian inquiry began in 2015 after the European Parliament lifted Mr Kovacs' immunity."
NETHERLANDS: Seven things you need to understand about how refugees here feel (De Correspondent, link):
"Some 300 newcomers to the Netherlands have answered this months thirty questions asked by members of De Correspondent. It was the largest group interview ever conducted with refugees in this country. Today: the answers to a single question."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.12.17)
Council: Refugee and migrant "smuggling" as a "business" model
The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)
The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.
"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."
UPDATED: 5 December 2017: EU: Trilogue on ETIAS: Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf): Four column document giving the Commission proposal, the positions of the Council and the European Parliament and "Compromise" position for discussion in secret trilogue o/n 12 December 2017.
EU: Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact (euobserver, link):
"he United States needs to appoint an independent ombudsperson who can deal with data complaints by EU citizens before 25 May 2018, the EU's data protection authorities said in a report published on Tuesday (5 December).
If it does not, the authorities said they would "take appropriate action", including going to court.
The data watchdogs are known collectively as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29), named after the relevant article in the EU's data protection directive."
See: EU U.S. Privacy Shield First annual Joint Review (pdf)
EU: Frontex asks for greater access to databases under interoperability proposals: Non-paper by Frontex on its access to central EU systems for borders and security (LIMITE doc no: 15174-17, pdf):
Frontex says it has less access to data than national authorities. Thus it needs greater access to check hird country nationals at external borders with "hotspot" style roles of screening, registration, debriefing and fingerprinting and its role in "returns".
The segregation of Hungarian Roma children must end (New Europe, link):
"The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. In Hungary, over 750,000 citizens of Romani background are subject to racist violence and official persecution. They suffer from extreme poverty and poor health and they are inadequately housed. The plight of Hungarys Roma is exacerbated by the systemic failure of the education system. Barely a fifth of Roma children complete secondary education and only one percent undertake postsecondary education.
This bleak image is unfortunately not much different from 12 years ago when the Roma Education Fund was created by George Soros and the World Bank, with the belief that education is the first step to integration and with the long-term goal of closing the gap between Roma and non-Roma."
German government wants backdoor access to every digital device: report (The Local.de, link):
"Germanys Interior Minister wants to force tech and car companies to provide the German security services with hidden digital access to cars, computers, phones and more, according to a media report from Friday.
The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas de Maizière had written up a draft proposal for the interior minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which he has called the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance.
German pilots refuse to carry out deportations (DW, link)
"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.
Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.
Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.
Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."
Venice Commission active on Poland, expects the same from Warsaw (euractiv, link):
"The Venice Commission is waiting for the response of the Polish government regarding its draft opinions on the reform of the judiciary in Poland, as well as for confirmation that a Polish government representative will take part in this Council of Europes bodys next plenary session."
Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spains southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)
In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water, as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spains Guardia Civil.
Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Background Note (pdf)
Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate (The Conversation, link):
"A new short film from the Campaign Against Killer Robots warns of a future where weaponised flying drones target and assassinate certain members of the public, using facial recognition technology to identify them. Is this a realistic threat that could rightly spur an effective ban on the technology? Or is it an overblown portrayal designed to scare governments into taking simplistic, unnecessary and ultimately futile action? We asked two academics for their expert opinions."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-17-04-12-17)
UK: The Lions of Grunwick (IRR News, link):
"We are the Lions Mr Manager is a small but perfectly formed play which tells the story of the Grunwick strike."
EU: EDPS "Reflection paper" on the interoperability of JHA databases poses fundamental questions
"Technology should always come in support of policies and user needs, not the other way around. What is technically feasible might not necessarily be legally justifiable or ethically desirable."
"We are concerned that repeatedly referring to migration, internal security and fight against terrorism almost interchangeably brings the risk of blurring the boundaries between migration management and fight against terrorism."
How many terminals and how many officials have or will have access to all the existing and planned JHA databases? In 2003 the SIS alone could be accessed from 125,000 terminals!
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published a "Reflection Paper on the interoperability of information systems in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice" (17 November 2017, pdf) which poses fundamental questions for the Commission who will draft new measures and the co-legislators (the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament).
EU: HQ of the Atlas Network's 38 Special Intervention Units to be based at Europol
A Report from the Council Presidency, dated 16 November 2017: Draft Council Conclusions on the strengthening of the ATLAS Network (LIMITE doc no: 12583-REV-5-17, pdf) seeks amongst other things to create a permanent ATLAS Support Office based at Europol. The Network's:
"Special Intervention Units (SIUs) of the Member States may be called to intervene in a variety of situations not necessarily linked to terrorism."
UK: Press release: GCHQ makes brazen attempt to undermine the independence of its new regulator (PI, link):
"In todays latest hearing in our ongoing legal challenge against the collection of massive troves of our personal data by the UK intelligence agencies, shocking new evidence has emerged about GCHQs attempts to yet again avoid proper independent scrutiny for its deeply intrusive surveillance activities.
In a truly breath-taking exchange of letters between the Investigatory Powers Commissioners Office (IPCO) and the Director of Legal Affairs at GCHQ, it has emerged that GCHQ have attempted to undermine legal proceedings against them, as well as the independence of the very body that is tasked with seeing that our intelligence agencies operate lawfully, by suggesting that the government and IPCO should work together to decide together what evidence is submitted during legal proceedings."
UK police to lose phone and web data search authorisation powers (Guardian, link):
"Change is one of several to snoopers charter law proposed by ministers in attempt to comply with European court ruling.
Senior police officers are to lose the power to self-authorise access to personal phone and web browsing records under a series of late changes to the snoopers charter law proposed by ministers in an attempt to comply with a European court ruling on Britains mass surveillance powers.(...)
But the government says the 2016 European court of justice (ECJ) ruling in a case brought by Labours deputy leader, Tom Watson, initially with David Davis, now the Brexit secretary, does not apply to the retention or acquisition of personal phone, email, web history or other communications data by national security organisations such as GCHQ, MI6 or MI5, as national security is outside the scope of EU law. [emphasis added]
See: Investigatory Powers Act 2016: Consultation on the Governments proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 December 2016 regarding the retention of communications data (pdf) and Communications Data DRAFT Code of Practice (pdf)
UK-BREXIT: House of Commons Brexit Committee: The progress of the UKs negotiations on EU withdrawal (pdf):
"We welcome the Governments commitment to no physical infrastructure at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We also welcome its rejection of a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. We do not currently see how it will be possible to reconcile there being no border with the Governments policy of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, which will inevitably make the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland the EUs customs border with the UK; i.e. including the land border in Northern Ireland and at the ports of Holyhead, Milford Haven and Fishguard that provide freight services to and from the Republic of Ireland. It will be made harder by the fact that the Governments proposals, by its own admission, are untested and to some extent speculative. We call upon the Government to set out in more detail how a frictionless border can in practice be maintained with the UK outside the Single Market and the Customs Union."
Canadas spy agencies casting wider net on citizens electronic data, parliamentary report says (Globe & Mail, link):
"On the eve of a crucial new national-security debate, parliamentarians are being told that federal spy agencies are out to data-mine "bulk" amounts of electronic records about ordinary people as they seek to spot extraordinary terrorist threats."
EU: Council of the European Union: Registration of Identity in EU Member States
Questionnaire on issues related to Registration of Identity - Updated assessment of the replies (LIMITE doc no:12004-REV-1-17, pdf): "Delegations will find enclosed an updated version of the assessment of the replies to the questionnaire related to Registration of Identity prepared by the Commission services."
"Registration or evidence of identity refers to processes enabling the tracing, linkage and verification of identity against breeder documents (e.g. birth certificate, ID cards, etc.) (...)
It is divided into six parts which seek to follow a logical approach from registering the identity to issuing breeder documents and control mechanisms:
1. Population registers
2. Initial/ foundational identity (first time registration)
3. Identity verification (subsequent registration)
4. Breeder documents
5. Other identity-related procedures
6. Control mechanisms."
Only three Member States/SAC (Austria, Spain and Latvia) use biometric identifiers in the process of registering the identity in the
population registers. Many others Member States/SAC (17: BG, CH, HR, CZ, DE, DK, EE, FI, FR, LU, NL, LV, RO, SE, SI, NO, UK) do not take any biometrics.
And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 12004-17, pdf)
Top EU privacy watchdog wants centralised regulator with muscle to police firms (euractiv, link):
"EU lawmakers should create a new, centralised data protection authority to oversee investigations of privacy breaches that affect more than one member state in the bloc, Giovanni Buttarelli, the EUs top privacy watchdog, said in an interview."
EU: Free-Speech Pitfall Avoided in EU Copyright Reform (Liberties.eu, link):
"Free speech won an important battle in the copyright reform debate in the European Parliament, though many threats to our rights remain.
The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament (EP) voted against the censorship solution of the draft Copyright Directive last week. While the adopted version is far from perfect, Liberties sees significant improvements compared to the original version. We can consider it as a minor victory for freedom of expression.(...)
The next parliamentary step will be the vote at the EPs Committee of Legal Affairs (JURI). The vote in the Committee is scheduled for January 24/25, 2018. The recent vote on behalf of LIBE committee was to help JURI on the civil liberties questions by providing an opinion. LIBE voted in favour of human rights, but it does not automatically mean that as the responsible Committee, JURI will apply the same approach."
See: Open Letter signed by 57 NGOs.
UK: Daisy and the £4 billion asylum housing contracts (IRR News, link): by John Grayson :
"As the tendering process for £4 billion worth of contracts over ten years gets under way, asylum campaigner John Grayson examines the market for asylum seekers housing in the UK."
Saving Lives at Sea - A two-week rescue mission with SOS MEDITERRANEE (HRW, link):
"The Aquarius, chartered by the nongovernmental organization SOS MEDITERRANEE to rescue migrants while heading for Europe, had motored to the oilfield to collect 36 people -mainly Syrians and Egyptians - picked up earlier by an oil company supply ship. From the bridge of the Aquarius, a spotlight revealed the tiny wooden boat, tethered to the stern of the supply ship, bobbing like a toy in the black water.
This spectacular backdrop exposes a cruel reality. The Mediterranean is the deadliest migration route in the world, with over 15,000 deaths recorded since 2014. So far this year almost 3,000 have gone missing or died, including 26 Nigerian girls in one tragic incident."
Estonia aims to resuscitate EU refugee quotas (euractiv, link):
"Estonia on Wednesday (29 November) presented a compromise proposal on the relocation of refugees, which it said would be fair to all EU member states, deeply divided over how to deal with asylum seekers arriving in Europe.".
Seven EU countries team up to investigate Uber data breach (euractiv, link):
"EU privacy watchdogs are uniting to confront Uber over the breach of millions of consumers data that the ride-hailing app recently reported."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-29.11.17): 1. Greece 2. EU/Libya/Africa 3. EU-Turkey 4. Deaths 5. Legal and policy developments 6. Other news
GERMANY: German police missed Berlin Christmas market terror suspects gun photo (CTV News, link):
"German authorities say investigators somehow didn't spot a photo of a Tunisian terrorist suspect holding a firearm when evaluating data on his cellphone, months before he killed a dozen people in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
North Rhine-Westphalia's interior minister Herbert Reul said Monday the phone was confiscated during a police spot-check in Berlin in February, 2016, and 12,000 media files were sent to investigators in his state, where the suspect was living.
One file was a photo showing Anis Amri with a firearm. Reul called for a review of police procedures to "avoid such mistakes in the future.""
See: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation (pdf) by Heiner Busch
GERMANY: 'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz', 96, fit to serve jail term: German court (The Local, link):
"A former Nazi SS guard known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz", now 96, is fit to serve his four-year prison sentence, a German court ruled Wednesday.
Oskar Groening was found guilty in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murders of 300,000 people at the Nazi death camp.
But he filed an appeal for the sentence to be suspended."
UK: Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boys death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice (OpenDemocracy, link):
"The story of a UK campaign for truth and accountability. And respect for the lives of people who have learning disabilities. Review by Clare Sambrook. Extract by Sara Ryan."
U.K. Police Investigation of Snowden Leak Journalists Enters Fourth Year (The Intercept, link):
"A secretive British police investigation focusing on journalists who have worked with Edward Snowdens leaked documents is still active more than four years after it was launched, The Intercept has learned.
The investigation codenamed Operation Curable is being led by a counter-terrorism unit within Londons Metropolitan Police, under the direction of the forces chief of Specialist Operations, Mark Rowley. The Metropolitan Police confirmed the status of the investigation last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The disclosure that the probe remains active prompted criticism on Monday from the National Union of Journalists, the U.K.s largest journalists organization. Sarah Kavanagh, a spokesperson for the group, said that news reports based on the Snowden documents had exposed unlawful covert surveillance activities in the public interest."
UK: Police to be given powers to ground drones in UK crackdown (The Guardian, link):
"The government is planning to create a raft of new police powers as part of a crackdown on the civilian use of drones, the Department for Transport has announced.
The new drone bill to be published in 2018 will allow police officers to order drone operators to ground their devices where necessary, alongside a series of new changes that will create a mandatory registry for larger unmanned aerial vehicles, such as those sold by Parrot or DJI.
It could also include a ban on drones flying near airports or above 122 metres (400 feet), the government says, and a requirement for drone owners to use apps, rather than simple remote controls, to fly their aircraft, in order to ensure that the rules are always readily accessible and incorporated into the flight plan."
EU: Privacy crusader Schrems starts NGO to bring more tech firms to court (EurActiv, link):
"The Austrian lawyer whose lawsuit toppled the infamous safe harbour data sharing agreement with the United States has set up an NGO focused on bringing more privacy cases to court.
After his own victory in a 2015 European Court of Justice (ECJ) case over data transfers to the US, Max Schrems wants to start overseeing other consumers complaints in time for May 2018 when the sweeping new EU data protection regulation comes into effect.
Schrems said he will collect complaints from consumers, but he also wants to build cases himself based on the new privacy requirements that will apply across the 28-country bloc starting next year."
GREECE: The Refugee Scandal on the Island of Lesbos (Spiegel Online, link):
"Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. "Welcome to prison," someone has spray-painted on the walls. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. It is raining, and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on the road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup. Children are crying as men jostle their way through the crowd.
Welcome to one of the most shameful sites in all of Europe. Camp Moria was originally built to handle 2,330 refugees. But currently it is home to 6,489."
And see: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece (Statewatch News Online, 16 October 2017)
UK: How a Met police spy's fake identity was rumbled (The Guardian, link):
"An undercover officer can be unmasked at any point in their deployment. It is one of their biggest fears. Even the possibility of being exposed can spell the end of their covert operation.
Police have admitted this is what happened to one of their spies who had been sent to infiltrate leftwing groups.
The spy had adopted the false identity of Rick Gibson in 1974 when he started infiltrating the Troops Out Movement, which campaigned for British troops to be withdrawn from Ireland.
Gibson moved on to infiltrate Big Flame, a revolutionary group of socialists and feminists, but came unstuck."
And see: Rick Gibson spycops sexually targeted women from the start (Undercover Research Group, link)
#RomaBelong - Statelessness, Discrimination and Marginalisation of Roma in the Western Balkans and Ukraine (European Network on Statelessness, link):
"The project was set up in 2016 to better understand and address Romani statelessness (and risk of statelessness) in European Union candidate and neighbourhood countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), and Ukraine. The specific aims of the project are:
1. Understanding the causes of Roma statelessness and the obstacles that stand in the way of solutions
2. Strengthening the understanding and capacity of Roma rights organisations and activists to mobilise to end Roma statelessness
3. Facilitating and bolstering international, regional and national responses to Roma statelessness
A synthesis report - Roma Belong Statelessness, Discrimination and Marginalisation of Roma in the Western Balkans and Ukraine - based on research findings from all of the research countries, examines the issue from a regional perspective, and outlines key recommendations targeted at civil society, funders, national governments and regional stakeholders such as the OSCE, EU and Council of Europe, who can influence and facilitate action to address the issues."
UK: The hostile environment: woman reporting rape to police arrested on immigration charges
"A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care, Politics.co.uk can reveal.
The shocking case reveals how far Theresa May's 'hostile environment' towards immigrants has gone and raises serious questions about whether immigration enforcement practices are now discouraging the victims of crimes from reporting them to the police."
FRANCE: A government-sponsored bill for the mass detention of asylum-seekers
Wednesday, 29 November, the Commission of Laws of the National Assembly will examine a law proposed by the group Les Constructifs "permitting the correct application of the European asylum system". Its purpose: to allow the mass detention of people seeking asylum under the 'Dublin' procedure, a practice censured by the Court of Cassation.
EU: Documents: Operation Sophia anti-migrant smuggling mission to host "crime information cell" pilot project
The EU's anti-migrant smuggling mission, Operation Sophia, is to host a "crime information cell" as part of a pilot project that will attempt to ensure any information gathered by the mission that is "relevant for crime prevention, investigation and prosecution, or more broadly border security is made available to the relevant Member State authorities and JHA agencies".
GREECE: Greek Asylum Service: data on asylum applications and decisions, Dublin transfers and relocations: June 2013-October 2017
Statistical data from the Greek Asylum Service covering the period 7 June 2013 to 31 October 2017, with information on asylum applications and decisions divided by age, gender, countries of origin, region (in Greece) of application; data from the Greek Dublin Unit covering the same period showing transfers of asylum-seekers to and from Greece under the Dublin system; and data from the Greek Asylum Service on relocations from Greece to other EU Member States under the EU's relocation scheme up to 19 November 2017.
ECHR: Camera surveillance of lecture halls in Montenegro violated professors right to privacy (Press release, pdf):
"In todays Chamber judgment in the case of Antoviæ and Mirkoviæ v. Montenegro (application no. 70838/13) the European Court of Human Rights held: by four votes to three, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned an invasion of privacy complaint by two professors at the University of Montenegros School of Mathematics, Nevenka Antoviæ and Jovan Mirkoviæ, after video surveillance had been installed in areas where they taught. They stated that they had had no effective control over the information collected and that the surveillance had been unlawful."
See: Judgment (pdf)
UK: When prison means life: Child lifers and the pains of imprisonment (The Justice Gap, link):
"The experiences of children in prison have failed to create the kind of scandal which might be expected in a modern, progressive and civilised society. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, yet there seems to be both public and political acceptance of their incarceration, despite mounting evidence of its terribly harmful effects. Although the number of children in prison has fallen enormously since 2007, there are still more than 800 children in prison, of which 42 are under the age of 14."
Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name - ICE invited tech firms to make algorithms that will track immigrants social media (Ars Techinica, link):
"The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk."
EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "additional data retention obligations are necessary"
A working paper from the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator (CTC) attempts to outline how the EU can introduce new mass telecoms surveillance rules whilst remaining faithful to the case law of the Court of Justice, which in a series of judgments has set out strict requirements for how data retention schemes must operate.
FRANCE: Torture equipment on display at international "homeland security" fair
"Despite strengthened EU regulations against the promotion and trade of instruments of torture, a Chinese company managed to bring such equipment into France this week and display it at a prominent trade fair."
UK: Howard League publishes ethnicity analysis of child arrests following the Lammy Review (The Howard League, link)
"Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children accounted for 60 per cent of all child arrests by the Metropolitan Police last year, analysis by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveals today (Monday 27 November).
The Metropolitan Police made more than 20,000 child arrests in 2016, of which more than 12,000 were of BAME children the highest proportion recorded by any police force in England and Wales.
Across England and Wales, police forces made fewer than 88,000 arrests of children in total last year, down from almost 250,000 in 2010. BAME children accounted for 26 per cent of all child arrests."
See: Review highlights discrimination in criminal justice system, but a missed opportunity to examine policing (Statewatch News Online, 11 September 2017)
Opening up closed doors: Making the EU more transparent for its citizens (pdf):
"In a representative democracy citizens have the right to know whether their legislators voted in favour of or against a law or proposal. Citizens have the right to know what the available policy options are. Both transparency and accessibility of documents are therefore essential.
The EU Council is a legislator. Members of national parliaments have insufficient access to documents and voting records, including informal voting records, to be able to oversee and scrutinize their governments actions. For citizens, it is even harder to gain access to documents, to acquire knowledge of their governments actions or to understand the process by which parliaments make decisions. Therefore, our democracy is imperfect. If our citizens dont have access to what is going on in their government, how can they possibly cast an informed vote?"
Paper from the Dutch COSAC (Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union) delegation on EU transparency to be presented at the COSAC panel "Bringing Europe closer to its citizens." See also: Rapporteurs make the case for more transparency in the EU (TweedeKamer, link)
UK: Fracking firm wins extension to 'draconian' protest injunction (The Guardian, link):
"A multinational firm has secured a long-term, sweeping injunction against anti-fracking protesters despite critics calling it draconian and anti-democratic.
On Thursday, a high court judge extended the wide-ranging injunction sought by petrochemicals giant Ineos, which covers all anti-fracking campaigners.
The injunction prohibits campaigners from interfering unlawfully with Ineoss fracking operations. Anyone who obstructs the firms fracking activities faces being jailed, fined, or having their assets seized.
Mr Justice Morgan dismissed a legal challenge brought by two anti-fracking campaigners, Joe Corré, the son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Joe Boyd, who had argued that the injunction was oppressive and should be discarded."
UK: Defendants on video conveyor belt justice or a revolution in access? (Transform Justice, link to pdf)
"The use of video hearings for defendants and prisoners has increased gradually but steadily over the last ten years with little scrutiny or consultation. The development of video hearings has profound implications for the way the court, and justice itself, is perceived, and for the relationship between a lawyer and their client.
...Our qualitative research suggests that video hearings reduce defendants understanding of, and respect for, the process. When separated by a screen, defendants are more likely to shout or walk out of a hearing. Video hearings also exclude family and supporters (of defendants and witnesses) from the court. Of course they can turn up. But what is the point if some or all the participants are on a screen? As David Lammy recently pointed out in his review of the treatment of BAME communities in the criminal justice system, trust in our justice system, particularly amongst those from ethnic minorities, is already fragile. We cant afford to undermine that trust further. This report suggests that virtual justice may not be more efficient, may not deliver the cost-savings it is meant to do, and may compromise human rights and confidence in our justice system."
EU: E-Privacy Regulation: Estonian Council Presidency progress report
"The present report has been drawn up under the responsibility of the Estonian Presidency and is without prejudice to particular points of interest or further contributions of individual delegations. It sets out the work done so far in the Council's preparatory bodies and gives an account on the state of play in the examination of the above mentioned proposal."
See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council 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) - Progress report (14374/17, LIMITE, 17 November 2017, pdf)
EU: Military Europe: officials celebrate at EDA conference as protesters gather outside
"Addressing a 400-strong audience representing the whole European defence spectrum - governments, armed forces, industry, EU institutions, NATO, think tanks and media - Mrs Mogherini said the conference was taking place at the most important moment for European defence in decades with bold new initiatives such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) creating an unprecedented momentum for enhanced cooperation."
UK: Electronic monitoring: in flight to where? (CCJS, link):
"The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) session on the National Audit Offices (NAO) report on the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) failed 'New World' electronic monitoring (EM) strategy on the 13th November was a disappointment.
It did not get to the bottom of why things had gone so catastrophically wrong, concentrating only on the hows and whats, as the NAO themselves had done. Chris Grayling, the minister who more than anyone devised and drove this secretive, overambitious strategy, abetted by the Cabinet Office, and drawing on a Policy Exchange report that had considered radio frequency (RF) based EM curfews obsolete and 75,000 offenders per day on GPS tracking a feasible and desirable option, was not held to account in the way he deserved.
Maybe one day the Justice Select Committee will have a word with him? Meanwhile, three civil servants dutifully carried the can for him, Richard Heaton, Michael Spurr and Adrian Scott, the first two of whom were indeed there during the fiasco, although neither deserved pillorying for a strategy they would surely not have signed up to had their minister not been so determined."
See: National Audit Office report: The new generation electronic monitoring programme (pdf) and: Summary (pdf)
Statewatch Analysis: The widespread impunity over migrant deaths (pdf) by Ana González-Páramo:
Forthcoming international initiatives on refugees and safe and orderly migration offer an opportunity to ensure that there is an end to the widespread impunity over migrant deaths worldwide, and to ensure that refugees' and migrants' right to life is recognised and upheld.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-23.11.17) including: just 3% of EU-Africa Trust Fund migration budget goes to safe and legal routes
NORTHERN IRELAND: Government fears "essential" extradition powers to combat crime will be lost after Brexit (The Detail, link):
"THE extradition process "could become toxic if the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is lost as a result of the UKs withdrawal from the EU, a senior civil servant has warned.
A Detail Data investigation has found that in the past ten years hundreds of EAWs have been sought to extradite suspects in high profile cases - which have included murder, rape, human trafficking and terrorism - into and out of Northern Ireland.
Documents prepared by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice (DOJ) which were obtained by Detail Data under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the department believes: "For practical law enforcement the maintenance of the European Arrest Warrant system is essential."
Experts interviewed by Detail Data confirm that there is currently no replacement for EAWs post-Brexit, while our research reveals that extradition agreements currently in place between the UK and non-EU countries have significantly lower success rates than the EAW."
UK: I was a victim of undercover police abuse. I fear we wont get justice (The Guardian, link) by Alison:
"Ive been researching undercover policing ever since the boyfriend I knew as Mark Cassidy left me in spring 2000. Like the other female activists bringing cases of undercover police abuse to light, I have become skilled in scouring documents, interrogating and interpreting evidence. Weve fought a legal case against the Metropolitan police to expose its institutional sexist practices, and waited for five years for an apology that should have been given much earlier.
Now Im one of the 180 non-state core participants (NSCPs) in the public inquiry into undercover policing. Established in March 2015, the inquiry was due to report in July 2018, but its looking unlikely any evidence will be heard until 2019, and the end date is no longer even in sight."
And see: Press release: New Undercover Policing Inquiry hearings two years after historic apology - women affected demand no more delays
UK: G4S youth jail beset by violence, vandalism and weapons, report finds (The Guardian, link):
"Surging levels of violence at an unsafe G4S-run youth jail have put staff in hospital and caused inmates to carry improvised weapons for their safety, inspectors have revealed.
The damning inspection report into Oakhill secure training centre, near Milton Keynes, was published on Tuesday as MPs heard that ministers had ordered G4S to set up an external inquiry into abuse allegations at Brook House, the immigration removal centre at Gatwick, which is also run by the private security firm."
See: Care Quality Commission, HMIP and Ofsted: Inpsections of secure training centres: Inpsection of Oakill (pdf)
UK: Convictions in doubt as more than 10,000 cases could be affected by data manipulation at forensics lab (The Independent, link):
"More than 10,000 criminal cases may have been affected by alleged manipulation at a forensics lab that analysed evidence of drug driving, violent crime, sexual offences and unexplained deaths, it has been revealed.
Around 50 cases that were due to go to trial have been dropped over the scandal at a Randox Testing Services laboratory in Manchester, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said. Two road deaths have been referred to the Court of Appeal.
They are just a fraction of the alleged cases across 42 police force areas in England and Wales that could be affected by the alleged data manipulation, which dates back to 2013. The cases could result in court hearings being adjourned or thrown out because of the need for retesting.
Two men formerly employed by Randox Testing Services (RTS) have been arrested, and five interviewed under caution by Greater Manchester Police over the case."
And see: FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades (The Washington Post, 28 April 2015, link): "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000."
UK: Government avoids defeat after MPs vote against retaining EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit
"MPs have voted against a Labour bid to retain EU human rights measures in UK law post-Brexit after the Government offered Conservative rebels an eleventh-hour concession.
The amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was defeated by 311 votes to 301, giving the Government a majority of just 10."
EU-SPAIN: New report provides an "x-ray" of the public funding and private companies in Spain's "migration control industry"
A new report offers an "x-ray" of the public funding and the companies that make up Spain's "migration control industry", with technology and construction firms such as Indra, Dragados and Ferrovial amongst the chief beneficiaries of national and EU funding directed towards border control, surveillance and the detention and expulsion of irregular migrants.
ECHR-HUNGARY: Complaint about poor detention conditions in Hungary inadmissible: detainees concerned must use national remedies introduced by new law (press release, pdf):
"In its decision in the case of Domján v. Hungary (application no. 5433/17) the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final. The case concerned the complaint by a detainee about the conditions of his detention in a number of prisons in Hungary.
The Court took note of a new law (the 2016 Act) which had entered into force in Hungary on 1 January 2017 following the Courts pilot judgment in the case of Varga and Others v. Hungary, in which it had found a widespread problem resulting from a malfunctioning of the Hungarian penitentiary system.
The Court was satisfied that the 2016 Act had provided a combination of remedies, both preventive and compensatory in nature, guaranteeing in principle genuine redress for Convention violations originating in prison overcrowding and other unsuitable conditions of detention in Hungary. It therefore considered that Mr Domján, the applicant, and all others in his position, had to use the remedies introduced by the Act. Mr Domján had made use of those remedies but the ensuing proceedings were still pending. His complaint was accordingly premature and had to be rejected."
UK: New report denounces "confrontational and violent" policing of anti-fracking protests
A new report from the Network for Policing Monitoring (Netpol) denounces the "increasingly confrontational and violent tactics" used by police against anti-fracking protesters, highlighting a "widespread perception that the onshore oil and gas industry has suceeded in lobbying the police to 'crack down' on protests".
UK: Brook House detention centre inquiry: G4S submits evidence to committee
G4S has submitted its evidence to the Home Affairs Committee investigation into Brook House, a detention centre run by the company in which migrants were "abused and humilitated", as revealed in September by the BBC programme Panorama.
Bulgarian Defence Minister admits ladders being used to climb over fence at border with Turkey
"Bulgarian Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov admitted in a television interview on October 20 that ladders were being used to climb over the countrys fence at the Turkish border, built at huge expense to prevent illicit entry to the country.
The Bulgarian government has come under sustained opposition criticism for several months about the fence. Officials recently said that the fence had been significantly damaged by heavy rainfall, while photos have been circulated not only of people climbing over the fence, but also showing a large hole underneath it."
Northern Ireland: Government must not legislate for impunity through new statute of limitations (Amnesty, link):
"Amnesty International has called on the UK Government to reject the idea of a statute of limitations to block the investigation of alleged crimes committed by soldiers and other security forces personnel in Northern Ireland.
The call comes in response to a statement by Sinn Féin leaders, following a meeting with the Prime Minister Theresa May, that the UK Government intends to include a statute of limitations covering all Troubles-related incidents for members of the security forces in a new section in their impending consultation on the Stormont House Agreement Bill.
Amnesty said that any statute of limitations imposed to block investigations for killings and torture carried out by members of the UK armed services during three decades of political violence in Northern Ireland would be an utter betrayal of victims fundamental rights to justice."
European Parliament study: Countering Terrorist Narratives (pdf):
"This study, commissioned by the European Parliaments Policy Department for Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of current approaches to countering terrorist narratives. The first and second sections outline the different responses developed at the global and European Union levels. The third section presents an analysis of four different approaches to responding to terrorist narratives: disruption of propaganda distribution, redirect method, campaign and message design, and government communications and synchronisation of message and action. The final section offers a number of policy recommendations, highlighting five interrelated lines of effort essential to maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of counterterrorism and countering violent extremism strategic communication."
UK: Young arrivers share common routes to immigration detention and face specific forms of harm
"Children who are not citizens, or young arrivers often face difficulties growing up in the UK, but their rights are generally more extensive than those of adults. It is far less likely that they will be detained or deported than adults. Once children approach 18, they move from protected to unprotected status. Many are not able to secure settled immigration status, but even when they do, they risk automatic deportation orders if they go to prison.
Having spent a significant part of their formative years in the UK, some adults end up detained in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) while the government tries to deport them to places that feel foreign. This can be a frightening process which dramatically challenges identities and rights that they previously took for granted. But there has been little written on the topic and no research about this group in relation to immigration detention."
UK-FRANCE: Interior ministers' meeting: Joint statement by the governments of France and the UK (pdf):
"Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the Minister of the Interior of France, Gérard Collomb, met in London today (Thursday 16 November). They discussed a range of home affairs matters including joint efforts to fight terrorism, illegal migration, border security and efforts to tackle serious and organised crime.
The ministers emphasised the need to maintain and strengthen bilateral cooperation on security and law enforcement co-operation. On counter-terrorism they reinforced their commitment to the British-French action plan to ensure the internet is not used as a safe space for terrorists. The ministers recognised that the internet companies are making progress, but committed to push them to go further and faster in taking down terrorist material online in particular to ensure it is removed within one to two hours of upload and to continue to develop technical solutions to tackle the issue.
On migration, the ministers discussed the situation in Northern France and the challenges linked to illegal migration. The ministers acknowledged the importance of UK support in reinforcing the security arrangements in coastal cities of Northern France and the need for continued efforts to manage jointly the shared border between the UK and France. The UK and France will also explore ways of improving cooperating on efforts in countries of origin and transit in Africa and Asia."
EU Trust Fund for Africa: just 3% of migration budget aimed at developing safe and legal routes, says Oxfam
An analysis of the EU's Trust Fund for Africa undertaken by Oxfam has found that of the 400 million allocated to migration management, "most projects are designed to restrict and discourage irregular migration through migration containment and control," while "a meagre 3% of the budget is allocated to developing safe and regular routes."
UK: Government response to asylum housing report "really isn't good enough"
The UK government's response to a highly-critical parliamentary committee report on housing for asylum-seekers "really isn't good enough," according to the chair of the committee, Yvette Cooper MP, adding that: "Only last month, charities reported that unclean, vermin infested, damp conditions remain a common experience for asylum seekers arriving in the UK. It is difficult to know what exactly it will take before these shameful conditions are acknowledged and meaningful action taken."
EU: Eastern Partnership expert meeting on irregular migration: discussion paper and legal framework overview
"The Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries were not affected by the increased irregular migration flows and smuggling activities of criminal networks at the same dramatic level as the EU Member States (EU MS) during the Mediterranean migration crisis of 2015-2016. However, the recent alerts on the activation of a Black Sea migrant route which, according to the opinion of experts, could be even more dangerous for migrants lives than the Mediterranean one, will definitely require more attention and adequate response of the EaP states.
The importance of effective countering and preventive measures should be recognized by the governments of EaP states as well as the importance of cross border cooperation to ensure the fulfillment of the commitments regarding the operations to counter migrant smuggling according to the international criminal law and the commitments on protection of migrants and refugees, especially migrants in vulnerable situation."
EU: Decision of the European Ombudsman in her strategic inquiry OI/6/2014/NF concerning the composition and transparency of European Commission expert groups (pdf):
"In 2016, in the course of this Ombudsman inquiry and following calls from the European Parliament and civil society, the Commission reformed its expert group system. It issued a Commission Decision with revised rules governing the functioning and work of its expert groups. With its reform, the Commission has significantly overhauled its expert group rules and has put in place a more robust and transparent system. The new rules are largely in line with the Ombudsmans suggestions. In particular, the Commission has made the selection procedure for expert group members more transparent, it has put in place a new conflict of interest policy for individual experts appointed in a personal capacity, and it now requires organisations and self-employed individuals to be registered in the Transparency Register in order to be appointed to expert groups.
The Commission has also made good progress on facilitating better public scrutiny of the work of expert groups. Meeting minutes are now required to be meaningful and complete, members can have their dissenting opinions published, and expert groups may decide to deliberate publicly. In the event of public deliberations, the public may be invited to attend a meeting or the meeting may be web streamed.
The Ombudsman closes this inquiry, now that reform of the expert group system has been achieved. She will continue to monitor the Commissions implementation of its reforms of the expert groups system."
See: Case OI/6/2014/NF: Improving expert group transparency (European Ombudsman, link)
FRANCE-EGYPT: Sale of surveillance technology to Egypt: Paris Prosecutor asked to open a criminal investigation (Cairo Institute for Human Rights, link):
"Paris, 9 November 2017 This morning, FIDH and the Ligue des Droits de lHomme, with the support of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, filed a criminal complaint relating to the potential role via the sale of surveillance technology of the French company Amesys (renamed Nexa Technologies) in widespread oppression under the Al-Sissi regime. The complaint was filed with the specialised unit responsible for prosecuting crimes against humanity in France. This request for the opening of a criminal investigation for complicity to torture and enforced disappearance follows revelations published by the newspaper Télérama, and supplements the investigation already underway on the sale of surveillance technology to Gaddafis Libya."
EU: Report: Europe in a Changing Global Order: Militarization and the New EU Global Strategy for Security and Defence
"...this preliminary work will try to capture some of the essential elements characterising the key issues of security and defence at the European level in the aftermath of the new EU Global Strategy and its implementation. Moving from some preliminary considerations about the above mentioned strategy as well as the NATO Warsaw Summit implications for EU-NATO relations, it will provide a brief description of the Common Security and Defence Policy decision-making process and its main actors. A special chapter will be dedicated to an overview of the military structure of the EU, in an attempt to give a glance at this extremely complex interconnection of agencies and body, see how they work and understand the level of interconnection with the EU institutions and the Member States."
SPAIN: Navigating the Catalan Crisis: Independence in Context (History Workshop, link):
"Catalonia, a nation without a state, has embarked on a political project of separation from Spain. By late October, this led to a unilateral declaration of independence, followed by the removal of its government and direct rule imposed from Madrid. Strikingly, the turn to secession is an entirely new one and, as late as 2005, support for independence rarely rose above 15 per cent. Even this figure is higher than that found decades earlier, leading us to reiterate that the turn to independence within important sectors of the Catalan political community is an overwhelmingly recent development. Part of the present impasse can be explained by the fact that support for Catalan independence has not reached a clear 50% of the population, which has partly facilitated its current defeat by Madrid.
However, the apparent newness of Catalan independence does not mean that Catalonia has been an island of tranquillity. The events of September to November 2017 can only be accounted for by the intensification of a low intensity conflict between the region and the authorities in Madrid. While it would be simplistic (and ahistorical) to claim that Catalonia has been trying to free itself from Spain for centuries, we can certainly detect a near permanent dispute of varying degrees of intensity between Catalonia and the rest of Spain. The key point of contention has been the location of political power: Barcelona or Madrid."
UK: Home Office: Forthcoming consultation on our response to the CJEU judgment on data retention (10 November 2017, pdf):
"We will shortly launch a public consultation on the governments response to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment on data retention.
On 21 December 2016 the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its judgment in a challenge to the UKs legislation governing data retention, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA). The judgment set out the safeguards that need to be in place in order for a data retention regime to be consistent with EU law. DRIPA has since been replaced by Part 4 of IPA and the government accepts that amendments will be required to the IPA in response to the judgment.
The government will shortly be launching a consultation on its proposed response to the judgment. Given the importance of communications data to preventing and detecting crime, the proposed response is intended to ensure that the police and other public authorities can continue to acquire such data in a way that is consistent with EU law and our obligation to protect the public. At the same time, the government will consult on the draft statutory code of practice on communications data, to be issued under the IPA. The consultation and associated documents will be available on GOV.UK soon. The following documents provide useful background ahead of the launch of the consultation:"
German police cooperation with Egypt: New security agreement takes effect (Matthias Monroy, link):
"The German Federal Government expresses its concern about the human rights situation and crackdown on civil society in Egypt. Despite this fact, the two countries have begun to implement a new security cooperation agreement, and in August they concluded another agreement regarding cooperation in the area of migration. According to the Federal Foreign Office, these measures help promote the values and principles of the rule of law. "
NORTHERN IRELAND: Who can solve the deep problems in the peace process? (The Detail, link):
"WERE living in strange times.
Almost 20 years after the peace process brought one of the worlds longest-running conflicts to an end, it's clear that something is seriously wrong.
After a screening of the acclaimed documentary No Stone Unturned in Belfast last night, the film's producer Trevor Birney was joined on a discussion panel by Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire.
Dr Maguire discussed the political deadlock over replacing the "fragmented, ad hoc, underfunded" justice system that is failing to resolve the thousands of killings linked to the violent legacy of the Troubles.
"I am absolutely convinced that we need a better way of dealing with the past," he told the audience."
EU: Member State data retention regimes - what's changed? The answer is very little so far
The mass data retention across EU Member States was declared unlawful in 2014 by the ECJ saying it had been so since the day it was adopted in 2006. Since then a second case in 2016 confirmed the court's findings. Any rational person might have asked what has been the response of the Commission, which is responsible for upholding the rule of law, over the past 3 years?
A review by Eurojust summarises current national laws and the observations of law enforcement agencies (LEAs)in answer to a questionnaire: Data retention regimes in Europe in light of the CJEU ruling of 21 December 2016 in Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 - Report (LIMITE doc no:10098-17, pdf)
EU: London, 4 December 2017: Stop the criminalisation of human rights defenders (IRR, link):
"To mark the publication of IRRs new research into the hostile political and legal environment facing humanitarian actors who seek to protect life at Europes sea and land borders, the IRR invites you to a wide-ranging discussion of how EU policies are shrinking the space for humanitarian action while feeding the far Right."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-20.11.17)
POLAND: A Constitution of Fear (Verfassungsblog, link):
"The constitutional manifesto of the Polish authoritarians is well known and might be conveniently summarised as follows: There is one culprit behind the alleged Polish enslavement by the EU and rampant injustice that has defined Poland post-1989. It is the Constitution of 1997, written for and by the new post-solidarity elites that have seamlessly mingled with the ex-communists to oppress hard-working true Poles. This Constitution is a source of our predicament because this is not the true Polish Constitution. Rather it is a document that betrays Polish history, belittles Poles and falls way short of capturing the true and prideful Polish spirit."
ESTONIA: Flaw crippling millions of crypto keys is worse than first disclosed (Ars Technica, link):
""A crippling flaw affecting millions?and possibly hundredss of millions?of encryption keys used in some of the highest-staakes security settings is considerably easier to exploit than originally reported, cryptographers declared over the weekend. The assessment came as Estonia abruptly suspended 760,000 national ID cards used for voting, filing taxes, and encrypting sensitive documents. (...)
On Friday, Estonia's Police and Border Guard suspended an estimated 760,000 ID cards known to be affected by the crypto vulnerability. The country's prime minister, Jüri Ratas, said the move came as officials learned the weakness affected cards and computers around the world, not just Estonian IDs. The wider-than-expected coverage, he said, "brought the safety flaw to the attention of international cybercrime networks which have significant means to take advantage of the situation.""
EU-UK: Brexit & the European Arrest Warrant: How Will Change Affect the Interests of Citizens? (ECAS, link):
"The UKs decision to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 and the triggering of Article 50 TEU to start the process on 29 March 2017 were decisive moments in British and European history, with great consequences for the relationship and coordination between the two across many policy areas."
See: Report (pdf)
CoE: Anti-torture committee issues a report on Spain (link):
"Anti-torture committee acknowledges some positive steps in Spain, but calls for ending fixation in prisons and juvenile centres.
In a report on Spain published today, the Council of Europes Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) acknowledges a number of positive developments in police detention and prisons, but is highly critical of the continued resort to the measure of mechanical fixation of persons held in prisons and in centres for juvenile offenders. (See also the Spanish version of the report as well as its summary in English and Spanish)".
EU: Public Consultation on extending the scope of the Visa Information System (VIS) to include data on long stay visas and residence documents (link)
EU: Council: Adoption of Entry-exit system: Regulation establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data and refusal of entry data of third-country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes, and amending the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement... (pdf) and Amending the SIS Regulation (pdf)
U K: Police Spies out of lives (link):
"20th November 2017 New Undercover Policing Inquiry hearings two years after historic apology women affected demand no more delays
Today the first Undercover Policing Inquiry hearings under new chair John Mitting open, exactly two years after eight women who were deceived into relationships with undercover police officers received a historic apology from the Metropolitan police."
UK: MI5 and police cleared of any liability over terror attacks in UK (Guardian, link):
"Inquiries overseen by independent barrister will make series of recommendations including devising algorithm to spot terrorists"
Turkish capital Ankara bans all gay rights functions (BBC News, link):
"The Turkish capital Ankara has banned all gay festivals, screenings, forums and exhibitions on security grounds. The governor's office said on Sunday that it also wanted to protect public order and sensitivities.
The announcement follows a move last week to ban a festival of German-language gay films also due to have been held in the city. Homosexuality is legal in Turkey but activists say homophobia is rampant."
The battle for control of data could be just starting (tech crunch, link):
"Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon happily take our data in exchange for convenience, lower prices or free services, but individuals and businesses are beginning to understand the value of controlling their data instead of simply handing it over to the worlds largest technology companies. The battle to regain control over that data could be starting in earnest."
Germany bans children's 'smart' watches over surveillance concerns (Guardian, link):
"Telecoms regulator urges parents to destroy the devices, which have been used to listen in on classroom lessons (...)
Germanys telecoms regulator has banned the sale of smart watches that can be used by parents to check on their children, saying the devices violated Germanys strict surveillance laws.
Via an app, parents can use such watches to secretly listen to a childs environment. They are to be seen as a prohibited transmitter, Jochen Homann, president of the agency, said in a statement. Our investigation has also shown that parents have used the watches to listen to teachers in the classroom."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe 14-17.11.17)
Greece: Court rules on suspicious death
Court judgment: Inadequate investigation into the death of a phone operator employee allegedly linked to a high profile wiretapping affair (Press release, pdf) and Judgment: full-text (pdf):
"The Court considered that the Greek authorities had failed to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the death of Costas Tsalikidis."
See: Greece: Hanging linked to phone tapping revisited after EU ruling (ekathimerini.com, link):
"An appeals court prosecutor in Athens has asked to see the case file concerning the death of a telecoms engineer in 2005 shortly before the outbreak of a scandal involving the wiretapping of Greeces political leadership, to ascertain whether it needs to be reopened.
The decision to revisit the case came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) deemed on Thursday that Greece had failed to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of former Vodafone employee Costas Tsalikidis, 38, who was found hanged in his apartment."
Commission: Migration progress reports
The European Commission has published the latest reports on: European Agenda on Migration: Consolidating progress made (Press release, pdf): Includes:
"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "We are exiting crisis mode gradually"
EP ready to start talks with EU governments on overhaul of Dublin system (Press release, link):
" Country of entry no longer automatically responsible for processing asylum applications
- All EU countries should accept their fair share of responsibility for hosting asylum seekers
- Those that refuse could lose EU funds."
Facebook 'must share information' on Russian interference in UK (Guardian, link):
"Facebook is under pressure from academics and parliamentarians to reveal what it knows about Russian attempts to manipulate British politics, as research efforts flounder against the companys locked-down social network."
EU: European Parliament: Dublin reforms: Report: on the proposal for a regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless persons (pdf)
The European Parliament has adopted its mandate, negotiating position, prior to entering secret trilogue meetings with the Council of the European Union. There are fears that, backed by the European Peoples Party (centre-right) the Orban-like proposals of the Commission will be reinstated.
UK: Home Affairs Select Committee: Home Office delivery of Brexit: customs operations (pdf):
" the Home Affairs Select Committee raises serious concerns about the Governments contingency planning for post-Brexit customs operations and warns major border disruption could ensue unless urgent action is taken."
And see: Security warning over Brexit customs plans (BBC news, link)
MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad (euobserver, link):
"MEPs prepared on Wednesday (15 November) the first step towards a sanctions procedure against Poland over concerns regarding the nationalist government's clampdown on the independence of the judiciary and breach of fundamental EU values.
In a resolution adopted by 438 to 152 votes, with 71 abstentions, the lawmakers condemned the "serious violations" of the rule of law in the country and said that the so-called Article 7 procedure should be launched by member states."
See also: Rule of law and democracy in Poland at risk: Parliament ready for next steps (EP press release, link)
Corporate Observatory Europe: EU lobby register still failing to live up to transparency promise (link):
"Dodgy data and missing lobby organisations still characterise the EUs voluntary lobby transparency register. Corporate Europe Observatory has now submitted a series of complaints on specific entries, and urges decision-makers to get tough on those who break the rules."
UPD Dutch journalist Sakir Khader arrested in Greece along with German cameraman, photographers (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"A Dutch journalist has been arrested in Greece while reporting on refugees who crossed into the country via Turkey. Along with Dutch journalist Sakir Khader, arrested have been also a German cameraman and two Iraqi photographers with German passports.
Sakir Khader, a reporter with current affairs show Brandpunt in the Netherlands, was detained on Monday morning in the border area between Greece and Turkey (...)
Along with the refugees, he was detained by Greek police, reportedly on charges that he had trespassed into a military zone."
UN human rights chief: Suffering of migrants in Libya outrage to conscience of humanity (link):
"GENEVA (14 November) The UN Human Rights chief today expressed dismay at the sharp increase in the number of migrants held in horrific conditions at detention facilities in Libya, saying the European Unions policy of assisting the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return migrants in the Mediterranean was inhuman.
The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity, Zeid Raad Al Hussein said. What was an already dire situation has now turned catastrophic.
The detention system for migrants in Libya is broken beyond repair, said Zeid. Only alternatives to detention can save migrants lives and physical security, preserve their dignity and protect them from further atrocities.
The international community cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions in detention, he said,"
EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (LIMITE doc no: 13347-17, 126 pages, pdf): The Council working on its negotiating position. There are 225 Footnotes:
"Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."
EU cooperation on security and defence (Council, link) and see: Council conclusions on security and defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy - Council conclusions (13 November 2017) (pdf):
"The Council welcomes today's common notification by Member States on their intention to participate in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which includes the list of more binding commitments they undertake in accordance with the Treaty provisions, in the areas of defence investment, capability development and operational contribution, as well as proposals for the governance. This represents a historic step forward in the interest of European security and defence." (...)
The Council welcomes the progress on the implementation of the European Defence Fund, in particular the launching of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the swift examination of the Commission's proposal for a Regulation on a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)." [emphasis added]
See: Commission Press release: Defence: European Commission welcomes steps towards Permanent Structured Cooperation (pdf):
"The Commission strongly welcomes the move by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden towards launching Permanent
Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on defence, by signing today a joint notification and handing it over to High Representative Federica Mogherini."
See also: The Military-Industrial Complex Is Fundamentally Changing the European Union (The Nation, link): "EU leaders are planning a massive arms buildupand, amid panic over terror attacks, the critics have been marginalized."
CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights: Draft Protocol amending the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108) and its Explanatory Report (pdf):
"if there continue to be disagreements beyond the end of 2017, the Assembly believes it would be time for the Committee of Ministers to accept that it had proved impossible to amend Convention 108. In such a situation, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers initiate without delay new negotiations for the prompt adoption of a new Convention based on the draft amending protocol already approved by the ad hoc Committee on data protection (CAHDATA)."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-13.11.17)
EU-USA Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials meeting, Tallinn
EU-USA Senior Officials discussed Justice and Home Affairs in Tallinn on 20-21 September: Outcome of proceedings of the EU - US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting (LIMITE doc no: 12467-17, pdf).
Institute for Race Relations (IRR): EU member states, in criminalising humanitarians, are feeding Europes far Right (Press release, link):
"The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today research showing that EU member states are using laws, aimed at traffickers and smugglers, to criminalise those acting out of humanitarian motives.The rhetoric of EU politicians and its border force, Frontex, may be fuelling far-right extremism, IRR warns. It has written to the European Commission (EC) urging it to reassert support for humanitarian values.(...)
in the final analysis, the reason that the Institute of Race Relations has taken up this issue is because we feel that when protecting us from them becomes more important for European ministers, civil servants and border police than saving lives, it is time to name such policy and practice as state racism."
See: Report (link) and Trafficking laws target refugee aid workers in EU (Guardian, link)
3rd meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group, 13 November 2017 in Bern (link):
"The Central Mediterranean Contact Group facilitates the exchange of information among European and African countries affected by migration via the Central Mediterranean route. The Contact Group was established in Rome in March 2017 at the initiative of Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti. (...)
The Ministers of Interior of Algeria, Austria, the Chad, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia and the Minister for Malians Abroad and African Integration, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and the Representative of the European External Action Service, as well as the Minister of Interior of Estonia holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union gathered in Bern on 12 and 13 November 2017 in the framework of the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group."
See: Declaration of Intent (pdf)
Interview with Edward Snowden 'There Is Still Hope - Even for Me' (Der Spiegel,link):
"In an interview, whistleblower Edward Snowden discusses his life in Russia, the power of the intelligence apparatuses and how he will continue his battle against all-encompassing surveillance by governments."
ECCHR: Rejections and Returns: The EU-Turkey Statement and its consequences for refugees in Greece, Turkey and Germany (pdf): Monday, 20 November, 19:00 21:00. ECCHR, Zossener Straße 55-58 (Aufgang D), 10961 Berlin:
"The EU-Turkey Statement from March 2016 stipulates that [a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey. Under the adjusted procedures, people who arrive on the Greek islands are subjected to accelerated border procedures and an initial admissibility test on their asylum claim. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO), an EU agency, is in charge of recommending a decision to the competent Greek Asylum Service. Based on the dubious assumption that Turkey is a safe third country, many refugees currently face the risk of being deported back there."
White nationalists call for ethnic purity at Polish demonstration (Politico, link)
"Around 60,000 people marched in Warsaw on Independence Day, some chanting anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-gay slogans."
EU: Returns and lack of readmission agreements highlight reluctance of African states to comply with EU demands
In a letter to Claude Moraes (pdf), Chair of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE), the Director-General of of Migration and Home Affairs sets out the present situation of readmissions.
Despite the Commission's attempts to set up return and readmission agreements, especially in Africa: "Most third countries however, do not want to engage in negotiations on readmission agreements mainly due to internal political considerations, as such agreements can be a source of public hostility."
Spanish governing party refuses to abolish "hot returns" ruled illegal by ECHR
The plenary meeting of the Spanish Senate (the lower house of parliament) this Wednesday voted against a proposal that would ban the "hot returns" (immediate expulsions without procedure) at the Spanish borders that were recently condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the N.D. and N.T. case.
Commission wants to extend law for police data access to the US (euractiv, link):
"The European Commission hopes to set an international standard with its upcoming proposal to give police easier access to data from tech companies, and has already asked the United States to cooperate.
A senior Commission official said on Thursday (9 November) that the EU executive suggested creating a new EU-US arrangement that would allow police to access data from companies that may be located in other jurisdictions. EU officials made that proposal to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June, during a joint EU-US justice ministerial meeting in Malta last June, but have not yet received a response from Sessions office.
At the end of January 2018, the Commission will propose new rules that will apply within the EU on the access to so-called e-evidence, which will make it faster and easier for law enforcement authorities to obtain data from other member states."
Commission conducting review of all foreign data transfer deals (euractiv, link):
"The European Commission is reviewing the 12 data transfer agreements it has with countries outside the bloc, as part of a scrutiny process that could potentially result in the deals being axed.
A senior Commission official in charge of negotiating those data agreements said that the EU executive has been intensely analysing all 12 of the deals by asking foreign governments for written clarification on their privacy safeguards and by sending experts to visit those countries.(...)
We believe in the importance of these adequacy decisions and we want these adequacy decisions to stand the political and legal test and scrutiny, which he said are clearly more certain than when the deals were inked."
See: Data transfers outside the EU (link) and Commission decisions on the adequacy of the protection of personal data in third countries (link)
UK-BREXIT: House of Commons: Procedure Committee: Scrutiny of delegated legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: interim report (pdf):
"The Bill as it stands makes no provision for amendment to the standard statutory procedures for control and approval of delegated legislation which have been in effect since 1947. There is considerable concern in the House and elsewhere about the scale and scope of the powers claimed to amend existing legislation. (...)
We recommend ways in which the Bill should be amended to provide for a scrutiny structure in this House adequate for the purpose, and we recommend how such a system might operate. In particular we recommend the establishment of a committee to examine the legislative changes the Government proposes and identify those of political and/or legal importance."
EU to sign joint defence pact in show of post-Brexit unity (euractiv, link):
"At least 20 members of the European Union will next week sign up to a new defence pact, heavily promoted by France and Germany, to fund and develop joint military hardware in a show of unity following Britains decision to quit the bloc."
UK pledges easy registration for EU citizens after Brexit (euobserver, link):
"The rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU is one of the key issues in Brexit talks.(..)
EU citizens will have the right to appeal at UK courts if their application is rejected, but the policy paper makes no mention of the European Court of Justice, which the EU insists should be the final guarantor of citizens' rights."
See: UK government: Technical note: Citizens' Rights: Administrative Procedures in the UK (pdf)
European Parliament Study: Monitoring the implementation of EU law: tools and challenges (pdf):
"The paper presents the evolution of the EU enforcement policy as part of the principle of rule of law in the European Union. It provides information on the main actors responsible for the implementation and enforcement of EU law and trends related to the transposition and application of European legislative acts according to the latest information available. Finally, it browses through the different measures within the EU enforcement policy, including the recent developments regarding the use of EU Pilot tool."
EU needs to fund resilience against far-right surge (euractiv, link):
"The EU should support independent media, education and civil society to halt the far-rights erosion of the rule of law and fundamental rights, argues Israel Butler. Israel Butler is the head of advocacy at the Civil Liberties Union for Europe."
ITALY: Account of a serious violation of the law in the hotspot in Lampedusa
- In spite of the ECtHR sentence in the Khlaifa case, arbitrary detention, mass expulsions and denial of the right to asylum continue
CoE: United Kingdom: Court hearing on Snowden bulk interception of external communications (link)
"Later today, a hearing opens at Strasbourgs European Court into three complaints against the United Kingdom, triggered by the leak of the electronic surveillance information by Edward Snowden.
Todays hearing at the European Court of Human Rights centres on the cases of Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom (no. 58170/13),Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Alice Ross v. the United Kingdom (no. 62322/14) and 10 Human Rights Organisations and Others v. the United Kingdom (no. 24960/15).
The complaints concern the bulk interception of external communications by the United Kingdom intelligence services, and the sharing of intelligence between the United Kingdom and the United States of America."
See: ECHR Press release (pdf)
Frances Marine Le Pen stripped of parliamentary immunity over tweets (DW, link):
"The French parliament has lifted far-right leader Marine Le Pen's immunity from prosecution. A judge can now call her in for questioning over a series of tweets."
Security Through Human Rights: New Liberties Report (Liberties.eu, link):
"Today, Liberties published its report Security through Human Rights. The report finds that two commonly used counter-terrorism measures are killing democracy, are ineffective and counter-productive (...)
This background paper is a tool for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working to counter the rollback of human rights standards taking place in the name of counter-terrorism. The document presents an alternative narrative, according to which security can only be protected if human rights standards are properly implemented."
See: Full report (link)
Child immigration detention: Why EU states must cut it out (euractiv, link):
"European governments are treating children like criminals by detaining them because of their migration status. Its time to care for them as the children they are, writes Lavinia Liardo"
European Parliament: Border control: strengthening security in the EU (link): Includes:
"Information-sharing on the return of irregular migrants: To help enforce decisions by a member state on returning an illegally staying non-EU national to his or her country of origin, MEPs also approved:
- an obligation for member states to enter into the SIS all return decisions issued;
- a new alert system will inform national bodies whether the period for leaving voluntarily, during which the person is asked to leave the EU, has expired;
- a requirement for national authorities to inform the member state that launched the alert that a non-EU national has left the EU.
Currently, there is no system in place to automatically provide information on return decisions, which are now shared on a voluntary basis."
Catalonia: upholding the rule of law in the EU (link):
"More than 185 academics, politicians, intellectuals and members of the European Parliament have signed an open letter to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk expressing concern about the manner in which the Spanish government has behaved in relation to Catalonia and the EU's reaction to it. "
UK: News Media Association warns all journalism could be endangered by Lords changes to Data Protection Act (Press Gazette, link):
"The Data Protection Bill threatens the freedom of the press, according to industry body the News Media Association.
The NMA claims that amendments to the Data Protection Bill tabled last week shift the balance away from freedom of expression and towards privacy."
Thousands of Romanians protest against judicial reforms (euractiv, link):
"More than ten thousand Romanians demonstrated in Bucharest on Sunday (5 November) to defend the independence of the judiciary in protest against a government bill that critics say will weaken anti-corruption measures."
Roma policies must tackle anti-Gypsyism (euractiv, link);
"Last month, the European Parliament voted an important resolution aiming to fight anti-Gypsyism, the specific type of racism directed towards Roma, write Ismael Cortes and Anna Striethorst. The resolution is a good first step, but member states must now follow by making decisive commitments to address anti-Gypsyism at the national level."
EU: Libyan Coast Guard accused of causing "at least five deaths" in the Mediterranean
"The violent and reckless behavior of Libyan Coast Guards has caused at least five deaths on the Central Mediterranean Sea this morning, as the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 was called to their first rescue mission by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center. A helicopter of the Italian Navy had to intervene to prevent more fatalities. 58 people are now safe aboard the Sea-Watch 3, despite all efforts, our medical team was not able to revive an infant in our clinic. The Libyan Coast Guards forced a few of the passengers on their vessel and took them back in direction Libya. By interfering in the rescue operation, the Libyans clearly violated international law: The incident took place at 30 nm off the coast, in international waters far outside of Libyan territorial waters.
Probably, nobody would have had to die today if only we had the possibility to operate reasonably in a calm environment. Instead of coordinating the rescue operation with the vessels present such as a ship of the French Navy, the Libyans tried to take as many people as possible back to Libya and accepted the loss of several lives, says head of mission Johannes Bayer. These deaths have to be blamed on the Libyan Coast Guards who have obstructed a safe rescue with their brutal behavior. The responsability is on the side of the European Union, however, who trains and finances these militias. They act in the EUs will. The European governments finally have to draw conclusions from this incident and stop the collaboration with the Libyan Coast Guards. The EU has to stop to rate migration control higher than human rights!"
See: Breaking: Dramatic first rescue operation for Sea-Watch 3 (Sea-Watch, link)
Thousands of Romanians protest against judicial reforms (EurActiv, link):
"More than ten thousand Romanians demonstrated in Bucharest on Sunday (5 November) to defend the independence of the judiciary in protest against a government bill that critics say will weaken anti-corruption measures.
The protesters gathered in front of the government headquarters in the capital and then marched to the parliament chanting thieves.
Protests were also held in dozens of other cities across the country opposing the parliamentary bill that would reduce the powers of the anti-corruption prosecutors office (DNA) and prevent it from investigating magistrates.
I can not remain passive in the face of this attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary, 35-year-old doctor Oana told AFP."
Perpetual war: UKs armed drones to stay deployed beyond campaign against ISIS (Drone Wars UK, link):
"A Ministry of Defence press conference has revealed that as the war against ISIS ends, British Reaper drones are to stay deployed in the Middle East after other UK aircraft return home. As The Times reported
Air Commodore Johnny Stringer, who led the British air campaign against the terrorist group until last month, said that drones and other surveillance aircraft would continue to fly over Iraq and Syria to help local forces guard against the militants returning.'
RAF Typhoon and Tornados, currently based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, will begin returning home in the next six and probably even in the next four months or so, he stated."
GREECE: "Welcome to Greece" - An interview with Olga Lafazani, coordinator of City Plaza (Melting Pot Europa, link):
"Since April the 22nd 2016, the "Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza" is an occupied hotel, managed by a group of activists and refugees, currently home to about 400 migrants. It is located nearby Victoria Square, a meeting place for migrants in Athens, which came to the attention of the news in March 2016 when the police evicted hundreds of people camped there, leaving them without accommodation.
During our stay in City Plaza, we had the opportunity to meet the activists who gave birth to the project and who are still directly involved in the daily life of the squat. Here is an interview with Olga Lafazani, from Athens, who has been working there with the organisation she is part of, since the first day of squatting. Her experience make up the evidence that it is possible to give life to such a project, also providing the chance to understand the ideas, the values and the strengths that characterise it and allow it to survive."
Housing intimidation in Northern Ireland: More than 2,000 incidents but only 32 convictions (The Detail, link):
"DESPITE nearly 2,000 validated incidents of people being forced from their homes in Northern Ireland due to intimidation in the past five years, just 32 convictions for housing intimidation have been secured during a similar time period.
Leading victims and justice groups are calling on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to provide greater transparency on how it is addressing the problem, which has cost the Housing Executive more than £7.5million since 2012.
Information on where the majority of incidents have taken place suggests the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries.
Despite the huge number of incidents and the multi-million pound financial cost, the PSNI has said it does not record housing intimidation in its own right, rather including it in an overarching category encompassing all forms of intimidation offences."
UK-ECHR: Prisoner Voting and Power Struggle: a Never-Ending Story? (Verfassungsblog, link) by Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou:
"On 29 October 2017, it was announced that the UK authorities are planning to revoke the blanket ban on prisoner voting and allow those who are sentenced to under a year in prison to go home for a day and vote. This was done to ensure the compliance with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Hirst No 2 which was delivered in 2005. It took the UK government twelve years to come up with a proposal that would put English law in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
It is very unlikely that this suggestion will have any impact on voting patterns in the UK. Only 8% of the overall prison population in 2016 were inmates incarcerated for 1 year or less. Since, the overall prison population is about 85000, only about 7000 people will potentially become enfranchised as a result of this reform. With over 47 million registered voters this number is really negligible. The UK authorities waited for twelve year to formally comply with the judgment of the Court that does not change much in real terms. Even despite this, the proposed amendment has been severely criticised by the backbench MPs. So, the crust of this problem is not in the real impact of prisoner voting legislation on elections it is in general Euroscepticism of the British political elites. Also, some MPs can use this opportunity to show that they are tough on crime. This rhetoric is also merely symbolic since that disenfranchisement has virtually no deterrent effect."
And see: Prisoner voting changes 'will affect up to 100 inmates' (BBC News, link)
UK: The undercover policing of political protest (CCJS, link) by Helen Mills:
"For decades, hundreds of police officers carried out secret operations against a wide range of political and trade union activists. They assumed fake identities and built relationships with campaigners to infiltrate social justice movements, and then reporting back to senior officers.
This briefing, which foregrounds the voices of those subject to secret political policing, left me with a profoundly uncomfortable feeling about the nature of the country I grew up in and the contemporary democracy we all inhabit. Four decades of secret policing took place without anyone in a position of power or authority taking the view that there was something seriously wrong. The practice continues to this day.
Are we seeing the tips of two icebergs? First, the sheer size and scope of the undercover operations that have taken place, and the time it will take for the full story to emerge. Second, of a resistance by the police bureaucracy, including proven file shredding, to the transparency required for the inquiry to fulfil its purpose.
Those who argue there is a genuine rationale for such operations may begin to wonder whether it will prove possible to hold such activities to account. For others, this will demonstrate that the secret policing of political campaigners fundamentally compromises the democracy we share and as such should not take place at all."
UK: Buried in a government bill, an immigration rule strips millions of their data protection (politics.co.uk, link):
"The government's data protection bill was meant to give people control over their information. Instead it will strip millions of their rights.
The supposed intention of the legislation is to "empower people to take control of their data". But schedule 2.4 removes data protection rights from individuals when their personal information is processed for "the maintenance of effective immigration control" or "the investigation or detection of activities that would interfere with effective immigration control".
In technical terms, that means any government agency processing data for immigration purposes will be free of those pesky data protection obligations we've developed through successive Acts of parliament and signed up to through the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)."
SPAIN: Peaceful protesters ordered to pay fines totalling over 11,000
19 people who peacefully protested against the HOMSEC "security and defence technologies" exhibition in March this year in Madrid have been fined more than 11,000 euros under Spain's 'Gag Law' (Ley Mordaza).
UK: Stafford Scott talks about Undercover Policing at House of Commons (The Monitoring Group, link):
"It seems somewhat ironic that I happen to to be speaking in the House of Commons on the very day the Cabinet Offices Race Disparity Audit report has been released. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to read the report. However, my understanding is the report will be looking specifically into the experiences of Black and Brown communities with regards to health, employment, housing, education and crime & policing.
I do not have to read the report to know the statistics and data contained within it will make for somber reading. The racial disparities that exist within the UK are still evident and clear. I fear the report will only serve to highlight this once again. It would appear that the specific experience of Black & Brown people living in the UK has been lost and buried. This is due to the amalgamation of Black and Brown peoples experiences with the generalised experiences of so-called BAME communities.
Similarly, as our experiences are silenced in wider society we, the Black & Brown participants who make up Group J (the Justice Campaigns) at the Under Cover Police Inquiry are again being marginalised within this very process."
UK: Two dead boys, UK state secrecy and the long fight for transparency on restraint (OpenDemocracy, link):
"Thirteen years ago two boys died after being restrained by staff in English prisons run by G4S and Serco. Both boys had been in care and lived in childrens homes.
The restraint techniques approved for use in child prisons arent open to full public scrutiny. Ive spent five years challenging that. This week the Court of Appeal will hear my case."
EU-AFRICA: European Parliament chief in Tunisia: Africa needs a 'Marshall Plan' to halt migration
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani has recently been in Tunisia, where he called for the EU to finance a 'Marshall Plan' that would back development in Africa in order to prevent "thousands, and soon millions of people" travelling from and towards North Africa and eventually to Europe.
EU: Migrant smuggling and trafficking as crimes against humanity: growing calls for crimes to be heard before International Criminal Court
A recent editorial in Der Spiegel by two legal academics supports the call recently made by a UN Special Rapporteur for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to "consider investigation into atrocity crimes against refugees and migrants where there are reasonable grounds that such crimes have taken place and the jurisdictional requirements of the court have been met." This approach is also being pursued by the EU's military mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, which has sought contacts with the ICC and has produced a "non-paper" on the topic that was recently obtainedby Statewatch.
UK: Concordat on children in custody - guidance for police forces and local authorities in England on their responsibilities towards children in custody (pdf)
See: Home Office (link): "In 2014, the government established a working group on children in custody to address long-standing problems in the transfer of children from police custody to local authority accommodation, which is a requirement under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Children Act 1989.
This group, which included representatives from across government, found that forces and local authorities often misunderstand their statutory obligations and very few have the effective local collaboration in place to ensure that these transfers happen as they should.
In order to improve understanding and help forces and local authorities build effective collaboration at a local level, the working group produced the concordat on children in custody, clearly setting out each partys duties and providing a protocol for how transfers should work in practice."
UK-EU: Home Office: information on Justice and Home Affairs opt-in and Schengen opt-out protocols
The UK Home Office has published three papers explaining the UK's opt-in to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) measures and its opt-out on Schengen issues. These opt-ins and opt-outs were one of the ways in which the UK already had a 'special relationship' with the EU prior to the attempted renegotiations that took place before the Brexit referendum.
HUNGARY: Taboo-breaking film depicts Hungary's grim welcome to Holocaust survivors (The Jerusalem Post, link):
"The time is just after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Two Orthodox Jews disembark from a train at a rural station in Soviet-occupied Hungary and, after offloading a heavy bag, they begin a silent, hour-long walk to a nearby village.
The purpose of their journey is not known. But their arrival in the village sets in motion a series of tragic and violent events, as some residents worry the visitors will expose crimes they committed during the Nazi occupation, with potentially deadly consequences for the perpetrators."
GREECE: Prosecution lawyer attacked by Golden Dawn supporters (Ekathimerini, link):
"A prosecution lawyer in the ongoing trial against Golden Dawn, as well as another woman, were attacked by supporters of the neo-Nazi party on Alexandras Avenue in Athens on Wednesday.
The lawyer, identified as Evgenia Kouniaki, was reportedly getting off a trolley bus when the attack happened, and was headed to Athens police headquarters (GADA), where five protected witnesses are due to testify by video link at the special court in Korydallos Prison near Piraeus where the trial against Golden Dawn is being held.
She was set upon by a group of Golden Dawn supporters who had been passing out flyers near GADA for a planned rally."
EU: Justice commissioner links EU funds to 'rule of law' (EUobserver, link):
"EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova said Tuesday that the EU should consider creating stronger conditionality between the rule of law and the EU cohesion funds geared toward poorer member states.
The Czech commissioner in a speech in Helsinki outlined how the EU executive could better uphold the rule of law across the European Union.
"[...] We need to make better use of EU funds for upholding the rule of law. [...] In my personal view we should consider creating stronger conditionality between the rule of law and the cohesion funds," Jourova said in Helsinki.
Jourova's speech in Finland appeared to be directed partly towards Poland and Hungary."
UK: Gross misconduct hearings after investigation into police surveillance of Janet Alder (ITV News, link):
"Two Humberside Police officers are to face gross misconduct hearings following an investigation into the force's surveillance of Janet Alder, the sister of Christopher Alder who died in custody in Hull in 1998.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has ordered the hearings, after it's investigation found evidence of a case to answer for gross misconduct for two detective sergeants. The report, which was completed in January 2015, was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service who concluded earlier this year there was not enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant.
The IPCC investigation followed a referral by the force in August 2013, following a request from the Home Secretary that all police forces check their records for evidence of surveillance relating to the investigation into the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent inquiry into his death. Humberside police did not discover any such evidence but their searches revealed evidence of surveillance into Ms Alder and another person."
See: IPCC directs Humberside Police to hold a gross misconduct hearing for two officers (IPCC, link)
SAHEL: EU-backed 'G5 Sahel' security mission starts operations as Europeans hope to stem migration flows
A multinational counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region of Africa is receiving significant financial backing from the EU and recently began operations in an attempt to "counter escalating Islamist insurgencies," with a view to also deal with irregular migration and human trafficking in the region.
UK: The Angiolini Review: hope for families let down by the system (IRR, link):
"Finally, an official report on deaths in police custody which places the experience and perspective of the bereaved families at its heart.
In 2015, the IRR published Dying for Justice, the result of an examination of over 500 cases of BAME deaths in custody which had led to only five prosecutions and not a single conviction of an officer or official, seriously undermining families and communities faith in the police and the criminal justice system. It is heartening to see how closely the conclusions and recommendations of Dame Elish Angiolinis review into deaths in custody, published this week, correspond with our own concerns and findings.
Dame Elishs report is in some respects narrower than ours, covering as it does only deaths in police custody and not in prison or immigration detention, and in some respects it is wider, looking at all deaths, not just those of BAME individuals. She finds that a disproportionate number of people who died following police use of force were from BAME communities, and that such deaths, in particular of young Black men, resonate with the Black communitys experience of systemic racism, reflecting wider concerns about discriminatory over-policing, stop and search, and criminalisation. She notes, too, the wider social and political context, which includes the stereotyping of young Black men as dangerous, violent and volatile, misinformation in the media about the deceased and their family, and the lack of real accountability on the part of the police."
See: Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody (pdf)
GREECE: Refugees protest in Greece for family reunification in Germany (Deutsche Welle, link):
"everal dozen migrants protested in front of the parliament building in Athens on Wednesday, demanding to be reunited with family members in other EU countries after being stranded in Greece.
"Reunite our families," read one sign held by the group of mainly Syrians, who threatened to engage in a hunger strike.
Dalal Rashou, a 32-year-old Syrian, said she has five children, including one in Germany with her husband. "I have not seen my husband, my child, for more than one year and nine months," she said. "I miss him and every day I am here in Greece I cry. I don't want to stay here, I want to go to my husband," she said."
See: Reunite us with our families now! (Hunger Strike, link): " We are more than 4,000 refugees awaiting our transfer to Germany most of which are families who are waiting already more than 18 months in Greece under deplorable conditions. We are women, men and mostly children separated from one or both of our parents, our husbands, our wives."
CATALONIA: Report about the incidents between the 1st and 4th of October 2017: patients attended to during the electoral and latter days as a consequence of the actions of state police bodies (pdf)
During the electoral day of 1 October 2017, as a consequence of the charges by state police bodies, 991 people were attended to and assessed by professionals from SEM (Sistema d'Emergències Mèdiques), CAP (Centres d'Atenció Primària), PAC (Punts d'Atenció Continuada), CUAP (Centres d'Urgències d'Atenció Primària) and hospital centres. Of those, 214 were attended to by the SEM and 777 in health centres across 38 hospitals, 40 CAP and PAC, and 14 CUAP.
Unofficial translation by Statewatch. Original report available here (pdf, Spanish).
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Opinion: Regulation on eu-Lisa (pdf)
EU agencies and bodies act "out of area" under civilian crisis management role
The role of Europol, European Border Coast Guard Agency and Eurogendfor is spelt out in the European External Action Service (EEAS): Priorities for civilian crisis management (LIMITE doc no: 13258-17, pdf): The Strategic framework includes:
In May 2017, the Council underlined the need to enhance the contribution of civilian crisis management to the wider EU response to current and future security challenges, including irregular migration, hybrid threats, cyber security, terrorism, radicalisation, organised crime, border management and maritime security. These key challenges for the EU are tackled by a mix of EU instruments, which could include CSDP." [emphasis added]
Our readers may not be familiar with "Eurogendfor" which also acts "out of area": Cooperation with the European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR) under the Common Security and Defence Policy - Explanatory brief (pdf) and see: EU seeks more prominent international role for European para-military police force (Statewatch database)
UK: HILLSBOROUGH: Home Office: The patronising disposition of unaccountable power A report to ensure the pain and suffering of the Hillsborough families is not repeated The Right Reverend James Jones KBE (pdf):
"In this report I do not pretend to speak for the families. But I have listened to what they have said to me. I urge you to help ensure that those responsible for our national institutions listen to what the experiences of the Hillsborough families say about how they should conduct themselves when faced by families bereaved by public tragedy. I want therefore to begin by inviting you to read these opening examples of what the Hillsborough families have said, in their own words.
I was taken to the mortuary. This was cruel. This was my brother, who I knew inside out; who I had slept with. It was just through a window I asked if I could go in and see him. There was a kerfuffle. They said no, he was the property of the coroner. I said he is not, he is my mothers property.
Police officers visited my mum shortly after the disaster They brought my dads belongings in a bin liner and just tipped them on the floor. They said, What was an old man doing going to a game like that?
And see: Hillsborough report urges change of attitude in authority (BBC News, link)
Macron anti-terror law replaces French state of emergency (DW, link):
"President Emmanuel Macron's signature anti-terror law has come into force after France's two-year state of emergency ended on Wednesday. Critics say the new legislation bears many hallmarks of the emergency decree."
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