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21st year reporting on civil liberties and the state in the European Union (updated 16.7.19)  Editor: Tony Bunyan  Bookmark and Share

July 2019

 EDPB-EDPS joint reply to the LIBE Committee on the implications of the US CLOUD Act

See: ANNEX. Initial legal assessment of the impact of the US CLOUD Act on the EU legal framework for the protection of personal data and the negotiations of an EU-US Agreement on cross-border access to electronic evidence (10 pages, pdf)

Greek Council for Refugees: To the Supreme Court Prosecutor: Complaint on Push-Back Incidents in the Region of Evros during the months of April - June 2019 (pdf):

"Complaints during the past two years

For the past two years, complaints on push-backs from the region of Evros have continuously been brought to our attention. We are aware that, at least, three such complaints have come to the prosecuting authorities’ knowledge
(...)

Incidents against Turkish citizens during the past 2 months:

Lately, however, and at least from 27-4-2019 and onwards, GCR has received continuous complaints on push-backs perpetrated against primarily Turkish nationals, cited."

Italy seizes 'combat-ready' missile in raids on far right (Guardian, link)

"Anti-terrorism police in northern Italy have seized an air-to-air missile and other sophisticated weapons during raids on far-right extremist groups.

Three people were arrested, two of them near Forli airport. Neo-Nazi propaganda was also seized.

The raids were part of an investigation into Italian far-right involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Turin police said":

Black undercover officer who spied on Stephen Lawrence campaign named - Police spy pretended to be leftwing and anti-racist campaigner for four years (Guardian, link):

"The fake identity of a black undercover police officer who spied on the justice campaign led by the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has been officially revealed.

The officer, who used the name Anthony Lewis, pretended to be a leftwing and anti-racist campaigner for four years.

During his covert deployment, Lewis gathered “quite a lot” of information about the campaign run by Doreen and Neville Lawrence to try to persuade the police to properly investigate the racist murder of their son, according to an official report."

Former German spy chief causes alarm by sharing far-right tweets - Critics question judgment of Georg Maaßen for spreading ‘lies and extremist agitation’ (Guardian, link):

"When he was in charge of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maaßen warned of how easy it was for people to be led astray by “disinformation” and “clumsy fake reports” on the internet.

But since his dismissal from office last September, the former spy chief’s behaviour on social media has raised questions over his own ability to distinguish conspiracy theories from truthful reporting, and sparked a debate about the neutrality of the powerful intelligence agency during a period in which a resurgent far right marched over several days in the city of Chemnitz."

Anti-separatist Spanish MEPs dominate liberty committee (euobserver, link):

"The new Spanish leadership overseeing the European Parliament's powerful committee dealing with rule of law and rights, known as Libe, are staunch opponents of Catalan secession."

EU-USA Justice and Home Affairs meeting focuses on "battlefield information and PNR", migration and border policy, and access to electronic evidence

Outcome of proceedings of the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting (Bucharest, 19 June 2019) (LIMITE doc no: 10430-19, pdf)

German Airports: Face recognition now also for children (link):

"When crossing an EU external border, all travellers will soon have to provide biometric data. This leads to long waiting times and border controls are therefore becoming increasingly automated. This will first benefit people who have already stored facial images on the chip of their „ePass“.

The German Federal Police is extending the use of so-called "eGAtes“ to children. Since the beginning of the holiday season in Germany, the "EasyPASS“ technology used there has been activated nationwide for persons aged 12 and over."

A Political Murder and Far-Right Terrorism: Germany’s New Hateful Reality (New York Times, link):

"The death threats started in 2015, when Walter Lübcke defended the refugee policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel. A regional politician for her conservative party, he would go to small towns in his district and explain that welcoming those in need was a matter of German and Christian values.

Hateful emails started pouring in. His name appeared on an online neo-Nazi hit list. His private address was published on a far-right blog. A video of him was shared hundreds of thousands of times, along with emojis of guns and gallows and sometimes explicit calls to murder him: “Shoot him now, this bastard.”

And then someone did."

And see: German far-right group 'used police data to compile death list' - Activists linked to military and police suspected of preparing terror attack, reports say (Guardian, link) and Not All Terrorists Want to Claim Responsibility for Attacks (Fair Observer, link)

CoE: Invitation to comment by 19 August 2019: The draft recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the human rights impacts of algorithmic systems (link)

ALBANIA: Tirana hosts Europol’s first liaison office in the Western Balkans (Europol, link):

"Europol’s new liaison bureau in Tirana (Albania) was officially opened today, 11 July 2019, in the presence of the General Director of the Albanian State Police, Ardi Veliu, EU Ambassador to Albania, Luigi Soreca, and Europol Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle. Albania is the first country in the Western Balkans to host a Europol liaison office and this opening highlights the importance of Albania and the Western Balkans as partners for Europol and the EU."

See also: Ministerial statement on "migration challenges" keeps focus on control measures (Statewatch News)

MEPs shut out nationalists from key posts (euractiv, link):

"MEPs from the nationalist Identity and Democracy (ID) group have been excluded from the last EU key posts left in parliamentary committees. Hungary’s Fidesz and Poland’s Law and Justice have also been partially subjected to the cordon sanitaire imposed by the pro-European majority."

CoE: Bulgaria: urgent steps needed to improve foreigners’ healthcare (link)

"The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) in its new report published today praised certain improvements in the conditions and treatment of foreigners detained under aliens legislation in the establishments visited in December 2018, but called for urgent measures to improve the poor state of healthcare services and to facilitate effective communication of detainees within the establishments and with the outside world. The response of Bulgarian authorities (also available in Bulgarian) outlining the measures taken to implement the CPT recommendations has been published together with the report."

FRONTEX: Migratory situation in June – Arrivals in Europe rise slightly (link):

"The Eastern Mediterranean remained the busiest migratory route into Europe with nearly 4 000 detections in June 2019*

Libyan lawyers: EU is complicit in torture (euobserver, link):

"The European Union has for years adopted a policy of containment, training the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea.

Those intercepted are then brought back to Libya and placed in detention centres that are run by DCIM under the GNA's Ministry of Interior.

There has been no shortage of reports that recount the violence and torture refugees and migrants face in these centres.

Yet, unfazed, EU policy continued to support the Libyan coastguard, turning a blind eye to what happens after those intercepted are returned to Libya."

European Data Protection Board (link):

"Twelfth Plenary session: Guidelines on Video Surveillance, Implications of the US CLOUD Act, Opinion on SCCs for processors under Art.28.8 by DK, Opinion on Accreditation Criteria for monitoring bodies of Codes of Conduct by AT, Opinion on the competence."

Judges Depending on Judges (verfassungsblog.de, link)::

"As commentators on this blog and elsewhere have rightly noted, since the beginning of 2018 the CJEU has finally been putting flesh on the bones of the EU principle of judicial independence. Most recently, the Court has been widely praised for its ruling against the Polish attempt of removing the, presumably, disloyal judges by a general measure of lowering their retirement age from 70 to 65.

While the decision is indeed praiseworthy, it is nevertheless necessary to emphasize its notable doctrinal lacuna with potential negative practical implications – particularly in those EU member states with a weak democratic and rule of law tradition, a low degree of legal and political culture as well as with a small and tightly-knit legal elite."

Orban ally's bid to chair EP committee in trouble (euobserver, link):

"Efforts to give a Hungarian Fidesz party member a senior post on the European Parliament's committee dealing with immigration and law were suspended on Wednesday (10 July).

Although still in the running, Fidesz member Balazs Hidvegi was hoping to secure a vice-chair seat on the civil liberties (Libe) committee following a vote on nominations."

Spanish security company spied on Julian Assange’s meetings with lawyers (link):

"EL PAÍS has had access to video, audio and written reports showing that the WikiLeaks founder was the target of a surveillance operation while living at the Ehttps://euobserver.com/opinion/145412cuadorian embassy in London.(...)

Julian Assange was spied on 24 hours a day during the time that he spent at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he took refuge for seven years."

Internal security in the EU: „Moving from data collection to data connection“ (link):

"The European Union intends to further strengthen operational cooperation and exchange of information between police authorities. The focus will be on upgrading Europol, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.(...)

The proposal would also integrate decentralised systems into the „interoperability model“. The Romanian Presidency paper describes this as „moving from data collection to data connection“. Among other things, the Prüm Treaty is mentioned. All Member States of the European Union agreed there to allow mutual consultation of national fingerprint and DNA databases. Norway and Iceland are also taking part, and Switzerland recently also decided to join."

Finnish presidency activities on internal security kick off with informal COSI meeting at Europol (link):

"The informal meeting of the Council’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) at Europol today marks the start of internal security-related activities of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. This is the first time an informal COSI meeting has been co-hosted by an EU agency, which also honours the 20th anniversary of Europol.(...)

The delegations will discuss the following topics:

- the future direction of internal security in the EU;
- hybrid threats and internal security;
- 20 years of Europol – what is next?"

UK’s surveillance powers to be considered by Europe's highest human rights court (AI, link):

"On Wednesday (10 July), the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights - the court’s highest body - will hear arguments from Amnesty International, Liberty, Privacy International and other human rights organisations from four continents over the unlawfulness of the UK’s bulk surveillance practices."

ECHR: Press release (pdf)

"The European Court of Human Rights will be holding the following two hearings in July 2019:

Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 58170/13, 62322/14 and 24960/15), which concerns complaints by journalists, individuals and rights organisations about three different surveillance regimes: (1) the bulk interception of communications; (2) intelligence sharing with foreign governments; and (3) the obtaining of communications data from
communications service providers;

Centrum för rättvisa v. Sweden (no. 35252/08), which concerns a complaint brought by a non-profit foundation about legislation permitting the bulk interception of electronic signals in Sweden for foreign intelligence purposes."

Top court hearing puts EU data transfers in jeopardy - Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems is getting his second chance to bring down a major transatlantic agreement (Politico, link):

"On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hear arguments in another case brought by Schrems over claims that the U.S. government does not sufficiently protect Europeans' data when it is shipped across the Atlantic.

"There is fundamentally a clash between surveillance laws in the U.S. and privacy rules in Europe," he said. "We're in a debate about who governs the internet. Europe governs privacy, but the U.S. governs surveillance."

Joint Europol and Eurojust report: Common challenges in combating cybercrime As identified by Eurojust and Europol (pdf):

The report argues that ruling by the Court of Justice ruling on data retention laws as being unlawful since the day the Directive was passed in 2006 hinders law enforcement agencies.

Greek voters kick neo-Nazis out of parliament (euractiv, link):

"The Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which in 2012 elected its first lawmakers, did not manage to pass the 3% threshold and will not be represented in the next Greek parliament.

EURACTIV Greece reported that voters turned their backs on the neo-Nazis, who have now lost their immunity in an ongoing trial into the 2013 murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn supporter. The party is also accused of forming a criminal organisation."

Top court hearing puts EU data transfers in jeopardy - Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems is getting his second chance to bring down a major transatlantic agreement (Politico, link):

"On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hear arguments in another case brought by Schrems over claims that the U.S. government does not sufficiently protect Europeans' data when it is shipped across the Atlantic.

"There is fundamentally a clash between surveillance laws in the U.S. and privacy rules in Europe," he said. "We're in a debate about who governs the internet. Europe governs privacy, but the U.S. governs surveillance."

Italy: Council of Europe Committee takes important steps to protect Roma from forced evictions (AI, link):

"Responding to the decision by European Committee of Social Rights to request the Italian state to take immediate measures to protect the housing rights of Roma, Lucy Claridge, Director of Strategic Litigation at Amnesty International said:"

Centre for European Policy Studies: Artificial Intelligence Ethics, governance and policy challenges (pdf): Report of a CEPS Task Force by Andrea Renda:

" Like an unannounced guest, artificial intelligence (AI) has suddenly emerged from nerdy discussions in university labs and begun to infiltrate larger venues and policy circles around the globe. Everywhere, and particularly in Europe, thedebate has been tainted by much noise and fear, as evidenced in the EuropeanParliament’s resounding report on civil law rules for robotics, in which Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is evoked on the opening page (European Parliament,2016)."

UK: The Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project: Independent Report on the London Metropolitan Police Service's Trial of Live Facial Recognition Technology(pdf) by Proffessor Pete Fussey and Dr Daragh Murray:

A damning review of the police's dangerous experiment with live facial recognition has found it to be unlawful, with serious operational failures.

See: Big Brother Watch response to “utterly damning” review of police facial recognition (link) and see also: 92% false positive rate for police facial recognition system (Statewatch News)

CIA's top recruiter on how the agency finds - and keeps - its spies (CBS News, link):

"In a rare interview, the CIA's chief of Talent Acquisition, Sheronda Dorsey, told host and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell that the agency plans to introduce virtual interviews, which will be conducted via commercially available technologies, in the fall. It is also exploring ways to accelerate its lengthy security clearance process by using artificial intelligence and "other technical means," Dorsey said."

Digitalisation is a threat as much as an opportunity for workers, experts say (euractiv, link):

"While digitalisation offers more flexible forms of work, it can also be a threat to well-being and encroach on work-life balance, policymakers warned during an event organised by EURACTIV.

Parental care is often the first thing that comes to mind when talking about better work-life balance. And digitalisation can certainly ease the process.

“Digitalisation is a great opportunity for all of those who want a different working arrangement,” said Katarina Ivankovic-Kneževic, Director for Social Affairs at the European Commission.

The work-life balance directive entered into force on 1 July. But as member states prepare to implement it, policymakers say the digital revolution also has its pitfalls."

Magid Magid incident highlights EU's race problem, say activists - Green MEP said he was asked to leave as he arrived for first day of European parliament (Guardian, link):

"An incident in which a black British MEP was asked to leave the European parliament on his first day highlighted the lack of racial diversity in EU politics, a campaign group has said.

Magid Magid, a Green MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said he nearly missed the opening of the new legislature in Strasbourg after he was asked to leave the building."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.6-5.7.19)

UN calls for inquiry into Libya detention centre bombing (Guardian, link):

"Attack widely blamed on warlord Khalifa Haftar, which left at least 44 dead, labelled ‘war crime’

The United Nations has called for an independent inquiry into the bombing of a Libyan migrant detention centre that left at least 44 dead and more than 130 severely injured, describing the attack as “a war crime and odious bloody carnage”.

The detention centre east of Tripoli was housing more than 610 people when it was hit by two airstrikes. Libya’s UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, blamed the bombing on the air force of Khalifa Haftar."

What future for the EU’s Charter of Rights after a decade? (euractiv, link):

"To some – Tony Blair’s UK government, at least – the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, originally drafted and endorsed by the EU institutions in 2000, was so controversial that it had to be relegated to an annex to the EU treaties as part of the changes between the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty.

So it is perhaps surprising that relatively few Europeans are aware that the Charter even exists, ten years after it became legally binding.

According to polling by Eurobarometer released in June, only one in ten Europeans have a good idea of what the Charter is."

European Parliament: Impact Assessment and European Added Value work during the eighth legislative term, 2014-2019 (pdf):

"Better law-making is at the same time both a policy objective and a process. As a methodology, its purpose is to design and to decide on regulation that is fit for purpose."

UK: Jury finds restraint by Warwickshire police contributed to death of Darren Cumberbatch (INQUEST, link):

"Today a jury has returned a narrative conclusion at the inquest into the death of Darren Cumberbatch, finding that the police’s restraint of Darren contributed to his death. They also found that ineffective communication and the lack of a meaningful plan in responding to Darren was a serious failure. The medical cause of death was multiple organ failure as a result of cocaine use in association with restraint and related physical exertion.

Darren Cumberbatch was 32 years old when he died in hospital in Warwickshire on 19 July 2017, nine days after use of force by police officers whilst he was experiencing a mental health crisis. He was one of five black men to die following use of force by police in 2017."

EU-Morocco Association Council prioritses cooperation on migration: Joint declaration by the European Union and Morocco for the fourteenth meeting of the Association Council (pdf)

"The two key fields in which specific operational measures will also be carried out are:

• Cooperation on protection of the environment and the fight against climate change...

Enhanced consultation and balanced cooperation on mobility and migration. This consultation will be based on the 2013 Mobility Partnership, in compliance with national powers and the full implementation of Morocco's national strategy on migration and asylum. The management of migration requires joint and sustained efforts by Morocco, the European Union and its Member States in the framework of an approach that is comprehensive, humane and respectful of human rights, and envisages concerted action to deal with the root causes of irregular migration. The prevention of and fight against irregular migration, against trafficking in human beings and in migrants, and their protection, including through communication and by raising awareness of the risks tied to irregular migration, stepping up the management of the sea and land borders, mobility, in particular improving the mobility of professionals, legal migration, return, readmission and reintegration, visa facilitation and the development of mutually beneficial human exchanges, in particular for students, young workers and young volunteers, will form part of the objectives pursued." (emphasis added)

Italian judge says German migrant rescue captain free to go (EurActiv, link):

"An Italian judge said Tuesday (2 July) that Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete was free to go, three days after her arrest for docking with 40 migrants aboard her rescue ship in defiance of an Italian ban.

Rackete was arrested after hitting a police speedboat while entering the port of the southern island of Lampedusa on Saturday in her vessel, which had been banned from docking by Italian authorities.

The move ended a two-week stand-off at sea.

The judge said an Italian security decree was “not applicable in the case of rescues” in the ruling."

On the decree, see: Statewatch Analysis: Italy's redefinition of sea rescue as a crime draws on EU policy for inspiration (pdf)

Spain threatens migrant rescue NGO with €900k fine (Catalan News, link):

"The Spanish authorities have threatened Catalan NGO, Proactiva Open Arms, with fines amounting to 901,000 euros for defying orders confining its migrant rescue ship to port in order to save refugees stranded in the Mediterranean.

In a letter published by the eldiario.es, the head of Spain's Merhcant Marine, Benito Núñez Quintanilla, warns the NGO that it "must not carry out search and rescue operations" without permission from the authorities."

See: El Gobierno amenaza al Open Arms con multas de hasta 901.000 euros si rescata en el Mediterráneo (eldiario.es, link) and background: Spain blocks migrant rescue boat from setting sail (InfoMigrants, link)

UK: "Socialist and anti-fascist" 14-year-old harassed by police after school referred him to Prevent programme: Jack's story (Netpol, link):

"Jack (not his real name), a 14 year old from Derbyshire, had described himself as a socialist and an anti-fascist during a school lesson on the black civil rights movement in America,

...That evening, the school called Jack’s parents to say it had decided the risk of “radicalisation towards terrorism” their son faced was so significant that a referral had been made to Derbyshire’s Safeguarding Children Board, under the auspices of Prevent. The school refused to discuss the matter any further, or provide any documents for “safeguarding reasons”.

...West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit then started to text the child’s mother and continued to send emails and make telephone calls. This persisted even after police had been told that the school had provided incorrect information and even after they were asked to stop. Jack’s mother said she felt “harassed and as if the police were trying to divide our family.”"

German neo-Nazi doomsday prepper network 'ordered body bags, made kill lists' (DW, link)

"Germany's domestic intelligence agency says a group of neo-Nazis compiled a list of political opponents and ordered 200 body bags and quicklime in preparation for a potential collapse of state order, named "Day X."

Most of the more than 30 preppers, who called themselves Nordkreuz (Northern Cross), were associated with Germany's police and military, including several former and one active member of the elite forces unit of the state police of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

...The BfV also believes that the group, which communicated via the messenger app Telegram, was preparing for Day X with "enormous intensity," and had used data from police computers to compile a list of 25,000 names and addresses."

And: German far-right group 'used police data to compile death list' (The Guardian, link): "A group of German rightwing extremists compiled a “death list” of leftwing and pro-refugee targets by accessing police records, then stockpiled weapons and ordered body bags and quicklime to kill and dispose of their victims, German media have reported, citing intelligence sources."

EU: Finnish Presidency agenda highlights digitisation, new technologies and artificial intelligence

The Finnish Council Presidency: Draft agendas for Council meetings, during the second semester of 2019 (the Finnish Presidency) (73 pages, pdf)

EU: Media advisory: informal meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers, 18 and 19 July 2019, Helsinki, Finland (link)

Italy migrant boat: Captain says she disobeyed orders due to suicide fears (BBC News, link):

"The German captain of a charity ship said she disobeyed orders not to dock in Italy because she feared for the lives of the rescued migrants on board.

Sea-Watch 3 captain Carola Rackete apologised to the crew of a patrol boat her vessel trapped against a quayside.

She denied Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's accusation that she had tried to ram the boat in an "act of war"."

CoE: Parliamentary:Putting an end to policies of pushbacks and expulsion of migrants (link):

"PACE today expressed concern at pushback policies and practice, which are in clear violation of the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees, including the right to asylum and the right to protection against refoulement. Parliamentarians are also concerned about “reports and evidences of inhuman and degrading treatment of member States and their agencies in the framework of those pushbacks”, through intimidation, taking or destroying goods of migrants, the use of violence and depriving them of food and basic services."

See: Adopted resolution: Pushback policies and practice in Council of Europe member State (pdf)

European Parliament: Continuation of work in progress from last term (pdf):

"Despite the efforts of the co-legislators, agreement could not be found on a number of legislative proposals before the end of the parliamentary term, and these form a major part of the business that needs to be picked up again in the new term. In order to ensure continuity in its work, therefore, Parliament has adopted rules on how to deal with unfinished files." .

One in four MEPs committed to work on LGBTI equality in new European Parliament (ILGA, link):

"ILGA-Europe is ready to work with the 215 MEPs from 8 different political groups who signed our ComeOut pledge and thus promised to actively protect and progress the human rights of all LGBTI people in Europe and beyond concretely at EU level."


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