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19th year reporting on civil liberties and the state in the European Union (updated 19.2.17)  Editor: Tony Bunyan  Bookmark and Share

February 2017

Refugee crisis: France-Germany Note - mass expulsion to subsistence conditions

- The "return of asylum seekers (without an assessment on the merits) in order to discourage illegal, smuggler-driven migration"

-
Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex comments:

"the plan is that (implicitly) all those entering the EU would be removed to non-EU countries willing to host them, and kept there in conditions which minimally guarantee their survival

Overall, the drafters of this proposal have made no serious attempts to think through its feasibility; and while they make a show of support for human rights principles, their plan demonstrates an underlying contempt for them.".

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-19.2.17)

Germany bans doll for being 'hidden spying device' (The Local.de, link):

" German regulators have banned an internet-connected doll called "My Friend Cayla" that can chat with children, warning Friday that it was a de facto "hidden spying device".

Parents were urged to disable the interactive toy by the Federal Network Agency which enforces bans on surveillance devices.

"Items that conceal cameras or microphones and that are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit data without detection, compromise people's privacy," said its head, Jochen Homann."

UK Snoopers' Charter gagging order drafted for London Internet Exchange directors - Rushed proposal opens rift in internet giants' club (The Register, link):

"London Internet Exchange (LINX) – Europe's major internet traffic hub – faces a growing backlash over changes to its rules that would gag its directors applying secret government orders to monitor networks, under Britain's Investigatory Powers Act.

LINX members – hundreds of internet companies – have been given less than two weeks' warning of an effect of a proposed new LINX constitution (called "memorandum and articles") that would allow secret surveillance orders or requests to be implemented without members' knowledge.!

Trump’s clash with U.S. spy agencies spooks intelligence allies abroad (Washington Post, link):

"European and Middle Eastern agencies that have information-sharing relationships with the U.S., already wary of the Trump team’s perceived closeness to Russian officials, are now watching with increased trepidation as a vicious fight boils over in Washington over intelligence leaks surrounding the Flynn case, current and former officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday.

“Our foreign partners are deeply alarmed and unsettled by what they’re seeing in Washington,” said one senior Republican national security source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

And see: United States asked Canada to help spy on candidates during 2012 French election: WikiLeaks (National Post. link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-17-.2.17): Italy woos Libyan mayors; Tunisia to take intercepted migrants; secret EU report on Libyan state structures; French-Italian "migrant hunt" on trains, and more.

EU-TUNISIA: Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf

According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.

CYPRUS-UK: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus (CPT, link):

"A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out, for the first time, a visit to the United Kingdom Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Akrotiri (Western Sovereign Base Area) and Dhekelia (Eastern Sovereign Base Area) on Cyprus from 9 to 11 February 2017.

The visit provided an opportunity to examine the treatment and safeguards in place for persons deprived of their liberty by the SBA Police and the British Forces Cyprus and to assess the conditions of detention and treatment of persons held in Dhekelia Prison. The CPT’s delegation also briefly assessed the situation and existing safeguards for migrants held within the SBA."

EU: New anti-terrorism powers passed by European Parliament

The European Parliament voted on Thursday 15 February to approve the controversial new Directive on combating terrorism, as well as amendments to the Schengen Borders Code that will mean all EU citizens now have to be checked against the Schengen Information System, Interpol's Lost and Stolen Travel Documents database, and "other relevant databases" whenever they enter or exit the Schengen area.

Workplace surveillance: Your Cubicle Has Ears—and Eyes, and a Brain (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Employers have long wanted to know how their workers spend their time. New office surveillance technology is now making the task far easier.

Bloomberg reports that an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks—anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving.

The raw data is just the beginning. New Scientist recently reported that a startup called StatusToday uses software to crunch information on everything from key card swipes to what applications people are using on their computers to understand how employees—and the business as a whole—operate."

NATO: Juncker calls on Europe to reject the US ultimatum on defense expenditure (New Europe, link):

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded to US Defense Secretary’s ultimatum on Thursday by calling on Europe not to increase military expenditure.

Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference, the President of the European Commission reacted to the ultimatum presented by US Defense Secretary Mattis on Wednesday, who called for more military spending.

“It has been the American message for many, many years {to increase expenditure}. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this,” Juncker said, noting that Germany would not have a budget surplus if Berlin did reach 2% military expenditure.

President Juncker stated that foreign aid should be seen as part of the security spending equation, specifying that “if you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different.”"

See also: Defense Secretary Mattis Tells NATO Allies to Spend More, or Else (New York Times, link) and: Military spending by NATO members (The Economist, link): "Does America contribute more than its fair share?"

UK: Metropolitan Police seek to limit scope of Undercover Police Inquiry

"Scotland Yard is pressing to change the scope of a judge-led public inquiry which is examining the controversial activities of undercover officers who infiltrated hundreds of political groups.

Lord Justice Pitchford, the senior judge heading the inquiry, wants to ask for evidence from all the undercover officers who are still alive, as he is not confident that all the documents relating to their covert operations still exist.

But the Metropolitan Police is arguing that the inquiry may not need to examine the conduct of every undercover officer in great detail."

See: Met presses undercover police inquiry to examine fewer officers (The Guardian, link); see also: Police Try To Water Down Spying Probe (Morning Star, link)

See: Undercover Policing Inquiry (Pitchford Inquiry) documentation: Application for an extension of time by the Metropolitan Police Service (pdf) and PRESS NOTICE: Inquiry Announces Hearing 5 April 2017 (pdf)

UK-GERMANY: Tasers: black and mixed-race Londoners disproportionately targeted; Berlin police to be armed with electroshock weapons

"Black and mixed-race people in London have been on the receiving end of more than 40% of police Taser use since 2014, despite accounting for less than one in six of the capital’s residents, the Guardian can reveal.

Figures obtained by a freedom of information (FoI) request show police are disproportionately targeting people of black or mixed white and black ethnicity with the electric stun guns, raising fresh concerns of racism in the force.

Between January 2014 and September 2016, 1,530 of a total of 3,815 cases – 40.1% – where police drew, aimed or fired Tasers involved people of black or mixed white and black ethnicities. According to the 2011 census, people from those groups comprise 15.6% of London’s population."

See: Black and mixed race people in London more likely to be Tasered (The Guardian, link)

And: Berlin police introduces electroshock weapons for patrolling officers (Mattias Monroy, link):

"In the future, Berlin police officers will carry taser guns when patrolling the districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg. After a test phase of three years, these weapons could be introduced across the board."

See also: UK: More powerful two-shot TASER set to be handed to Cambridgeshire police (Cambridge News, link)

ITALY-FRANCE: "Migrant hunt" on trains between Italy and France violates the law and human rights

What is legal in the push-backs carried out directly on trains by French police? "Basically nothing," says ASGI lawyer Anna Brambilla, who has long been following the situation at the French-Italian border: "The problem is a very complex one, and there are many violations."

EU: Half of former EU commissioners now work as lobbyists (European Post, link):

"A recent Transparency International report shows that 50% of former EU commissioners are currently working for lobbying companies.José Manuel Barroso left the Commission to work as chairman of Goldman Sachs, a few months ago, provoking widespread criticism.

About 30% of former MEPs switched their main working activity from politics to lobbying."

EU: Diagram of databases and information exchange networks for justice and home affairs

As negotiations on new databases and information systems continue - for example the Entry/Exit System and the European System for Travel Authorisation - and as the Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' discusses the interconnection of existing systems, "the General Secretariat of the Council has made an attempt to map the existing (and some future) information exchange instruments, networks and databases in the JHA field."

See: Overview of the information exchange environment in the justice and home affairs area (6253/17 pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Problems loom in Article 50 negotiations over Northern Ireland and Scotland

"Brexit is the most "dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition", the leader of the SDLP has warned.

Colum Eastwood told a UTV pre-election debate that any attempts to introduce a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be "economically and politically damaging"."

See: Brexit the most dangerous thing for Northern Ireland since partition, says Colum Eastwood (Belfast Telegraph, link)

And:

"BRUSSELS is ready to do a separate Brexit deal with Scotland, according to leaked European Parliament negotiating documents.

In a confidential report, seen by The National, senior EU figures say they’re ready to explore how to make the Scottish Government’s proposals for a differential Norwegian style post-Brexit model work.

The only stumbling block for Scotland’s future relationship with Europe is Prime Minister Theresa May."

See: Europe is willing to consider a special deal to keep Scotland in the single market, leaked report shows (The National, link)

USA: I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you. (freeCodeCamp, link) by Quincy Larson:

"A few months ago I wrote about how you can encrypt your entire life in less than an hour. Well, all the security in the world can’t save you if someone has physical possession of your phone or laptop, and can intimidate you into giving up your password.

And a few weeks ago, that’s precisely what happened to a US citizen returning home from abroad.

...What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life."

EU: Meijers Committee: requirements for meaningful democratic scrutiny of Europol

Europol's new legal basis (Regulation 2016/794) will come into force on 1 May 2017. A new note from the Meijers Committee of experts in international immigration, refugee and criminal law examines some requirements for meaningful and effective parliamentary scrutiny of Europol, required under Article 51 of the new Regulation.

"The implementation of Article 51 into practice is currently debated, e.g. in the interparliamentary committee of the European Parliament and national parliaments.1 As specified by Article 51 (1) of the Europol regulation, the organisation and the rules of procedure of the JPSG [Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group] shall be determined.

The Meijers Committee wishes to engage in this debate and makes, in this note, recommendations on the organisation and rules of procedure."

See: Meijers Committee: Note on the interparliamentary scrutiny of Europol (pdf)

UK: Large or Small, Why Protests Still Matter (Netpol, link)

"...whether future protests are large or small, symbolic or more confrontational, it is essential we collectively reassert that the police have no absolutely business making what are always political judgments about their legitimacy.

That is why we are calling for an end to the labelling of political dissent as ‘domestic extremism’. This highly politicised vilification of campaigners, one that the police and the government have found impossible to legally define, is used simply to provide a justification for targeting a particular cause for increased surveillance.

Even if protesting is temporarily disruptive, or if organisers fail to provide advance notice, or if it leads to arrests, it is still a fundamental right, one that has been instrumental to every significant example of political progress and social change anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, all those who label protesters as ‘extremists’ have found themselves, almost always, on entirely the wrong side of history."

EU-LIBYA: Mission impossible? Secret EU report makes clear problems in rebuilding Libyan state

With the EU committed to halting cross-Mediterranean irregular migration, a recent classified report produced by the EU's Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Libya makes clear the difficulties that lie ahead in attempting to establish functioning state institutions in the country, including those willing to comply with European demands for "integrated border management".

See: EUBAM Libya Initial Mapping Report Executive Summary (25 January 2017, 5616/17, EU RESTRICTED, pdf)

Press release: EU border agency targeted "isolated or mistreated" individuals for questioning

Statewatch press release, 16 February 2017. Also available as a pdf

Guidelines produced for border guards participating in an EU joint operation instruct the targeting of "migrants from minority ethnic groups, and individuals who may have been isolated or mistreated during their journey, as such people are often more willing to talk about their experiences."

Written by the EU's border agency, Frontex, the guidelines on the "debriefing of migrants for intelligence purposes" were attached to the 2012 plan for Operation Hera, a Frontex-coordinated joint operation that was launched in 2006 to halt irregular migration by sea from north-west Africa to the Canary Islands.

Debriefing officers were recommended to seek out potential interviewees as soon as possible after arrival: “Once arriving migrants integrate with others in the camp, there is a tendency for them to become more reluctant to cooperate.”

There are no instructions what to do regarding any possible need for medical attention, fundamental rights or legal information for any subsequent claims for protection.

The guidelines are one of many annexes to the Operational Plan 2012 for Operation Hera, which Statewatch has made available here (pdf) with the majority of the censored parts removed. The guidelines have also been reproduced in a more easily-readable format.

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Referendums on EU matters (pdf):

"It argues that we have entered a period of increasing political uncertainty with regard to the European project and that this new political configuration will both affect and be affected by the politics of EU-related referendums. Such referendums have long been a risky endeavour and this has been accentuated in the wake of the Great Recession with its negative ramifications for public opinion in the European Union."

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Priorities for providing advice in 2017: The implementation of our advisory role to the EU legislator (pdf):

"We have identified three areas of strategic importance for this year:

• Ensuring the protection of confidentiality and privacy in electronic communications, in particular in the context of the ongoing review of the ePrivacy Directive 2002/58/EC

• Contributing to a Security Union and stronger borders based on respect for fundamental rights, including the proposals on ETIAS, the revision of SISII and ECRIS, as well as the issue of interoperability between these systems.

• Towards a new legal framework for the EDPS: the proposal for a new Regulation on data protection EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies."

And see: Annex (pdf)

Amnesty International: EU-Turkey "deal": A Blueprint for despair: Human Rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal (pdf):

"The dramatic scenes that saw a million refugees and migrants cross the continent prompted a backlash that continues to echo resoundingly, prompting a raft of measures increasingly focused on blocking future arrivals. Solidarity between EU member states and solidarity with a record global number of refugees has been in short supply."

European Parliament debates on binding anti-terrorism measures (New Europe, link):

"The proposals have already taken the national ministers approval the European Council’s trilogue procedure and await their final ratification by the European legislators."

See Statewatch: Directive on combating terrorism (link)

 Video shows Libyan coastguard whipping rescued migrants (The Times, link):

"Libyan coastguard officers have been accused of regularly whipping and beating the migrants they rescue, and threatening even to kill them — and the claims are backed up by video footage shown to The Times.

It shows heavily armed men in military fatigues repeatedly assaulting the migrants they have fished out of the Mediterranean near Sabratha, west Libya. Dozens of sub-Saharan Africans, including women and children, can be seen cowering in the flimsy boats they set sail in as they are lashed with plastic pipes, kicked in the face and screamed at."

EU: Frontex wants "human intelligence" sources, Europol wants "integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches"

EU agencies Frontex (dealing with border control and returns) and Europol (dealing with police cooperation) have published documents setting out their plans for the coming years. The Frontex 'Programming Document' covers the period 2018-20 and includes a proposal to develop "human intelligence" (HUMINT) sources; Europol's equivalent covers 2017-19, including the agency's work programme for 2017, and states an intention to "deliver feasibility analysis on a concept of integrated fingerprints and face recognition searches."

Hungary hits snags with squad to stop migrants (BBC News, link):

"A new police unit in Hungary, launched to reinforce patrols along the 175km (110-mile) border fence with Serbia, is struggling to find suitable candidates despite a massive recruitment drive.

Many fail the psychology test, one of several designed to weed out inappropriate applicants.

Several YouTube videos with a recruitment theme have disabled all comments. Where comments are still possible, one failed applicant complained that visible tattoos were a criterion for rejection.

Xenophobia is at record levels in Hungary, after two years of anti-migrant rhetoric from the conservative Fidesz government.

Work is continuing on a second, electronic fence parallel to the first, designed to prevent illegal entry. Hungary now accepts only 10 applicants for asylum a day from Serbia, where up to 7,000 asylum seekers are waiting for the chance to move on to western Europe."

Council of Europe: Anti-torture committee visits Cyprus and Albania

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has recently concluded visits to Cyprus and Albania (Council of Europe, links).

EU: The time has come to complain about the Terrorism Directive (EDRi, link):

"Nearly a year has passed since we told that you’d be now complaining about the Terrorism Directive. On 16 February, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will vote on the draft Terrorism Directive. EU policy-makers have meaningfully addressed only very few of the concerns that EDRi and other NGOs have raised since the beginning of the EU legislative process."

And see: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms (Statewatch News Online)

UK: Police pay out at least £22m to informants in five years (BBC News, link):

"Police forces across the UK paid out at least £22m to informants over the last five years, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live.

The Met, the largest force, topped the list, spending £5.2m from 2011-16, the data showed.

One critic said it did not stop the "cycle of crime", however, the National Police Chiefs' Council said it was "a cost effective tactic".

A Home Office spokesman said it was "an operational matter for police".

Informants can get anything from a few pounds for basic information, up to several thousand pounds for helping break up organised crime."

UK: Hate crimes rise by up to 100 per cent across England and Wales, figures reveal (The Independent, link):

"The number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces rose by up to 100 per cent in the months following the Brexit vote, new figures show.

Dorset saw the greatest increase, with the 104 offences logged between July and September 2016 equating to double the total from April to June. Across England and Wales the rise was 27 per cent.

In total, 10 force areas saw rises of 50 per cent or more. Below we publish the full list."

IRELAND: Access to a lawyer: is Ireland turning back the clock? (Fair Trials, link):

"For the last three years, suspects detained by the Gardai (Irish police) for questioning about an offence have enjoyed the entitlement, or so it seemed, to have their solicitor present at all times during their interrogation. This stemmed from the seemingly inexorable tide of European, and UK, cases, in particular those of Salduz and Cadder, and an apparent concession by the Irish state that the presence of a lawyer during questioning was an international best practice norm, even if, as a matter of Irish law, the opposite was the position.

(...)

However on January 18th 2017, a potential bombshell landed. In the case of DPP v Barry Doyle, an appeal against conviction for murder, the Supreme Court, in the person of Judge Charleton with support from Chief Justice Denham, ruled clearly that suspects are not entitled to representation during interviews... His judgement is clear and unambiguous, and has been met with a stunned silence from the authorities. So far, there has been no recorded instance of a suspect being refused the presence of his solicitor despite this clear expression of the law."

See: the judgment: The People (at the suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions) v Barry Doyle (Appeal No. 40/2015, pdf):

"17. The constitutional right is a right of access to a lawyer. The right is one of access to a lawyer, not of the presence of a lawyer during an interview."

And: Supreme Court information note (pdf)

EU: Declassified Council reports on cybercrime (Czech Republic, Hungary Poland) and financial crime (Ireland)

The Council of the EU has recently declassified a number of reports setting out the findings of evaluations on "the practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating cybercrime" in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland; and "financial crime and financial investigations" in Ireland.

UK: Zombies At The Royal Wedding? Protester Arrests And The Right To Liberty (RightsInfo, link):

"On the day of the Royal Wedding in April 2011, police arrested several people in central London, some who were dressed as zombies.

The police thought they might try to disrupt the wedding causing a ‘breach of the peace’. However, after taking their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court the case was dismissed, the judges concluding that the police must be able to reasonably perform their duties.

(...)

The Supreme Court decided, in this case, to throw out the appeal. While they acknowledged people should be protected from arbitrary detention, they said this shouldn’t make it “impractical” for the police to do their job.

The judges added that police would be “severely hampered” if they couldn’t lawfully arrest and detain a person for a “relatively short time” (this means when the time is far too short to take anyone to court). The Court concluded that early release from detention for preventive purpose would not breach the right to liberty if the lawfulness of the detention could be challenged later and decided on by a court."

See: the judgment: R (on the application of Hicks and others) (Appellants) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Respondent) ([2017] UKSC 9, pdf) and Supreme Court press summary (pdf)

Background: Arrests, raids and wedding parades (Statewatch Journal, vol 21 no 2, April-June 2011)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.2.17)

Statewatch Analysis: Opaque and unaccountable: Frontex Operation Hera (pdf) by Vera Wriedt and Darius Reinhardt (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, ECCHR):

Operation Hera is coordinated by the EU’s external border agency Frontex and aims to stop migration along the maritime route from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands. According to Frontex, the operation has been a success: the scale of unauthorised maritime crossings along this route was reduced from five-digit to three-digit numbers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) focused on Operation Hera, seeking to increase transparency about border enforcement operations and to reduce the agency’s unaccountability for human rights violations.

Frontex’s approach to transparency and accountability is evinced again in section 12.10 of the Handbook to the Operational Plan entitled "List of potential fundamental rights violations within Frontex activities". The whole section (including the headline) is completely redacted and could only be uncovered because the index lists the section. The argument that the publication of this section would affect public security seems particularly inappropriate in the context of human rights violations.

In conclusion, the partial concealment of border enforcement procedures underlines the inherent structural accountability and transparency deficits of Frontex specifically and EU agencies in general. Frontex redacted significant parts of the documents provided, including information on potential human rights violations. The provided documents do not give information on the methodologies of the operation in order to ascertain whether Frontex and the involved member states violate national, European and international human rights provisions.

EU -UK: Justice and Home Affairs after Brexit

European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): Briefing Note for the Committee: Contribution on the UK withdrawal from the EU (Brexit) (pdf):

Overall the UK has already indicated in statements to the House of Commons and this Briefing says:

"The UK Government has already made it clear that strong security cooperation with the European Union will be one of its four overarching objectives in forthcoming negotiations3. In that respect, the area of Justice, Home Affairs will be a key component of both the withdrawal agreement and the future EU-UK relationship agreement."

It could be that that in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs cooperation, criminal law and operations and counter terrorism, plus areas of internal and external security special provisions will be made for the UK's continued participation.

See also:

Home Office: The UK’s cooperation with the EU on justice and home affairs, and on foreign policy and security issues (pdf)
House of Lords Select Committee report:
Brexit: future UK-EU security and police cooperation (pdf)

And see: View of the EP Legal Affairs Commitee (pdf)

European Parliament Study: Counter-terrorism cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood (pdf):

"Since the EU adopted its Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005, it has focused on forging closer ties with third countries in the fight against terrorism. Cooperation with the Southern Neighbourhood in this field is particularly important. Every single country within this region is affected by terrorism to different degrees and terrorist attacks on European soil are increasingly linked with the Middle East and North Africa."

Europol chief calls for more online powers for police (France 24, link):

"Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, sat down with FRANCE 24 in The Hague. He says that unfortunately there will "probably" be further terrorist attacks in Europe. He points out that a number of planned attacks have been stopped in time over the past two years and says the sharing of information between EU countries has improved "tenfold" since 2015.

The UK is one of the more active members in terms of sharing and participating in Europol actions. But it is set to leave the EU, which means it will no longer be a full member of Europol either. Europol does, however, have agreements with non-EU members, so Wainwright expects the UK to have "some kind of associate membership".

UK: No 10: Official Secrets Act proposals 'project of previous prime minister' - Downing Street vehemently denies claims it plans to outlaw investigative journalism and public interest whistleblowers (Guardian, link):

"As a row erupted over a Law Commission report which suggested that the maximum penalty of two years in prison for leaking official information might be too low when set against 14 years in comparable jurisdictions, Downing Street on Monday night vehemently denied that it was trying to stifle a free press.

“This is a consultation by an independent body instigated by a previous prime minister,” a No 10 source said. “It will never be our policy to restrict the freedom of investigative journalism or public service whistleblowing.”

See: See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

Satellite location boosts EU emergency services (euractiv, link): "The single European emergency number, 112, can now pinpoint the location of callers, thanks to technological advances funded by the European Union"

Ireland: Data commissioner tells court US law fails to protect privacy (Irish Times, link): "Regulator cites lack of access to effective remedies in US if data privacy is breached."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-13.2.17)

UK: The Guardian view on official secrets: new proposals threaten democracy - Editorial (Guardian, link):

"The Law Commission’s proposals appear tailored to stop the Guardian ever again publishing something like the Snowden files...

it proposes powers that would herald a new journalistic ice age. Anyone that published an intelligence- or foreign affairs-related story based on a leak would be open to criminal charges. Reporters, as well as the whistleblowers whose stories they tell, would be under threat of sentences of up to 14 years, regardless of the public interest and even if there were no likelihood of damage.

This all began in 2015, when the government asked the barrister Professor David Ormerod, the law commissioner for criminal law and evidence, to examine the protection of official data. The date is significant: the Guardian, together with other European and American newspapers, had recently published some of the huge volume of material leaked by Edward Snowden about surveillance techniques...."

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

Vice-versa: Racial profiling in Germany (euractiv, link):

"Germany and the EU: How do they cooperate? Where do their approaches conflict and where are their interests aligned? Euractiv Germany’s new Vice-Versa series continues to take a look at one issue from both a European and federal government perspective."

Austria should improve integrity rules in parliament and independence of the judiciary: anti-corruption report (Council of Europe, link):

"In spite of commendable progress that Austria has made in recent years in domestic anti-corruption policies, those for parliamentarians are still at an early stage. Rules are needed to manage conflicts of interest when they arise and a code of conduct should be put in place to improve poor public perceptions of elected officials, according to a new report by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)."

UK: Union Leaders Call for Hogan-Howe to Explain Shredding (COPS, link):

"We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens.

Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith."

EU: Council of the European Union: Registering ID to combat fraud: Commission Questionnaire on Issues related to Registration of Identity (Doc no: 5633-17, pdf):: Uniform registering of personal IDs:

"Delegations will find attached a questionnaire suggested by the services of the Commission on issues related to Registration of Identity in the context of the follow-up to the Commission's Communication on an Action Plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud (COM(2016) 790 final)."

And see: Commission Communication: COM 790-16 (pdf)

UK: Government accused of 'full-frontal attack' on whistleblowers (Guardian, link)

"Outcry follows plans to radically increase prison terms for revealing state secrets and to prosecute journalists...

Draft recommendations from the government’s legal advisers say the maximum prison sentence for leakers should be raised, potentially from two to 14 years, and the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive information, as well as passing it on."

Also: Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies (The Register, link)

See: Law Commission: Protection of Official Data: A Consultation Paper (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Vulnerable refugees in four measures & Humanitarian visas

Vulnerable refugees - redraft of clauses: Theme: ‘Guarantees for those with special needs’ (LIMITE doc no: 5939-17, pdf) With 68 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"In the framework of the theme "Guarantees for those with special needs", delegations will find attached modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to:

- Articles 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 and 32 of the Asylum Procedures Regulation;
- Articles 11, 17a (3), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the Reception Conditions Directive;
- Articles 22 (4) and (5) and 36 of the Qualifications Regulations; and
- Article 8 of the Dublin Regulation.

The changes in the text are marked as follows: added text is marked in bold and underline and deleted text from the original Commission proposal is marked in bold and single strikethrough."

• Humanitarian visas: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee - Outcomes (LIMITE doc no: 5668-17, pdf): Including Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) (recast):

"AT, supported by FR, SK and CZ, reported that the EP had not yet given up on the idea of the humanitarian visa and strongly invited the Presidency to make it clear during the negotiations with the EP that this was a red line for the Council. Therefore, as long as the humanitarian visa was included in the compromise amendments, they stressed that the Council would not be in a position to agree on anything.

The Chair took note of the comments and said that the Presidency would inform delegations on further contacts with the EP."

EU: Statewatch Briefing: EU-wide biometric databases, “soft targets”, cybersecurity and data protection: Commission’s fourth report on building the ‘Security Union (pdf) by Chris Jones:

At the end of January the European Commission issued its fourth report on "building an effective and genuine Security Union”, examining four topics: “information systems and interoperability, soft target protection, cyber threat and data protection in the context of criminal investigations." The report puts significant focus on the need for “interoperability” between EU and national-level information systems and databases, in order to enable EUwide biometric surveillance, one of the current favourite topics of EU security officials.

See:
European Commission, Fourth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2017) 41 final, 25 January 2017, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.17)

French enquiry finds ‘insufficient proof’ police raped young man with truncheon (France 24, link)

"An initial French police investigation has found insufficient evidence to support allegations that a 22-year-old black man was anally raped with a police truncheon, a police source said Thursday.

The outcome of the internal police inquiry emerged after violence flared in the northern suburbs of Paris and elsewhere in France following the incident involving the man identified only as Theo.

The youth worker required surgery for severe anal injuries after he was allegedly assaulted with a truncheon and also suffered head trauma in a case that has revived the contentious issue of policing in France's deprived suburbs.

The police's own investigation into last Thursday's incident in the gritty suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois has concluded that the injuries were not inflicted intentionally.

...However, an investigating magistrate has charged one of the police officers with rape and is still examining the case."

And see: Two jailed as riots follow alleged police rape (RFI, link): "A French court has jailed two young men for six months for their part in riots that have broken out in response to the alleged police rape of a young black man. The violence continued on Wednesday night."

UK: Mental health patient kept in Norfolk police cell for three days (Eastern Daily Press, link):

"A mental health patient was kept in a police cell for three days in King’s Lynn because no bed could be found for him.

A second person needing mental health treatment was detained at Aylsham police station for 36 hours as the region’s mental health service struggled to find a bed.

The two cases, both from January, raise further concerns about the number of psychiatric beds in Norfolk and Suffolk which have been cut by 136 - around a quarter - since 2012."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.17)

UN: Special Rapporteur releases annual report - "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights" (link):

"UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai is pleased to announce the release of his mandate's third and final annual report, "2016: The Year in Assembly & Association Rights."

The report tells the story of 2016 from the perspective of assembly and association rights and recaps the Special Rapporteur mandate's work during the year. The report also features Kiai's farewell letter, in which he reflects on his nearly six years in the mandate.

When the Human Rights Council created his mandate in 2010, Kiai writes, "the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights - known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century."

"And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War," he adds.""

European Parliament: Eurodac Regulation: Parliament committee report takes hard line on mandatory biometric registration of asylum-seekers

A draft report to be submitted to the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) proposes that Member States should be obliged to introduce "effective, proportionate and dissuasive" administrative sanctions for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants who demonstrate "non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image."

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

"Member States may introduce administrative sanctions, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with the fingerprinting process and capturing a facial image in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. These sanctions shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. In this context, detention should only be used as a means of last resort in order to determine or verify a third-country national's identity."

The draft report proposes changing the word "may" to "shall", thus requiring Member States to introduce sanctions for people who refuse to submit to fingerprinting or the "capture" of their facial image for inclusion in the Eurodac database.

Serbia and Belgium ink police cooperation agreement (b92.net, libk)

"Deputy prime ministers and interior ministers of Serbia and Belgium on Tuesday signed an agreement on police cooperation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.17)

EU: Council of the European Union: No unanimity on the creation of the European Public Prosecuror's Office:

See: European Public Prosecutor Office : Council takes first step towards a possible enhanced cooperation (Press release, pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council registered the absence of unanimity in support of the proposal for a regulation creating a European Public Prosecutor's office (EPPO). This opens the way for a group of at least nine member states to refer the text for discussion to the European Council for a final attempt at securing consensus on the proposal. If this does not prove possible, enhanced cooperation can be considered.

"EPPO has been part of the Treaties since 2009. However, as the last six and a half years have shown its establishment has been elusive. I am positive that the Maltese presidency will achieve concrete results by continuing to act as an honest broker so that those member states who wish to launch enhanced cooperation do so under this presidency”, said Owen Bonnici, Minister for Justice of Malta."
[emphasis added]

EU announces digital deal, but where is the text? (euobserver, link):

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That's what EU diplomats often say when they are asked about the progress of legislative negotiations.

Their PR machines however seem to have a different maxim....

The deal was reached behind closed doors between the European Parliament and national governments meeting in Council, brokered by the European Commission, in a process called trilogue....

But when EUobserver asked around for the actual text, it emerged that there would be another “clean-up meeting” on Friday, and that the final text “should be ready on Monday” – six days after the press releases. A second source said the text "will be ready at the earliest on Friday"."

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

"British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance.

In the months that followed Breen's exclusive, investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The two were stunned when they eventually discovered the scale of the spying.

"It just never even crossed our minds," Breen said in a recent interview in the newsroom of The Northern Echo, in the English market town of Darlington. "I don't know if I was quite naive, but on a regional newspaper you don't expect your local police force to do this."

The Echo's editor, Andy Richardson, said his paper's brush with police spying carries a warning as surveillance laws stiffen up and down the continent ."

And see: Court rules that Cleveland Police acted unlawfully by using telecoms spying powers to find newspaper sources (Press Gazette, link):

"Surveillance court judges have today ruled that a police force’s use of spying powers on two former officers in a bid to find the source of information leaks to journalists was “unlawful”."

Investigatory Powers Tribunal: judgment: Case between (1) Mark Dias (2) Stephen Matthews and The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police ([2017] UKIPTrib15_586-CH, pdf):

"This complaint was brought by two former police officers in the Cleveland Police Force against the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police alleging that the acquisition of their communications data had been unlawful. The Tribunal determined that the applications for and approvals of the obtaining of communications data relating to the claimants were unlawful and must be quashed."

President Radev: Risk to European citizens unless Bulgaria given access to Schengen Information System (Sofia Globe, link):

"There is no way for Bulgaria to effectively protect Europe’s external borders unless it is given access to the Schengen Information System – and the country’s lack of access to the system increases the risk for all European citizens, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said during an official visit to Berlin."

FRANCE: Police officer ‘raped black youth with a truncheon as colleagues watched’ (Metro, link):

"Rioting has broken out in Paris after a police officer was charged with raping a young black man with his truncheon.

CCTV footage allegedly shows four officers attack him, one of them forcing his police truncheon into his anal passage after they stopped him in the street during an identity check.

The man, a 22-year-old youth worker, was so severely injured that he is still in hospital after undergoing an operation, his lawyer said."

See also: New protests after French police accused of baton rape (RFI, link) and: Paris suburb simmers after youth allegedly raped by police (France 24, link):

"A Paris suburb has been subjected to two nights of violence, including burned cars and fireworks aimed at police, following the alleged rape of a young man by police during a violent arrest on Thursday. "

Google to appeal against order to hand over foreign emails (Computer Weekly, link):

"UK firms urged to consider the risks of non-UK cloud service providers and to encrypt data in the light of another US warrant to access emails held by a US cloud services firm on non-US servers

Google reportedly plans to appeal against a court order to hand over to the FBI emails of Gmail users stored outside of the US, arguing that doing so will put the privacy of non-US citizens at risk.

In a similar case, the US Department of Justice is considering going to the Supreme Court after an appeals court refused to revisit its July 2016 landmark ruling blocking government access to emails stored on Microsoft servers in Ireland. "

Former Polish President Walesa did help secret police, experts say (Deutsche Welle, link):

"Experts in Poland say they have found proof that former Polish President Lech Walesa collaborated with the country's notorious Communist-era secret police (SB) in the 1970s. The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) released a forensic report on Tuesday containing agreements signed by Walesa to collaborate with the secret police.

Officials revealed they are certain that papers they received from the widow of a Communist-era interior minister prove that Walesa was a spy for the SB and worked under the code name "Bolek" from 1970 to 1976.

The IPN, which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi occupation and the communist era, stated Walesa had signed a collaboration agreement and receipts for payment from the secret police."

UK: MPs criticise £1bn ‘slush fund’ for foreign security forces (Reprieve, link):

"A senior Parliamentary Committee has heavily criticised the Government for failing to allow public scrutiny of a new £1bn fund used for UK security assistance overseas.

In a report published today, MPs on the Joint Security Committee said there was a “fundamental lack of transparency” surrounding the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), which was “undermin[ing] the Government’s commitment to transparency.” They described the £1bn CSSF as a “slush fund” that has been used for “questionable” projects in Bahrain and elsewhere.

The report comes after human rights organisation Reprieve raised concerns over some assistance to foreign security forces who carry out abuses, such as torture and the death penalty."

See: Billion pound fund lacks political leadership and accountability (parliament.uk, link) and: Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy: Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.17)

Inquiry into undercover police actions in Northern Ireland moves step closer (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"An anti-globalisation activist has won the first stage of a High Court battle to have a major inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by undercover British police officers extended to cover their activities in Northern Ireland. "

EU: Court of Justice (CJEU): According to Advocate General Mengozzi, Members States must issue a visa on humanitarian grounds where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that a refusal would place persons seeking international protection at risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment (Press release, pdf):

"It is irrelevant whether or not there are ties between the person concerned and the requested Member State."

EU: Council: Schengen area: Council recommends prolongation of internal border controls (pdf):

"On 7 February 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

Starting from 11 February 2017, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway should prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of three months at the following internal borders:

Austria at the Austrian-Hungarian land border and Austrian-Slovenian land border
Germany at the German-Austrian land border
Denmark in the Danish ports with ferry connections to Germany and at the Danish-German land border
Sweden in the Swedish harbours in the Police Region South and West and at the Öresund bridge
Norway in the Norwegian ports with ferry connections to Denmark, Germany and Sweden."

Western Mediterranean countries plead for increased NATO presence (euractiv, link):

"Defence ministers from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called on NATO to increase its presence in their part of the world.

Spanish Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal said after a meeting of the so-called “Southern Quartet” in Porto yesterday (6 February) that their request for more NATO involvement is justified because “today, the risks facing Europe are different to those in years past and they originate from more sources”.

Cospedal added that “it is true that NATO traditionally does not have a strong presence in the south of Europe”, yet she and her three counterparts are still advocating more Alliance-involvement in their region, especially in the Mediterranean."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-6.2.17): new reports on asylum in Serbia and Hungary; Italy-Libya agreement in English; latest statistics on the relocation scheme; Greece-Turkey push-back allegations; and more.

UK-IRELAND: Activist 'bitterly disappointed' by 'closed' report into undercover policing (Irish Independent, link):

"Activists who allege a British undercover police officer operated in Ireland have branded a Garda inquiry into his activity a whitewash.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was tasked late last year with a second internal probe into the activities of a spy from London's Metropolitan Police after an original inquiry in 2011 found no evidence of criminality.

Campaigners wrote to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald demanding she seek Ireland's inclusion in a public inquiry in England and Wales over undercover policing.

Activist Kim Bryan, who claims she was targeted by Met spy Mark Kennedy in England and in Ireland, criticised the minister's response.

"I am bitterly disappointed by the closed process Frances Fitzgerald has established, with an internal garda report into undercover policing," she said."

Munich Security Conference 2017 takes place against the backdrop of transatlantic uncertainty and the crisis of the liberal order (Munich Security Conference, link):

"From February 17 to 19, 2017, the 53rd edition of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) will bring together hundreds of decision-makers in the realm of international security at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. Under the chairmanship of Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, more than 500 participants will debate critical security challenges, including the troubling state of the international order and the rise of illiberalism around the world."

ECHR: Case Watch: How Kosa v. Hungary is Challenging a Gap in Europe's Anti-Discrimination Protections (Open Society Foundations, link):

"a growing number of European countries have established collective redress procedures which allow Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to make claims on behalf of a distinct but indeterminate class of discrimination victims. However, this type of mechanism has proven problematic for the European Court of Human Rights, as the organization making the claim is not a “direct victim”.

It was under this type of collective redress procedures that the Hungarian NGO Chance for Children Foundation brought a legal action for education discrimination in 2008, after the discontinuation of a bus service to a local integrated school forced students in the town of Huszar telep into a Roma-only school. Whilst CFCF convinced lower Hungarian courts that discrimination occurred, they were denied a remedy to terminate the unlawful actions. Both at Hungary’s Constitutional Court—the Kuria—and the European Court of Human Rights, CFCF’s claim was rejected on grounds of standing, because the organization itself was not “directly affected” by the measures leading to segregated Roma education.

...This has created a situation where a domestic claim seeking to address instances of systemic discrimination, under a valid and justified mechanism, has no recourse to the Strasbourg Court. How can the Convention protection against discrimination be practical and effective in such circumstances?"

EU: Foreign Affairs Council: Council conclusions on Libya (pdf)

Adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 6 February 2017. Including:

"The EU condemns human rights violations and abuses against migrants and urges Libyan authorities to redouble their efforts to improve the protection and promotion of human rights, especially in migrant detention centres"

And:

"Recognizing the need for Libyan ownership in helping to address irregular migration flows and saving lives, the EU will continue its activities through different complementary and coordinated activities in the context of Seahorse Mediterranean Network, European Border and Coast Guard Agency and CSDP, in accordance with international law.

In line with the Malta declaration, the EU will give further priority to the provision of training, equipment and other support, with priority given to the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and other relevant legitimate Libyan agencies."

And see: factsheet: EU-LIBYA RELATIONS (pdf)

UK: Domestic Extremism Awareness Day 2017

"As we have argued repeatedly over the last couple of years, the term “domestic extremist” means pretty much whatever the police want it to mean.

It is a critical justification for state surveillance on protest movements in the UK, but both the government and the police have struggled to devise a credible definition robust enough to withstand legal scrutiny.

(...)

If people fear the label of ‘domestic extremist’ may in future affect their immigration status or application for asylum, the safety of families in other parts of the world, their job security or their ability to work with children, or the prospect of routine harassment or preemptive arrest by the police, they are far more likely to think twice about exercising their rights of assembly and free speech.

This is why we are arguing for a complete end to the smearing of campaigners as ‘domestic extremists’. Our campaigns are not ‘extreme’ just because they challenge powerful state and corporate interests."

See: This is Not Domestic Extremism (Netpol, link)

UK: Government doesn't investigate human rights claims against Saudi Arabia before selling arms (The Independent, link):

"The Government does not make judgments over whether countries like Saudi Arabia have violated international humanitarian laws in specific cases before granting arms exports to them.

Ministers have admitted they do not reach any conclusion on whether there have been violations in particular cases, because they say it would “not be possible” in conflicts the UK is not involved in.

Ministers instead try to come to “an overall judgement” that arms sold to a country will not be used to violate international humanitarian laws (IHL), a government spokesman has told The Independent."

UK: Inside the government's mad plan to catalog every video on the Internet (New Statesman, link):

"Imagine a government scheme to catalogue and classify every single video on the web.

But you don’t need to imagine: that’s the bizarre proposal being put forward by Theresa May’s government in the Digital Economy Bill, which reached committee stage in the Lords this week.

The Digital Economy Bill proposes that online video should be classified just as films are now, and by the same people - the British Board of Film Classification."

EU-UK: As Bad as it Gets: the White Paper on Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Yesterday the UK government released its White Paper on Brexit. This tome was reluctantly extracted from the government after months of prompting, but is in the end enormously disappointing: the political equivalent of a cat coughing up a hairball.

As many had expected, the white paper is basically content-free. It's essentially Theresa May's recent speech (which I analysed here), in some cases word-for-word, with a few statistics and graphs added. But even this information refers back to the status quo, and in some cases is inaccurate (a graph suggested British workers get 14 weeks’ paid holiday a year, before it was corrected), out-of-date (the 2011 statistics on UK citizens resident in the EU), or only partial (the migration statistics omit Irish people in the UK, and vice versa).

There’s no proper analysis of different options relating to the UK’s post-Brexit future, with assessments of their relative pros and cons. But then there couldn’t be: the White Paper says little of substance about the very existence of those options. David Allen Green has pointed out that the initial version of the document was time-stamped at about 4am, giving the strong impression it was written overnight by an intern working to a deadline in a student-like coffee-fuelled flurry."

See: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

EU: Release of final evaluation on Eurojust's Action Plan against human trafficking (Eurojust, link):

"The Final evaluation confirms that the complexity of THB cases, due to their multinational nature, the involvement of sophisticated criminal groups and the targeting of vulnerable victims, is the main obstacle to the successful repression of THB in Europe. The Final evaluation highlights Eurojust’s crucial role in facilitating essential cross-border judicial cooperation to dismantle THB networks.

The Action Plan has also yielded promising results. Eurojust and Europol have expanded their cooperation on THB by improving the flow of information between the two bodies and increasing their shared casework. Similarly, over the action period, practitioners in the Member States have gained a clearer understanding of the legal complexities of cross-border THB cases, allowing them to better coordinate their actions, share information and tackle the THB phenomenon."

See: Eurojust: Implementation of the Eurojust Action Plan against THB [trafficking in human beings] 2012-2016 - Final evaluation report (pdf)

Protests continue in Romania after government repeals corruption impunity decree

"About 500,000 demonstrators have rallied across Romania, despite the government revoking a controversial decree that fuelled their discontent.

The left-wing government earlier scrapped the decree, which would have shielded many politicians from prosecution for corruption.

But protesters remain dissatisfied about a revised version of the bill which will now be put to parliament."

EU: We need to remove free movement from the vicious circle of security (OpenDemocracy, link) by Didier Bigo and Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet:

"'Freedom is that possession which permits the enjoyment of all other possessions', wrote Montesquieu. Yet, today we are led to believe that the only way to enjoy personal safety within society, and guarantee our individual and collective freedoms, is through preventive security and reinforced controls.

How have we arrived at a situation where our reasoning has been so thoroughly turned on its head that the movement of millions of people is now being brought into question in case it might – owing to the way it is organised and its great speed – lead either to the departure of combatants abroad (so called foreign fighters) or the entry of clandestine groups with violent intentions?"

Libyans intercept at least 1,131 migrants off western coast in a week - coast guard (Reuters, link):

"TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's coast guard intercepted at least 1,131 migrants near the western city of Sabratha over the course of a week, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Ayoub Qassem said 431 migrants had been intercepted on four inflatable boats off Sabratha's coast on Thursday and some 700 had been picked up on Jan. 27 from three wooden vessels in the same area.

"The illegal migrants are from various sub-Saharan countries and include a big number of women and children," Qassem said of those intercepted on Thursday.

Those intercepted on Jan. 27 also included migrants from Syria, Tunisia, Libya and the Palestinian territories, he said, and smugglers had attempted to block the coast guards from taking those migrants from their boats."

GREECE-TURKEY: Ankara says Greece has ‘forcefully’ sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey (Hurriyet, link):

"Turkey stated on Feb. 3 that Greece had “forcefully” sent thousands of migrants back to Turkey via the River Maritza in recent months.

Officials from the Directorate General of Migration Management, which works under the Interior Ministry, said that Greece sent back more than 3,000 migrants to Turkey in the past four months.

The officials requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

They said Greece was not abiding by the readmission agreement between Turkey and Greece, while also disregarding international laws on human rights."

Press release: the EU and Italy de facto violate the principle of non-refoulement

At the informal Summit held at La Valletta on 3 February, the European Union confirms its policy of agreements for the closure of borders. Italy seconds the EU requests and concludes a shameful agreement with Libya.

The new foreign policy of the EU Commission and Council: development funds instrumentally used as bargaining chips to reach agreements and partnerships with third countries in order to repel migrants and refugees.

ASGI strongly condemns this shameful policy of the EU and the Italian Government to conclude agreements with third countries. “The EU betrays basic rule of law principles and infringes the democratic basis for the peaceful coexistence of citizens” says Lorenzo Trucco, lawyer and president of the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI).

EU: Commission: Member States' Relocations (2.2.17, pdf): 8,692 relocated from Greece out of 63,302 places allocated and 3,205 relocated from Italy of 34,953 places allocated. Overall 22,453 places pledged out of 160,000 needed.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.17)

USA: Exclusive: Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam - sources (Reuters, link):

"The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, "Countering Violent Extremism," or CVE, would be changed to "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump's election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase "radical Islam" in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries."

UK: Stop and search: police 'unacceptably slow' to comply with new rules (The Guardian, link):

"Four police forces have made “unacceptably slow progress” to comply with government rules aimed at eliminating discrimination in stop and search, a report has found.

An emergency special inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that forces in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire were still breaking the rules when visited in November 2016. This was despite previous findings that they were in breach of reforms they had agreed to make in 2014 and the government having made its displeasure clear.

Since the inspection four months ago, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Northamptonshire had carried out the changes demanded of them and now obeyed the rules. Derbyshire remained the only one of 43 forces in England and Wales to still not comply with the rules."

See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary: Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme: A summary of the findings of an HMIC revisit of the 19 forces that were not complying with the scheme in 2015 (pdf)

Further information and documentation: Best Use of Stop and Search - second revisits (HMIC, link)

EU-USA: Has President Trump’s Executive Order on “Public Safety” killed off Privacy Shield? (LinkedIn, link) by Chris Pounder:

"President Trump’s Executive Order (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States) has caused controversy over its temporary ban on all Muslims entering the USA from certain countries. It has consequences for data protection.

However, law-firm Hunton and Williams has just published a blog which concludes that “the Order should not impact the legal viability of the Privacy Shield framework” (see references). This conclusion is reached because, in the blog’s view, EU nationals still have access to USA courts by the Judicial Redress Act which is unaffected by the Executive Order (unless this access is revoked by the USA).

I agree with the blog’s conclusions relating to the Judicial Redress Act; however, I am not convinced that this overcomes the main data protection problem associated with this Order.

This is because implementation of this Order requires enhanced data sharing between Federal Agencies in the USA. As this data sharing involves EU nationals it directly raises the question: “whether or not the provisions of USA’s Privacy Act 1974 itself offers an adequate level of protection for transfers of personal data to the USA?”.

In other words, the Executive Order will inevitably focus attention on the quality of protections provided by Privacy Act and not on whether these protections are accessible to EU citizens via Judicial Redress Act."

EU: European Council adopts declaration on cooperation with Libya amidst human rights warnings

The European Council meeting in Malta has issued a declaration on the "external aspects of migration", primarily focusing on the "Central Mediterranean Route" and cooperation with Libya.

There are no major changes in the content compared to the draft declaration published by Statewatch yesterday, although an affirmation of a "determination to act in full respect of human rights, international law and European values" has been moved to the first paragraph.

However, these warm words are not backed up elsewhere in the text, for example by including a committment to "a significant expansion of opportunities for safe pathways such as resettlement and humanitarian admission, among others, to avoid dangerous journeys," as called for by the UNHCR and IOM.

ITALY-LIBYA: New Memorandum of Understanding on "illegal immigration" and border security signed

Italy and the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord yesterday (2 February) signed a new Memorandum of Understading on "development, countering illegal immigration, human trafficking, smuggling and on strengthening border security".

See: Memorandum d'intesa sulla cooperazione nel campo dello sviluppo, del contrasto all'immigrazione illegale, al traffico di esseri umani, al contrabbando e sul rafforzamento della sicurezza delle frontiere tra lo Stato della Libia e la Repubblica Italiana (pdf)

EU commission drops anti-corruption report (EUobserver, link):

"The EU commission scrapped plans to publish a report on anti-corruption efforts throughout EU states.

When pressed to explain why, EU commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Thursday (2 February) refused to speculate.

"For the commission, the fight against corruption is not in any way an attempt to interfere or offer value judgments within the political life in a member state," Schinas told EUobserver."

EU-USA: EU party leaders team up to reject Trump ambassador (EurActiv, link):

"The three major “pro-European” groups in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and the ALDE liberals, have taken the position that the EU should reject Ted R. Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, and Guy Verhofstadt, his colleague from ALDE, co-signed a letter to Council President Donald Tusk yesterday (2 February), proposing that the EU rejects Malloch as US ambassador to the EU.

Separately, S&D leader Gianni Pittella sent a letter, in which he says he tells Tusk and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini that Malloch would not be an acceptable choice and should be declared a ‘persona non grata’."

USA: My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it's not Orwell, he warned, it's Brave New World (The Guardian, link):

"Over the last year, as the presidential campaign grew increasingly bizarre and Donald Trump took us places we had never been before, I saw a spike in media references to Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book written by my late father, Neil Postman, which anticipated back in 1985 so much about what has become of our current public discourse.

(...)

The central argument of Amusing Ourselves is simple: there were two landmark dystopian novels written by brilliant British cultural critics – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – and we Americans had mistakenly feared and obsessed over the vision portrayed in the latter book (an information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state) rather than the former (a technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble). "

EU: Europol announces new network of experts on "the online crime attribution gap"

"European Network of Law Enforcement Specialists on CGN created at Europol to address a little known but major capability gap in law enforcement’s attempts to identify offenders online.

On 31 January 2017, a meeting of European law enforcement cybercrime specialists was held at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. This meeting addressed the increasing problem of non-crime attribution associated with the widespread use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technologies by internet service providers (ISPs). The meeting included presentations from industry experts, to broaden law enforcement understanding of the way in which internet service providers (providing access to the internet) and electronic content providers (websites and communication platforms) operate with regards to CGN."

See: Closing the Online Crime Attribution Gap: European law enforcement tackles Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN) (Europol press release, pdf)

See: EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

UK-ERITREA: Politics before protection: the story of Eritrean asylum seekers in the UK (Right to Remain, link):

"The front page news in the Guardian last week, that “Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers” will not surprise those who have been following the debacle of Eritrean asylum claims in the UK for some time.

The Public Law Project managed to obtain internal Home Office documents that evidenced UK government efforts to seek more favourable descriptions of human rights conditions in Eritrea. This evidence confirms what has been clear for some time – that the UK’s priority has been reducing migration, irrespective of the deaths, torture and persecution that might entail.

Back in Refugee Week 2015, Right to Remain joined 500 Eritrean asylum seekers who marched swiftly and beautifully through the streets of Liverpool to protest the UK Home Office’s treatment of their cases.

It seems like a good time to recap on the what has happened over the last couple of years, and what the legal situation is now."

And see: Home Office Eritrea guidance softened to reduce asylum seeker numbers (The Guardian, link)

Trump’s Yemen raid killed newborn baby and scores of civilians (Reprieve, link):

"An attack on a village in Yemen ordered by President Trump on Sunday caused the death of a newborn baby, alongside as many as 23 civilians, human rights organization Reprieve has discovered.

The Trump Administration oversaw a series of drone strikes and a ground raid on the village of Yakla, Yemen, on Sunday (29th). The Administration initially downplayed reports of civilian casualties, including the death of an eight-year old girl. Yesterday, however, US officials conceded that civilians were “likely killed.”

Reprieve has obtained evidence that many as 23 civilians were killed in the US raid, including a newborn baby boy, and ten children. The heavily pregnant mother was shot in the stomach during the raid, and subsequently gave birth to an injured baby boy, according to local reports. The baby died on Tuesday 31st."

EU: Terrorism Directive: Parliamentary committee confirms legal basis as vote on new counter-terror law looms

The green light has been given for the approval of the EU's new Directive on Combating Terrorism after confirmation from the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURE) that the legal basis for the new law is acceptable. The European Parliament's plenary meeting on 16 February will vote on the text, which was agreed in secret negotiations and contains a series of highly controversial provisions that have been condemned by civil society groups and legal experts.

See: Letter from Pavel Svoboda MEP, JURE chair, to Claude Moraes MEP, LIBE chair (pdf)

UK: Report on the legality of the EU sanctions calls for procedural improvements and continued cooperation post-Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords' EU Committee says that while sanctions against individuals, companies or institutions in non-EU states "serve an important foreign policy objective in persuading States and regimes to change behaviour," are a number of improvements that need to be made to the "listing" process, in particular regarding transparency and standards of proof.

See: House of Lords European Union Committee: The legality of EU sanctions (pdf)

EU: Police action against migrant smuggling: report on Italian investigations and Europol press release on safe house "bust"

An article published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project highlights how the Italian police have adopted methods used against the mafia in their efforts against migrant smuggling networks operating from sub-Saharan African countries, while a recent Europol press release highlights the "busting" of a "migrant safe house" in Budapest during harmonised operations in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and Romania.

Travel surveillance and profiling: the Indian government wants to join the PNR party

"Airlines will now be required to share passenger reservation data with customs department in advance.

The government has proposed an amendment to the Customs Act for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country. The changes in the rules will bring India in line with countries like Australia, Canada, United States and the European Union which have similar norms in place.

(...)

In case an airline company fails to furnish the information to the customs, it could result in a fine of up to Rs 50,000, according to the Finance Bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

At present, many airlines in India are required to share the passenger information, in advance with immigration authorities prior to departure or arrival, but this is limited to details like passenger name, nationality, passport number etc. Other countries also require airlines to share similar information known as advance passenger information (API)."

See: Now, govt wants aceess to airlines passenger reservation data in advance - This is for improved surveillance and risk assessment of travellers leaving and entering the country (Business Standard, link)

EU: Asylum: European Parliament briefing on proposed EU list of "safe countries of origin"

"As part of the European Agenda on Migration, the Commission proposed a regulation on 9 September 2015 to establish a common EU list of safe countries of origin, initially comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. The aim is to fast-track asylum applications from citizens of these countries, which are considered 'safe' in full compliance with the criteria set out in the Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU and the principle of non-refoulement. Currently, lists are defined at national level and not coordinated, which can lead to different recognition rates of similar asylum applications, and thus create incentives for secondary movements and asylum-shopping."

See: Safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list (pdf)

UK: Film tells asylum seeker stories of alleged G4S intimidation (The Ferret, link):

"A new film The Asylum Market features testimony from asylum seekers, including a victim of human trafficking, alleging intimidation and bullying by employees of security giant G4S, as well as claims of sordid housing conditions.

The film was due to be aired on 31 January 2017 on BBC prime-time current affairs show Victoria Derbyshire, to coincide with the release of Westminster’s cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee report on asylum accommodation contracts, which concluded that the provision was “shameful”.

However, the film was pulled from the programme although the BBC did robustly challenge G4s in its package."

And see: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation (pdf):

"Since 2012 accommodation has been provided to asylum seekers via six regional Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services contracts, known as COMPASS... Although the system of three Providers looks straightforward on the surface, below it lies a complex network of contractors, sub-contractors and hundreds of private landlords."

Turkey, Hungary and Romania drive 23% rise in ECHR applications (The Guardian, link):

"Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the attempted coup in Turkey along with poor conditions in prisons in Hungary and Romania have driven a 23% year-on-year rise in the number of applications to the European court of human rights.

In its annual report, the court noted a “very large number of applications” from Turkey in late 2016 after the attempt to topple Erdogan, contributing to the biggest increase in applications in five years.

Turkey declared a state of emergency in July and gave notice of a derogation under article 15 of the European convention on human rights. Such a move releases a government of its obligations to uphold some, but not all, human rights, when a state is faced with a public emergency that threatens “the life of the nation”.

The other two signatory states to fuel the large increase in applications to the ECHR, Romania and Hungary, have struggled with overpopulation in their prisons for a number of years, but the statistics appear to suggest the situation is worsening."

See: European Court of Human Rights: Annual Report 2016 (pdf)

NETHERLANDS: Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin (Buro Jansen & Janssen, link):

"Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story.

We received this story from a person who wants to remain anonymous. We conducted an investigation to the existence of this person and confirmed their existence. The person did not want to answer additional questions about the conversation held with the Dutch secret service (AIVD for its initials in Dutch) and wanted to remain anonymous. We respect this. We publish this account because we think the story is important both for the hackers community and beyond. The person has written the story in English, which we have edited without changing the contents. We have also translated it into Dutch with some slight clarification in relation to some comments, again without changing the contents."

EU: Marine Le Pen: Deadline passes for National Front leader to repay EU funds (BBC News, link):

"A European Parliament deadline for France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen to return more than 300,000 euros (£257,000; $321,000) it says she has misspent, has passed.

The presidential candidate had until midnight to repay the money, but said she had no intention of doing so.

The parliament says she wrongly used the funds to pay an aide at the National Front's headquarters in Paris.

She says she is the victim of a politically motivated vendetta.

If she does not repay the money, the parliament could now respond by withholding as much as half of her salary and allowances, which her opponents say total almost €11,000 a month."

EU: Report from the 2016 'JHATech' conference hosted by the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA)

The theme of the October 2016 'JHATech' conference of the EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA) was 'Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security'. The report from the conference gives an overview of speeches from numerous high-level officials discussing the use of technology in EU justice and home affairs policy, covering issues such as border security, biometrics, interoperability between databases and information systems, and PNR.

See: eu-LISA, JHATech 2016: Aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities in the areas of migration and internal security (pdf)

GERMANY: Constitutional Court: neo-Nazi National Democratic Party not illegal as it is "entirely impossible" it will suceed in its aims

The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) advocates a concept aimed at abolishing the existing free democratic basic order. The NPD intends to replace the existing constitutional system with an authoritarian national state that adheres to the idea of an ethnically defined “people’s community” (Volksgemeinschaft). Its political concept disrespects human dignity and is incompatible with the principle of democracy. Furthermore, the NPD acts in a systematic manner and with sufficient intensity towards achieving its aims that are directed against the free democratic basic order. However, (currently) there is a lack of specific and weighty indications suggesting that this endeavour will be successful; for that reason the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court, in its judgment pronounced today, unanimously rejected as unfounded the Bundesrat’s admissible application to establish the unconstitutionality of the NPD and its sub-organisations (Art. 21 sec. 2 of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG).

UK-EU: BREXIT: UK to seek a deal on continued cooperation on crime, policing and terrorism

As indicated previously by Ministers the UK will seek to "deal" on future cooperation with the EU:

"As we exit, we will therefore look to negotiate the best deal we can with the EU to cooperate in the fight against crime and terrorism. We will seek a strong and close future relationship with the EU, with a focus on operational and practical cross-border cooperation. We will seek a relationship that is capable of responding to the changing threats we face together. Public safety in the UK and the rest of Europe will be at the heart of this aspect of our negotiation."

See: White Paper on BREXIT: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-2.2.17)

EU: Malta Summit, 3 February 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"Since the start of the migration crisis the EU has managed to reduce significantly the number of irregular migrants entering Europe. Preliminary data from Frontex indicate a 72% decrease in detections in 2016 across the whole of the EU compared to 2015. By far the largest share of this reduction was recorded along the Eastern Mediterranean route, following the EU decision to fully apply the Schengen Border Code (end the wave-through approach) and the EU - Turkey Statement."

UK mosque wins apology over 'terrorism' database listing (Middle East Eye, link)

"FInancial information company Thomson Reuters on Wednesday apologised to a north London mosque and agreed to pay damages for falsely linking it to "terrorism" in a database used by most of the world's biggest banks.

Finsbury Park Mosque had its banking facilities withdrawn by the HSBC bank in 2014 as a result of the listing on the World-Check database, which is used by banks to assess customer risk."

And see: London mosque case exposes pitfalls of 'terror list' database (Middle East Eye, link)

Police Militarization in the Trump Era (Just Security, link):

"Since his swearing in, President Donald Trump has issued a flurry of controversial Executive Orders. One frequently overlooked yet dramatically important issue that has yet to be addressed by Trump concerns the militarization of the police and the fate of Obama’s Executive Order No. 13688....

As we come to grips with the Trump administration and the global trend that it reflects, we need to discuss the limits of state power on a principled level – precisely since it seems that those principles might be giving way to “alternative facts” and an “anything goes” form of instrumentalism. This is true in general, and much more so in the context of the limits on policing, as the ultimate instrument of state coercion. Law and order should not be conflated with a presumption of threat and the construction of policed communities as domestic enemies."

See also: The Case Against Police Militarization (pdf)

EU: Malta Summit on external aspect of migration

The Maltese Council Presidency is hosting a Summit of the heads of all EU Member States on 3 February to discuss external aspects of migration. As a follow up to a " Coreper breakfast (19 January)" the Presidency drew up a Note summarising possible initiatives: Malta Summit - External aspects of migration (pdf). The Draft Council Conclusions (pdf) do not take up most of the points raised but the Note shows what is under the table for future consideration.

EU head calls Trump a 'threat' to Europe

Donald Tusk, the EU Council President, has described US president Donald Trump as a “threat” to Europe alongside Russia and China. He sent an "Open letter" to EU leaders ahead of the Malta Summit on 3 February, referring to “worrying declarations by the new American administration”.

See: Open letter (pdf)

Dutch secret service tries to recruit Tor-admin (burojansen.nl, link):

"Recently a Dutch man with an MSc (Master of Science) at the Delft University of Technology and admin of Tor-exit nodes was approached by two agents of the Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD. They wanted to recruit the man as an informant or undercover agent, who would also infiltrate foreign hacker communities. The person tells his story."

EU: Foreign fighters' helpers excluded from refugee status: the ECJ clarifies the law (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:

"What if a person claiming to be a refugee is an alleged terrorist, or at least giving assistance to alleged terrorists? Can they still claim to be a refugee – and if not, how should we define ‘terrorism’ for the purposes of rejecting their claim to be one? Today’s judgment of the EU Court of Justice in the Lounani case usefully clarifies some aspects of this controversial and legally complex issue, but inevitably leaves some difficult questions open. "

See: An application for asylum can be rejected if the asylum seeker has participated in the activities of a terrorist network - It is not necessary that the asylum seeker personally committed terrorist acts, or instigated such acts, or participated in their commission (Press release,pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

January 2017

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28-30.1.17): torture and executions in Libya detention centres; millions of euros for consultancy work on smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa; joint NGO report on eastern EU denial of access to asylum procedure; and more.

European Commission: Communication on building a European data economy

"As announced in the DSM [Digital Single Market], the Commission's objective is to create a clear and adapted policy and legal framework for the data economy, by removing remaining barriers to the movement of data and addressing legal uncertainties created by new data technologies...

...this Communication explores the following issues: free flow of data; access and transfer in relation to machine-generated data; liability and safety in the context of emerging technologies; and portability of non-personal data, interoperability and standards. This Communication also sets out suggestions for experimenting with common regulatory solutions in a real-life environment."

See: Building a European data economy (COM(2017) 9 final, pdf) and the accompanying Staff Working Document on the free flow of data and emerging issues of the European data economy (SWD(2017) 2 final, pdf)

EU-UK: BREXIT: Supreme Court on need for parliamentary vote on Article 50: judgment and analysis

The judgment in Miller: Representative Democracy Strikes Back (EU Law Analysis, link): "There are two main issues in the case: the role of Parliament in triggering the Article 50 process, and the role of devolved legislatures. Like the Supreme Court, I’ll take these two points in turn."

“So long (as) and Farewell?” The United Kingdom Supreme Court in Miller (European Law Blog, link): "Lord Neuberger started the announcement in the manner of a history lecture, detailing the United Kingdom’s accession to the then European Economic Community in 1973. This was a fitting introduction to a judgment which at times reads like a lesson in the UK’s constitution. Accordingly, this lesson encompasses the place that EU law occupies within this order. This post will attempt to provide a concise summary of the magisterial judgment, before providing some comment on the salient issues relevant to EU law."

The judgment: R (on the application of Miller and another) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant) ([2017] UKSC 5]) and press summary (pdf)

EU: Commission: actions recommended for endorsement by EU heads of state or government at 3 February summit in Malta

The Annex to the Commission Communcation issued on 25 January: Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf) lists recommendation actions for the Member States to approve under the headings of:

See: ANNEX to the JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL AND THE COUNCIL Migration on the Central Mediterranean route Managing flows, saving lives (pdf)

And see: Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

USA: Government Accountability Office report on efforts to stop "high-risk travellers" flying to the USA

"CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] data show that it identified and interdicted over 22,000 high-risk air travelers in fiscal year 2015 through its predeparture programs. CBP officers at Preclearance locations determined that 10,648 of the approximately 16 million air travelers seeking admission to the United States through such locations were inadmissible. Similarly, CBP, through its IAP [Immigration Advisory Program], JSP [Joint Security Program], and RCLG [Regional Carrier Liaison Group] locations, made 11,589 no-board recommendations to air carriers for the approximately 88 million air travelers bound for the United States from such locations. While CBP’s predeparture programs have helped identify and interdict high-risk travelers, CBP has not fully evaluated the overall effectiveness of these programs using performance measures and baselines. CBP tracks some data, such as the number of travelers deemed inadmissible, but has not set baselines to determine if predeparture programs are achieving goals, consistent with best practices for performance measurement. By developing and implementing a system of performance measures and baselines, CBP would be better positioned to assess if the programs are achieving their goals." (emphasis added)

See: GAO: CBP Aims to Prevent High-Risk Travelers from Boarding U.S.-Bound Flights, but Needs to Evaluate Program Performance (pdf)

UK: Healthcare data to enforce the "hostile environment" for migrants

"Confidential NHS patient information is being shared with the Home Office to help the government trace suspected "illegal immigrants". NHS Digital – which describes itself as a “safe haven” for patient data – is handing over personal information to the Home Office as part of a new memorandum of understanding between the two bodies and the Department of Health, reports trade magazine Health Service Journal."

See: NHS hands over confidential patient info to Home Office in immigration crackdown (Migrants' Rights Network, link) and the memo: Memorandum of Understanding between Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Home Office and the Department of Health (pdf)

See also: NHS hands over patient records to Home Office for immigration crackdown (The Guardian, link) and joint letter: The NHS should protect patient confidentiality (The Guardian, link):

"The agreement of the NHS to hand over patient information to the Home Office immigration authorities (Report, 25 January) fills us with anger and dismay. Patient confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of an ethical and effective healthcare system. That is why, in the absence of a court order, the NHS does not share even the address of a patient with the police or any other public body, except in the most serious cases of harm to the person, involving murder, rape or manslaughter."

UK-IRELAND-EU: The possible impact of Brexit on the Common Travel Area (CTA)

"British prime minister Theresa May’s long-awaited speech on Brexit on January 17th made it clear that immigration is central to British concerns. Whether from fears about excessive numbers, xenophobia, a nostalgia for the past or a concern with sovereignty and the workings of supranational institutions, including the European Court of Justice, Britain has clearly signalled that it wishes to mark a distance from the EU and to resume full control of its own borders and immigration policy.

The Brexit negotiations will inevitably consider the precise manner in which broader current British concerns about immigration are interwoven with the future of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which has been around in one form or another since the 1920s and which has allowed Irish and UK citizens the freedom to move between, live and work in one another’s countries.

The outcome is unlikely to affect present-day Irish in the UK, although this may depend in part on whatever concessions other EU countries are willing to make regarding UK residents on their territories. It seems unlikely that either the UK or the EU would wish to punish each other’s citizens. However, future migrants are another matter."

See: How could Brexit impact future Irish emigrants to the UK? (The Irish Times, link) by Piaras Mac Éinrí

And Theresa May's speech: The government's negotiating objectives for exiting the EU (pdf)

EU-LIBYA: German report details Libya abuses amid pressure to stem migrant flows (The Guardian, link):

"Conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya are worse than in concentration camps, according to a paper sent to the German foreign ministry by its ambassador in Niger.

The German embassy in Niger has authenticated reports of executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses in camps on the refugee route in Libya, Die Welt cited the report as saying on Sunday.

The warning came as EU leaders prepare for a summit in Malta on Friday to discuss ways to control migration across the Mediterranean from Africa this summer, amid pressure from Italy to take decisive action."

EU-USA: Latest Update from the American Immigration Lawyers Association on Travel to the United States Ban (ILPA, link):

"The US Department of Homeland Security has been ordered by at least four federal courts not to implement the Executive Order known as the “Muslim ban.” The orders are temporary -- either for seven days or until further hearings -- so that those seeking to travel to the US might wish to do so now.

DHS has stated that they will comply with the court orders, but of course legal opinion remains divided about whether they are in fact interpreting them correctly. In the meantime, at least, DHS has “deemed” that the return of green card holders is in the public interest."

EU-USA: "The EU-US PNR agreement is dead. What is the EU, and what are EU citizens and residents, going to do about that?"

"With this Presidential decree, the EU-US PNR agreement is dead.

The next question is when EU institutions will recognize this legal fact, and what they will do about it.

In later sessions at the CPDP conference, some EU and US officials and government advisors tried to argue that the Privacy Shield agreement (1) doesn’t depend on the Privacy Act, and (2) to the extent it does, is made “enforceable” by the Judicial Redress Act.

If this were true, Privacy Shield might not depend on the decision by administrative agencies — which President Trump has now forbidden — to allow foreigners the same “privileges” to which US citizens are entitled under the Privacy Act.

We don’t buy that argument, and neither should European travelers or EU officials. The exceptions and limitations in the Privacy Act, even as it applies to US citizens, make the Judicial Redress Act essentially useless.

Whatever the merits of this attempt to salvage the Privacy Shield agreement, it doesn’t apply to the EU-US PNR Agreement. The PNR agreement clearly and explicitly depends on administrative action in favor of foreign citizens which President Trump’s executive order has now foreclosed"

See: Trump repudiates agreement with EU on PNR data (Papers, Please!, link) and the Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (pdf)

See also: The “Interior Security” Executive Order, the Privacy Act, and Privacy Shield (Lawfare, link)

UK: Legal aid cuts delaying prisoners' release, court will be told (The Guardian, link):

"Prisoners hoping to prepare for life outside jail are being forced to remain behind bars for years extra because they are no longer entitled to legal representation, the court of appeal is to be told.

Thousands of prisoners seeking places on offender behaviour courses that could pave the way to release are unable to challenge delays within the prison system because of government cuts to legal aid, three senior judges will hear next week.

The challenge brought by the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service comes at a time of record prison populations in England and Wales and follows violent disturbances in HMP Birmingham in Winson Green."

EU: Commission offers €6 million for private expertise on irregular migration, smuggling and biometric population registers in Africa

The European Commission last week (25 January) published a contract notice offering up to €6 million for four years of work including research and analysis to inform EU policy-making on irregular migration; helping develop "awareness raising campaigns" targeted at non-EU nationals; and to draw up "needs assessments in priority third countries of origin and transit," including the development of "action plans in the area of population data collection, notably civil reigstries and biometric databases" in African countries.

See: European Commission, Tender specifications: Framework Contract for Technical and support services (TSS) in the field of Irregular migration and Legal migration (pdf)

EU: Joint NGO report on denial of access to asylum procedure in eastern EU Member States

"The report Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States presents the situation asylum-seekers often face at the eastern borders of the EU. The picture shown of Europe’s response to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War is rather grim as presented by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (Bulgaria), Organization for Aid to Refugees (Czech Republic), Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Hungary), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) and the Legal-informational centre for NGOs (Slovenia), all members of ECRE – a pan-European umbrella organisation of refugee assisting NGOs. Increased border controls and the construction of physical and legal barriers restricting access to protection for people fleeing war and terror characterize this ‘scary new’ reality. Country responses cited in the report range from violent push-backs, through the denial of entry to proposed legislative changes restricting access to protection."

See: Press Release – Pushed Back at the Door (Organization for Aid to Refugees, link) and the report: Pushed Back at the Door: Denial of Access to Asylum in Eastern EU Member States (pdf)

EU: Information sharing on counter terrorism in the EU has reached an all-time high (Europol press release, pdf):

"Europe is facing its most serious terrorist threat for over 10 years. The attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 marked a shift towards a broader strategy of Jihadist terrorism, and the so-called IS in particular, to intimidate Western countries with successive terror attacks across Europe. The potential increase of returnees from conflict zones requires vigilance from all involved actors.

The launch of the ECTC in January 2016 was the EU’s answer to this new threat. Its establishment, including the Internet Referral Unit (IRU) as a new capability to tackle unprecedented levels of online terrorism propaganda, was a major milestone for the EU security architecture. For the first time in the EU there was consensus, in the counter terrorism policy context, that a cornerstone for cooperation at EU level was needed to support national counter terrorism efforts.

Information sharing on counter terrorism, across European countries as well as through and with Europol, had reached an all-time high by the end of 2016. For instance, Europol held more than 10 times as much information on ‘person entities’ in its database, compared with January 2015 when the attack on Charlie Hebdo took place."

And see: One year of the European Counter Terror Centre: Infographic (pdf)

ITALY: Anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (Council of Europe, link):

"The Council of Europe Group of experts against human trafficking (GRETA) has published today a report on the implementation of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Italy. The report assesses the specific situation of forced returns of victims of trafficking from Italy and the identification of victims of trafficking among asylum seekers and migrants.

GRETA acknowledges the extreme difficulties which Italy is experiencing due to the unprecedented increase in the arrival of migrants and refugees, and the significant efforts made by the country, with the assistance of international organisations and civil society, to cope with the challenges posed by it.

The report, which was preceded by a visit to Italy in September 2016, reveals gaps in the detection of victims of trafficking among newly arriving migrants and unaccompanied children. Particular attention is paid to the situation of Nigerian women and girls, who have been arriving in Italy in increasing numbers and many of whom are likely to be trafficked for the purpose exploitation in Europe. GRETA raises concerns about the failure to identify them as victims of trafficking at an early stage, the disappearance of unaccompanied children from reception centres, and the manner in which forced returns of victims of trafficking to their country of origin take place."

See: Report on Italy under Rule 7 of the Rules of Procedure for evaluating implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf)

And: press release: Council of Europe anti-trafficking experts urge Italy to better protect unaccompanied children (pdf)

EU-MALTA: Three projects planned for Malta’s security forces totalling €2.5 million (Malta Today, link):

"The Malta Police Force and the Armed Forces of Malta will be awarded €2.5 million to finance three project aimed at improving operations, according to Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds Ian Borg.

Borg said that the managing authority has approved two projects to the Malta Police Force, valued at just over €1 million, which are aimed at enhancing and furnishing the IT operations rooms and offices of the national section of the Schengen Information System (NS-SIS), as well as extending the Automated Case Management System in order to aid the International Relations Unit offices in police investigations.

On their part, Borg said, the Armed Forces of Malta will receive €1.5 million to upgrade the AFM Integrated Communications systems, to keep on performing the necessary activities in order to fulfill EU obligations at the EU External Borders."

Belgium confronts Trump over travel ban (New Europe, link):

"Belgium announced its disagreement with Donald Trump’s latest decision on migration.

Prime Minister Charles Michel said: “We disagree with the ban on access to US territory for seven Muslim countries.”

“Belgium will not follow this policy and will ask for explanations through diplomatic channels,” said the head of the Belgian federal government.

“Migration policy is the responsibility of the US government and it is a sovereign decision,” admitted Michel. “But Belgium will follow the case closely to evaluate in particular the possible consequences for its own citizens”."

UK: London, 15 February 2017: Strikers & Spycops – from Grunwick to now (Eventbrite, link):

"Spycops and Strikers is part of a series of Grunwick 40 memorial events, organised in co-operation with the Special Branch Files Project, the Undercover Research Group and the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance.

Since the exposure of Mark Kennedy as an undercover officer inside the environmental movement in 2011, many more so-called #spycops have been found out by the activists they spied upon. We now know that since 1968, the Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated political and activist groups that they considered a threat, including the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Anti-apartheid movement and CND.

We also know that prominent supporters of the Grunwick strike were bugged and followed and that there were attempts to infiltrate the strike committee. There is now a judge-led Inquiry into Undercover Policing, the Pitchford Inquiry; should Grunwick strikers and their supporters be involved to find out more?"

Czech cyber defence must not infringe on freedom, PM says (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) - The Czech government coalition must know for certain that the planned extension of the military intelligence's powers in cyber security will not interfere with the freedoms of the citizens, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said yesterday.

The present legislation does not set the rules for cyber security of the country. A government-sponsored amendment to the law on military intelligence gives the intelligence the power to put active means of cyber defence in Internet networks. In extreme cases, the intelligence could launch a cyber attack.

The amendment is now discussed in the Chamber of Deputies."

UK-EU: European Parliament Study: Brexit and the EU: General institutional and legal considerations (pdf)

"This study was requested by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines the political and institutional steps taken, or to be taken, both by the UK and by the EU in the context of the Brexit referendum vote, and into how matters may evolve in the coming months and years from a legal and institutional perspective.

It analyses, in broad terms, the possibilities for a future relationship between the Union and its departing member and the consequences that the departure of a large Member State may entail for the rest of the policies of the Union and for the Union itself. The study also briefly examines the potential for institutional progress that opens with the departure of the United Kingdom."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

Latest version of the Council developing its negotiating position: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents (LIMITE doc no: 5402-17, pdf): With 135 Footnotes giving detailed Member State positions.

"To ensure harmonisation and more convergence in asylum decisions and as regards the content of international protection in order to reduce incentives to move within the European Union and ensure an equality of treatment of beneficiaries of international protection that Directive should be repealed and replaced by a Regulation." [emphasis added]

This replaces the following objective in the current Directive:

"on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection granted."

"Suggested modifications (by the Presidency) are indicated as follows: added text is in bold and deleted text is in strikehtrough."

USA: Executive Order: Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (link):

See: Trump immigrant curbs cause chaos, panic, anger worldwide (Reuters, link):

"President Donald Trump's sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries caused confusion and panic among travelers on Saturday, with some turned back from U.S.-bound flights.

Immigration lawyers in New York sued to block the order, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.

The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the moves would protect Americans from terrorism, in a swift and stern delivery on a campaign promise.

The bans affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. "

EU: Council of the European Union: EPPO, "Blue Card" (Legal migration) & Humanitarian visas

European Public Prosecutors' Office: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 5154-17, 156 pages, pdf): Almost agreed Council position prior to trilogue with the European Parliament. However, there is a problem, although most Member States agree on the text:

"One Member State (Sweden) announced that it would in any case not take part in the adoption of the European Public Prosecutor's Office."

This means that there will not be unanimity in the Council so it plans fast-track "enhanced cooperation" under second subparagraph of Article 86(1) TFEU.

Blue Card: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no 5336-17, pdf) The Council working out its negotiating position with 149 Member State objections/positions.

The term "Blue Card" is a euphemism for "legal migration" through which the EU will seek out skilled labour from the South and elsewhere to maintain its standard of living in the face of an aging population and shrinking work force.

Humanitarian visas rejected by the Council and Commission: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU/Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, Liechtenstein): Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 15602-16, pdf):

"the Chair reported that the European Parliament (EP) had recently sent the Presidency the four-column table containing new compromise proposals from the Rapporteur, in which the provisions on the humanitarian visa had been maintained. Furthermore, the Chair reported that the Rapporteur had let the Presidency know that he would not agree to put the humanitarian visa on hold and wanted to continue negotiations on the other outstanding issues.

AT, FR, BE, NL, HU, SE, SI, ES and PT were against continuing negotiations....

The Chair announced that a trilogue would be held to formally inform the EP of the Council's decision. COM said that the Commission was attached to its proposal but was also against the idea of a humanitarian visa."

EU-USA: Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us? (The Register, link):

"US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

Section 14 of the Enhancing Public Safety order reads:

"Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information."

By agencies, the president means the NSA, the FBI and so on.....

- The EU-US Privacy Shield, which does not rely on the protections under the US Privacy Act.

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement, which enters into force on 1 February. To finalise this agreement the US Congress adopted a new law last year, the US Judicial Redress Act, which extends the benefits of the US Privacy Act to Europeans and gives them access to US courts."."

Will this affect the EU-USA Umbrella Agreement on the exchange of personal data?

See: Enhancing Public Safety order (pdf) and Attorney-General Notice listing "covered countries" in EU.(pdf) This says in part that: "It is intended that no cause of action shall be afforded by the Judicial Redress Act retroactively with respect to any record transferred prior to the date of the DPPA’s entry into force on February 1, 2017."

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement and the Judicial Redress Act: Small Steps Forward for EU Citizens’ Privacy Rights (CDT.org, link):

"It does not provide citizens of EU countries with redress that is on par with that which US persons enjoy under the Privacy Act."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.1.17): New Frontex powers put into practice; Greece angry over border control demands; Turkey threatens to cancel refugee deal over coup soldiers; EU-Niger actions may backfire; and more.

EU: PNR: Belgium, France, Netherlands to introduce rail ID checks (AP, link):

"Belgium has sealed an agreement with France and the Netherlands to draw up passenger lists and introduce passport checks on Thalys and Eurostar international rail services.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon told VRT broadcaster Friday that the move will tighten security on the high-speed trains and help track criminals who might be using them.

"The aim is to have the system operational by the end of the year," Jambon said.

He noted that Germany has decided not to take part. Berlin attacker Anis Amri drove a truck into a central Berlin market on Dec. 19, killing 12 people. He died in a shootout with Italian police four days later after transiting to Italy through the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

"If the system works they can join in," Jambon said, noting that "there is an election coming up in Germany. Maybe that has something to do with (their decision).""

See an earlier article in response to the proposals: Passenger name regulation could destroy cross-border rail (Railway Gazette, link)

EU: Commemorating the Holocaust in revisionist times (EUobserver, link):

"This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which also marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, comes several months after Poland’s right-wing government passed a law making it illegal to use the term "Polish Death Camps", in an effort to emphasize the responsibility for the Holocaust remains that of the German Nazi regime which occupied Poland.

But banning the term points to a larger trend of Holocaust revisionism across Europe and a revival of nationalist politics whose targets range from Roma and Jews—groups targeted and murdered by the Nazis on "racial" grounds—to refugees, Muslims and other racial, national and religious minorities."

UK: Press release: Gulf Centre for Human Rights in another case against the UK Government (pdf):

"GCHR says UK government should hold firm on its commitment to comply with International Law.

GCHR has been granted leave to appeal so that it can challenge an apparent withdrawal by the UK government from its overarching duty to comply with international law. An article by the legal correspondent of the Guardian published on 26 January 2017 says that: “Threats to pull out of the European court of human rights, the election of Donald Trump and withdrawals from the international criminal court have reinforced fears that global laws are increasingly in danger of being undermined.”

The legal challenge focuses on the deletion from the ministerial code, a core constitutional document, of words setting out the duty to comply with international law. GCHR is determined to do all it can to hold the UK government to its commitments in the international arena."

EU-GREECE: "Solidarity" on refugees: official reports lay bare Greek government frustration with other EU Member States

Statewatch is today publishing two official reports that set out how the Greek government has sought to comply with other EU Member States' demands to control its borders and to prevent refugees leaving the country. Both reports show significant frustration with the failure of other Member States to meet their obligations to relocate refugees and to provide the necessary human and material resources to assist the Greek authorities.

The reports: Follow-up report on the implementation of the Action Plan on addressing the "serious" deficiencies in the field of management of the external borders by Greece (23 September 2016, pdf) and: 2nd Follow-up report (16 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Rapid introduction of new Frontex powers: EU and Member States prefer to shut the door and return refugees than relocate them

In 13 months (the year 2016 plus January 2017) EU Member States have "returned" 11,121 refugees but only relocated within the EU 8,123 refugees entering through Greece and Italy (the two main countries of entry) since September 2015.

EU: European Parliament: factsheet on the Common Security and Defence Policy

"The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) sets the framework for EU political andmilitary structures and for military and civilian missions and operations abroad. The 2016 EU Global Strategy lays out the strategy underlying the CSDP, while the Lisbon Treaty provides legal clarity on institutional aspects and strengthens the role of the European Parliament. The CSDP has undergone major strategic and operational changes recently. Faced with security challenges and popular demand for increased EU responses, the CSDP is continuing to evolve."

See: COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY (pdf)

EU-Turkey refugee deal overburdens Greek islands (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The refugee camp on the island of Samos was built for 850 people, but it hosts more than 1,800 at the moment. More than 600 people are living in 56 sometimes unheated containers, while others are sleeping in tents - or wherever they find a free spot to lie down. Ralf Kist, the Frontex team leader of the German mission, told DW "the conditions at the camp are improving," but current and former residents of the camp complain about a life of misery among mud, dirt and rubbish."

EU: e-Privacy Regulation: Good intentions but a lot of work to do (EDRi, link):

"The proposed draft Regulation contains a number of provisions which, if adopted and effectively implemented, should address some of the current gaps or lack of clarity in protection of the confidentiality of electronic communications and information stored on users devices. The process of consultation and polls have shown that citizens are concerned about their privacy and about how companies make use of their personal information online. Although the Commission has rightly identified and addressed most of the key issues and objectives in the proposal, strong forces seem to have watered down the text considerably, compared to the earlier version that was leaked in December 2016. For example, the reference to “privacy by design and by default” that was changed in Article 10 will need to be put back in order not to lower down the protections to the current “privacy by option”, options on the degree of online privacy that the browser would offer to the user."

See: Proposal for a Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (pdf)

And: the earlier leaked draft (7.5MB, pdf)

EU-AFRICA: Will the EU's anti-migrant smuggling efforts in Niger backfire?

"In the case of northern Niger, however, haphazardly designed anti-smuggling efforts come with an even greater danger: destabilizing one of the few pockets of stability in a volatile region. Aside from the promise of money from Europe, the reality is that the Nigerien government has few incentives to crack down on migrant smuggling, in part because doing so is fraught with political and security risks.

In northern Niger, migrant smuggling is part of a broader political economy that is thoroughly enmeshed within formal and informal political and security structures. In fact, Niger’s anti-corruption agency found that state security forces in the region would not be able to function if they did not take bribes paid by smugglers, and would otherwise be unable to purchase basic necessities such as fuel, spare parts for vehicles and food.

Government officials in Agadez have also conceded that everyone from drivers, fixers, landlords, shop owners, currency dealers and even local law enforcement are profiting from the economic boom. “Many are eating off these migrants,” Ahmed Koussa, an assistant to the mayor of Agadez, told the New York Times. Abdourahamane Moussa, deputy-secretary general for the regional government in Agadez, struck a similar tone speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Migrants are buying things, consuming our goods, animating our economy,” he said. “People here are benefitting. … How can we stop it?”

See: The E.U.’s Hollow Success Over Migrant Smuggling in Niger (Refugees Deeply, link)

Migreurop press release: The European Union cannot abolish winter: it must instead put an end to the criminal hotspot policy!

"At what point does failing to assist a person in danger become a crime? How many deaths are necessary to constitute a crime against humanity? These questions have been raised for years in relation to the thousands of people who have died in the Mediterranean due to the lack of legal routes into the European Union (EU). Today, the increasingly serious situation of thousands of refugees, trapped by freezing temperatures in Greek camps and on the ‘Balkan routes’, directly challenges the choices made by the EU concerning its ‘management of migration flows’."

EU: Revision of Firearms Directive nearing completion

"The provisional deal with the Council on the updated EU firearms directive was endorsed by Parliament’s Internal Market Committee on Thursday by 25 votes to nine, with two abstentions. The revised law tightens the controls on blank firing and inadequately deactivated weapons like those used in the Paris terror attacks. It also requires EU countries to have a monitoring system in place for the issuance or renewal of licences and to exchange information with one another."

European Parliament press release: EU gun law updated to close security loopholes while protecting legitimate users (pdf)

And: Revision of the EU firearms directive: an overview (pdf): "In this background note you will find more information on what was agreed during the “trilogues” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators)."

EU-IRELAND: Gardaí to get access to top EU security database (Irish Independent, link):

"Gardaí are set to gain access to an EU-wide border security database for the first time next year.

The Government is in the process of ensuring officers can get access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II), which allows police and border guards across the EU to exchange information and see alerts about certain categories of wanted criminals or missing people.

The UK has access, but due to the financial crisis, plans here to develop the infrastructure to tap into the system had to be shelved.

"Ireland does not yet have access to the SIS II system, as funding was not available for the works required during the financial crisis," the Department of Justice told the Irish Independent.

"The Tánaiste expects An Garda Síochána should have access to the SIS II system in the course of 2018.""

UK: Spycop’s alias confirmed by public inquiry (The Ferret, link):

"The public inquiry into the policing scandal has confirmed the undercover identity of a police officer who is believed to have operated in Scotland.

The Pitchford Inquiry has confirmed that ‘Simon Wellings’ was the alias used by a so-called spycop who operated north of the border after infiltrating the anti-globalisation group, Global Resistance (GR).

Wellings is the latest spycop name to be confirmed by the inquiry, following ‘Marco Jacobs’ and ‘Carlo Neri,’ both of whom also worked undercover in Scotland according to campaigners."

See: Simon Wellings – profile of #spycop now up (Undercover Research Group, link) and: Undercover Policing Inquiry: Update on anonymity applications - N118 ("Simon Wellings") (pdf)

UK: Video: JUSTICE FOR CAMMELL LAIRDS 37 (GMB, link):

"37 men spent up to a month in jail in 1984 after being arrested at Cammell Laird, in Birkenhead, during a dispute over jobs. They were targeted to put off others involved in industrial action.

The group were on strike for 10 months and occupied part of the site, including a gas rig under construction, and were sentenced to jail in their absence for daring to stand up against the power of the state and all that it had to throw at them.

The men have fought for over 30 years to get the truth about what happened, even taking their battle to the European Parliament in despair, after having exhausted all legal and ‘Freedom of Information’ channels at national level to get access to information and justice.

Several of the men have since passed away and went to their grave with this injustice remaining unresolved and with no remedy or formal apology for their inhumane treatment and this sense of injustice remains with their families

The others are determined to carry on the fight."

UK: LONDON, 9 February 2017: Final conference of the BYTE project on big data

"BYTE will be hosting our project final conference on Capturing the benefits of big data and addressing legal, ethical and social challenges. The conference will include policy-makers, large industry, academics, civil society organisations, SMEs and legal experts.It will focus on the following priority areas for big data practice in Europe:

• Smart cities
• Healthcare
• Environmental data
• Data ethics
• Industrial innovation

The event will showcase BYTE findings and feature presentations by experts in urban transportation, genomics, geo-spatial data, open data and linked data."

See: FINAL CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT (Byte, link). The conference is free and open to all, registration is required.

UK: Morton Hall: another death in immigration detention (IRR, link)

"On 11 January an unnamed 27-year-old Polish man was found dead in Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, the first death this year and the 29th death in immigration detention since 1989.

It was reported by the Unity Centre that the man was found hanged in his room at the centre. He had apparently been refused bail before Christmas as there was no surety and his girlfriend, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the hearing, was unable to travel. Their baby was apparently born on the day of his death. Morton Hall, unlike most other removal centres, is run by the Home Office rather than a private company."

UK: Prison suicides rise to record level in England and Wales (BBC News, link):

"A record number of people killed themselves in prisons in England and Wales in 2016, figures show.

The Ministry of Justice said there were 119 self-inflicted deaths - 29 more than the previous year and the highest number since records began in 1978.

It also reported a record high of 37,784 self-harm incidents and 25,049 assault incidents.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said prisons faced "long-standing issues that will not be resolved in weeks"."

See: Ministry of Justice: Safety in Custody Statistics Bulletin, England and Wales, Deaths in prison custody to December 2016, Assaults and Self-Harm to September 2016 (pdf)

And: Downsize prison to tackle suicide crisis (CCJS, link)

TURKEY-GREECE-EU: Turkey may cancel readmission deal with Greece after court's failure to extradite FETÖ soldiers (Daily Sabah, link):

"Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey will take necessary measures against Greece following the court's failure to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) soldiers involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt, to Turkey.

Çavusoglu said that Turkey may consider cancelling the readmission deal with Greece, which allows the latter to return illegal migrants -who traveled through Turkey- to Turkey, in order to be processed before they are sent back to their country of origin, TRT Haber reported.

He highlighted that the Greek court's ruling is a political rather than a legal decision, noting that it will have unavoidable implications for bilateral relations.

"They're not just petty criminals" Çavusoglu said, adding that the soldiers attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.17)

Italy: A refugee has drowned while tourists laughed and told him to ‘go back home’ [VIDEO] (The Canary, link):

"Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a refugee drowned in Venice, Italy. The man, thought to be from Gambia, a country which has been on the brink of war, died in the icy waters of the Grand Canal. But instead of helping him, onlookers filmed, laughed and told him to “go back home”.
“Let him die”

The man, named as 22-year-old Gambian Pateh Sabally, died on Sunday 22 January. He got into difficulties in Venice’s Grand Canal as tourist boats went past. But onlookers didn’t care. They filmed the man’s last moments, and shouted abuse.

One person can be heard saying “He’s stupid. He wants to die”. Another said “Go on. Go back home”. Someone else said ““Let him die at this point”. And in the video people can be heard laughing."

And see: 'Let him die' shout onlookers as African refugee drowns in Venice's Grand Canal - The Gambian man was left to drown while passers-by filmed the incident (IBT, link):

"Italian magistrates have opened an investigation after a Gambian man drowned on 22 January in Venice's Grand Canal in front of onlookers who filmed the incident, laughing and shouting racist comments."

USA: Draft Executive Order on Secret CIA Prisons Signals a Return to the Darkness of the Post-9/11 Period (The Intercept, link):

"A draft presidential order being circulated in the Trump administration could signal a return to the executive-branch lawlessness that followed September 11, 2001.

A draft of the executive order obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post calls for senior officials to consider re-opening the CIA’s network of secret prisons, where terror suspects were disappeared and deprived of their rights.

And by rescinding President Obama’s 2009 executive order that banned torture and closed the CIA’s prisons — where many of the worst abuses of CIA’s post-9/11 torture program took place – it paves the way for illegal torture to take place in secret.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer disputed the authenticity of the draft order on Wednesday, saying that it is “not a White House document,” and that he had “no idea where it came from.” But when asked whether the administration was considering re-opening black sites, Spicer refused to answer, saying he would not comment on the document."

See Draft Order (pdf)

UK-EU: BREXIT Article 50 Bill published (pdf) and Explanatory Memorandum (pdf)

The government has published its Bill and MPs are to get just five days to debate and scrutinise. The Bill contains two clauses and is 137 words long.

Brussels wants Schengen zone restored from mid-May, Germany sceptical (euractiv, link):

"The EU executive said yesterday (25 January) emergency border controls imposed within the bloc’s free-travel zone over the migration crisis should get a final three-month extension to mid-May, but Germany wants to keep them in place longer....

“We currently have temporary border controls in place. These are exceptional measures for an exceptional situation,” the bloc’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos said in proposing the extension. He made it clear, however, that he wanted to restore the chief achievement of European integration in full from then on: “It’s a question of three months to come back to normal.”

But Germany, which holds elections on 24 September in which immigration and security will be prominent issues, wants to be able to extend the measures for longer, diplomatic sources said.

With immigration into the European Union under tighter control than at the height of the crisis, that may be hard to justify. That is why Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, will today propose changing the legal justification for the border checks to security issues."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: The Assembly says no to online hate (link):

"Based on the report by Marit Maij (Netherlands, SOC), PACE has proposed, in a resolution, a set of measures to prevent and combat online hate. According to the adopted text, member States should strengthen their national legislation, so that it “allows for the effective prosecution of online hate speech, while fully respecting freedom of expression” and “covers all forms of online incitement to violence, bullying, harassment, threats and stalking”. These laws must take into account a whole range of characteristics, including “sex, colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political or other opinion, and disability”, as grounds of protection."

See adopted: Resolution: Ending cyberdiscrimination and online hate (pdf)
Bulgaria’s EU justice monitoring report goes unnoticed (euractiv, link):

"The European Commission’s monitoring report on Bulgaria’s progress in improving its law-enforcement system went largely unnoticed, as its publication yesterday (25 January) coincided with the appointment of a caretaker government in Sofia, pending snap parliamentary elections on 26 March.

The European Commission on Wednesday published its reports on Bulgaria and Romania, under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) set up as a condition of the countries’ EU accession ten years ago, on 1 January 2007....

The CVM was set up as means to overcome deficiencies in the areas of judicial reform and the fight against corruption, and in the case of Bulgaria in the fight against organised crime. The initial idea was that these deficiencies could be overcome in a couple of years. However, ten years later, the CVM monitoring is still ongoing, and will remain in place during Bulgaria’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the first half of 2018."

See: On Progress in Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (COM 43-17, pdf)

Eurotunnel: Death at the fences, profits for Goldman Sachs (Calais Research, link):

"At least 15 people were killed in or around the channel tunnel in 2015. Some were electrocuted, some run over by trains, some chased by police into traffic near the entrance. All these deaths were a direct result of people trying to get past the intensive security put in place by Eurotunnel, funded by the British and French governments, to stop them reaching England.

Responding to these deaths, Eurotunnel apologised for the inconvenience caused to its passengers. Its boss Jacques Gounon explained that the migrants dying at his door are “very far from poor unfortunates who seek refuge in England and have a right to a humanitarian approach”, but instead are “veritable commandos, well coordinated” who seek “to make politics and destabilise the government.”....

in 2015 Eurotunnel, which runs the tunnel under a concession lasting until 2086, made a €100 million profit. €97 million of this was paid out as a dividend and handed straight to its shareholders, international investment firms led by major shareholder and creditor Goldman Sachs. Despite this record year, Eurotunnel is demanding millions more in compensation from the governments for “lost earnings” due to the “migrant crisis”."

UK: Parents of Thames mystery death teenager accuse Met of racism Medha and Pradeep Chummun say not knowing what happened to their son made 'every day a battle' (IBT, link);

"Parents of Krishna Chummun, the London teenager whose body was pulled from the Thames in October 2015, have asked the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case involving their son. The Chummuns say they want a murder investigation launched and accused the Met of racism in the mishandling of the case."

And See: 'They took him away and they didn't look after him – and now he's gone' - Mary Foxall’s world was turned on its head when her 19-year-old son Jake took his own life in a young offender institution (Guardian, link)

Germany to scrap ‘lese majeste’ law after Turkey row (euractiv, link):

"The German government voted Wednesday (25 January) to scrap a “lese majeste” law that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sought to employ against a popular German television satirist."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.1.17)

Increased surveillance in the Med and policing Libya's southern border

On Thursday there will be an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta under the Maltese Council Presidency. Among the issues under discussion will be the latest attempt to end the movement of refugees into Libya and then on to Italy. This is set out in a Joint Communication from the Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service): Migration on the Central Mediterranean route, Managing flows, saving lives (JOIN 4-17,pdf)

While Commission President Juncker recognises that: "First and foremost, stability in Libya and the region as a whole is required" most plans are already known. Two new initiatives are speeding up the introduction of the "Seahorse Mediterranean Network" and sending the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to strengthen Libya's southern border controls. Managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route – Commission contributes to Malta discussion (Press release, pdf)

UPDATED: EU-USA PNR: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

SWD: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD 14-17, pdf)

Response by the USA (pdf)

UK: Met police blasted for “abysmal” record on CCTV image collection (IFSEC, link):

"The Met police has an abysmal record when it comes to collecting CCTV images to aid prosecutions, their former CCTV chief has claimed....

Mick Neville, head of the Met’s Central Forensic Image Team until he retired two weeks ago, says the Met’s super recognisers – people with an exceptional talent for recognising faces – could solve thousands more crimes if the force trained officers to understand how to retrieve and use footage from London’s myriad network of video surveillance systems.

“The Met has the best system in the world for identifying suspects who are caught on camera in connection with crimes but it is not getting the images,” he said. “All these cameras are on and capturing images of suspects, but they are not being used to anything like their full potential.”

CCTV images were used in less than 2% of criminal cases in London during an eight month period last year, he said. This is despite the hug coverage afforded by the capital’s CCTV systems, with the average Briton caught on camera 70 times a day."

In 2011 the UK had about 1.85 million CCTV cameras

EU: Commission: Back to Schengen: Commission proposes that the Council allows Member States to maintain temporary controls for another three months (Press release, pdf):

"Brussels, 25 January 2017: European Commission: The European Commission has today recommended the Council allows Member States to maintain the temporary controls currently in place at certain internal Schengen borders in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway for a further period of three months."

And see Proposal for: Council Implementing Decision setting out a Recommendation for prolonging temporary internal border control in exceptional circumstances putting the overall functioning of the Schengen area at risk (COM 40-16,pdf)

EU races to meet Denmark-Europol deadline (euobserver, link):

"“Why the hell was such a point put to a referendum?”, German social democrat MEP Birgit Sippel said at an European Parliament (EP) hearing on Denmark and Europol, the EU’s joint police agency, on Tuesday (24 January).

She could barely hide her frustration with national votes that forced the EU to make convoluted derogations to keep people happy....

Under the “tricky” deal, Denmark would first be listed as a third-state in relations with Europol, on the same level as China, Norway, Canada and other countries.

A concrete co-operation deal could then be worked out, securing that the police co-operation continues in practice."

Council of Europe: Big Data: we need to protect the persons behind the data (link)

"Big Data is changing the manner in which the society can be understood. It provides valuable insights and offers opportunities for innovation, enhancing productivity and social participation."

See Guidelines (pdf)

Scotland: Victims of police spies condemn inquiry, demand meeting with Justice Secretary (COPs, link):

"Victims of police spying in Scotland have condemned the new inquiry into the scandal. They say Justice Secretary Michael Matheson did not speak to any of them before commissioning HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate infiltration of political campaigns by officers from secret units. The activists targeted have branded the review as a whitewash, saying it lacks transparency and prioritises abusers over victims."

See full-text of: Letter (link)

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): The impact of the proposal for a revised Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights (link):

"The European Parliament asked the Agency to provide its Opinion on the fundamental rights impact of the proposed revision of the Eurodac Regulation on children."

See: The impact of the proposal for a revised: Eurodac Regulation on fundamental rights Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (pdf)

EU: Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (JHA) (link):

"The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will meet in Malta on two separate days (the Home Affairs Ministers will meet on the first day and the Justice Ministers will meet on the second day) to discuss, in a more informal manner, matters that fall within their remit, and to set the way forward on specific issues. "

Hungary: You don’t know which direction this whole political system will go, says Balázs Tóth of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Budapest Beacon, link):

"As far as his outlook for 2017, Balázs says “there is definitely no reason to be optimistic.”

“If you would have asked me in 2010 whether I could imagine the developments that have taken place in Hungary over the past 6 years, I would have said ‘No’. But they did happen, and life goes on. I would say that most people in society don’t like this system, but there is a solid 25-30 percent base of voters who still support this regime, and that is enough to keep them in power. I can’t foresee what is going to happen in the future. We don’t know what Orbán meant when he said 2017 will be the year all the Soros-supported NGOs will be somehow excluded from public life. But if it gets any more serious than what we have seen so far, there may be cause for concern.”"

And see: Space for independent journalism will continue to shrink in 2017, says Direkt36’s András Petho (Budapest Beacon, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.1.17): understanding child migration in Europe; Malta reintroducing border checks for migration summits; humanitarian corridor from Ethiopia to Italy; and more.

UK: GCHQ director Robert Hannigan resigns (BBC News, link):

"The head of Britain's electronic surveillance agency GCHQ has resigned. Robert Hannigan, who has held the post of GCHQ director since 2014, said he was stepping down for family reasons.

He said he was proud of his work but that 20 years in public service roles had "demanded a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family"." Furthermore: "Sources have told BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera that the resignation was not the result of any concerns over policy in the UK or in the US."

See: Statewatch Observatory: EU-UK-GCHQ-USA-NSA: Data surveillance

And: Letter from Robert Hannigan to the Foreign Secretary (pdf)

HUNGARY: Hungarian NGOs prepare for government crackdown (Deutsche Welle, link):

"...as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's vision of illiberal democracy threatens to go global, Soros, 86, has been declared persona non grata in Hungary, and his "open society" ideals are under siege. In mid-January Orban's Fidesz party deputy singled out three Soros-funded NGOs - the human rights organization the Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ and anti-corruption body Transparency International - to be "swept out." The subject has been placed on the legislative agenda for the spring."

See also: Civil activists fear new crackdown in Hungary after Trump election (The Guardian, link) and detailed background on the Orban government's attacks on fundamental rights and the rule of law: Six years of Orbán, 600 laws and measures: EU "must show it is serious" about democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary (Statewatch News Online, November 2016)

EU: Becoming adult: Child mobility in the EU’s refugee crisis: What are the data gaps and why do they matter? (pdf) by Nando Sigona and Rachel Humphris:

"Child migration into Europe is diverse and often invisible in data and policy. Legal definitions, bureaucratic practices, rights and entitlements of child migrants vary across European states. While some segments of this population are visible in public debate and datasets, especially unaccompanied asylum seeking children, others are hardly visible, particularly dependent children to asylum seeking parents and undocumented children."

Via: University of Oxford: Border Criminologies (link)

And see a previous, more detailed paper by the authors: Global Migration Data Analysis Centre: Children and unsafe migration in Europe: Data and policy, understanding the evidence base (September 2016, pdf)

EU-MALTA: Schengen: Malta reintroducing border controls for high-level political summits on migration in February

The government of Malta is reintroducing controls at the country's air and sea borders between 21 January and 9 February, to "ensure internal security is maintained" for two high-level political summits focusing on migration that will be hosted by Malta as part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

See: Reintroduction of temporary border controls at the Maltese air and sea borders (20 January 2017, 5206/17, unclassified, pdf)

UK: SCOTLAND: Women's statement: Full investigation needed on undercover policing in Scotland (Police Spies Out Of Lives, link):

"The review into Undercover Policing set up by HMICS in Scotland is an insult to those of us who were spied on there. It is the Police investigating the police, with the people affected by undercover policing being given no voice. Our experience would lead us to expect a cover up. HMICS is staffed with ex-police, some of whom will return to policing with the force they are examining, and some of whom actually have links to undercover policing in Scotland. It is also limited to events from 2000. Those of us who were spied on in Scotland before that date will not even be included.

We call for a full Public Inquiry to get to the truth of what happened in Scotland, and in all the countries these undercover officers operated in. We call for everyone who was spied on to be given access to the police files held on them in all of these countries. These units were political policing units, akin to the Stasi of East Germany. They must be closed, and held accountable for their actions.”"

This condemnation follows the previous: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link) and see: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

UK: Lords Committee slams data sharing powers in Digital Economy Bill (Open Rights Group, link):

"The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee of the House of Lords has made some very critical recommendations about the data sharing proposals in the Digital Economy Bill.

In a report published today the Committee asks for the “almost untrammeled” powers given to Ministers in the Bill to be severely curtailed, and for all Codes of Practice associated with these data sharing powers to be laid before Parliament in draft for full approval before coming into force."

See the report: House of Lords: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 5-7 (pdf)

"Part 5 [of the Digital Economy Bill] contains a suite of new provisions (divided into seven chapters). These would very significantly broaden the scope for the sharing of information across government departments, local authorities and other public bodies. There are numerous powers to delegate important matters to regulations or codes of practice. Several broadly similar powers appear in each chapter of Part 5."

And: Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Digital Economy Bill: Parts 1-4 (pdf)

ITALY-ETHIOPIA: Caritas supports humanitarian corridor for Horn of Africa refugees (Caritas, link):

"Italy is opening a humanitarian corridor for refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia with the support of Caritas. An agreement with the Italian government was signed last week.

The women, men and children will come from refugee camps in Ethiopia. Once in Italy, Caritas will help the refugees through the project “Protetto. Rifugiato a casa mia” (Protected: a refugee in my home) which is in its third year of helping house refugees with members of local communities in Italy."

FRANCE: Far-right: the Front National: brief history and overview of electoral results

As presidential elections in France approach, a research note from the UK Parliament published after the European Parliament elections in 2014 provides an overview of previous electoral results of the far-right Front National (FN). The party will publish its new manifesto next month; last weekend (21 January) FN leader Marine Le Pen was the headline speaker at a "counter-summit" of EU far-right parties held in Koblenz, Germany.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.1.17): Commission needs to assess EU-Turkey deal human rights impact; Malta wants to return migrants to Libya; refugees in freezing weather in south-east Europe.

EU-Turkey deal: Ombudsman says that Commission must do more to assess human rights impact

The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly has today issued a decision (pdf) that says the European Commission must undertake a more thorough assessment of the human rights impact of the EU-Turkey deal on migrants and refugees, which could be done by including a section on human rights in its future progress reports on the implementation of the deal.

MEDITERRANEAN: Malta wants EU-Libyan patrols to stop boat migrants (Malta Today, link):

"The Maltese government has presented home affairs ministers of the EU with a “non-paper” – diplomatic-speak for a political memo – calling for joint patrols with the Libyan navy in a bid to stop the influx of migrants through the Central Mediterranean route.

Malta has assumed the presidency of the European Union and is currently tasked with the delicate bid to push the reform of the Dublin Regulation, which forces EU member states to process any asylum claims presented at their borders.

In its aide-memoire to European member states, Malta has proposed placing European coast guard patrols just outside the extensive Libyan coast, in joint patrols with Libyan counterparts, who will then take intercepted migrant boats back to Libyan shores."

See also: EU needs Turkish-style migration deal with Libya - Maltese PM (Reuters, link) and more detail on EU-Libya cooperation to date: European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link)

EU: More "going dark" problems: Europol wants data retention to ease identification of individual internet users

Europol has written to national delegations in the Council of the EU expressing the concerns of law enforcement agencies regarding the use of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) technology, which hampers "cyber" investigations by making it impossible for officers to "link a particular cyber criminal's activity back to a particular IP address."

See: Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGN) and the Going Dark Problem - initial debate (5127/17, LIMITE, 16 January 2017, pdf)

UK: Police Taser their own race relations adviser in Bristol (The Guardian, link):

"The police watchdog has launched an investigation after officers Tasered a race relations champion who has worked to improve links between the force and the black community.

Judah Adunbi, 63, was Tasered by police outside his home in Bristol on Saturday when officers apparently mistook him for a wanted man.

Video recorded by a neighbour shows police scuffling with Adunbi as he tries to get though the gate of his home in the Easton area. He falls to the ground after a Taser is discharged. Adunbi said later he thought he was going to die."

EU-USA: Donald Trump and Europe: A salutary wake-up call (Voxeurop, link):

"With his clear-cut positions and confrontational attitude towards other powers, the thundering businessman who takes up office on January 20th has the merit of centering the attention of the majority of European countries. It's now time to transform this shared attitude into real politics, judges Bernard Guetta."

On the other hand: EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link)

USA: Drone wars, Guantánamo and "homeland security", from Obama to Trump

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, Barack Obama's presidency has been under serious scrutiny. Below is a selection of articles examining Obama's legacy in relation to drone killings; the research, development and deployment of "homeland security" policies and technologies; and Guantánamo Bay.

UK: ABC & Liberty email all headteachers about #BoycottSchoolCensus (Against Borders for Children, link):

"Today, Monday 16th January, every headteacher of primary and secondary schools and academies in England will have received an unprecedented e-mail jointly signed by Against Borders for Children (ABC) and human rights organisation Liberty.

We have asked headteachers to ensure all parents are informed of their right to either refuse the new nationality questions in the upcoming Spring School Census this week, on Thursday 19th January or retract data already collected in the Autumn School Census. The new census data was recently described in a House of Lords debate as having “all the hallmarks of racism”.

As campaigners we have also highlighted that the nationality data collection is explicitly linked to Home Office policy to reduce immigration. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) released in December also allows the Department for Education (DfE) to share the personal details of up to 1500 pupils with Home Office every month for immigration enforcement purposes."

And see: Refuse. Retract. Resist borders for children! (Right to Remain, link)

UK: Detaining torture survivors: the history of a policy facing legal challenge

An article published by Right to Remain gives an overview of the situation regarding the detention of torture survivors in the run-up to a forthcoming judicial review of the government's current 'Adults at Risk' policy, through which the government introduced in 2016 a more restrictive definition of torture than that previously used. The judicial review is based on legal challenges brought by Medical Justice, Duncan Lewis solicitors and Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

Selling the tools of state surveillance: how the work of a would be-cyberweapons dealer from India led to the detention of an Italian bodyguard in Mauritania

An article on the Bloomberg website tells the story of how the sales efforts of Manish Kumar, a 30-year-old from New Delhi who markets surveillance tools to governments through his company Wolf Intelligence, led to an Italian bodyguard being held in pre-trial detention in a Mauritanian military barracks (where he has now been for almost a year-and-a-half, accused of fraud and money laundering) after Kumar promised to provide the Mauritanian government with sophisticated covert mobile phone surveillance tools. The article gives an insight into the murky world of the cyber-espionage trade and the individuals involved.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)

EU-USA: European Commission: Security Union: Commission reports on the implementation of the EU-US TFTP and PNR Agreements (Press release, pdf):

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States for the purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (COM 31-17, pdf)

"the report underlines the important role of Europol in carrying out its verification tasks of requests for data from the EU and proactively initiating a series of requests, thus helping to raise awareness of the TFTP among EU authorities.

The Commission also makes some suggestions to Member States to provide regular feedback on the TFTP data received from the US authorities to further improve the quality and quantity of information exchanged and encourages Europol to further continue its efforts in providing support to Member States. The next review will be conducted at the beginning of 2018."

Report on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name records to the United States Department of Homeland Security (COM 29-16, pdf)

"However, despite the positive implementation of the Agreement, some improvements remain necessary. Amongst other measures, the US authorities should monitor more closely the number of staff with access rights to PNR data as well as regularly monitor the list of sensitive data codes to ensure that any sensitive data is automatically blocked by the system. In addition, the US authorities should ensure that PNR data which is no longer required is masked out, anonymised or deleted as soon as possible. The next joint evaluation of the Agreement is due to take place later in 2017."

EU: European Parliament: Briefing: Prison conditions in the Member States: selected European standards and best practices (pdf):

"In 2014, prisons across the EU were holding over half a million inmates, including both convicted persons, serving their final sentence, and persons accused of a crime. Living conditions in prisons are regulated by numerous laws and guidelines: from constitutional provisions to national criminal and penitentiary laws and international law principles."

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Spycops Activists Demand Meeting with Scottish Government (COPS, link){

"There has been emphatic condemnation of the terms of the Scottish inquiry into undercover policing. Not only is it a self-investigation by senior police, it is limited to the last few years of abuses. Although the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in 1968, the Scottish review will not examine anything before 2000....

Today, a group of the core participants who were also spied upon in Scotland have written to Michael Matheson requesting a meeting. Here is the text of their letter...."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.1.17)

EU: High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability report
"A common repository would be a logical next step after a shared biometric matching service."

Report of the third meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Infomation Systems and Interoperability (dated 29 November 2016, just published): High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability Third meeting — 29 November 2016 Report (pdf)

UK-USA-Libya: Press releases: Supreme Court rules MI6-CIA rendition case against government can go ahead

The UK Supreme Court has [18.1.17] unanimously rejected the government’s attempts to prevent a case brought by victims of a British-American ‘rendition’ operation from being heard.

All seven judges ruled that a claim brought by an anti-Gaddafi dissident and his wife – who was pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, abused and forcibly transferred to a Libyan prison in 2004 – should be heard. Ministers had claimed that, because the operation was carried out jointly by MI6 and the CIA, it would be inappropriate for British courts to rule on activity which involved American officials – even if it involved kidnap, rendition and torture.

ECHR: Court: Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demo (link):

"Human rights judges ruled today that Hungarian authorities failed to protect Roma against racist abuse during anti-Roma demonstration.

In its Chamber judgment in the case of Király and Dömötör v. Hungary (application no. 10851/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, by five votes to two, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned an anti-Roma demonstration. Király and Dömötör – both of whom are of Roma origin – alleged that the police had failed to protect them from racist abuse during the demonstration and to properly investigate the incident."

See: Press release (pdf)

EU-TURKEY: UNHCR cannot monitor the rights of people returned under EU-Turkey deal

"What did the European Commission forget to tell us about the returnees of the EU-Turkey Deal?

So finally UNHCR stated formally, very quietly unfortunately, that has no unimpeded access to the returned refugees to Turkey and cannot monitor the returns under the EU-Turkey deal in any effective manner. In short they haven’t seen much of the returned refugees."

USA: Biometrics leads to arrest of accused child molester on the lam 17 years (arstechnica.com, link): "FBI says it matched suspect's passport photo with pics from nearly 20 years ago."

Anti-surveillance clothing: surveillance for commercial gain - not security purposes - is what really breeds resentment (IFSEC Global, link):

"There has been growing press coverage about anti-surveillance clothing and paraphernalia to counter the effectiveness of face recognition..."

And see: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (Guardian, link): "Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology."

EU: Amnesty: major new report denounces Europe's "ever-expanding national security state"

A major new report from Amnesty International examines the expansion of security measures and states of emergency across 14 EU states in the last two years, warning that "the disturbing idea that Europe faces a perpetual emergency is beginning to take hold," because: "Powers intended to be exceptional are appearing more and more as permanent features of national law."

See: Amnesty International, Europe: Dangerously disproportionate: The ever-expanding national security state in Europe (link)

EU: Council of Europe: Human Rights Commissioner: Slovenia: Parliament must ensure that legislative reform on migrants complies with human rights obligations (link):

"Slovenian parliamentarians should reject amendments to the Aliens Act that are contrary to international human rights and refugee protection standards by which Slovenia is bound”, said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the President of the National Assembly of Slovenia.

Two of the proposed amendments recently introduced by the Government would allow the police to refuse entry into Slovenia and to arrest and summarily return foreigners who entered the country irregularly, even if they express the intention to apply for asylum in Slovenia. The parliament could activate these measures for a renewable 6-month period in case of a change of the migration situation in Slovenia that “threatens public order and internal security."

See: Letter (pdf)

UK: Detention Forum statement – the death at Morton Hall detention centre (link):

"We are saddened by yet another death in immigration detention last week in Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. It has been reported by the Guardian newspaper that a young detained Polish man took his own life, leaving his baby and his partner behind. The baby was born on the day of the man’s death. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and communities.

This is the third death in UK immigration detention in five weeks, and comes at a time when the government’s commitment to detention reform is in serious doubt."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.1.17): Turkey: 330km of border walls built in 2016; new campaign in France against "solidarity offence"; over 100 dead after shipwreck; Spanish court case into migrant deaths re-opened; and more.

EU-USA: The Brief: Commission fails Trump’s challenge (EurActiv, link):

"Donald Trump has predicted the crumbling of and eventual collapse of the EU. His damaging assertion was met with a depressingly limp response by the European Commission.

“I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump told The Times and Bild newspapers.

Trump followed this up by saying the EU was “basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

If the future of the EU is your business, this demands a swift rebuttal – to shore up diminishing confidence if nothing else. But we didn’t get that from the European Commission today.

Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the executive “had read the interview with interest”. Asked if that was all the Commission had to say, Schinas said, “Yes”."

EU: European Parliament studies: gender equality, obstacles to EU citizens' free movement in Poland

Three studies conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service: on gender equality policies in Spain; on the use of EU funds for gender equality Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK between 2014-16, and on obstacles in Poland to EU citizens' and their families exercising their rights to free movement and residence.

EU: European Parliament briefing: Review of dual-use export controls (pdf)

"Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. The regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure."

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems (SIPRI, link) by Dr Vincent Boulanin

"Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed under the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is still at an early stage, with most states parties still in the process of understanding the issues at stake—beginning with the fundamental questions of what constitutes ‘autonomy’ and to what extent it is a matter of concern in the context of weapon systems and the use of force. A number of states parties have stressed that future discussions could usefully benefit from further investigation into the conceptual and technical foundations of the meaning of ‘autonomy’.

This working paper is an attempt to respond to that demand. It aims to clarify some basic understandings about autonomy: what it is, how it applies to weapon systems, how it works, how it is created and what the key technological enablers are. It is based on a substantial review of the literature as well as a background series of interviews with experts from various expert communities."

TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

Thousands rally in Spain for ETA prisoner amnesty (The Local, link):

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bilbao in northern Spain on Saturday, calling for amnesty for prisoners of the Eta Basque separatist group.

Protesters in the Basque country, who hold this demonstration every January, held up placards of a finger pointing to the sky as they denounced the prison conditions endured by Basque separatists.

Almost all members of Eta, a group that gave up armed resistence to Spain in 2011, have been jailed but the movement has refused to disband.

They have been calling for an amnesty for their incarcerated members so they can be reunited with their families.

Basque newspaper Gara estimated the number of people in the Bilbao streets on a rainy day as 78,000, while police declined to give a crowd estimate."

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

UK: 'Specific' terror evidence not necessary for RAF drone strikes (The Guardian, link):

"“Specific” advance evidence of a terror plot threatening UK interests is not legally necessary before launching pre-emptive drone strikes against suspects overseas, according to the the attorney general.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Jeremy Wright QC denied that the threshold for self-defence was being “watered down” but said not knowing the target, type or time of a terrorist attack should not prevent military action."

Wright has said that he is adopting the series of tests set out in: Principles relevant to the scope of a state's right of self-defence against an imminent or actual armed attack by nonstate actors (pdf) by Daniel Bethlehem.

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (pdf):

"In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, in November 2015 the European Commission presented a package of measures aiming to tighten control on the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union, improve traceability of legally held firearms and enhance cooperation between Member States, as well as ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposal to amend the current 'Firearms Directive' (Directive 91/477/EEC) was part of this package. It aims to ban some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, as well as to include some previously excluded actors (collectors and brokers) and blankfiring weapons within the scope of the Directive. Stakeholders commented particularly on the proposed ban on some semi-automatic firearms and the obligation for collectors to deactivate firearms.

After several rounds of trilogue negotiations, the Council and Parliament reached agreement on the proposal in December. The text is now to be submitted for a vote in plenary at first reading."

Note: a plenary reading and vote is currently scheduled for 1 March 2017 (European Parliament, link).

Statewatch Analysis: Eight report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy).

Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migrations and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)

UK: School governors forced to declare nationality to Government (inews.co.uk, link):

"Ministers have been accused of turning schools into “Border Control” after it emerged governors are being forced to declare their nationality to a Government register set up in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” scandal.

Concerns have been raised as to how the information about governors’ nationalities will be used, given the register was created in response to allegations that schools in Birmingham were being taken over by hardline Muslim groups. It has led to fears that the details are being collected as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants and the Government’s efforts to step up its national security measures. ‘

"Shameful’ :The policy affects the estimated 300,000 unpaid volunteers who make up England’s school governing bodies. Civil liberty campaigners have branded the move as “shameful”."

SCOTLAND: Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link):

"The announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

USA: Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (Independent, link):

"Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17) including: EU migration control in the Sahel, Germany to return refugees to Greece from March; questions over push-backs in Spain and Serbia; Malta PM wants EU-Turkey-style deal with other states.

Interpol: Red Alert! How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders (Al Jazeera, link):

"Interpol is the world's largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It's then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate."

And see: People and Power: New documentary shows the impact of abusive INTERPOL alerts (Fair Trials, link):

"A new documentary has been broadcast, showing the devastating impact that INTERPOL Red Notices can have when used on the wrong people."

EU: Data retention and the law: Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson et al: Continuity and Radical Change (European Law Blog, link):

"The CJEU delivered its judgment in Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson on 21 December 2016. The Court had been asked by a Swedish and British court respectively to consider the scope and effect of its previous judgment in Digital Rights Ireland (discussed here). The judgment reflects continuity in so far as it follows in the line of this, and earlier judgments taking a strong stance on data protection and privacy. Yet, the degree of protection it offers these rights over competing interests, notably security, is radical. In particular, the Court unequivocally states that legislation providing for general and indiscriminate data retention is incompatible with the E-Privacy Directive, as read in light of the relevant EU Charter rights. While the judgment was delivered in the context of the E-Privacy Directive, the Court’s reasoning could equally apply to other EU secondary legislation or programmes interpreted in light of the Charter. This judgment will be a game-changer for state surveillance in Europe and while it offered an early Christmas gift to privacy campaigners, it is likely to receive a very mixed reaction from EU Member States as such. While national data retention legislation has been annulled across multiple Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Romania), this annulment has been based on an assessment of the proportionality of the relevant measures rather than on a finding that blanket retention is per se unlawful."

Background: Court of Justice of the EU

Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Digital Rights Ireland case on the Data Retention Directive: The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages (The Guardian, link):

"A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Court: Access to totalitarian archives data not to worsen (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The accessibility of archival sources from the totalitarian era will not worsen, but researchers must take into account the protection of delicate personal data if they publish them, the Czech Constitutional Court (US) ruled on Wednesday.

The US has turned down a proposal opposing the exception granted to historians thanks to which they have easy access to the documents from the Nazi (1939-1945) and Communist regimes (1948-1989).

For this, they do not need the consent of the living people whose sensitive personal data appear in the documents.

In some cases, the researchers need the consent by the living protagonists of past events with the subsequent publication of the documents."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

EU-AFRICA: Is Europe’s coke habit funding terrorism? (African Herald Express, link):

"Europe’s cocaine may have a far more sinister journey than most users like to imagine.

The rising European cocaine market has led to South American traffickers using West Africa as a direct transit line into the region. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, $2 billion of Europe’s cocaine is passing through West Africa. Nigeria is seen as the path of least resistance into Europe due to high levels of corruption, low-governance, and the regions extreme wealth inequality.

Boko Haram is said to be one of the main beneficiary parties of the cocaine trafficking in the region. The African Union’s new police cooperation body against transnational crime, the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), claim trafficking is one of the main sources of revenue for the group and helps fund the violent terrorist attacks on civilians."

UK: Counter-terrorism money being spent on redacting evidence to inquiry on undercover policing (The Independent, link):

"Counter-terrorism money is being used to redact police evidence to an inquiry into undercover policing tactics, it has been revealed.

Nearly £750,000 from the counter-terrorism budget has been earmarked for an IT system to assess and redact material which might be sent to the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry, according to papers obtained from a Freedom of Information request and seen by the website PoliceOracle.com.

The inquiry, chaired by senior judge Sir Christopher Pitchford, was set up after it emerged that undercover officers including Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), had slept with activists while infiltrating protest movements."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

Cellebrite Sold Phone Hacking Tech to Repressive Regimes, Data Suggests (Motherboard, link):

"Cellebrite's hacking kit is one of the most popular forensics tools on the market, capable of circumventing passcodes and extracting a wealth of data from seized cellphones. US law enforcement agencies have invested heavily in the tech, but Cellebrite may have also sold its wares to authoritarian regimes with abysmal human rights records, such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, according to a large cache of data obtained by Motherboard.

The revelations raise questions around Cellebrite's choice of customers, whether it vets them, and what policies, if any, are in place to stop Cellebrite's technology from being used against journalists or activists."

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications (New York Times, link):

"In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people."

See: Procedures for the availability or dissemination of raw signals intelligence information obtained by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (raw SIGINT availability procedures) (pdf)

USA-RUSSIA-UK: The Trump revelations: trumped-up?

Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author's credibility (The Guardian, link):

"His denials – at least some of them – were emphatic, even by the standards that Donald Trump has come to be judged by. The dossier, he said, was a confection of lies; he compared it to Nazi propaganda; it was fake news spread by sick people.

At his press briefing on Wednesday, the president-elect dared the world’s media to scrutinise the 35 pages of claims, before throwing down a challenge – where’s the proof? Nobody had any. Case closed.

But in the rush to trample all over the dossier and its contents, one key question remained. Why had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?

And the answer to that lies in the credibility of its apparent author, the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him. In all these respects, the 53-year-old is in credit."

And: Trump 'compromising' claims: How and why did we get here? (BBC News, link):

"Donald Trump has described as "fake news" allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC's Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light."

GERMANY: Wikileaks publishes classified documents from inside German NSA inquiry commission (Electrospaces, link):

"On December 1, Wikileaks published 90 gigabytes of classified documents from the German parliamentary commission that investigates NSA spying and the cooperation between NSA and the German foreign intelligence service BND. The documents include 125 files from BND, 33 from the security service BfV and 72 from the information security agency BSI.

It should be noted though that all documents are from the lowest classification level and lots of them are just formal letters, copies of press reports and duplications within e-mail threads. Nonetheless, the files also provide interesting new details, for example about the German classification system, BND's internal structure, the way they handled the Snowden-revelations and the use of XKEYSCORE."

The post is being regularly updated as new information is found in the documents published by Wikileaks (link).

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

United Nations Special Rapporteur: On the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Civil Society Guide: A handbook for using the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf)

And: Checklist Implementation: A step-by-step checklist for monitoring implementation of the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf):

"We are pleased to announce the launch of Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai's latest report, the "10 Principles Civil Society Guide", which is designed to help civil society advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of assemblies domestically.....

The Guide provides suggestions, tools and inspiration to CSOs as they consider how they might push for the implementation of the practical recommendations in their own context. It is divided into four parts: Section 1 gives background on the practical recommendations report. Section 2 focuses on how CSOs can determine authorities’ compliance with the practical recommendations. Section 3 discusses methods for gathering the evidence necessary for monitoring compliance and building advocacy arguments. Lastly, Section 4 provides real-life examples of research and advocacy tactics which have been used to advance rights in the context of protests."

Tribute to John Berger 1926 – 2017 (IRR News, link) by Jeny Bourne:

"John Berger, writer, art critic and poet has died. John Berger, anti-imperialist, socialist man and peasant has died.

It is perhaps inevitable that the establishment should claim John Berger for their own, as the famous critic who provided the BBC and them with ‘Ways of Seeing’ in 1972 – and that despite his Marxism. It was and still is a milestone in interpreting art and ‘the gaze’. But he did not live his life in compartments or by accepting borders –geographical or disciplinary. For many of us who now mark his passing, his greatness lies in his practice as a committed and true intellectual and internationalist...."

‘Terror’ charges against environmental activists dropped as undercover police involvement comes to light (The Canary, link):

"‘Terrorism’ charges have been dropped against environmental activists spied on by a British undercover police officer. The activists lived in the village community of Tarnac, France. And the undercover police officer – dubbed a ‘spycop’ – was Mark Kennedy, who worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The court dismissed [French] the appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the SNCF (French railways). It ruled [translation] that: "There are insufficient charges to show that the offences were committed by any individual or group whose purpose was to disturb public order, to intimidate, or to cause terror."

The Canary can reveal that, in January 2016, a UK source provided the defendants with crucial evidence implicating Kennedy and his police supervisors in the case.

Who were the ‘Tarnac 9’?

The Tarnac 9 were four men and five women, aged 22 to 34, who were environmental activists. French authorities were investigating them, and subsequently arrested them after a series of dawn raids in November 2008."

Scotland: Police Inspectorate to probe undercover operations by 'rogue' units and sex spy officers (The Herald, link):

"A review of undercover policing in Scotland will examine the covert operations involving rogue former officers who had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will confirm this morning that its probe will include the activities of two notorious London-based units since 2000, which covers the G8 summit in Gleneagles nearly twelve years ago.....

Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed HMICS to carry out a separate review of undercover policing in Scotland and the watchdog’s terms of reference will be published today.

Stage one will be an “initial scoping” exercise that will gather the views of “key stakeholders”. The second part will examine the operational delivery of undercover policing since the establishment of Police Scotland in 2013. "

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

US military tests swarm of mini-drones launched from jets (BBC News, link):

"The US military has launched 103 miniature swarming drones from a fighter jet during a test in California. Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to release the Perdix drones last October. The drones, which have a wingspan of 12in (30cm), operate autonomously and share a distributed brain. A military analyst said the devices, able to dodge air defence systems, were likely to be used for surveillance."

And see: A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves - Once launched, the swarm can decide for itself how best to execute a mission.(technologyreview.com, link)

Austria wants to discriminate against EU workers (euobserver, link):

"EU citizens should be barred from taking jobs if a qualified Austrian has applied to the same position, says Austria's centre-left chancellor.

Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday (11 January) accused east European nations of "exporting their joblessness to Austria" and wants local employers to prioritise Austrians unless no other candidate is available."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.17)

EU needs more nudging on travel data, says DHS chief (fcw.com, link):

"The European Union needs to do more to share biometric data for travelers bound for the U.S., according to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

In a Jan. 5 exit memo, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said expanding and encouraging information sharing with foreign governments, state and local law enforcement, the private sector and "our federal interagency partners" within DHS is critical to future border security."

New paper: "Boundaries of Law: Exploring Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight of Government Surveillance Regimes" (pdf) has been published by: Douwe Korff, Ben Wagner, Julia Powles, Renata Avila and Ulf Buermeyer:

"Bottom-line conclusion: "The discrepancy between continuing government surveillance practices and the relevant international human rights and rule of law standards is breath-taking.

The resulting concentration of secret power in the hands of intelligence agencies may prove deeply corrosive to democracy, commerce, and the rule of law. However, in most of the countries studied, citizens and their elected representatives still have the ability to call the State to order and establish appropriate checks and balances on its surveillance powers.

Guided by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, this report proposes a set of standards for minimum transparency, accountability and oversight of government surveillance practices." (p. 11)"

USA: The Trump revelations

John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link)

And in case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

See also: Ex-British intelligence officer 'behind Trump Russia dossier' named (BBC News, link) and Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, 'terrified for his safety' and went to ground before name released (Telegraph, link) 

and BBC claims a second source backs up Trump dossier (The Week, link) and also: BBC correspondent: Ex-British intelligence officer ‘not the only source’ for Russia’s Trump dossier (RAW Story, link)

European Parliament: New Rules of Procedure (pdf) Now in force.

German ministers agree on tougher rules for migrants posing security risk (euractiv, link):

"Germany’s interior and justice ministers, representing the two blocs in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, agreed on Tuesday (10 January) on tougher measures for asylum seekers whose documents are not in order or who are deemed to pose a security threat."

And see: German ministers agree tougher rules for migrants posing security risk (Reuters, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.1.17)

European Commission: Privacy and telecommunications package

Digital Single Market – Stronger privacy rules for electronic communications (Press release, pdf)

Proposal for a: Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM-10-17, pdf)

Proposal affecting EU Institutions: Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC (COM-8-17, pdf)

Communication: Exchanging and Protecting Personal Data in a Globalised World (COM-7-17, pdf)

Q & A (pdf): Includes:

"Processing of communications content and metadata is conditioned to consent.

Privacy is guaranteed for content of communication as well as metadata – for example who was called, the timing, location and duration of the call, as well as websites visited. Metadata linked to electronic communications have a high privacy component and need to be deleted or made anonymous if users did not give their consent, unless the data is needed for billing purposes."

Note: Proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation would repeal the current ePrivacy Directive.

A New Era of Mass Surveillance is Emerging Across Europe (Just Security, link):

"Conclusion

Across Europe, from Poland to Austria, from Italy to Sweden, parliaments have been adopting expansive domestic and foreign surveillance legislation in recent months and years. This wave of legislation, pushed by populist agendas and public outrage in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on European soil, is a flagrant disregard to decades of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and more recent jurisprudence by CJEU, and it puts in danger privacy protections across the continent. The leaders of Germany, France and the UK are setting a dangerous precedent which echoes within the European Community and far beyond it: Mass surveillance by governments has become the new normal.

To show how much has changed, it’s worth remembering the speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave to the German Parliament, just three years ago, in January 2014, when she warned Western governments against promoting surveillance policies that collect everything that is “technically possible.” She noted that these foreign mass surveillance programs not only “sow distrust,” but send the wrong signal to “billions of people living in undemocratic States.” The end result, she concluded, “is not more security but less.”

EU plans first laws on robotics (euractiv, link):

"A European Parliament committee will look Thursday (12 January) at a draft resolution relating to the regulation of robotics. The text could become the basis for the first European legislation on automation and robots. ...

The report in question is not a legislative initiative, rather it is a set of recommendations to be sent to the European Commission, asking the executive to draw up a legal framework for the civilian use of robots. If the text gets approval then the first European-wide law on robotics could be just over the horizon."

See also: European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf)

Expulsion of seriously ill migrants: a new ECtHR ruling reshapes ECHR and EU law (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In what is possibly one of the most important judgments of 2016, Paposhvili v. Belgium, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has memorably reshaped its case law on when Article 3 ECHR (which bans torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment) applies to the expulsion of seriously ill migrants. In a unanimous judgment, the Court leaves behind the restrictive application of the high Article 3 threshold set in N. v. the United Kingdom and pushes for a more rigorous assessment of the risk of ill-treatment in these cases.

For us at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, it was a thrill to intervene as a third party in such an important case. In our third party intervention we submitted that Paposhvili offered a unique opportunity to depart from the excessively restrictive approach adopted in N. We are delighted that the Grand Chamber has seized the opportunity to re-draw the standards in this area of its case law in a way that does fuller justice to the spirit of Article 3."

UK: Policing Hillsborough: What the new Thatcher papers reveal (Undercover Research Group, link)

"Repost of Evan Smith’s highly recommended blog Hatful of History, 10 January 2017.

The newly released files discussed here confirm what the Hillsborough campaigners have always maintained: ‘For the Thatcher government in the wake of Hillsborough, the focus was on crowd control and dealing with unruly elements of football crowds. The actions of the police, at this point in time, were never questioned by the government.’

Evan (@Hatfulofhistory) is an Australian-British academic interested in history, politics and criminal justice issues mostly related to activist and left-wing past and alternative scenes."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.1.17): refugees at risk of freezing to death; French police accused of stealing migrants' blankets; Germany threatens to cut development aid; and more.

UK: Letter to the government on review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO)

Letter from the Public Law Project to the Lord Chancellor Re: Proposed review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (link to pdf):

"We are writing further to your statement in Parliament earlier this month that you would shortly be announcing the timeline for the review of LASPO which the Government is committed to undertaking by April 2018. PLP welcomes the Government’s intention to conduct a review into the LASPO legal aid reforms which have had far reaching implications for access to justice in England and Wales."

And see: Legal aid cuts are a major human rights issue (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The recent sharp cuts to civil legal aid have hurt not only those people already in the most pain, but the integrity of the justice system itself. That’s the grim conclusion of Amnesty’s year long research into the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) on access to justice in the UK."

UK: Free Movement and Deportation: Nonjudicial Restrictions on the Right to Work are Lawful (United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog, link):

"Like countless other European citizens, the Lithuanian claimant, Lauzikas, came to the UK to work the construction industry. He entered the UK in 2012. However, in June 2014, a row with his former wife’s current partner led him to first threaten and then shoot the man with a BB gun. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm and in January 2015 he received 14 months’ imprisonment. Serving seven months on remand entitled him to immediate release and he received notification of his liability to be deported and detained... In February 2015, a decision was made to make a deportation order... An appeal was lodged against the deportation decision and removal directions were cancelled after parallel judicial review proceedings were issued. Lauzikas remained in the country but was nevertheless detained until the tribunal granted him bail.

The present judicial review application was mounted on the basis that an employment restriction imposed on Lauzikas constituted an unjustified and disproportionate interference with his right of free movement as an EU worker, and that the interference was also impermissible under domestic law because the home office had no power to impose restrictions where an individual was bailed to appear before the tribunal. Thirlwall J held that the right to work is a “qualified right” which is “an aspect of the freedom of movement.” Explaining that no authority existed on the central EU law point in this case, her Ladyship refused the application because the effect of suspending removal was to merely allow him to stay in the UK in order press his legal rights. Moreover, during that time he was provided accommodation and modest financial support. So no breach of his rights occurred for him to pursue remedies against the executive."

Judgment: Jonas Lauzikas v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2016] EWHC 3215 (Admin)) (pdf)

UK: Campaign for a free press: Section 40 jeopardises press freedom (Index, link):

"Index on Censorship has for the past four decades published the work of censored writers and artists. Now we face the possibility of censorship thanks to a UK government law that means — as a publisher that refuses to sign up to a regulator approved by a state-created body — we could end up paying both sides in a legal dispute even if we ultimately win the case. The law, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, as it stands is a danger to a free press."

See: #FreeThePress (link):

"#FreeThePress
Say NO to section 40 and Leveson Part 2.
Press freedom, the lifeblood of democracy, is under attack.

But you can do something about it."

And: What is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? (Index, link)

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

EU: Cybersecurity: report on the implementation of the Network and Information Security Directive

A brief report from the Commission to national delegations in the Council's 'Horizontal Working Party on Cyber Issues', issued in early December 2016, outlines the situation regarding implementation of the EU's Network and Information Security Directive.

EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

SCOTLAND: RENDITION: Cops slammed over Scottish airports CIA torture flights probe as campaigners demand update (Daily Record, link):

"Police Scotland have been condemned for “incredible” delays in their probe into the use of Scots airports for CIA torture flights.

More than three years into their investigation, they have refused to reveal what progress has been made.

Campaigners say there is an urgent need to know what part Scotland played in rendition – where US prisoners were sent to be tortured overseas in the wake of 9/11 – ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency.

It is feared Trump, who has advocated “a lot worse than waterboarding”, may reinstate rendition in the US war on terror."

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

During an interview on German broadcaster ARD, de Maiziere agreed, saying he "fully supports this idea.""

UK: Blurring the line between slavery & migration: Operation Magnify goes public with 97 workers arrested (Right to Remain, link):

"Trafficked to the UK as a slave, you live an invisible life. Not only are you subjected to slavery by the traffickers, as an undocumented migrant you have very limited rights to healthcare, housing or any social support. If you are being exploited, beaten or abused and you go to the police, you face being arrested, imprisoned and deported back to a home country you risked all this just to escape. And what happens to the perpetrators, who traffic human beings as slaves? They will be “warned that they could face fines.” So, not much."

EU: NGOs demand Commission deny Oettinger human resources portfolio (EurActiv, link):

"A group of NGOs has called on the European Parliament to oppose the proposal by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to put Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising human resources for the EU executive.

Ten organisations, including Transparency International EU, state that they believe that Oettinger is unsuitable for the Commission portfolio.

“Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October,” the NGOs state.

Oettinger, who has been embroiled in numerous scandals, was nominated by Juncker to take over the portfolios of Budget and Human Resources from his Bulgarian colleague Kristalina Georgieva, who left for a position at the World Bank, which began on 1 January."

See: Joint letter from ten NGOs (pdf): ILGA-Europe, European Women's Lobby, Transparency International EU, European Network Against Racism, Corporate Europe Observatory, IPPF European Network, Oxfam Interational, Volonteurope, Stitching ERGO Network, Lobbycontrol.

EU: European Parliament: Anti-euro Italian opposition party to join ALDE? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"On Sunday morning, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the main Italian opposition party, the 5 Star Movement, made a shock announcement, indicating that he intends to join the European liberal family, ALDE. If that were to happen, the 5 Star Movement would become the dominating force in the ALDE group in the European Parliament, currently headed by the staunch federalist Guy Verhofstadt. This would have far reaching implications on the EU’s policy in the coming years. "

UK-EU: Brexit and data protection: Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit (Amberhawk, link):

"Happy New Year (and welcome back to the daily grind).

This blog adds two further reasons why I think a post-Brexit UK is very unlikely to offer an adequate level of protection in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

One reason relates to recent comments made by Prime Minister Mrs May about human rights. The other relates to the non-compliance of the national security agencies with their existing data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)."

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data” (link):

"With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.1.17)

Police Scotland ordered to improve after probe into covert work (The Ferret, link):

"Unpublished reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner show that Police Scotland has been ordered to make improvements to the way it undertakes covert activity.

The Ferret has obtained two recent Police Scotland inspection reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner (OSC). The OSC provides independent oversight of public bodies that have powers to conduct covert surveillance and place staff undercover as “human intelligence sources,” through the RIPA and RIPSA laws.

Although the reports are heavily redacted in places, they nevertheless reveal several previously undisclosed failings at the national police force.

The Ferret is publishing extracts from the reports today along with renewed calls from politicians and campaign groups for further independent investigations into police surveillance."

USA: Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter (Think Progress, link):

"President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign."

And see: Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (pdf)

A template for protecting human rights during the ‘refugee crisis’? Immigration detention and the expulsion of migrants in a recent ECtHR Grand Chamber ruling (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On the 15th of December 2016 the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber handed down its judgment in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, which partially reversed the Chamber ruling issued on the 1st of September 2015. The case is about immigration detention at the Italian borders (including the island of Lampedusa) and the expulsion of aliens from Italy to Tunisia. Whilst the events took place in 2011, during that peculiar time which was in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, the issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the principle outlined by the judgments appears relevant to the current refugee crisis and its management by the European Union Institutions and Member States."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU....

Doskozil’s plan also calls for the creation of asylum centres in countries such as Niger, Jordan and Uzbekistan, potentially using existing facilities of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Migrants who were denied asylum or those who entered the EU illegally but could not be returned to their home countries would be transferred to “protective zones” that were linked to asylum centres, the newspaper said."

European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf):

"The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee commissioned this study to evaluate and analyse, from a legal and ethical perspective, a number of future European civil law rules in robotics."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)

EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

Also available in pdf format.

UK: From Orgreave to Rotherham – the trials and tribulations of South Yorkshire Police (The Conversation, link):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision to rule out a public inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” is once again back in the spotlight after being publicly condemned by North East Derbyshire Council. The Labour-run council is now calling on Rudd to “think again” about her decision not to order a full probe into the notorious miners’ strike clash between South Yorkshire Police and striking pitmen.....

And in 2016, the conduct of South Yorkshire police was once again called into question at the conclusion of a trial of ten Asian men accused of violent disorder. ...

The Rotherham 12 case triggered a national campaign in support of the arrested men. This was backed by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign whose members attended the trial to show support. Both groups have drawn parallels between the Rotherham 12 case and the treatment of the miners at Orgreave."

IP addresses as personal data - the CJEU's judgment in C-582/14 Breyer (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In the Breyer case the CJEU was asked by the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) if dynamic IP addresses are personal data within the meaning of the EU Data Protection Directive and to what extent they can be stored and processed to ensure the general operability of websites. Mr Breyer, the applicant in this case, is a German politician and privacy activist. He visited various websites of the German federal institutions. The information about the IP addresses of the visitors (or more precisely of the owners of the devices from which the websites were visited) as well as the information about the name of the accessed web page or file, the terms entered in the search fields, the time of access and the quantity of data transferred is stored in the log files after the visit. "

Governments playing irresponsible charades on counter terrorism (sophieintveld.eu, link):

"It has become boringly predictable: after each terrorist attack, in a knee-jerk reflex one minister after the other urgently and loudly demand more collection of personal data. Last year French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was on a crusade for the mass collection of flight passenger data (PNR), this week Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon uses the Berlin terrorist attacks to push for a scheme that had been on his wish list for some time: the collection of all travel data of passengers on international bus and train trips.

Before that, it was bank account data, mass surveillance of the internet and telecommunication, biometric data, or any other personal data you can think of. Each time "fighting terrorism" is the justification for more mass surveillance. Anyone who dares to ask critical questions about necessity, proportionality, fundamental rights or indeed effectiveness of those schemes, is lambasted for hampering the fight against terrorism."

See also: Belgium prepares to present passenger data plans to rest of EU (euractiv, link): "In response to a number of terror attacks, Belgium wants greater control over who travels on its trains, buses and boats and will present its plans at the next meeting of EU interior ministers at the end of January. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports."

French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4.1.17): Migrant dies of hypothermia after crossing Evros; German govt seeks new powers; Finnish asylum applications drop massively in 2016; 112 people rescued in Mediterranean.

GREECE: Migrant dies of hypothermia as gov't tries to improve camps (ekathimerini, link):

"As authorities seek to improve living conditions for migrants at reception centers around the country amid forecasts of another cold snap later this week, a 20-year-old Afghan man died of hypothermia early on Tuesday after crossing the Evros River in northern Greece.

The man’s body was found in a field near the Greek border town of Didymoteicho after police were alerted by another Afghan who said he had traveled with him across the river.

Temperatures in the area plunged to -14 Celsius (7 Fahrenheit) on Monday night and are expected to drop even further from Thursday."

FINLAND: Neo-Nazi group member gets 2-year prison sentence for Helsinki Railway Station attack (YLE, link):

"A founding member of the neo-Nazi Finnish Resistance Movement was handed a two-year prison sentence on Friday for aggravated assault after drop-kicking a passerby during the group’s demonstration at the Helsinki Railway Station in September. The victim sustained head injuries and later died. The prosecution says it will appeal."

Helping those who helped Snowden: appeal for refugee families in Hong Kong

"A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers."

See: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden (The Globe And Mail, link)

The story that revealed the families that helped: Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (Handelsblatt, link) and the fundraising project: Canadians Help Snowden’s Guardian Angels (FundRazr, link)

German state of Brandenburg may not deport far-right victims (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The German state of Brandenburg will not deport asylum seekers if they have been victimized by right-wing violence.

Local media reported on Tuesday that Brandenburg's Interior Ministry had asked local authorities to use the leeway available to them to make sure foreigners whose asylum applications had been rejected, but who had been victims of right-wing attacks, could stay in the country.

With the decree issued on December 21, the Interior Ministry implemented a resolution Brandenburg's parliament had passed in April. The directive posits that victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes of a certain severity should be allowed to stay in Germany. This includes crimes such as attempted murder, assault, arson and bomb attacks, but also kidnapping, theft, blackmail, public riots and sexual offenses.

Asylum seekers who have committed a crime or share responsibility for a violent incident are exempt from the new rule."

GERMANY: Cologne police screen hundreds of North African men (Al Jazeera, link):

"Police in the German city of Cologne say they screened hundreds of men "seemingly of African descent" on New Year's Eve as part of a precautionary measure in reaction to last year's allegations of robberies and sexual assaults.

By early Sunday, police had received reports of two women being sexually assaulted in Cologne. One suspect was arrested.

Cologne's police said in a tweet on Saturday, the men were stopped at two main train stations in the city so that officers could question them and check their identities. "

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (The Guardian, link):

"The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face."

BELGIUM: A (Slightly) Common Front Aims to Save the Rule of Law in Belgium (Liberties.eu, link):

"A group of signatories* including civil liberties organizations, lawyers and judges sent a letter to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers so they can urgently take action following the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum decision not to accept to deliver a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family."

UK: Leaked government document names ‘vetted’ organisations in receipt of £1.2 million in PREVENT funding (CAGE, link):

"A Home Office document titled ‘Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue’ leaked by Public Interest Investigations highlights in full organisations and projects vetted and funded by the government to deliver the controversial PREVENT strategy nationally."

See: an overview of the document: Prevent Strategy - Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue (Powerbase, link) and the document: Home Office: Office for Security and Counter Terrorism: Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue: Prevent Strategy (link to pdf)

Background: UK 'grassroots' anti-extremism campaign produced by Home Office (Middle East Eye, link)

GERMANY: Interior ministry "wish list": strengthen central government security, policing and deportation powers

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced a series of proposals that revolve around giving the German federal government more power over security agencies, cyber attacks, policing and deportations; permitting the deployment of the military internally; expanding the scope of the proposed EU Entry/Exit System and loosening the the EU definition of "safe third countries".

Bulgaria Opens Investigation into Munitions Found in Syria (OCCRP, link):

"Prosecutors in Bulgaria have opened an investigation after munitions produced in the Balkan country were reportedly found in Syria.

The district prosecutor in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa launched its probe in December, local media reported last week, after the reported discovery of stocks including high-caliber ammunitions and grenades in areas of eastern Aleppo recently captured from rebels."

ITALY: Riot after death in detention centre near Venice

"A revolt by migrants in a centre near Venice ended Tuesday but a political row erupted about the reception of migrants in Italy. The revolt at the centre at Cona near Venice ended after migrants protested overnight by holing up in some containers, setting fires and barricading 25 volunteers, after the sudden death of a young Ivorian woman, Sandrine Bakayoko. The migrants said the emergency services were slow in responding, a charge the services rejected.

The young Ivorian woman proved to have died of a thrombosis, the autopsy said Tuesday. Venice prosecutor Lucia D'Alessandro said "the cause of the young woman's death has been established. It was a bilateral pulmonary thrombo-embolism". Violence or contagious disease have been "totally" ruled out, she said."

See: Italy: revolt in migrant centre near Venice ends (ANSA Med, link) and: Transfer of Cona migrants begins (ANSA, link): "The transfer of migrants from a reception centre near Venice that was at the centre of a revolt on Monday night got under way on Wednesday with the arrival of two coaches to take them to similar facilities in the neighbouring Emilia Romagna region."

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars (The Intercept, link):

"Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen."

UK: 2016: A Year Of Black Lives Matter In Britain (The Debrief, link):

"For better or worse, Brexit has forced people in the United Kingdom to discuss race like never before. But Brexit has also been a catalyst for not just talk, but action. 2016 might have been the year of Brexit, but it was also the year of Black Lives Matter finally coming to the U.K."

UK: Slavery trafficking victims crippled by fear in UK (Al Jazeera, link):

"The British government estimates that there are around 13,000 people in modern-day slavery in the UK in 2014. And it's on the rise: Police and other authorities identified 3,266 people last year thought to have been the victims of modern-day slavery, up from 946 in 2011, 46 percent of whom were identified as male, and many had mental health issues.

At the safe house, victims are given a 45-day minimum reflection and recovery period, which is often extended to over 90 days, to help them consider their next step. During this time, they are offered financial, legal, medical support and counselling, as well as help finding a job and accommodation.

While many people manage to move on successfully and turn their lives around during the period, mental illness in others puts them at a severe disadvantage, often leading them to destitution and a risk of re-trafficking."

UK: Human rights are under threat – just when we need them most (The Guardian, link):

"There is one almighty fight coming, and it’ll be about human rights in the UK. Those who want to protect our national and international commitment to human rights need to mobilise in defence of those rights now.

An unwillingness on the part of the UK government to withdraw from the European convention on human rights has, up until now, been the major protection of the human rights settlement in the UK – we cannot sign up to a human rights regime internationally and yet deliver a lesser level of domestic protection. That would put the UK in breach of its international obligations.

Crucially, that unwillingness to withdraw has now gone. In consequence the UK settlement is seriously at risk, and the adherence of the world to human rights is in danger of being reduced by the UK signalling a massive reduction in its international commitment to human rights."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.1.17): including refugee solidarity activists on bail; Malian consulate in Paris occupied; Dublin returns from France to Norway to Afghanistan; conditions on Greek islands "infuriating"; and more.

UK: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology: briefing on nuclear security

"In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them."

See: POSTNOTE: Nuclear Security (pdf)

Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert (The Guardian, link):

"Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

“Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”"

UK: The bigger picture about refugees

This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

GREECE: Refugee solidarity activists arrested in Greece freed on bail

Two activists who were last week arrested in Greece and charged with facilitating illegal immigration were released from preventive detention on Friday 30 December and will have to pay €2,000 within 12 days to obtain permission to leave Greece until their trial takes place.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Interior Ministry wants to enable public to use legally held weapons against terrorists (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech Interior Ministry plans a constitutional law to strengthen the right to use legally possessed arms to provide security and enable their owners to defend themselves against terrorists during attacks similar to those by lorries in Nice and Berlin last year.

The ministry would like to push through the draft amendment, which it has submitted to parliament, by the October general election.

The ministry points out that the possibilities of state bodies to quickly and efficiently prevent casualties and other damage are limited during such attacks. This is why it wants to enable the owners of legally possessed firearms to intervene against terrorists."

And: Czechs prolonging anti-terrorist measures till Friday (link): "The tightened security measures taken over the December Berlin terrorist attack will be in force at least until Friday [6 January], Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists yesterday."

FRANCE: Malian consulate in Paris occupied due to "corruption" and EU-Mali agreement

RFI reported on 31 December 2016 that an occupation of the Malian consulate in Paris undertaken by the migrant collective 'Clean Hands' had been continuing for a week, after the group entered the building on 23 December.

One of the occupiers, Samba, told RFI that there were no consular staff remaining in the building, and that: "We have changed the reception into a refreshment bar," and that people were using the space to eat and drink.

The collective has denounced the "corruption" within the consulate and problems and delays with obtaining documents and information.

Migrants protest after reported attacks in Zagreb (EurActiv, link):

"Around 50 migrants staged a protest in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday (2 January) claiming they have suffered attacks by unknown assailants, state-run HRT television reported.

The protesters gathered in front of an asylum seekers centre where they are housed, carrying banners saying “Refugees are not criminals” and “We came for peace.”

The migrants claimed that several of them were attacked in the city at the weekend, and accused the police of failing to respond to their reports of violence."

FRANCE: DUBLIN REGULATION: Dublin to Norway, flight to Kabul (Passeurs d'Hospitalités, link):

"There are many ways to come to Europe. One of them, by Russia, to Norway, crossing the border between the two countries, up in the north.

People seeking asylum in Norway and receiving a negative response often continue their migration to other countries. But if they apply for asylum in Norway, they risk being sent back there, as having their finger prints there will make the country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III European regulation.

This puts them in a potential chain reaction of expulsions. In fact, in November, Roman had been sent back to Norway and from there to Afghanistan, without even having time to file an appeal once arrived in Norway. In mid-December 2016, a joint Swedish-Norwegian flight had resulted in the removal of 22 people, including 9 from Norway to Kabul under the agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan.

Hashim is now facing the same risk."

Global executions in 2016 (Reprieve, link):

"Countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016, research by international human rights group Reprieve has found.

In Saudi Arabia, over 150 people were executed for the second year running... In Pakistan, the authorities continued to execute scores of prisoners from the country’s 8,000-strong death row. A total of 419 prisoners have been hanged since a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014.... In Iran, the government continued to hang hundreds of prisoners, nearly half of whom who were arrested for alleged drug offences... China continues to keep the number of executions a closely-guarded secret, but is widely believed to remain the world leader, with the death toll estimated in the thousands."

The war on cash has already been lost (Money Week, link):

"To its growing army of critics, cash is a pointless relic. It is costly and inefficient, both to manufacture, process and protect. Even worse, it mainly exists to facilitate crime, to finance the black economy, and to help people avoid tax. On top of that, it prevents central banks from driving interest rates significantly below zero, and so traps the economy in a recession. The sooner we get rid of it, the better.

The trouble is, ordinary people don’t seem to see it that way. They like cash more than ever. A new study of 18,000 people in seven countries in the International Journal of Central Banking found that cash was still overwhelmingly the dominant method of payment.

(...)

Finally – and admittedly this is conjecture – people sense that purely electronic money hands too much power to governments and regulators, and hang onto cash because they value its relative freedom. Cash is not just relatively secure compared with the alternatives, it is also very hard to trace. Not many of us are money launderers or drug dealers.

But lots of people might well have a sense that a world where there was no cash, and every payment was made by card or on the phone, would also be one where everywhere they went and everything they did was logged and recorded. They don’t feel comfortable with that – and rightly so. People like cash – it just won’t be possible to get rid of it."

GREECE: Conditions for Refugees on Islands are ‘Regrettable and Infuriating’, Says MSF Head in Greece (Greek Reporter, link):

"Living conditions for refugees on Greece’s islands is “regrettable and infuriating”, the head of the MSF (Doctors without Borders) mission in Greece, Clément Perrin, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday.

Perrin said families with newborn babies or small children are still living in tents even as temperatures have dropped to five above Celsius during the night. According to MSF data, in Samos there are 329 tents available for 100 people – 120 of which are outside the hotspot – without heating and access to hot water. In Moria camp, Lesvos, apart from the prefabricated housing units which house families, the rest of the refugees live in tents without heating and hot water is only available in the morning, which causes large queues.

“Greek authorities promised months ago they would improve living conditions on the islands, but very little has been done,” Perrin said. “Very little has been done for the most vulnerable refugees, while they were supposed to have been transferred to the mainland several weeks ago.”"

UK: Former MI6 chief warns against introducing electronic voting (Politics Home, link):

"The former head of MI6 has warned that introducing electronic voting could leave British elections open to the risk of cyber attack.

Sir John Sawers said a traditional pencil and paper ballot was "much more secure" than using phones or computers to cast a vote.

But the Commission on Direct Democracy, spearheaded by Commons Speaker John Bercow, has called for electronic voting to be available in time for the next general election in 2020."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.1.17) including Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees, New Italian government seeks migration crackdown and Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

EU   Opening up secret trilogue decision-making awaits court decision

On 15 April 2015 Emilio de Capitani (Freegroup, link) applied to the European Parliament for documents summarising negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament in secret trilogue meetings... having been refused access to the requested documents Emilio de Capitani took the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) where the case is pending.

In response to the European Ombudsman the Council says it will not move on making trilogue four-column documents public until the CJEU rules in the Emilio de Capitani case.

See: Decision of the European Ombudsman on Own-initiative inquiry OI/8/2015/FOR concerning transparency of trilogues (LIMITE doc no: 15107-16, pdf) and Background: Statewatch Analyses:

Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit (September 2007, pdf)
European Parliament: Abolish 1st [and 2nd] reading secret deals - bring back democracy “warts and all” (pdf)
Proposed Commission changes to Regulation on access to documents fail to meet Lisbon Treaty commitments (pdf)
A missed opportunity to open up secret trilogue decision-making in the EU (July 2016).

Portugal to extradite CIA agent over Milan imam abduction (The Local.it, link):

" Portugal plans to extradite to Italy a former CIA agent convicted over the 2003 abduction of a radical Egyptian imam, a case that highlighted the controversial US secret rendition programme. Sabrina de Sousa, arrested at Lisbon airport in October 2015 under a European warrant, said Friday that the extradition procedure was due to start "after January 3rd".

De Sousa and 23 others were convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 over the kidnapping of Abu Omar from a Milan street in an operation allegedly led jointly by the CIA and the Italian intelligence services."

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for: Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 15275016, 72 pages, pdf) The Council developing its position on the infamous "Legal Migration" proposal. With 152 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting on 14 December are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with […] ... "

Based on the Commission's: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM 2020-10, pdf)

"Demographic ageing is accelerating. As the baby-boom generation retires, the EU's active population will start to shrink as from 2013/2014. The number of people aged over 60 is now increasing twice as fast as it did before 2007 – by about two million every year compared to one million previously. The combination of a smaller working population and a higher share of retired people will place additional strains on our welfare systems."

Put forward just after the "Returns Directive" which aims to remove resident "illegal" migrants and refugee from the EU. This proposal seeks in the face of an ageing population and smaller workforce to recruit skilled labour from the global south to maintain the EU's standards of living through:

"A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ sets the objective of the Union becoming an economy based on knowledge and innovation, reducing the administrative burden on companies and better matching labour supply with demand. Measures to facilitate the admission of third-country national highly skilled workers have to be seen in that broader context....

in order to remain an attractive destination for talents and skills, Europe must compete in the global race for talent. Strategies to maximise the opportunities of legal migration should therefore be developed, including the streamlining of existing rules." [emphasis added]

December 2016

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.12.16)

EU-EGYPT: European External Action Service "non-paper": how can we stop migration from Egypt?

A "non-paper" jointly produced by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission sets out possible policies the EU could adopt towards Egypt to make "efforts on today's migration" and "to address also the roots of potential future migration."

See: European External Action Service and European Commission, Options on developing cooperation with Egypt in migration matters, undated (pdf)

EU: A Europe of two narratives (OpenDemocracy, link):

""Everybody, it seems, is concerned about the rise of the radical right. In Europe this concern is tied to a recognition that the EU and the Eurozone face growing centrifugal forces. But any coherent response is crippled by the fact that there are two, almost diametrically opposed, narratives on this phenomenon.

The social narrative, which is mostly, but of course not exclusively, to be found in Southern Europe and on the Left of the political spectrum, argues that Europe is failing a large number of its citizens. Not only did they face the brunt of the crisis, but they have no confidence that they will participate in any recovery. European institutions are stuck in a pre-crisis time zone when the major problems were perceived to be inflation and fiscal irresponsibility.

(...)

The rules-are-rules narrative takes a very different view... The argument here is that the EU is based on rules and that changing those rules every so often can only undermine the credibility of the European Union and the Euro. Moreover citizens of the North are tired of “bailing-out” those in the South that either cannot or are unwilling to abide by the rules. There are limits to solidarity and any further weakening of the rules provides grist to the mill of the populists.""

"Data exploitation" by smart devices explained

A new short video by Privacy International explains the risks of data exploitation and what can be done to stop it. From the voiceover: "Do you remember the time when, if you wanted to be alone, all you had to do was draw the curtains and - bingo! - your own safe space, where you're in control and can limit what others see and know. Now, whether you're in the middle of a bustling city or apparently by yourself on top of a mountain, you're never really alone."

Watch the video: What is Data Exploitation? (Privacy International, link)

GREECE: Thirty one refugees arrested on Kastellorizo (ANA-MPA, link):

"Thirty one refugees from Syria (18 men, 6 women and 7 children) that arrived from the Turkish coasts were arrested on Friday on the island of Kastellorizo. The refugees were arrested for illegal entrance to Greece."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Police now tracking suspects with facial recognition (NL Times, link):

"From today the Dutch police can track suspects using facial recognition - faces of suspects, from surveillance camera footage for example, can now be compared with a large database filled with photos of people with criminal records, NOS reports.

At present the database contains more than 800 thousand faces of convicted felons, but also suspects who haven't been convicted yet. You end up on the database if you are arrested for a crime that carries a prison sentence of at least one year, police spokesperson John Riemen said to NOS. The photo is taken on arrest. If a suspect turns out to be innocent, his photo is removed. If you are convicted, your photo will be on the database for 20 to 80 years, depending on the crime.

But it isn't only criminals or suspected criminals that are compared to suspects, according to NOS. The police can also compare the faces of suspects to those of asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and people applying for a Dutch visa. This includes people who never came into contact with the law. To use this "foreigners database" the police need the permission of the Public Prosecutor."

GERMANY-AFRICA: German politicians want to return refugee boats to Africa

"As security and refugee debates heat up in Germany ahead of federal elections in 2017, politicians in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are looking to propose a drastic shift in how Germany, and Europe, handle migrant arrivals, according to a new position paper set to be unveiled next week.

The CSU will hold a party convention next week and are set to call for tens of thousands of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea to be sent back to North Africa, according to an internal policy paper obtained by the "Rheinische Post" newspaper."

EU: The Right to Privacy under Pressure (link to pdf) by Rikke Frank Jørgensen

A useful overview of current dilemmas for privacy and data protection, particularly with regard to the commercial gathering of personal data online as a mandatory requirement for using certain services or products. The author concludes:

"We are currently facing huge challenges with regard to online privacy. There are no binding international regulations, and the EU rules, which in global terms are the most well developed, are still based on consent as the central control mechanism. This is despite the increasing scepticism as to the value and effect of consent, especially for online services. There are alternative proposals for regulation of the area, not least Nissenbaum’s proposed contextual approach to data protection. The idea of a more differentiated regulation, based on analyses of standards in different situations, in contrast to a one-size-fits-all philosophy for privacy, seems to be a sensible response to the current challenges. However, as outlined above a number of unanswered questions remain, which make it difficult to see the model translated into practice."

Published in: Nordicom Review 37 Special Issue 2016 (link)

GREECE: Two arrested and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" for refugee transport effort denouncing EU policies

Two political activists from the Basque Country have been detained in Greece and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" after attempting to transport eight refugees out of the country, in an "initiative of solidarity in denunciation of unjust European migration policies and in defence of human rights."

UK-EU: If we win the fight to let refugees into Fortress Britain, the world will take note (The Guardian, link)

"There’s the side of the story we know: politicians scapegoating, talk of swarms and cockroaches in the press; a thundering Brexit vote followed by a spike in hate crime so sharp it gave the nation whiplash. But then there’s the other story, less often told: that well below the radar of the mainstream media, tens of thousands of people from all nations, of all ages, cultures and political persuasions, started giving up jobs, studies, relationships and reliable wifi and heading for the borderlands to do their part. They flooded in to do what politicians and aid agencies wouldn’t: from illegal ocean rescues and calling out police brutality to running art therapy classes, feeding thousands and sorting sky-high piles of donated clothes across the continent from Norway to Calais.

I feel enormously proud to have been part of that movement. I learned a lot as a solidarity volunteer in Greece. Some of those lessons were traumatic – I still have nightmares a year later – but I think I learned as much about politics in weeks in Camp Moria as I did in years at university. The most personally challenging and painful lesson was a simple one: it will never be enough. However many volunteers we have pulling 15-hour shifts, politicians in halls of power far away are doing more damage in a week than we could undo in a lifetime. For all their summits, resolutions and deals, in 2015 one in 269 people crossing to Europe died; this year it’s one in 88. With deprivation and incarceration systematically inflicted on people in the name of border control, when we say “refugees welcome” that is a commitment to campaign for radical change here at home – or it’s meaningless."

UK: Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE (BBC News, link):

"Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

...he added: "I headed the Panel's research team and was a consultant to the families' lawyers throughout the new inquests.

"I could not receive an honour on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive to the determined efforts of bereaved families and survivors to secure truth and justice."

(...)

Prof Scraton acknowledged his decision "might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me".

However, he added: "Finally, I could not accept an honour tied in name to the 'British Empire'.

"In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.""

Italy didn’t register Berlin terror suspect in database: German official (Politico, link):

"Italian authorities failed to register Anis Amri, the Tunisian man suspected of carrying out the December 19 Berlin Christmas market attack, in the EU’s fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers, a senior German official said.

Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), a subdivision of the interior ministry, told Bild newspaper in an interview published Friday “there was no information about Amri” on the Eurodac database.

(...)

After arriving in Italy in 2011, Amri was reportedly due to be deported in 2015 after serving time in an Italian prison and having had his application for asylum denied. However, he managed to make his way to Germany, where he filed another application, which was also rejected."

GERMANY: A man wrongly suspected of the Berlin terror attack is now living in hiding

"They let him go but within seconds had called him back. Before he knew it he was in the back of the car, its lights flashing as it sped through Berlin. His hands were bound behind his back. Later that night, he said, he was blindfolded and taken from “one police station to another place” about 10 minutes away. He recalls two police officers “digging the heels of their shoes into my feet”, and one of the men “putting great pressure on my neck with his hand”.

They undressed him and took photographs. “When I resisted, they started slapping me.” They took three samples of his blood. A 24-year-old Pakistani identified only as Naveed B was named by German police and the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, just hours after the deadly attack on a Christmas market on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, as their prime suspect.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian just over a week after being wrongly arrested for the attack which killed 12 and injured 48 others, Baloch is now in hiding, fearful for his life and no longer feeling safe in the country in which he sought refuge as a member of a secular separatist movement in Balochistan, a province that is a frequent target of religious extremists in Pakistan."

See: Man wrongly arrested over Berlin attack says he fears for his life (The Guardian, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: EUNAVFOR, CJEU Turkey challenges and W Africa "matrix"

EUNAVFOR and the collection of personal data on the "high seas": Council Decision amending Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 on a European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA) (LIMITE doc no: 14290-16, pdf): Covers:

"the context of the fight against trafficking in human beings or the arms embargo.... training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, and contributing to information sharing and the implementation of the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.... to exchange information with relevant third States and international organisations as necessary to meet the operational needs of EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA....

"EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA may collect and store, in accordance with applicable law, personal data concerning persons taken on board ships participating in EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA related to characteristics likely to assist in their identification, including fingerprints, as well as the following particulars, with the exclusion of other personal data: surname, maiden name, given names and any alias or assumed name; date and place of birth, nationality, sex, place of residence, profession and whereabouts; driving licenses, identification documents and passport data. It may transmit such data and data related to the vessels and equipment used by such persons to the relevant law enforcement authorities of Member States and/or to competent Union bodies...".

EU-Turkey "deal": Cases for annulment before the Court of European Justice (CJEU: LIMITE doc no: 14355-16, pdf) The Council has been asked by the General Court of the CJEU to provide answers to the following questions:

""The European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission are requested to state whether the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’ can be regarded as reflecting the existence of an oral/unwritten agreement or of a written agreement.

(a) if there is a written agreement, and without prejudice to Articles 103 and 105 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send that agreement to the General Court;

(b) in the absence of such an agreement, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send to the General Court (and possibly to be sent for that purpose) any document making it possible to determine the parties which agreed the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’."

See: EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016 (pdf)

The "Fontanot Group": West African "matrix": Management and maintenance of the matrix of technical assistance initiatives in West Africa (LIMITE doc no: 15532-16, pdf):

"The informal Fontanot Group is a French-led initiative that focuses on the coordination and deconfliction of Member States capacity building efforts in West Africa and is also a forum for discussing future project activity1. The group, consisting of representatives of the national departments for international relations from a number of Member States and third parties has been meeting informally twice a year or once a year since July 2008...

The current Policy Cycle 2014-2017 does not have the West Africa priority any more. Nevertheless, the informal Fontanot group keeps on developing its activities and meeting regularly (the last meeting took place in Dakar on 26 May 2016). One of the main tools to fulfil its objective continues to be the matrix, which has been regularly updated by the Council Secretariat.

In the light of the above, COSI Support Group agreed at its meeting on 12 December 2016 on assigning the maintenance and management of the matrix to the Fontanot group as of 1 January 2017, taking over this task from the General Secretariat of the Council.
" ]

See: Decision in 2010 (pdf) giving the task to the General Secretariat of the Council.

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements

The Council of the European Union's High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) is a highly secretive group. The "outcomes" (minutes of its meetings) are not only "partially accessible" (censored) they do not include document references to the matters discussed.

See for example: the publicly available Outcomes of the HLWG meeting on 6 December: Summary of discussions (15407-16, pdf) which is only four pages long because the document is: "DOCUMENT PARTIALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC (20.12.2016)." And the full version: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc on: 15407-16, pdf) which is 27 pages. The missing 23 pages are in the deleted Annex to the outcomes.

EU: Council of the European Union: Internal security and C-T report & Policy funding preferences

Internal Security: Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy and Counter-Terrorism Implementation Paper: Report on implementation in the second half of 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 15277-16, 57 pages, pdf):

"This report gives an overview of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Renewed EU Internal Security Strategy (2015-2020), which is an overall priority for the Slovak Presidency. The NL-SK-MT Trio Presidency decided to follow the same structure for the implementation paper ISS as the one developed under the Luxembourg Presidency ... The implementation paper for the second half of 2016, which was endorsed by COSI at its meeting on 28 September 2016, contained a list of forty different measures and served as a living, non exhaustive work programme for the different Council preparatory bodies under the Slovak Presidency."

Future funding of the EU Policy Cycle: Strategic guidance on prioritization (LIMITE doc no: 15393-REV-1-16, pdf)

"Illegal"immigration tops the list of Member State preferences for funding.

EU-LIBYA: Deadly incident on the Mediterranean sea: Rescue organisation accuses Libyan coast guard

The private rescue organisation Sea Watch e.V. is pressing charges against the Libyan coast guard because of an attack during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea. According to the organisation 30 refugees died after their dinghy was damaged by a patrol boat on 21 October 2016. The rescue team rates this incident as an attack on maritime transport.

The coast guard's patrol boat with the registration mark '267' interfered with the rescue operation of the 'Sea-Watch 2', which was instructed by the sea rescue control centre in Rome. Pictures of the photographer Christan Ditsch, who was on board, show the coast guard pushing between a speed boat of the 'Sea-Watch 2' and the dinghy. The crew was prevented from providing the refugees with life jackets. A person in uniform then came on board of the dinghy and started hitting the passengers. According to the Sea Watch organisation he tried to take away the outboard engine.

UK: Anti-extremism strategy reports rise in far-right supporters (Guardian, link):

"A UK anti-extremism strategy has reported a rise in the number of people being referred to it with far-right links.

About one in 10 referrals to the scheme nationwide were linked to the far-right, according to the Prevent anti-extremism group.

Simon Cole, the National Police Chiefs’ council lead for Prevent, said: “They are typically about people who want to do things that destabilise communities.”

The highest regional figure is about 20%, Cole added, saying: “For some parts of the country it is a significant part of their workload.”"

Revealed: British councils used Ripa to secretly spy on public (Guardian, link):

"Local authorities used Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to follow people, including dog walkers, over five years...

Councils were given permission to carry out more than 55,000 days of covert surveillance over five years, including spying on people walking dogs, feeding pigeons and fly-tipping, the Guardian can reveal.

A mass freedom of information request has found 186 local authorities – two-thirds of the 283 that responded – used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives."

Airline passenger details easy prey for hackers, say researchers (Guardian, link):

"Worldwide system used to coordinate travel bookings between airlines is insecure and easy to exploit, experts reveal."

EU: Council of the European Union: Istanbul & Council of Europe Conventions: Women and domestic violence plus women and asylum

State of play: Combatting Violence against Women and Girls - Istanbul Convention: the internal and external dimensions (LIMITE doc no: 14631-16, pdf):

"the Council Presidency is submitting to delegations the annexed paper drafted in collaboration with the EEAS and containing, inter alia, the state of play on the EU's proposed accession to the Istanbul Convention and questions for discussion."

CoE Convention: Combating violence against women and domestic violence ((LIMITE doc no: 14756-REV-1-16, pdf): Redrafted proposal: "Changes compared to doc ST 14756/16 are highlighted: new text in bold, deletions as strikethrough."

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14756-16, pdf)

CoE Convention: Women and asylum: Council Decision on signing of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence with regard to Articles 60 and 61 pertaining to Genderbased asylum claims and Non-refoulement (LIMITE doc no: 14757-REV-1-16, pdf)

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14757-16, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive and Firearms Directive "deal" (compromise)

Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons (Limite doc no: 15261-16, pdf): Lots of Member State positions (51):

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency relating to Articles 1 and 3 to 12. Suggestions for modification are also made to certain recitals in relation to these Articles.

Suggested modifications are indicated in bold and […]. Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

Firearms Directive Proposal for a: Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (First reading) - Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 14974, pdf)

"Four trilogues and a number of technical meetings have been held since September. At the last trilogue on 5 December 2016, the Presidency and the EP Rapporteur reached an agreement on the text set out in Annex to this note."

EU: Council of the European Union: EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies’ cooperation in 2016 - Final report (EU doc no 15579-16, 64 pages, pdf): Includes the Joint conclusions of the Heads of Justice and Home Affairs Agencies meeting on 14 November 2016, Vienna and pages 33-64 contain a detailed Annex:

"A key challenge in the fields of both migration and security is enabling the interoperability of large-scale IT systems and aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities, while remaining fundamental rights compliant. JHA Agencies, together with the Commission and other EU institutions, will take this forward in 2017.

Internal and external security issues of the EU are increasingly linked, with internal security strongly depending on countering and managing external security threats. Within their mandates, relevant JHA Agencies and the European External Action Service, along with other Commission services, will work together on cooperation with third countries - especially in the areas of migration, asylum, border management, and the prevention of terrorism and organised crime."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.16): including: annual Mediterranean death toll likely to reach 5,000; refugee "ping-pong" in the Balkans; EEAS statement on EU-Mali agreement; let refugees help the EU.

EU: Restricted document gives overview of police efforts against "facilitated illegal immigration"

A recent report submitted by Europol to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) offers an overview of "the implementation of the 2015 and 2016 OAPs [operational action plans] on "Illegal Immigration". This annex was discussed during the National EMPACT [European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] Coordinators meeting held at Europol on 22-23 November 2016."

See: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (15212/16, RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED, 6 December 2016, pdf)

Interconnecting Europe's policing and border control databases: High-Level Expert Group interim report

An interim report by the chair of the European Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' sets out the group's work so far, along with "interim findings and possible ways forward" on the interconnection (or not) of EU justice and home affairs databases and information systems - for example the Schengen Information System (SIS); the Visa Information System (VIS); Eurodac; and the proposed Entry/Exit System and European Travel Information (EES) and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

See: High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability set up by the European Commission: Interim report by the chair of the high-level expert group (pdf)

EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the EU's European External Action Service seeks to clarify what exactly has been agreed between the EU and Mali in relation to cooperation on migration. Recent reports have suggested that the EU and Mali signed a readmission agreement, something that was subsequently denied by the Malian government.

EU: Peaceful European Union starts to fund military research (Nature, link):

"Faced with a changing world order and buffeted by a slew of political crises and terrorist attacks, the historically civilian European Union is bolstering its military capabilities. And that means making its first major investment in military research.

On 1 December, the European Parliament approved a €25-million ($26-million) fund dedicated to military research. It will form part of a proposed broader European Defence Fund, aimed at making military innovation more efficient and enlarging Europe’s industrial defence base.

The research portion of the fund will cover electronics, advanced materials, encrypted software and robotics. The European Commission, the EU’s policymaking arm, expects to invest a total of €90 million by 2020. It hopes the figure will rise to €500 million a year for defence research from 2021."

Schengen Information System: EU vows to mend terrorist data share failures (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission is promoting another set of measures to crack down on terrorism and crime as part of its so-called security union.

A trio of EU commissioners on Wednesday (21 December) said the latest legislative proposals will "strengthen", "reinforce", and "improve" efforts to fight terrorism financing and make an EU-wide law enforcement database, known as the Schengen information system (SIS), even better."

And: EU proposal would expand data collection at Schengen borders (EBL News, link)

"The European Commission proposed expanding its criminal data bank system on Wednesday to help countries exchange more information on terrorism, cross-border crime and undocumented migrants.

The proposed changes to the Schengen Information System (SIS) include facial imaging and palm prints to identify people entering the Schengen area and adding alerts on people denied entry and those whom EU member states say should be sent home."

See new proposals for the SIS with regard to: illegally staying third-country nationals (COM(2016) 811 final, pdf), border checks (COM(2016) 812 final, pdf) and police cooperation (COM(2016) 883 final, pdf)

EU-MALTA: The Right to Access to a Lawyer in Malta: a few steps forward, a few steps back (Fair Trials, link):

"Considering this rather unfortunate backdrop, the Criminal Code (Amendment No. 2) Act of 2016 brings with it some welcome modifications to the law. This Bill seeks to transpose Directive 2013/48/EU, as well as Directive 2016/343/EU in part. Whereas this Bill does represent a major step forward in the protection of the right to access to a lawyer in Malta, the State’s attempts to dilute the protection to be afforded to the individual can still be seen in some provisions of this Bill.

Particularly problematic is Malta’s take on the right to have a lawyer present during the interrogation. Whereas the Directive requires that the lawyer present at the interrogation must be allowed to effectively participate during the questioning, proposed Article 355AUA (8) (c) of the Maltese Criminal Code removes any possibility of that lawyer to effectively participate during the questioning, thus turning the lawyer into a mere silent observer."

Macedonia Court Rejects Wiretap Evidence Against Former PM (OCCRP, link):

"A Macedonian court on Friday rejected a wiretapped conversation as evidence in the trial of 14 people, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, OCCRP partner Nova TV reported.

The trial is one result of a massive investigation into allegations of high-level wrongdoing launched by the country’s Special Prosecutor after the revelation last year of tens of thousands of wiretaps allegedly ordered by Gruevski. Security service officials and senior members Gruevski’s former VMRO-DPMNE-controlled government are among those implicated.

Friday’s hearing concerned allegations that Gruevski and others were behind a violent 2013 protest against Skopje Center Municipality Mayor Andrej Zernovski. Gruevski allegedly ordered the protest to disrupt a meeting critical of controversial plans to redevelop Skopje’s downtown."

EU: The corporate wax nose (OpenDemocracy, link) by David Sogge:

"A fountain of noble intentions and good deeds, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has long been advertised as a sure-fire way to improve and extend the benefits of capitalism for society. But does it actually deliver on that goal? Judging by the results of recent research the answer is no, even if many followers of CSR seem unprepared to grapple with those findings.

(...)

In conclusion, there’s a lot of evidence that Corporate Social Responsibility is what the Dutch call a ‘wax nose’—a phony contrivance that’s used to beguile us or delude us completely. More than a flashy ornament, it serves as camouflage. As aspiring icons of CSR continue to fall from grace—HSBC, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Unilever and so many others—a rising tide of earnest CSR reports helps to cover the smell of corporate malfeasance.

Serious research efforts like that of the IMPACT Project may expose CSR’s essential vacuity, but because their findings are ignored it marches forward unperturbed. The dogs may bark but the caravan continues. The show must go on. Wax noses to the front."

Hungary's pro-Kremlin far right is a regional security threat (EUobserver, link) by Edit Zgut:

"The murder of a Hungarian policeman by an extreme-right paramilitary leader in October has shed light on the continuing radicalisation and destabilisation of central and eastern Europe by the Kremlin.

The Hungarian National Front (MNA) was dissolved after its leader Istvan Gyorkos shot the officer as his house was being searched on 26 October.

The neo-Nazi group’s relationship with Russian military intelligence members, which dates back to 2012, came to light during the murder investigation.

It emerged that Russian foreign military intelligence (GRU) disguised as diplomats joined MNA members in military-style exercises. Yet the Hungarian government has still not asked the Russian ambassador to explain.

MNA is one of the most radical elements in a larger Hungarian pro-Russian extreme-right scene, of which Jobbik, the main opposition party, is the epicentre."

European Parliament: Briefing: Smart appliances and the electrical system (pdf):

"Smart appliances could help shift demand away from peak periods, which is important for an electricity system that relies on variable renewable energy sources. Most of this move will have to be automated, with smart appliances communicating with the electricity system. However, this is contingent on solving issues regarding the interoperability necessary for coordinating multiple smart appliances and households. It will also require the roll-out of smart meters and dynamic electricity prices, as well as making 'demand response' possible in various energy markets.

While consumers seem to have a positive attitude to smart appliances, they are not willing to change their habits unless they achieve substantial financial savings, and are not inclined to deal with control interfaces that are too complicated. Studies show that they are worried about the reliability, privacy and security of these new technologies.

Use of smart appliances could significantly benefit the electricity system when it comes to matching supply and demand in the grid, short-term balancing of the system, and reducing consumption. It could reduce the need for fossil fuel back-up and be conducive to an increased use of wind power. While the benefits seem to be many, the costs are not always clear. The European Commission recognises the potential of smart appliances and advocates development of smart infrastructure. The European Parliament seems to agree, as long as this benefits the consumer and affords a high level of data and privacy protection." (emphasis added)

UK: Police Scotland trained Saudi & Bahraini officers without human rights checks (Reprieve, link):

"Scottish Police provided training to senior officers from the Saudi and Bahraini police forces without carrying out any human rights checks, Freedom of Information requests by international human rights organisation Reprieve and BBC Scotland have revealed.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both use the death penalty and torture against people accused of involvement in protests. The Saudi authorities have also sentenced significant numbers of children to death – at least three of whom are currently on death row and could face execution at any time.

Under UK Government policy, a formal assessment is meant to be carried out before justice or security assistance is provided to states where it could contribute to the death penalty. However, FOI requests to Police Scotland and the UK College of Policing, who provided the Saudi and Bahraini training, found that no information was held on such assessments."

Refugees fall victim to people “ping pong” in the Balkans (IRIN, link):

"In an abandoned warehouse at the back of a bus station in Belgrade, several hundred migrants and refugees, most of them young men from Afghanistan, spend their days trying to keep warm and talking about how they will leave Serbia and continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

Officially, since March, there has been no way for migrants and asylum seekers to travel north from Greece other than by successfully applying for family reunification or relocation. But there are options for those who can afford it. Smugglers are charging 1,500 euros to move people from Greece (usually Thessaloniki) to Belgrade, and the same amount again to get them to Western Europe.

But many only get as far as the Balkans before running out of money or encountering draconian government policies. Push-backs, detentions, and deportations are common throughout the region, with some activists describing a “ping-pong situation” in which people are endlessly pushed back and forth."

Two new shipwrecks may bring annual Mediterranean death toll to over 5,000, says IOM

"IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project http://missingmigrants.iom.int, with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children." (emphasis added)

See: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 358,403; Official Deaths at Sea: 4,913 (IOM, link)

UK: Snooper's Charter is 'unlawful' and must be overhauled, Labour's Dianne Abbott says (The Independent, link):

"Labour’s Diane Abbott has called for a major rethink on Theresa May’s snooping laws, which the European Court has indicated are unlawful.

Ms Abbott slammed the Conservative legislation as a "serious erosion of our rights and liberties" and called for new exemptions. "

See also: Does the EU ruling really invalidate the Snoopers' Charter? (The Register, link):

"So there we have it. Like a legal analogy of Schrödinger's cat, European judgments resulting from appeals cases can't be considered to have an effect in the UK until a British judge has observed them.

For now, readers should know that the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) is still due to be commenced next Friday, 30 December, and even if some are suggesting that many of its provisions have been determined to be unlawful by yesterday's EU ruling, their interpretation will ultimately be decided upon by a domestic court in Blighty."

Background: European Court of Justice: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

EU-USA: European External Action Service: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue statement

"On the occasion of the third meeting of the EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue in Brussels on December
16, 2016, the participants jointly affirmed specific areas of cooperation as follows: International Security in Cyberspace... Cyber Capacity Building... Internet Governance... Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Online... Combatting Cybercrime... Cyber Resilience... Transatlantic cyber policy research cooperation"

See: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue (pdf)

EU and Switzerland agree on free movement (EUobserver, link):

"The EU approved a new Swiss law on Thursday (22 December) that will allow EU citizens to work in Switzerland, opening the way to solve a two-year crisis.?

An EU-Swiss joint committee, where all 28 EU states are represented, said that the law passed last Friday in the Swiss parliament would limit the effect of a 2014 referendum to introduce immigration quotas into the Swiss constitution.

One of the consequences of the referendum would have been to limit the free movement of EU workers to Switzerland, a member of the passport-free Schengen area."

UK: Chakrabarti pledges to end 'authoritarian arms race' over UK prisons (The Guardian, link):

"The shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, has pledged to end the “authoritarian arms race” to lock up more criminals as prison officers deal with the aftermath of the latest in a string of prison riots.

In remarks that are being seen as signalling an end to New Labour’s “tough on crime” mantra, Chakrabarti said prison overcrowding had contributed to “a crisis this Christmas in British prisons”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after riot officers ended a disturbance at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey, Chakrabarti said: “In my adult lifetime I have seen a doubling of the prison population and I think this was caused by an authoritarian arms race in British politics between the two parties. We are not in the arms race.”"

And see: Kicking Off… Why Prison Riots Happen (Prison UK: An Insider's View, link): " In reality, prison riots usually occur in very troubled prisons that have an extended history of poor management, as well as inmate discontent and frustration. It is rare that one single incident or decision by a governor leads directly to an explosion of rage by prisoners. There is almost always a whole series of issues and complaints that have gone unaddressed for weeks or even months."

Tusk rallies against ‘undermining of democracy’ in Poland as protests continue (EurActiv, link):

"European Council President Donald Tusk weighed in on Poland’s political crisis on Saturday (17 December), urging the ruling party to respect the constitution, the voters and the democratic process, as two days of anti-government protests spread from Warsaw to two other cities.

Demonstrators continued their protests outside the presidential palace and the parliament on Saturday over the government’s plans to limit journalists’ access to lawmakers.

A large spontaneous demonstration erupted Friday (16 December) outside parliament against the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Party’s policies under leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski."

And see: #ThisIsEurope: We Stand By Polish Protesters against Media Restrictions (European Alternatives, link): "Beyond far right forces and authoritarianism, beyond censorship and oppression, people in Poland and in many other countries, are demanding to be the ones taking the decisions affecting their lives. People protesting in Poland represent the Europe we want; they represent the importance of joining forces, of taking the streets and the squares without fear, defending democracy, freedom and our basic rights as citizens, that sometimes, are taken for granted."

Connecting unrelated events is a side effect of terrorism (EurActiv, link) by Dr. Marta Dominguez Diaz:

"Connecting unrelated atrocities as if they were part of an orchestrated scheme reveals one of the devastating effects terrorism is having in Europe and North America, a price our collective psyche is paying that will surely have secondary effects. Days like the 20th of December trigger a state of shared paranoia which, albeit difficult to control, is more dangerous than helpful. Actually, the only thing that the three cases evidently share by now is that they all seem to involve, in some capacity, Muslims. Yet it is likely that the similarities between the three stop there.

(...)

One may wonder whether a gun attack, injuring three people in Switzerland, would have reached the American public, Donald Trump included, if we could not hastily conclude that it was a ‘terrorist’ act. Would we have been concerned about the Muslim victim(s) if their murder had not coincided with the killings in Berlin? Would they have received the same media attention?"

Warsaw sees in Brexit a political and economic opportunity (New Europe, link):

"Britain’s decision to leave the EU is an opportunity to return power from Brussels to national governments, Poland’s eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told Reuters on Thursday.

Kaczynski, 67, is not a cabinet minister but leads Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS), which enjoys an overwhelming majority in Parliament and also has control over the Presidency. He told Reuters that while Britain is a natural ally for Poland could lead to a new treaty that will redefine the EU as “an association of national states.” As for the economy, “we need far-reaching deregulation.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.12.16) including "Locking down Africa" and NGOs oppose transfers back to Greece

EU: Council of the European Union: Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no: 11800-REV-1-16, 391 pages, pdf):

"The manual aims to inform and facilitate practical day-to-day cooperation between different Member States' authorities involved in police information exchange at both national and international level, to serve training purposes and ensure that better informed decisions will be made when it comes to seeking and exchanging information across borders.

The manual contains an overview of all EU systems, legal bases and instruments of information exchange available to the law enforcement authorities of the Member States. This way, the user is fully informed of the available options when it comes to deciding how to seek or provide information across borders."

: Locking down Africa (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"In the second part of her examination of EU deals with third countries to stop migration, Frances Webber examines the closure of Africa’s borders against migration, demanded by the EU as the price for development, trade and aid."

See also Part 1: Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (link)

EU-GREECE: NGO letter to Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President European Commission and Mr. Ioannis Mouzalas, Minister of Migration Policy, Greece: Letter to Commission: Joint Action Plan on EU-Turkey Statement and resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece (pdf). Signed by ECRE, Greek Council for Refugees, AITIMA and Solidarity Now. Includes Annex on: Observations and concerns on the Joint Action Plan on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement and the Recommendation on the resumption of returns to Greece under the Dublin III Regulation:

"In its fourth report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, published on 8 December 2016, the European Commission has suggested a series of measures aiming at increasing the number of returns from Greece under this highly controversial and contested arrangement.

The undersigning organisations are particularly alarmed by the suggestions made in the Joint Action Plan elaborated by the EU Coordinator together with the Greek authorities on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement.

We believe that many of the proposed measures will result in depriving asylum seekers and migrants arriving on the islands from essential procedural safeguards to protect them from refoulement, from enjoying the right to family life and the right to asylum under Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and eventually undermine the rule of law."

UK-IRELAND: PITCHFORD Inquiry: Victms of Irish Police Spy Operaton Demand Inclusion in UK Inquiry (pdf):

"Three victms of a controversial police spying unit operatng in Ireland have fled legal acton to demand their inclusion in the ongoing Britsh Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). The spy unit has sparked controversy across Europe, while the Tánaiste has failed to support victms."

New ECJ ruling on data retention: Preservation of civil rights even in difficult times! (Freegroup, link) by Peter Schaar:

"The European Court of Justice has made a Christmas present to more than 500 million EU citizens. With its new judgment on data retention (C-203/15 of 21 December 2016) – the highest court of the European Union stresses the importance of fundamental rights. All Member States are required to respect the rights represented in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in their national legislation. The ECJ issued an important signal that can hardly be surmounted taking into account the current political discussions on internal and external threats and the strengthening of authoritarian political currents providing the public with simplistic answers to difficult questions."

And: Data retention and national law: the ECJ ruling in Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 Tele2 and Watson (Grand Chamber) (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today's judgment in these important cases concerns the acceptability from a human rights perspective of national data retention legislation maintained even after the striking down of the Data Retention Directive in Digital Rights Ireland (Case C-293/12 and 594/12) (“DRI”) for being a disproportionate interference with the rights contained in Articles 7 and 8 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR)."

Background: : The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

USA: Documents suggest Palantir could help power Trump's ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants - Training materials obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center show Palantir has played a role in a far-reaching customs system (The Verge, link):

"Palantir, the data-mining firm co-founded by tech billionaire and Trump transition adviser Peter Thiel, has provided largely secret assistance to the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in operating a system that tracks and assesses immigrants and other travelers, according to public records. Known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, the system draws from a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement databases that gather and analyze often-sensitive details about people, including biographical information, personal associations, travel itineraries, immigration records, and home and work addresses, as well as fingerprints, scars, tattoos, and other physical traits."

European Parliament: "Winter Package" on security and defence, Cash Controls & Asylum Agency

Study: The 2016 “Winter Package” on European Security and Defence: Constitutional, Legal and Institutional Implications (pdf):

"This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines a series of constitutional, legal and institutional implications of the proposals endorsed by the December 2016 European Council for the further development of the Common Security and Defence Policy in the framework of the current Treaties."

Briefing: Controls of cash movements (pdf):

"In spite of a steady growth in non-cash payment methods, cash remains an important means of payment in daily life, mainly for payments of small amounts. Cash is, however, also widely used 'in the criminal economy and it remains the raw material of most criminal activity',2 including money laundering and terrorist financing. As these criminal activities often have a global impact, there are various international bodies, such as the rules of the UN Security Council, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or the Council of Europe, which have put rules in place targeting money laundering and terrorist financing...."

See also: Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 {SWD(2016) 470 (COM 825, pdf)

Report: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum (pdf): The parliament's amendments to the Commission proposal.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.12.16) including Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism plus SIS II and "returns"

EU: PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure

The European Commission is offering €70 million along with technical support to try to ensure the swift construction and interconnection of the infrastructure required to implement the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of all air passengers in Europe by law enforcement authorities.

The Directive requires passenger data from all flights entering, leaving or travelling within the EU to be handed over from airlines to 'Passenger Information Units', run by national law enforcement authorities, so that it can be cross-checked against watchlists, databases and profiles for the purposes of "preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime."

Comment (Chris Jones, Statewatch): An anti-democratic farce:

"The Commission's recent staff working document highlights the questionable approach, in terms of democratic procedure, that some Member States have taken towards establishing their national PNR systems: they "first started to build the technical infrastructure needed… and only later engaged in the legislative process."

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) RULES OUT BLANKET DATA RETENTION: EU's highest court delivers blow to UK snooper's charter - Indiscriminate collection of emails is illegal, court rules in response to challenge originally brought by David Davis (Guardian, link):

“General and indiscriminate retention” of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU’s highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK’s new Investigatory Powers Act – the so-called snooper’s charter.

Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ’s bulk interception of call records and online messages."

See: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Statewatch Viewpoint: Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism (pdf) by Theodore Baird

"The EU is actively cooperating with authoritarian regimes to control international movement while ignoring the disastrous human rights records of these regimes....

Nowhere in the new Partnership Framework is there recognition that the main countries of cooperation are ruled by authoritarian or hybrid governments actively undermining human rights. The main countries of cooperation – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia – have either authoritarian or hybrid regimes according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2015 (with the exceptions of Senegal and Tunisia, which are flawed democracies)."

EU: European Commission: "SIS" Package:

Security Union: Commission proposes to reinforce the Schengen Information System to better fight terrorism and cross-border crime (Press release, pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "With today's proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders."

Report on the evaluation of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (COM 880, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying thirdcountry nationals (COM 881, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks (COM 882, pdf)
Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (COM 833, pdf)
Technical and operational updates of the Schengen Information System – Questions & Answers (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Security Union: Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders – Questions and Answers (pdf):

"The proposed Regulation will facilitate cross-border recovery of criminal assets and lead to more efficient freezing and confiscation of funds from illicit origin in the EU without cumbersome formalities. Recovered assets will be used for the compensation of victims, where national legislation allows it. It also provides additional funds to invest back into law enforcement activities or other crime prevention initiatives or it can be used for other public interest or social purposes."

And: Security Union: Commission adopts stronger rules to fight terrorism financing (Press release, pdf):

"Today, the European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the EU's capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime, delivering on the commitments made in the Action Plan against terrorist financing from February 2016. The proposals being presented by the Commission will complete and reinforce the EU's legal framework in the areas of money laundering, illicit cash flows and the freezing and confiscation of assets."  

Proposed Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM 819/2, pdf)

Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 {SWD(2016) 470 (COM 825, pdf)

Proposed Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law (COM 826, pdf)

And see: Third progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 831, pdf)

Poland faces 'nuclear option' of EU sanctions (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission may ask member states to punish Poland with sanctions on Wednesday (21 December), which would be the first time such a measure has been taken in the EU's history.

Poland's failure to reverse controversial reforms that have paralysed its judiciary system will be discussed at a meeting of the college of commissioners.

The possibility of sanctions, which is laid down in article 7 of the EU treaty, has never been used.

The commission’s ex-president Jose Manuel Barroso labelled it as the "nuclear option", hoping the mere threat of sanctions would discourage national governments from going rogue."

Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link):

"Mali's foreign minister on Monday denied an agreement had been reached with the European Union to take back migrants failing to get asylum.

The Dutch foreign ministry signed a joint declaration on the EU's behalf on December 11 which it said would tackle "the root causes of illegal migration" and "enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants".

But Abdoulaye Diop told a press conference: "At no point was there any question of signing an agreement that would allow the expulsion of countrymen (living) in Europe illegally."

Mali "does not intend to put a price on its dignity even if the EU is a development partner."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.12.16) including "Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (MEP) and Kos baker wins award for helping refugees.

European Commission: Draft Revised Regulation on privacy and Electronic Communications (pdf)

The Commission is planning to present a revision of the Regulation in January - the latest draft is above. This will revise Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications which regulates the way in which telecommunication service providers have to manage the data of their subscribers.

The Commission is planning new rules that will force websites and browsers to switch from a default of allowing users to opt out of online advertising by asking them to opt in to view adverts based on their browsing history.

UK: Cardiff activist, Deborah, speaks out for the first time (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"‘Deborah’ is bravely speaking out for the first time about the trauma she has suffered after having a relationship with Marco Jacobs, an undercover officer and the subsequent five year battle to find out the truth.

This week she gave a interview to Channel Four News, about her experiences, and to the Guardian talking about the effects of the delays in her legal action against the police. She has also written her story down in the form of a statement for Police Spies Out of Lives, which we share below.

Deborah is one of three of the people involved in her case, she has requested anonymity; this has been upheld by the courts. ‘Deborah’ is a pseudonym."

And: Helen Steel issues statement as former partner confirmed as undercover officer (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer and Helen Steel has issued a statement in response. It is contained here
:
The Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer the third officer confirmed in recent weeks. John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel, who until recently was suing the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology, the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ .

Helen Steels Statement: “While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago. Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser...."

EU: Yet another new European intelligence forum: the Paris Group (link):

"Intelligence service coordinators from 15 European countries are organising themselves in a new group, known as “G15”. Initial meetings have been held in Berlin and Rome. The attendees were meant to remain anonymous – but one of them has broken cover.

Rather unexpectedly, a number of European governments have initiated moves to set up yet another intelligence network, whose remit will go beyond cooperation among national agencies and is likely to involve foreign intelligence services as well. Early this year, the intelligence service coordinators from 15 countries formed the Paris Group, known in some publications as “G15”."

EU: Commission report on work in the Eastern Partnership countries, including security and borders

The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The report includes a section on "resilience" and "civilian security":

"The resilience of the Partner Countries will be strengthened through stronger cooperation in the area of civilian security. The aim is to support Partners, including through capacity building projects, to ensure the security of their population, to make them more resilient to security threats and to be better prepared to prevent and respond to conflict and crisis."
.

See: Joint Staff Working Document: Eastern Partnership - Focusing on key priorities and deliverables (EU doc no: 15625-16, pdf).

EU: Latest reports on cybercrime and law enforcement: including problems with encryption, jurisdiction, and obtaining evidence

Poland drops controversial media proposals after protests (euractiv, link):

"Polish President Andrzej Duda yesterday (19 December) announced that the governing conservatives have scrapped controversial proposals to restrict media access in parliament that had fuelled opposition outcry and street demonstrations."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.12.16): EU-Mali migration deal text; CoE urges Belgium not to resume detention of migration children; Keep squatted Athens refugee "hotel" open; and more.

UK: New report on preventing torture in places of detention

"Under the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention against Torture, National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) are set up to inspect and report on conditions in all places of detention.

The contents of this briefing were prepared in 2014 as parts of work the Centre was undertaking with several other European partners to assess the work of NPMs across Europe.

It should be read as an exercise in assessing the UK NPM’s work, as well as a commentary on a series of important concerns that have not diminished since that time. As the UK NPM's latest annual report is expected in early 2017, this is a good time to look closely at the NPM, which represents a pivot of the UK’s commitment to torture prevention under international human rights law."

See: Preventing Torture in the UK (CCJS, link) and: New report on torture prevention in UK (CCJS, link)

Big data and freedom: a useful overview

"The quantified society describes the widespread collection of information—or big data—about individuals, groups, and even whole societies, and the use of that information by public and private actors to make inferences and decisions about many aspects of our lives. The use of this data can have real life consequences, affecting people’s access to credit, housing, jobs, and more.

(...)

Despite the appearance of impartial objectivity, the quantified society allows for bias, inaccuracies, surveillance, and prejudice.

For one thing, the quantified society is based on data, but data can be wrong. It can be out of date, inaccurate, relate only to a small sample of the population, or lack vital context. Big data is also based on correlations between behaviors and activities, but it cannot authoritatively provide causal links to explain why people or groups think or behave in certain ways. This distinction is often lost when findings from big data are presented as “truth.”

Algorithms, too, can contain bias. A White House report cited research on big data that showed how web searches involving black-identifying names (e.g., Jermaine) were more likely to display ads with the word “arrest” in them than searches with white-identifying names (e.g., Geoffrey)."

See: Life in a Quantified Society (Open Society Foundations, link)

UK: Demand for free legal advice spiralling upwards, charity reports (legalfutures, link):

"There is fast-growing growing demand for free legal advice, with family law now the most requested area of law, according to the experience of LawWorks, the solicitors’ national pro bono charity.

A report on the work of its 223 clinics in the year to March 2016 found that they responded to over 53,000 enquiries, a 24% increase on the previous year.

Over 35,000 clients were given legal advice at a clinic, an increase of 25% on the previous year, and a further 11,000 clients were given general information or signposted or referred to other services. Part of this increase was due to the 21% growth in the clinics network over the year – more than a third of the total number of clinics in the network (36%) were attached to law schools.

Some 71% of clinics reported an increase in the number of clients in crisis or distress."

See: LAWWORKS CLINICS NETWORK REPORT APRIL 2015 - MARCH 2016: Analysis of pro bono legal advice work being done across the LawWorks Clinics Network between April 2015 and March 2016 (link to pdf)

UK: Former offenders face "cliff edge" in support when leaving prison (parliament.uk, link):

"The Work and Pensions Committee report says former offenders leaving prison face a "cliff edge" drop off in support offered to help them re-enter normal life and find work, and that even while in prison, education and employment support are fragmented and good practice is "patchy and inconsistent"."

Full report: House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee: Support for ex-offenders (pdf)

And see: Education of Young People Leaving Custody (POSTbrief, pdf): "On release from custody, successful resettlement into the community has a positive effect on the lives of young offenders and generates wider social benefits by reducing reoffending.3,4 Continuing education and training on release from custody is a key part of transitioning back into the community for children and young people.5 This brief provides an overview of educational provision in resettlement and examines key factors affecting children’s engagement with education and training on release from custody."

Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children (Council of Europe, link):

"In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children.

Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner considers that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child.

“Immigration detention, even as a measure of last resort and for a short period of time, should never apply to children because it is a disproportionate measure which may have serious detrimental effects on them” says the Commissioner."

See: Letter from the Commissioner (pdf) and: Belgian government response (French, pdf)

GERMANY: The neo-Nazi murder trial revealing Germany's darkest secrets

On Thursday 15 December The Guardian published a lengthy article examining the trial of Beate Zschäpe, a member of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) who is charged with nine murders, primarily of men of Turkish origin. Four others are also accused of providing support to the NSU and aiding what were initially referred to by the German police and media as the "Doner Murders". For many years the police held to the theory that the killings were related somehow to the Turkish mafia.

In fact, it seems that they were carried out by neo-Nazis, something which has raised numerous questions over the role of the German intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz or BfV), which since the early 1990s has had numerous paid informants in the far-right scene yet seems to done little to try to prevent or help investigate the killings. Efforts during the trial to have the agency reveal information have continually been stymied. The BfV's connections with the far-right and the NSU has given rise to the German phrase "Der NSU-Komplex".

See: The neo-Nazi murder trial revealing Germany's darkest secrets (The Guardian, link)

Widespread ethnic profiling by police: a call for EU action (OpenDemocracy, link):

"These discriminatory practices are not only in breach of fundamental rights standards, they also have an extremely damaging impact on the minority communities targeted, leaving innocent individuals feeling fearful, humiliated and alienated. They also reinforce stigmatisation and criminalisation by the general public of entire groups of people and an ‘us-versus-them’ discourse.

In addition, ethnic profiling is an ineffective and even counter-productive security strategy. Discriminatory stops and searches in the context of counter-terrorism have produced few terrorism charges and no convictions. When police treat an entire group of people as suspicious, they are more likely to miss dangerous persons who do not fit the profile. Ethnic profiling also affects the trust of entire communities, and develops fear of law enforcement among youth and children. It makes the very communities whose support is necessary for fighting crime reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. Procedural justice research shows that when citizens see the police as more legitimate, they are more likely to comply with police directives and the law. For this to happen, citizens should be treated with dignity and respect and they should trust that the police are truly operating in their best interests."

EU: Counter-terrorism: alerts for temporary detention to be added to the SIS?

EU institutions, Member States and "various platforms and forums at the European level" are considering adding a new type of alert to the Schengen Information System (SIS) that woud allow "preliminary and temporary holding or detention in the context of the fight against terrorism," in order to "provide a solution going beyond information collection in situations in situations where there is a threat of terrorism."

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party for Schengen Matters (SIS/SIRENE): Fight against terrorism: Article 36 alerts (14651/16, LIMITE, 22 November 2016, pdf)

EU: How European databases failed to catch Freiburg murder suspect (Deutsche Welle, link):

"An Afghan asylum-seeker arrested for the murder of a student in Freiburg had already been convicted of a violent crime in Greece. Why wasn't he picked up in Europe's police search networks?"

And see: Asylum seeker convicted of attempted murder in Greece was released before raping and killing German student (The Independent, link): "The murder has stoked growing anti-migrant sentiment in the country, where the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party and far-right Pegida group have been capitalising on the killing.

...The German government appealed for calm as news of Hussein K’s arrest spread earlier this month, with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warning against “incitement”.

“Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here,” he said."

MEPs urge Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission should comply with EU law by temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, so as to encourage Washington to grant citizens of all EU countries visa-free access to the US, said a majority of MEPs in a debate in plenary on Wednesday.

Most speakers agreed that this is “a matter of principle” and stressed that EU rules require the Commission to present a delegated act to suspend an EU visa waiver if the country to which it was granted not offer full visa reciprocity to citizens of all EU member states. Some MEPs suggested that Parliament could bring this issue to the European Court of Justice."

EU-Mali migration declaration: text of the "common communique" signed on 11 December; Standard Operating Procedures for return

The EU's approach towards making "deals" on migration with non-EU states continued with the signing of a "common communique" with the government of Mali on 11 December in Bamako. In the communique, the EU and Mali commit to drafting a 'Joint Roadmap' that will focus on the creation of employment for young people; the "reinforcement of coherent and robust civil registration systems"; the introduction of biometric passports; border "management" procedures and "better control of the territory"; countering trafficking and smuggling and returns from Europe to Mali.

See: Communiqué commun Mali – EU - À la suite du Dialogue de Haut Niveau sur la Migration- Bamako, le 11 Décembre 2016 (French only, pdf)

UK: Joint Human Rights Committee on the human rights implications of Brexit

"The process of withdrawing from the European Union will have a significant impact on the legal framework that protects human rights in the United Kingdom. A complete withdrawal from the EU would mean that the UK would no longer have to comply with the human rights obligations contained within the EU Treaties, the General Principles of EU law, which include respect for fundamental rights, or EU directives and regulations protecting fundamental rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter) would not apply and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) would most probably cease to have jurisdiction over the UK.

(...)

The EU rights in question are extensive. In this report, we have focused on:

i) rights capable of replication in the law of the UK following Brexit;
ii) rights enjoyed by UK nationals in other Member States of the EU which might be retained following negotiation with the remaining EU Member States;
iii) the extent to which individual rights currently protected under EU law are likely to be protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
iv) questions about the human rights obligations which might be included in any new bilateral trade agreements post-Brexit."

See: House of Commons-House of Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights: The human rights implications of Brexit (pdf)

Brexit and the Future of Human Rights Law in the UK (EU Law Analysis, link):

" What’s the future for human rights law in the UK after Brexit? The starting point in the debate is what happens to the Human Rights Act – the subject of Professor Gearty’s new book On Fantasy Island. It has a thorough grasp of detail, but also makes the case for the Act in its social, political and historical context. It has a command of the whole subject, but also demonstrates the importance of human rights cases to the individuals concerned.

In particular, On Fantasy Island demolishes the myth of a glorious past for human rights as part of the common law (see also his blog post on this theme). As Professor Gearty notes, it’s true that the Salvation Army had the right to march joylessly to demand that people endure grinding poverty with tedious sobriety. But many others were unsuccessful asserting such rights – or were subject to wrongful convictions which sometimes either turned into wrongful executions or would have done so if the death penalty were still applied."

BREXIT: What will happen to police and security cooperation when the UK leaves the EU?

"Losing access to European police and justice databases after Brexit could undermine public safety and harm the government’s ability to protect national security, a cross-party parliamentary committee has said.

Close cooperation with EU institutions such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Criminal Records Information System is “mission-critical for the UK’s law enforcement agencies” in fighting terrorism and serious crime, according to the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-committee."

See: Loss of EU security cooperation could make UK less safe, say peers (The Guardian, link):

Full report: House of Lords EU Home Affairs sub-committee: Brexit: future EU-UK security and police co-operation (pdf):

"In other cases, and especially with regard to what are likely to emerge as the UK’s top objectives in this area, there is either no precedent for the EU permitting access to its tools by non-EU or non-Schengen members, for example in relation to ECRIS or SIS II, or the precedents that do exist would not be sufficient to meet the UK’s operational needs, for example in the case of third-country agreements with Europol."

And see: May Needs Bespoke Brexit Deal to Keep Britain Safe, Lords Say (Bloomberg, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.12.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.12.16)

German spies 'can't be trusted': Relations between the UK and Berlin intelligence chiefs hit after comments by London (Mail Online, link):

• Germany's spy agency BND is being frozen out by GCHQ as well as in America
• Both believe insecure servers have led to Wikileaks taking classified documents
• Berlin officials are angry that secret intelligence data has not been handed over
• The freeze-out also applies to the Metropolitan Police and UK Border Force

COMET: New Council working party for terrorist listing and sanctions

A new working party within the Council of the EU with the acronym COMET has been set up to "examine and evaluate information" and "make recommendations" regarding persons and groups to be placed on the EU's terrorist lists. The meetings of the group will be held in secret, and dates, agendas and organisational details of meetings will be classified as RESTREINT/RESTRICTED.

SPAIN: Amnesty slams treatment of migrants in Spain enclaves (The Local, link):

"Amnesty International on Tuesday denounced conditions for migrants arriving in Spain's overseas territories of Melilla and Ceuta, where they said asylum rights were not always respected.

After interviewing some 50 people in both north African enclaves that neighbour Morocco, the group said migrants who arrived there had at times experienced police abuse, and vulnerable people such as homosexuals or victims of domestic violence were not given adequate protection.

Spain's interior ministry did not comment on the report."

Full report (Spanish only): En tierra de nadie: La situación de las personas refugiadas y migrantes en Ceuta y Melilla (link to pdf)

European Council, 15 December 2016: EU-Turkey deal backed, Brexit discussion

EU-TURKEY: Fearing consequences, EU leaders show commitment to Turkey deal (Daily Sabah, link): "Despite the EU's heavy anti-Turkey stance and Austria's calls to freeze accession talks with Ankara, leaders in the European Union have expressed their commitment to the migration deal with Turkey while the European Parliament's calls to halt Turkey's negotiations did not find support among the leaders.

Speaking at her arrival to the EU Leaders Summit in Brussels yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that her country stands by the EU-Turkey Agreement that was signed in March and that Germany intends to continue to support Greece with repatriation efforts."

See: on migration (including EU-Turkey), security, other issues: European Council meeting (15 December 2016) – Conclusions (EUCO 34/16, pdf)

Brexit: EU leaders discuss UK's exit without Theresa May (BBC News, link): "The EU's 27 other leaders have met without the UK's Theresa May to discuss their Brexit negotiation plans.

They met informally at the European Council summit in Brussels amid tensions over the handling of talks.

Downing Street said Mrs May had not sought to be present at that meeting and it showed the EU was facing up to the reality that the UK was leaving.

It comes as the UK government plays down a suggestion that negotiating a UK-EU trade deal could take 10 years."

See: Informal meeting of the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission Brussels, 15 December 2016 (pdf)

EC hones in on biometrics in action plan on document fraud (Planet Biometrics, link):

"The European Commission has adopted an action plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, stating that it is needed to improve breeder document standards and information exchange amid current tensions.

The 11-page “Action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud” notes that the need for improved travel document security comes as the issue is increasingly under the spotlight in the context of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and current migration flows."

And see: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers" (Statewatch News Online)

Turkey's crackdown propels number of journalists in jail worldwide to record high (CPJ, link):

"More journalists are jailed around the world than at any time since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping detailed records in 1990, with Turkey accounting for nearly a third of the global total, CPJ found in its annual census of journalists imprisoned worldwide.

Amid an ongoing crackdown that accelerated after a failed coup attempt in July, Turkey is jailing at least 81 journalists in relation to their work, the highest number in any one country at any time, according to CPJ’s records. Turkish authorities have accused each of those 81 journalists--and dozens more whose imprisonment CPJ was unable to link directly to journalistic work--of anti-state activity.

The global total of 259 journalists jailed on December 1, 2016, compares with 199 behind bars worldwide in 2015. The previous global record was 232 journalists in jail in 2012."

Statewatch Briefing: Eurodac: Member States want wider police access to biometric database despite most having never made use of it (pdf):

A European Commission proposal to expand the Eurodac biometric database has provided the perfect opportunity for national interior ministries to demand that police forces be able to obtain asylum-seekers’ and irregular migrants’ data more easily, despite the fact that half of all Member States do “not yet have experience with law enforcement access” to the system, according to an official document obtained by Statewatch. Proposed amendments simplifying and broadening law enforcement access now form part of the Council’s mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposed new Eurodac Regulation.

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (pdf):

Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission targeting migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean, has a "deterrence effect" that "by its presence alone, enhances security in the Mediterranean," according to an internal report by the Italian naval officer in charge of the deployment. Yet as people continue crossing the central Mediterranean, and increasing numbers of them die whilst trying to do so, the only reasonable question to be asked is: what deterrent effect?

EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast

According to a report in the Financial Times (link), EU border agency Frontex has accused NGOs of colluding with people smugglers operating in the central Mediterranean, stating in a confidential report that it has logged the: "“First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel”.

Similarly, in an internal report (pdf) drafted by the head of Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission against smuggling in the Mediterranean, NGOs are accused of making migrant smugglers' work easier by operating closer to the Libyan shore than the EU's vessels.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.12.16)

UK: Met to apologise to woman after admitting officer stole dead son's identity (GUardian, link): "Police pledge to meet Barbara Shaw after officer used identity of Rod Richardson to pretend to be an anti-capitalist protester."

EU-DENMARK-EUROPOL: Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Denmark to minimise the negative effects of the Danish departure from Europol, following the referendum in Denmark on 3 December 2015 (Press release, pdf): A similar arrangement would not be open to the UK under Brexit as:

"This arrangement would be conditioned on Denmark's continued membership of the European Union and of the Schengen area..."

EU: E-evidence: Internet companies in the USA to facilitate direct enquiries by European authorities (link):

"When conducting digital investigations, authorities often run up against the problem that the data they are looking for is stored on servers abroad or that service providers do not respond to requests. The European Commission is therefore working to develop uniform standards. A number of companies are already cooperating in these efforts."

Interpol launches new facial recognition database (link)

"Law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on facial recognition systems. In addition to their use in identifying criminals, these might also be used in future to perform automatic matching against appropriate databases of everyone crossing an external border of the EU. Interpol is also considering searching through images on social networks."

Polish lawmakers pass law restricting rallies (euractiv, link):

"Poland’s populist-dominated parliament has passed a law restricting public meetings which was slammed by the opposition as being anti-democratic, media reports said yesterday (14 December)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.12.16)

EU-USA Justice & Home Affairs December meeting

- "for the EU collectively more data, more variety of data and more tempo were needed."

EU and US Justice and Home Affairs Ministers met in Washington on 4-5 December 2016. The main points on the agenda were counter-terrorism, borders and migration and visa reciprocity.

See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting, Washington, 4 – 5 December 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 15062-16, pdf)

EU: European Parliament Studies: EPPO and Drug policy

- Towards a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, analyses the proposal for a Regulation establishing the EPPO. The evolution of the text is analysed through a comparison between the initial Commission proposal and the current version of the text (dated of 28 October 2016).

The paper assesses whether the EPPO, as it is currently envisaged, would fit the objectives assigned to it, whether it will have some added value, and whether it will be able to function efficiently and in full respect of fundamental rights. It focuses on the main issues at stake and controversial points of discussion, namely the EPPO institutional design, some material issues, its procedural framework, and its relations with its partners."

- A review and assessment of EU drug policy (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of the drug policies in international fora, at EU level, in seven Member States and in three non-EU countries. The study highlights the very different approaches taken and their varying level of effectiveness."

EU-UK: BREXIT: House of Lords: Select Commitee reports:

- Brexit: UK-Irish relations (pdf):

"The implications of the 23 June referendum result for UK-Irish relations are often overlooked, at least on this side of the Irish Sea. Yet the consequences of Brexit are highly significant, not only for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and North-South relations between the two,1 but for the totality of relationships across these islands. Indeed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU as “arguably the greatest economic and social challenge for this island in fifty years.”

This report seeks to draw attention to the implications in key areas such as the Irish economy; cross-border trade; the Irish land border and the Common Travel Area; policing and security cooperation; the future of the Northern Ireland peace process; and North-South and East-West relations."

- Brexit: acquired rights (pdf)

"This report considers one of the most pressing issues to have arisen since the referendum result in June—what happens to the EU rights upon which so many of us rely when the UK leaves the EU?"

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Securing detainees’ access to lawyers (link):

"The Legal Affairs Committee underlined the importance of the right to the assistance of a defence counsel in criminal cases, as enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention. According to the parliamentarians, “it is crucially important for a detainee to have access to a lawyer from the outset of the detention in order to guarantee that the rights of defence are practical and effective”.

See: Report adopted (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.12.16)

GREECE: Serious problems in Greek asylum system persist, says NGO report

The Greek NGO AITIMA has published a mid-term report setting out the findings of its project monitoring the Greek asylum procedure, noting a number of serious issues including limited access to the procedure, delays in processing, lack of information for applicants and the "legally debatable establishment of Independent Appeals Committees."

See: Pilot Project on monitoring the asylum procedure (September 2016-March 2017) (pdf)

EU law-making: trilogues under fire for lack of transparency

"The EU is pushing more of its lawmaking out of public view.

Its stated motivation is to prove to an increasingly Euroskeptical public that it can move quickly when it needs to. Critics say it’s dumping oil on the Euroskeptic pyre.

Next week, the heads of the Commission, Parliament and the sitting president of the Council are expected to embrace “priority treatment” for about 40 draft laws, including the end to mobile roaming fees in Europe and eurozone budget reform.

In effect, that means legislators, under pressure from EU leaders, will be forced to agree on the most sensitive issues in closed-door “trilogues,” confirming a recent trend that has seen less public scrutiny of far-reaching legislation in parliamentary committees and the plenary.

Concerned about how key negotiations are being pushed into the shadows, transparency campaigners and corporate lobbyists have formed an unlikely coalition in response."

See: Where European democracy goes to die (Politico, link)

EU: Skype, WhatsApp face increased privacy regulation in Europe (PC World, link)

"Skype, WhatsApp and services like them could soon fall under the same European Union regulations as telephone calls and SMS text messages, a leaked legislative draft reveals.

Although Skype and WhatsApp can both be used to make voice calls and send text messages, they don't fall under existing EU communications privacy legislation because they are data services that run over the top of an internet connection, rather than native functions of the network like phone calls and SMS.

But legislators want to bring such "over-the-top" services within the scope of rules protecting users' privacy with their proposed Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation, a draft of which was obtained by Politico on Monday. The regulation is intended to replace the 2002 ePrivacy Directive."

See also: WhatsApp, Skype set to come under new EU security rules: draft (Reuters, link)

The draft of the proposed Regulation was originally published by Politico (link to pdf). Statewatch is hosting a copy with searchable text: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC ('Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation' (pdf)

CoE-POLAND-USA: Rendition: ministers want diplomatic assurances from USA on death penalty and Polish investigation stepped up

Representatives of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe have called upon the USA to provide assurances to the Polish authorities that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who the European Court of Human Rights ruled was subjected to rendition, secret detention and interrogation by Poland through its collaboration with the CIA, will not be subjected to the death penalty. He is currently held in Guantánamo Bay.

SCANDINAVIA: The Failure of The State And The Rise Of Fascism (Novara, link):

"Portrayed as dreamlands of equality and peaceful social democracy, the Nordic countries in recent years have seen a steep rise of the far right, both in party politics and on the streets. This is not as paradoxical as it sounds: the friendly welfare state has long hidden the ugly face of nationalism, opening a breeding ground for far-right ideas of the deserving ‘us’ and the undeserving ‘other’. To tackle fascism, we must question the very unit of the nation state and the ideology it was built on."

UK-IRELAND-EU: House of Lords: UK government must ensure relations with Ireland are not "collateral damage" of Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords European Union Committee (pdf) sets out the implications of Brexit for relations between the UK and Ireland, noting that they are "more profound than they are for any other Member State" and lead to "a series of complex and interconnected questions," which the Committee suggests are best resolved through "a unique solution... for the EU institutions and Member States to invite the UK and Irish Governments to negotiate a draft bilateral agreement, involving and incorporating the views and interests of the Northern Ireland Executive, while keeping the EU itself fully informed." The Committee warns that "UK-Irish relations and stability in Northern Ireland must not be allowed to become ‘collateral damage’ of Brexit."

EU: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers"

A European Commission Action Plan on dealing with travel document fraud, published on 8 December, includes a whole host of commitments from the Commission, including: "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers (facial image and/or fingerprints) in population registers, in full respect of EU data protection law and taking account of the national context in Member States."

No more EU deals to keep migrants out (EurActiv, link):

"It has only been a year since 193 of the world’s leaders agreed on the 2030 Agenda, where they agreed to facilitate safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility and ensure full respect for human rights and humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, write Jessica Poh-Janrell and Andrea Stocchiero of CONCORD.

Since then, more people than ever have been forced to leave their homes. At the same time, right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric has whipped up xenophobia and fear of refugees and migrants, for example ahead of the Brexit vote and now in the run up to the French election. With a world in turmoil, it is more important than ever that the leaders of Europe step up and show the world their real commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda and to stand up for international solidarity and everyone’s human rights.

The [European Council] summit this week (15 December) is the opportunity for our leaders to change direction, but instead the EU, together with its member states, are making one deal after another with countries many of whom have very bad human rights records. The intentions are all the same: keeping people out or sending them back. Along the way, peoples’ human rights and right to protection are being ignored."

EU: European Council, 15 December 2016: latest text of the draft conclusions

Statewatch has obtained the text of a copy of the draft conclusions being put together for the European Council meeting on 15 December, covering amongst other things: migration (reiteration of commitment to the EU-Turkey deal, need for financing for the Valletta Action Plan); internal security ("the European Council calls for effective cooperation with electronic service providers based inside and outside the EU," for example internet service providers and telecoms firms); external security and defence (the EU needs its own military forces); "economic and social development and youth"; Ukraine; and Syria.

UK: Far right group National Action to be banned under terror laws (BBC News, link):

"A British neo-Nazi movement is to become the first far-right group to be banned under terrorism laws in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said National Action was "a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation".

An order laid in Parliament to proscribe the group - making it a criminal offence to join or support it - is due to come into effect on Friday.

It will be the first time a group engaged in extreme right-wing activities has been proscribed.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be "concerned in terrorism"."

UK: What Do the Screws Want? (Jacobin, link):

"Of all the frontlines of struggle embroiling the British government, few would have expected prisons to be among the most urgent. A recent illegal strike by ten thousand prison officers took the government by surprise, and more could be coming. The government rumors that it was considering deploying armed forces to take control of the prisons.

This isn’t the first time such action has been taken. The New Labour government had to fight prison officers over pay back in 2007, and faced a similarly truculent workforce. But this time, it is a matter of workplace safety. It’s the soaring rate of violence in prisons, with a number of recent riots, that has officers demanding government action. Overcrowding and understaffing is blamed, by prison officers and the former chief inspector of prisons. The current chief inspector found conditions in Bedford Prison, before the riots, to fall well below “basic levels of decency.”"

Bargaining Chips No More: The Status of EU and UK citizens after Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today, the results of an inquiry into the status of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, set up by the NGO British Future, are released. I was a member of the panel of that inquiry, which sought to bring together supporters of both the Leave and the Remain side, from different political parties and from outside Parliament as well.

This blog post has three related objectives: a) to set out and defend the main recommendations of the inquiry regarding EU citizens in the UK after Brexit; b) to set out my own recommendations for what should happen to UK citizens in the EU after Brexit; and c) to discuss the idea (floated recently) of ‘associate citizenship’ of the EU for UK citizens after Brexit. Just to make clear, the second and third points were outside the remit of the British Future inquiry – but I think it makes sense to look at those issues in parallel today. Obviously, the comments here on the latter two points are mine alone, and my views on them are not necessarily shared by any of the other people on the panel."

AUSTRALIA: Mining company Rio Tinto wants to use drones and "smart infrastructure" to monitor workers

"In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition.

Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource – its own employees, for data.

Thousands of Rio Tinto personnel live in company-run mining camps, spending not just work hours but leisure and home time in space controlled by their employer – which in this emerging era of smart infrastructure presents the opportunity to hoover up every detail of their lives."

See: Revealed: Rio Tinto's plan to use drones to monitor workers' private lives (The Guardian, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.12.16)

EU-Mali readmission agreement marks first such deal with an African state

The EU has signed its first readmission agreement with an African state, after a deal was reached with the Malian government in Bamako on Sunday 11 December aimed at combating "the root causes of irregular migration" and "to encourage the return of Malian migrants from Europe". The deal marks a complete U-turn by the Malian government, which EU officials noted in February this year was "opposed to readmission agreements."

EU met only 5% of target for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy (The Guardian, link):

"European countries have relocated only one in 20 of the refugees they promised to shelter, amid continuing deep divisions over how the continent should help growing numbers fleeing war and persecution.

More than a year after the EU promised to disperse 160,000 refugees from overstretched Greece and Italy to other EU countries, only 8,162 people have been found a home, figures from the European commission show.

Although the EU has met only 5% of its goal, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner in charge of migration, declared it was possible to hit the target by September 2017."

Commission: over €1 billion of EU-Turkey deal money contracted for 34 projects

In an answer to a parliamentary question the European Commission has said that €1.252 billion of the €3 billion promised under the EU-Turkey deal has so far been contracted for 34 different projects on humanitarian aid, education and healthcare for refugees.

A further €60 million has been provided for "food, healthcare and accommodation for migrants returning from Greece to Turkey," and €20 million has gone towards a "contract to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard."

EU: New Asylum Agency must ensure EU countries respect common asylum rules, say MEPs (press release, pdf):

"The committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, and provide it with the means to assist member states in crisis situations, but also to monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation.

The new Agency will assess all aspects of the common asylum policy, such as reception conditions, respect for procedural safeguards, the right to legal aid and access to interpretation, and adequacy of financial and human resources. To do so, it will be entitled to make unannounced on-site visits to EU countries.

It would rely on an “asylum intervention pool”, formed by no less than 500 experts contributed by member states, who could be deployed in cases where the asylum and reception systems of an EU country are subject to “disproportionate pressure”."

EU: Visa suspension mechanism: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal (press release, pdf):

"According to the deal, visa requirements may be reintroduced for a non-EU country in one or more of the following cases:

a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country refused entry or
irregularly staying in the EU territory,
a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications, or a lack of cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants).

Visas could also be reintroduced in the event of threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned."

UK: White paper on prison safety unlikely to lead to prison safety

"Prison Safety and Reform was published in November 2016. Covering 61 often-repetitive, meagre pages, the White Paper theoretically provides a blueprint for the ‘biggest overhaul of our prisons in a generation’.

The prison crisis provides the incendiary context for White Paper. However, prisons have been in crisis since the end of the eighteenth century. The result has been an endless cycle of crisis/reform/crisis, which has been toxic for prisoners."

See: Prison safety and reform: When? (CCJS, link) and the Ministry of Justice white paper: Prison Safety and Reform (pdf)

SPAIN: Implementation of EU Directive leads to "groundbreaking decision" on secrecy in court proceedings

The implementation in Spain of the 2012 EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings has led to the Madrid Court of Appeals deciding to overturn long-standing provisions in Spanish law permitting documents to be withheld from the defence.

SPAIN: Initially offensive: student fined for the letters on his sweater

Following a protest in Bilbao on 26 October a 19-year-old carpentry student was walking to meet his friends at a bar when he was issued with a fine of up to €600 by the police for wearing a sweater with the letters 'ACAB' written across the front.

Two officers from the regional police force of the Basque Country, the Ertzaintza, argued that the letters - which are often used to represent the phrase "all cops are bastards" - were proof of a "lack of respect" towards state security officials, an act that since 1 July 2015 has been an administrative offence in Spain.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.12.16)

UK: Police: Orgreave files 'to be made public next year' (Guardian, link):

"Home Office files concerning events at the “battle of Orgreave” are due to be released next year among a cache of records relating to the 1984 miners’ strike.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the home affairs select committee the documents would be among 30 files planned for release to the National Archives.

The subject titles suggest at least one file relates to the clash between police and strikers in South Yorkshire that became one of the bloodiest events of the dispute. A further three files are said to be under consideration for release by the Home Office."

Council of Europe: Turkey had good reasons to declare the state of emergency but went too far with the emergency measures: Venice Commission (link):

"Venice, 09.12.2016 – An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts – the Venice Commission – concludes that Turkish authorities had been confronted “with a dangerous armed conspiracy” and had “good reasons” to declare the state of emergency, but that measures taken by the Government went beyond what is permitted by the Turkish Constitution and by international law.

(...)

Even though provisions of the Turkish Constitution on the declaration of the state of emergency appear to be in line with common European standards, the Government implemented its emergency powers through ad hominem legislation. Thus, “tens of thousands of public servants” were dismissed on the basis of lists appended to emergency decree laws. Those collective dismissals did not refer to verifiable evidence, related to each individual case. According to the opinion, the speed with which those lists appeared implies that the collective dismissals were not accompanied even by a minimum of procedural safeguards. Those dismissals apparently are not subject to judicial review by the ordinary courts, or, at least, the accessibility of the judicial review remains a matter of controversy. Such method of purging the State apparatus creates a strong appearance of arbitrariness."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-9.12.16)

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Concern about the situation of the media and journalists in many European countries (link):

"The PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media today highlighted the large number of cases of threats and attacks against journalists and media outlets reported to the Council of Europe through the Platform it set up in 2015 to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.

The report prepared by Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD) and adopted by the committee indicates that from April 2015 to November 2016, the Platform recorded 230 alerts in 31 member states – 95 of those alerts had received an official reply by the State concerned and 23 cases had been resolved, while a total of 16 journalists had been killed over the period."

See the report: Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe (pdf)

Job vacancy at the Institute of Race Relations (link):

"Are you passionate about racial justice?

Do you have good organisational and administrative skills? Would you relish the opportunity of working in a small team to help develop one of the UK’s leading educational charities creating and disseminating analyses and information? If so, we might have just the job for you. The IRR is looking for a dynamic person to help in the day-to-day running of its office and the promotion of its research and educational materials. Academic qualifications are not as important to us as initiative, organisational skills, administrative know-how, and a collective approach to working."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 December, Brussels, 2016: documentation

- Final press release (pdf)
-
Main "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf)
-
"A" Points: legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf)
-
"A" Points: non-legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf) and Additional matters (pdf)
-
Background Note (pdf)

Human rights “under unprecedented pressure” world-wide (Scoop, link):

"“In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the ‘Deep Net.’ It is becoming part of normal daily discourse.”"

NSA-GCHQ: American and British Spy Agencies Targeted In-Flight Mobile Phone Use (The Intercept, link):

"the emergence of a new field of espionage that had not yet been explored: the interception of data from phone calls made on board civil aircraft. In a separate internal document from a year earlier, the NSA reported that 50,000 people had already used their mobile phones in flight as of December 2008, a figure that rose to 100,000 by February 2009. The NSA attributed the increase to “more planes equipped with in-flight GSM capability, less fear that a plane will crash due to making/receiving a call, not as expensive as people thought.” The sky seemed to belong to the agency."

See: Five Eyes: In-flight GSM (pdf)

Netherlands: Wilders convicted for insulting Moroccans (EUobserver, link):

"Dutch anti-EU politician Geert Wilders has been convicted by a Dutch court on Friday (9 December) for insulting a group and inciting discrimination, for remarks he made about Moroccans in 2014.

The court said it was “legally and convincingly proven” that Wilders had insulted Moroccans as a group when he rhetorically asked a crowd if there should be “fewer Moroccans” in the country.

However, the court did not impose a fine or jail sentence. Wilders was acquitted from the charge of inciting to hatred."

EU: Agreement between Council and Parliament on mandatory database checks for all at borders

- Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (pdf) including:

"verification that a person enjoying the right of free movement under Union law is not considered to be a threat to the internal security, public policy, international relations of any of the Member States or to public health, including by consulting the […] Schengen Information System and other relevant Union […] databases. […] This is without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases.."

- Letter from Council to Parliament (pdf) The Civil Liberties Committee in the parliament is expected to adopt today (8 December)

The EU needs to make itself battle-ready (EUobserver, link):

"A week before Christmas, EU heads of state and government are set to discuss security and defence at their regular European Council meeting in Brussels. It may not be a typical pre-holiday topic, but its urgency makes us focus on it even in the time of family gatherings and last-minute Christmas shopping.

After all, this should be a time of peace, which is exactly the objective of the upcoming discussion."

EU: DNA profiles to be included in the Schengen Information System?

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels this year and last, EU and national officials began another round of discussions on how to increase information-sharing amongst law enforcement authorities across the continent. Amongst a flurry of proposals included in a new "roadmap" on information exchange is a suggestion to include DNA profiles in the Schengen Information System, the EU-wide policing and migration database.

The roadmap was drawn up in May 2015 within the Council and received political approval from national justice and interior ministers at the
JHA Council meeting in June 2016 (pdf): 'Theme 3' is "optimal use of European information systems", under which can be found item 11: "enhance the effectiveness of using the Schengen Information System (SIS)."

See: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area (LIMITE doc no: 13554-REV-1-16, pdf)

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator report: options for dealing with "foreign terrorist fighter returnees"

"Threat and risk analysis: Latest figures suggests that of the total number of European FTFs, around 15-20 % have died in theatre, 30-35 % have already returned and 50 % are still in Syria and Iraq (ie between 2.000 and 2.500 Europeans).... There are largely two categories of returnees: those in the majority that will drift back, and those who will be sent back on specific missions, which are of most concern.....

Given the changed Daesh communication focus in the West (no longer on building the Caliphate, territory, call not to travel to Syria or Iraq but instead staying home and committing attacks in the West), using returnees in our communication strategy to discourage future jihadi travellers from going to Daesh held territories may be less effective."

See: Council of the European Union: From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Subject: Foreign terrorist fighter returnees: Policy options (LIMITE doc no: 14799-16, pdf)

The report comes at the same time as one by Europol on a related topic: Islamic State changing terror tactics to maintain threat in Europe (Europol press release, link); full report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State (IS) revisisted (pdf)

Europol joins forces with counter-terrorism experts to undermine online terrorist propaganda (link):

"1814 pieces of terrorist and violent extremist online content have been assessed for the purpose of referral to online platforms during a two-day concerted action coordinated by Europol, in collaboration with representatives from dedicated units in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Romania. The processed content was in nine different languages and hosted by 35 online platforms. The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the concerned service providers, taken in reference to their own terms and conditions."

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees (pdf)

UK to double armed drone fleet in deal with US Predator manufacturer (Guardian, link):

"Defense secretary Michael Fallon on Saturday announced a $125m (£100m) development deal with US arms manufacturer General Atomics under which the UK fleet of armed drones will double.

The maker of the Predator and Reaper drones used widely by the US will provide 10 drones to the Royal Air Force, bringing the fleet from 10 to 20, an increase announced last year by then prime minister David Cameron, as part of the strategic defence review.

The deal will also boost research into imagery and datalinks – communications from the ground with the drones."

And see: an earlier official document when the deal remained officially provisional: USA-United Kingdom – Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (pdf)

EU-USA: Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting of 5 December 2016 (press release, pdf)

Including:

"Both sides confirmed the completion of their internal approval procedures for the EU-U.S. Data Protection "Umbrella" Agreement, and welcomed this important step for strengthening data protection in law enforcement cooperation across the Atlantic. On that basis, the U.S Attorney General will now make the necessary designations under the Judicial Redress Act to allow the swift entry into force of the Agreement....[and]

The European Union stressed the importance of achieving full visa reciprocity with the United States as soon as possible." [emphasis added]

Council of Europe, OSCE voice serious concerns over changes to Polish laws on freedom of assembly (New Europe, link):

"European human rights officials have expressed serious concern over legal amendments passed last week in the Polish Sejm that could undermine the right to freedom of assembly if they become law.

Even inside Poland, the country’s ombudsman and human rights campaigners have criticised the bill, saying it will undermine Poles’ right to freedom of assembly by making it much harder to stage counter-demonstrations to rallies sponsored by the state or the church.

Lawmakers of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) approved the bill on its first reading, part of a wave of legislation the government says aims to strengthen traditional Catholic and national values.

The bill, which still has to clear a few hurdles before becoming law, would also transfer to government officials many powers now enjoyed by local governments on deciding whether to allow a public assembly to go ahead."

Commission 'shockingly passive' on Lithuania gay rights (EUobserver, link):

"A group of MEPs has accused the European Commission of ignoring clear discrimination against gay people in Lithuania.

The commission told Lithuanian activists last month that it would take no action over a 2013 law that claims to protect children from propaganda, but has been used to ban all kinds of material and crack down on LGBT groups.

The response angered a group of MEPs, who wrote to commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Frans Timmermans, in charge of audiovisual policy and fundamental rights respectively, to deplore that they shied away from acting on "a clear case of discrimination". "

EU offers Denmark partial access to Europol database - sources (Reuters, link):

"The European Commission has offered Denmark partial access to Europol's database, following the Nordic country's vote to leave the cross-border police organization, government sources said on Tuesday.

In a precursor to the much more dramatic vote by the British in June to leave the European Union entirely, Danes last December rejected a government proposal for new laws needed to keep the country inside the European police agency."

CoE: Parliamentary Assembly:Join forces against cyberdiscrimination and online hate (link) and see the report: Ending cyberdiscrimination and online hate (pdf):

"The PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination today called on Council of Europe member states to take action to combat cyberdiscrimination and online hate through the adoption of effective legislation and awareness-raising and education programmes, as well as greater co-operation on the part of internet intermediaries."

EU: ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU (EUobserver, link):

"Everyone, including EU nationals, will have their IDs checked against police databases under new draft rules every time they enter or exit the EU.

Backed by MEP negotiators and their EU state counterparts on Monday (5 December), the move is the latest in a series of security measures aimed at catching people who fought alongside the Islamic State militant group.

But the plan, which amends the Schengen Borders Code, is also designed to provide the police much greater insight into people suspected of other crimes. " [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.12.16)

EU: Council of the European Union: Policies in the making: Exit-Entry System, EU Agency for Asylum & EURODAC and LEA access

- EES: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Preparation of further steps (LIMITE-14700-16, 157 pages, pdf): Council developing its position prior to trilogue meeting with the European Parliament:

"a number of issues remains outstanding at this stage, including in particular:

- the calculation of the duration of stay in Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis in full (Art. 3a);
- the conditions to grant access to the EES to law enforcement authorities (Chapter IV);
- the interaction between the EES and bilateral agreements (Art. 54) and
- the obligation/possibility of stamping travel documents in case of technical failure of the EES (Art. 19)"

"the new addition are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the documents are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission proposals are marked as […].

- EU Agency for Asylum: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 (LIMITE doc no 14855-16, 93 pages, pdf): 136 Footnotes and a number of Member State positions:

"The objective of the Union's policy on asylum is to develop and establish a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), consistent with the values and humanitarian tradition of the European Union and governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility."

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 1 December 2016 are indicated with bold and […] as compared to the most recent version of the relevant provisions."

- EURODAC and LEA access: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints... and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes (LIMITE doc no 14710, 94 pages, pdf): Including Member States' positions: And includes: It's OK to use coercion on vulnerable persons and minors "if permitted under national law":

"Third-country nationals or stateless persons who are deemed to be vulnerable persons and minors should not be coerced into giving their fingerprints or facial image, except in duly justified circumstances that are permitted under national law.... [emphasis added]

Member States shall […] introduce administrative sanctions including the possibility to use means of coercion, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with providing biometric data...""

"The changes in the text of the draft Regulation as compared to the Commission proposal are indicated in bold and deleted text is marked in […], while amendments with regard to the latest text examined by the JHA Counsellors4 is indicated by underlining the insertion."

CoE: National human rights structures: protecting human rights while countering terrorism (press release, link):

"states’ duty to prevent and combat terrorism should in no way be fulfilled at the expense of human rights standards and the common values in which European societies are grounded. This would be a mistake, since laws and policies that are human rights compliant preserve the values the terrorists are trying to destroy, weaken the pull of radicalisation, and strengthen the public’s confidence in the rule of law and democratic institutions.

In this context, national human rights structures (NHRSs) have a vital role to play."

And see: Counter-terrorism operations in the South East of Turkey caused widespread human rights violations (press release, link):

"“Numerous human rights of a very large civilian population in South-Eastern Turkey have been violated as a result of curfews imposed and anti-terrorism operations conducted there since August 2015. I call on Turkey to stop using curfews in such a manner, investigate all allegations of human rights violations by state agents in an effective manner and put in place comprehensive schemes for redress and compensation. Failure to do so will further aggravate the initial violations” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a Memorandum published today. The Memorandum presents the findings of a visit that he conducted to Turkey (Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Ankara) from 6 to 14 April 2016, and a subsequent visit to Ankara from 27 to 29 September 2016."

See: Memorandum on the Human Rights Implications of Anti-Terrorism Operations in South-Eastern Turkey (pdf)

UK: 'Prevent' counter-extremism strategy faces legal challenge (BBC News, link):

"A key part of the government's counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent, is to face a legal challenge in the High Court on Tuesday.

Salman Butt, a British Muslim activist, has launched legal action, saying he was named as a "non-violent extremist" by the government.

He says aspects of Prevent breach free speech rights. The Home Office has accused Dr Butt of expressing views that violate British values, something Mr Butt denies. "

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.12.16)

EU: European Parliament: civil liberties committee approves Europol-Georgia cooperation agreement

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has given its consent to an agreement that would allow the exchange of information, including personal data, between EU policing agency Europol and Georgia. The Parliament has previously called on the Council not to authorise negotiations with Georgia and a number of other countries, but in any case parliamentary consent is not required for the approval of the agreement, an issue raised in the committee's report.

EU: Military might: Commission proposes €5.5 billion per year for defence research and equipment

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (30 November) a €5.5 billion 'European Defence Fund' that would provide EU funds of €500 million per year for military research and development and €5 billion per year "from national contributions" for "Member States to develop certain assets together to reduce their costs." The Commission wants the EU to "demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security".

UK: PSPO Watch: Hometown Zeros (Liberty, link):

"Enfield Council intends to implement a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – those clumsy and dangerous tools that have let local authorities ban any activity they reckon has a “detrimental effect” on others’ quality of life.

This power is so vague it can turn pretty much any innocent activity into a crime overnight.

In Hillingdon it’s a criminal act to gather in groups of just two or more unless you’re waiting for a bus or going to or from a parked vehicle.

Salford City and Kettering Borough Councils have banned swearing – while it’s now a crime in both Bassetlaw and Lancaster to do anything annoying. Anyone who breaches a PSPO faces an on-the-spot fine of up to £100 – or a criminal record and a £1,000 penalty if they don't pay.

So you get an idea of how you might find yourself a whole lot less free if your council is the latest to catch the PSPO bug.

Enfield Council has consulted the public on plans to ban 18 separate activities – or has it? Depends how you define “public”. And “consultation”."

EU: New centralised sources of data on migration launched

"On 2 December 2016, the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) launched two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. These tools centralise migration related data, to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU."

Press release: Migration Data Catalogue and Dynamic Data Hub – EU migration data at a glance (EU Science Hub, link)

See: the Migration Data Catalogue (link), which "will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors"; and the Dynamic Data Hub (link), which "will validate information, highlight limitations and put migration data into context."

EU: The free space for data monopolies in Europe is shrinking (OpenDemocracy, link):

"[The] conditions created by a clash of jurisdictions, legal enforcements, and in particular slow political adaption to the fast-paced evolution of the Internet and new technologies, meant that the new primarily US-based tech companies grew on the European market. To an extend that they today not only hold the biggest troves of data on European citizens, but also occupy the seats as some of the biggest data business monopolies not only in Europe, but worldwide. This is a problem. Because in a time where data 'makes the world go round', sitting on too much of it with too much control, is a great risk to not only citizen rights but also equal market conditions."

But:

"The previously free space in the EU for US tech giants is shrinking by the hour. In addition to the discussions revolving around the new EU data protection regulation, several significant lawsuits prompting large-scale media debate and political discourse have in particular focused on US tech companies' treatment of European law and European legislators' enforcement of it (or lack thereof). The Max Schrems cases against Facebook, the EU Court of Justice infamous Right to Be Forgotten ruling - just to mention a few. Key questions have been raised as to the legal jurisdiction of these tech companies' practices. Which rules and laws should they follow, particularly in relation to the collection and processing of data?"

UK: The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Almost every utterance shouted alongside a specific racist attack was already a dominant ideological policy position. The hostile environment that Theresa May promised the country in 2012 has certainly become one on the ground.

Now, five months after the referendum, many organisations are in the business of explaining the horrific level of post-Brexit racial violence witnessed in the UK. That there was such a rise in violence is agreed on by everyone from newly created online forums like #postrefracism to police chiefs and home secretary Amber Rudd. What there is less agreement on is how to analyse and therefore combat such racism.

(...)

Individuals may have wielded the stick, politicians may have added during the Brexit debate to the toxic brew. Both have to be seen in a larger and historical context according to the radical think tank, the Institute of Race Relations. First, the IRR, which has collated a database of racial attacks in the UK since 2010, points out that though such violence indeed ‘spiked’ during the summer, it should not be seen as something new. Second, it warns against treating such violence as merely a law and order problem. Such a view in fact depoliticises the issue and lets the government off the hook."

See: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

UK: “Remove first, appeal later” provisions in force from today: new guidance published (Free Movement, link):

"The power under the Immigration Act 2016 to certify any human rights appeal, not just deportation appeals, for “remove first, appeal later” treatment came into force today, 1 December 2016...

Guidance has today been updated on how the power should be exercised by immigration officials: Section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. Amongst the general updating, a new part has been added on the “phased implementation for non deport cases”."

Under-representation of women in political life undermines democratic processes in the Eastern Partnership countries: new study (Council of Europe, link):

"Democracy should apply to all women and men equally, concluded participants at an international conference that took place in Kyiv on 1 December, where a new regional study on the situation in Eastern Partnership countries was presented.

The event focused on women’s political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus).. The new study reveals that in all the countries surveyed women are less likely to run for political office and to be elected both to national parliaments and to local government bodies. The study shows that women hold fewer than 20% of seats in parliament in all the countries with the exception of Belarus, where 30% of parliamentary seats are held by women. Stereotypical views and assumptions about the role of women in society are among major barriers to women’s political representation in all the countries examined. The study contains country-specific and general recommendations to politicians, parliamentarians and governments."

See the report: Council of Europe regional study: Women's political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 December 2016: background briefing

Thursday: National justice ministers to discuss progress with European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), fight against fraud regarding EU finance, "criminal justice in cyberspace" (which concerns encryption, evidence held in the "cloud", international police and judicial cooperation).

Friday: Home affairs ministers will examine Entry/Exit System progress, migration ("focusing on the situation on the ground and the implementation of measures already agreed"), terrorism and organised crime (including foreign fighters and the French-German proposal on "cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communications service providers"), common European asylum system.

See: Council of the European Union, JUSTICE and HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December in Brussels (pdf)

ISRAEL: All Israelis Must Join Biometric Database, Minister Says (Hareetz, link):

"All residents of Israel are going to have to join the biometric database, which will include high-resolution facial photos and the fingerprints from both index fingers, Interior Minister Arye Dery announced on Thursday.

Individuals will be able to choose whether to save their fingerprints in the database or only on their identity cards and passports. If they refuse to save their prints in the database, however, identifying documents currently valid for 10 years will be valid only for five.

To date, biometric passports or IDs have been issued to approximately one million Israelis, who agreed to join the database on a volunteer basis.

The Knesset will have to pass legislation to make the database permanent. A memorandum with an amendment was distributed by the Interior Ministry and the public has 10 days to comment. The ministry expects the legislation to be passed by March."

EU-USA: Transatlantic law enforcement data deal gets go-ahead from European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of the EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement' that, in theory, provides for the protection of personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes. Attempts left and liberal MEPs to have the text rejected and to seek the European Court of Justice's opinion on its compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights were rejected. The agreement is unlikely to provide what it promises.

EU: Major transnational operation against "mobile organised crime groups"

"Between 20 and 26 November 2016, law enforcement agencies from 10 European countries (the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, Germany and Greece), coordinated by the National Police of the Netherlands and with the support of Europol, conducted the operation TRIVIUM 7 targeting Mobile Organised Crime Groups (MOCGs) and their infrastructure across the EU."

UK: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid (The Conversation, link):

"The “Snooper’s Charter mark two” – or Investigatory Powers Act – which has recently passed into law demonstrates again how successful Islamist terrorism has been in changing British society into a secret state.

With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-16 and 1-12-16)

RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

In a pioneering study published today, the IRR takes a fresh look at the nature of racial hate crimes since the referendum. Through a detailed examination of cases on the IRR’s unique database it establishes a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators of such violence, the rhetoric and policy pronouncements of politicians over recent years and the stigmatising frameworks of the media.

‘It is convenient to condemn the “spike” in violence this summer, in which at least one person lost their life, as the acts of a thuggish minority. But an examination of over one hundred cases shows a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators and the rhetoric and policy pronouncement of politicians’, said IRR researcher, Dr. Jon Burnett.

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf) :

On Migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On Internal Security: Review progress on:

"systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" Agreement Two votes added on seeking ECJ opinion on EU-US data protection deal (Press release, pdf)

"President Schulz announced that two motions for resolutions, seeking a European Court of Justice opinion on the compatibility with the Treaties of the EU-US deal on protecting personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes, will be put to the vote on Thursday, immediately before the vote on the recommendation drafted by Jan Philipp Albrecht.".

EU: ALDE on Europol report leak (New Europe, link):

"The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament has called on Europol director, Rob Wainwright, and Sir Julian King, the Security Union Commissioner, to clarify the facts related to a leaked report.

According to an ALDE press release, the leak relates to a breach in Europol’s security rules. The Dutch investigative television show Zembla reported that a Europol staffer took dossiers home and copied them to a backup drive that was linked to the internet.

“This is extremely shocking. Europol was aware of this security incident since September, yet its director decided not to inform the parliament during a joint meeting of the European parliament and the national parliaments on Europol scrutiny just two days ago,” Sophie in’t Veld, ALDE spokesperson for data protection, said."

See: ALDE press release (link) and also: Secret Europol terror data found online (BBC News, link)

EU: Frontex takes first step towards creating European coast guard (pdf):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has called on EU member states and Schengen Associated Countries to provide officers for the newly adopted European Coast Guard Functions Officer profile, paving the way for the deployment of multi-national crews in the agency’s maritime operations."

Germany: New German bill to ‘massively’ limit privacy rights (New Europe, link):

"Data protection groups in Germany have criticised the government’s new draft law that will no longer give citizens the right to know what data about them is being collected.

The draft law, which was released by the German union for data protection (DVD), revealed that the interior ministry was proposing to drastically limit the powers of Germany’s data protection authorities, banning them from investigating suspected breaches of people’s medical and legal records, according to Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster.

Thilo Weichert, former data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein and now DVD board member, condemned the interior ministry’s plans as a “massive” erosion of privacy in Germany. “The limitation of data protection controls in the medical field, which was a focal point of the [data protection] authorities up until now, is simply a disaster,” Weichert said in a statement, adding that the ministry’s bill was “further proof” that “data protection is not currently seen as relevant by the government."

EU: Rights groups expose flaws in EU counterterrorism directive (euractiv, link)

"The European institutions reached an agreement yesterday (30 November) on a directive that is aimed at better equipping the EU with instruments to counter terrorism. But civil rights groups warned that it risks undermining fundamental freedoms.

A political agreement on the directive was reached by EU government representatives in the European Council (COREPER) yesterday, following negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament are expected to sign off on the 37-page text without changes later this month."

Also: EU terror law risks making protest a crime (euobserver, link); "A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists for its vague notions of terrorism. The bill borrows heavily from recent laws in France that allow the authorities to tell internet firms, without any judicial oversight, to block sites that "glorify" terrorism. "

And see background: Directive on combating terrorism (Statewatch, SEMDOC)

EU-Turkey-Syria: Border between Syria and Turkey – the death zone

"The truth is that the crisis has shifted. The wall, the German chancellor Angela Merkel under no circumstances wanted to see at the German border, was erected at the border to Syria by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A concrete wall, several hundred kilometers long, three meters high is keeping migrants away. People are not dying in the Aegean sea anymore, as the number of boat crossings to Greece declined after the deal. Now, they die at the Turkish-Syrian border."

November 2016

EU-Turkey: European Parliament: EU-Turkey relations: “We are entering a new phase” (Press release, pdf):

"More than 10 years after EU-Turkey accession talks started, MEPs adopted a resolution on 24 November calling for the negotiations to be suspended until the Turkish government ended its disproportionate and repressive response to July's failed coup. Ankara replied by threatening to let thousands of migrants pass through to Europe. Greek EPP member Manolis Kefalogiannis, head of Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, commented: “We are entering a new phase in EU-Turkey relations”."

After Trump and Brexit, EU to launch defence research plan (euractiv, link):

"The European Union will unveil its biggest defence research plan in more than a decade on Wednesday (30 November) to reverse billions of euros in cuts and send a message to US President-elect Donald Trump that Europe wants to pay for its own security.

Part of a broader push to revitalise defence cooperation, the European Commission will propose a defence fund and seek to lift a ban on the EU’s common budget and its development bank investing in military research."

80% of Roma are at risk of poverty, new survey finds (euobserver, link):

"Widespread deprivation is destroying Roma lives. Families are living excluded from society in shocking conditions, while children with little education face bleak prospects for the future, a new report from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows. The report analyses the gaps in Roma inclusion around the EU to guide Member States seeking to improve their integration policies."

See: Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey - Roma – Selected findings (lnk)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.11.16)

Turkey's death penalty plans are blueprint for future (DW, link):

"Turkey's government is pressing on with its plans to bring back the death penalty despite the risk of dashing EU accession hopes. Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul...

When Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) abolished capital punishment in 2004, the move was widely praised as evidence of the pragmatism and political maturity of the country's religious conservatives.

Turkey had not carried out a death penalty since 1984 but its legal abolition was hailed as a symbol of a break from the days of military rule under which figures such as former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was hanged in 1960, and prominent left-wing activist Deniz Gezmis in 1971.

Just 12 years later, the same ruling party is in the final stages of preparing to reinstate capital punishment as part of a radical set of changes to Turkey's constitution that supporters and critics alike say will be a blueprint for the country's future."

European Parliament: In Parliament this week: EU budget, EU-US data flows, access to online content across borders (pdf):

"With both committee meetings and a plenary session taking place, members have a busy week in store for them in Brussels. In plenary, MEPs are expected to seal the deal with member states on the EU budget for 2017, as well as vote on an agreement with the United States about protecting personal data transferred for law enforcement purposes. Rules on ensuring access to online content for people travelling abroad and a cap on wholesale roaming charges are to be put to a vote in committees."

EU-UK: House of Commons: European Scrutiny Committee: Europol: opt-in Debate (pdf):

"Given this wider context, would opting into the new Europol Regulation be an anomaly at a time when the UK is seeking to loosen rather than strengthen its ties with EU institutions and agencies and to develop alternative methods of cooperation on policing and security matters? Conversely, would opting in help to bridge the gap between the UK’s existing security arrangements with EU partners and agencies and the equally strong ties which the Government intends to develop once the UK has left the EU?"

UK: Home Office ‘To Integrate Surveillance Cams With Police Database’ (link):

"The Law Enforcement Data Service is to include two existing police databases as well as the nationwide Automatic Number Plate Recognition system

The Home Office has been accused of operating a “burgeoning surveillance capability” outside of parliamentary oversight as it continues to expand the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)."

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner - Annual report (pdf)

Data reform more complex than I thought, says EU commissioner (euobserver, link):

"The EU's ambition to allow data to freely cross borders could be more difficult to realise than it seemed, the EU commissioner for the digital single market has conceded.

“It seems it is more complicated than I thought,” Andrus Ansip told journalists on Friday."

EU pushes to finalise security laws (euobserver, link):

"The European commission is hoping to push through three bills on security before the end of the year, amid intensive lobbying and criticism from experts.

Julian King, the commissioner for security union, told MEPs on Monday (29 November) that the EU must respond to terrorism, cyber-crime and serious and organised crime.

"Neither terrorism nor organised crime respects national borders," he said.

A directive on combating terrorism, a directive on firearms, and an amendment to systematic ID checks for every EU national are on track to be finalised in the next few weeks."

UK: Investigatory Powers Act is UK's most extreme surveillance law (link)

"Digital rights campaigners, Open Rights Group has responded to the announcement that the Investigatory Powers Bill has received royal assent. Executive Director Jim Killock said:

“Amber Rudd says the Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation. She is right, it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. Its impact will be felt beyond the UK as other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance regimes."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28.11.16)

EU: TRANSPARENCY: Access to information in Europe needs to be strengthened

"The surge in transparency laws over the last few decades does not mean it is a modern fad - it is important to remember it is a fundamental human right recognised by the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies and courts such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.

Access to information is also an instrumental right because it helps to facilitate citizen participation in decision making, hold public officials accountable, as well as to fight against corruption, defend civil liberties and guarantee freedom of expression. At the same time as being a right for everyone, it is an essential tool that enables journalists and civil society organisations to carry out their public watchdog functions as part of a democratic society.

(...)

Governments across Europe need to take seriously the duty to document information around decision-making processes; they should narrow application of exceptions to access and always taking into account any overriding public interest in full (or partial) disclosure of information. The proactive publication of information related to the decision-making process remains crucial, as the need to reduce the time taken to make information available to the public."

See: Europe: access to information in practice, not just on paper (Osservatorio balcani e caucaso transeuropa, link)

GREECE-TURKEY-FRONTEX: E.U. Border Agency Still Unaccountable on Refugees’ Rights (Refugees Deeply, link): "Last month, 10 Syrians boarded a flight organized and staffed by the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on the Greek island of Kos, believing their destination was Athens. Instead, they landed in the Turkish city of Adana.

The Syrians had wanted to seek international protection in Greece, and carried documents indicating their intention to initiate asylum procedures. They were never given deportation orders or offered an opportunity to mount a legal challenge to their deportation."

EU: Encryption: five Member States want Europe-wide laws, access to documents request shows

"Five EU countries said they want the European Commission to propose legislation that would make it easier for police to crack through encryption technology.

Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Hungary all want an EU law to be created to help their law enforcement authorities access encrypted information and share data with investigators in other countries.

Poland and Latvia want EU legislation to focus on making it easier to access data stored remotely in clouds, which are often operated by companies based in other EU countries or outside the 28-member bloc.

“One of the most crucial aspects will be adopting new legislation that allows for acquisition of data stored in EU countries ‘in the cloud’,” without forcing police to request data through official exchange agreements, Polish officials wrote."

See: Five member states want EU-wide laws on encryption (EurActiv, link)

And see: the documentation provided in response to an access to documents request: Input provided by MS on questionnaire on encryption in criminal cases (askthe EU.org, link). The request was made by Bits of Freedom (link).

UK: Project Servator: police expand scheme calling on public to act as "extra eyes and ears"

"Project Servator sees officers specially trained to deter, disrupt and detect crime using tactics developed and tested by security experts in partnership with the City of London Police. The scheme is now set to be rolled out across the country.

Project Servator deploys both highly visible and covert police officers alongside other resources such as dogs, horses, firearms, ANPR and CCTV in busy areas such as shopping centres and transport hubs. These deployments are unpredictable and intelligence-led and include officers trained to spot and resolve suspicious activity.

However, key to the success of Project Servator is the support of workers and visitors in and around crowded places, acting as extra eyes and ears to help make it even harder for criminals to succeed."

See: New police plan to mobilise communities and disrupt terrorists (National Police Chiefs' Council, link) and: Anti-terrorism patrols launch in London boroughs (BBC News, link)

UK: Growing recruitment of child soldiers, MoD statistics show

"New figures out this week show that 24 percent of British Army recruits are child soldiers. This is despite public opposition from the Quakers and other Christian and lay organisations campaigning to raise the age of enlistment. The Ministry of Defence released the UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics 2016. They show that the proportion of the Army's intake aged under 18 increased from 22.5 percent to 24.1 percent. The armed forces as a whole recruited 1,140 16 year olds and 1,250 17 year olds, from a total of 12,300 new recruits."

See: Peace groups voice concern as British Army increases recruitment of under-age soldiers (ICN, link). The relevant statistics are available in Table 8a of the spreadsheet hosted here: UK armed forces biannual diversity statistics: 2016 (gov.uk, link)

UK: Over 100,000 sign petition against Investigatory Powers Bill

"A petition demanding that the UK’s new sweeping surveillance powers are repealed has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, the level at which Parliament can debate it.

Theresa May’s controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, which have been described as the most extreme snooping laws in a Western democracy, were approved by the House of Lords earlier this month and are set to pass into law in the coming weeks.

They require internet providers to store customers’ web histories for 12 months and make those records available to police, and write computer hacking by spy agencies into law."

See: Petition to repeal new surveillance powers reaches 100,000 signatures (The Telegraph, link) and: Snoopers Charter and Section 40 costs threat set to push UK yet further down Reporters Without Borders press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26-27.11.16)

UK: Human rights watchdog asks UK to dampen divisive Brexit rhetoric - EHRC urges UK government to take a firm position against racist and homophobic attacks following the EU referendum (The Observer, link):

"The Equality and Human Rights Commission has written to the UK political parties asking them to tone down their Brexit rhetoric.

The EHRC suggests there needs to be a discussion about British values as the government looks to formalise the nation’s divorce from Brussels following the leave vote on 23 June. The commission states in the letter that racist, antisemitic and homophobic attacks that have taken place in the aftermath of the referendum are “all stains on our society”. “We are concerned that attacks on supporters of both sides of the Brexit debate have polarised many parts of the country,” the letter reads."

See: A letter to all political parties in Westminster (link)

UK: Pawel Legomina was on his way to work when arrested in Hove accused of rough sleeping (The Argos, link):

"A POLISH man threatened with deportation for sleeping rough claims he has lived and worked in the UK for three years and never spent a night on the streets.

Pawel Legomina was one of ten Europeans arrested in Brighton and Hove by immigration officers last Tuesday.

The operation, which was supported by Sussex Police, resulted in them being detained for breaching their legal right to be in the UK by sleeping rough under rules introduced in May, a Home Office spokeswoman said. "

EU: Ansip: No ‘black and white’ fix to help police crack encryption (euractiv, link):

"Andrus Ansip, the EU’s tech policy chief, insisted today that he is against laws that weaken encryption technology, but also that there is no “black and white” solution to help law enforcement authorities access secured data in investigations.

Ansip, a former Estonian prime minister who is now in charge of the European Commission’s flagship digital single market policies, has previously argued against weakening encryption. He rebuffed calls from Europe’s capitals to require so-called backdoors to bypass secured technology following Apple’s drawn-out fight with American investigators over an encrypted iPhone earlier this year."

EU: Kick-off meeting for the European Judicial Cybercrime Network (link)

"Mr. Branislav Bohácik, Prosecutor, General Prosecutor’s Office of the Slovak Republic stated: "The establishment of the EJCN is the fulfilment of a long-standing wish of practitioners. In this network, they will be able to share their experiences and expertise and work closely together with their colleagues from the EU Member States to deal with the many challenges that they face during investigations and prosecution of cybercrime and cyber-enabled crimes, such as encryption.”"

See also: Cybercrime, encryption, obtaining evidence from the "cloud": report on Eurojust seminar "Keys to Cyberspace" (Statewatch)

BOOK REVIEW: Against Elections by David Van Reybrouck (Bodley Head)


Press release from the publisher
'Choosing our rulers by popular vote has failed to deliver true democratic government: that seems to be the verdict of history unfolding before our eyes. Cogently and persuasively, David Van Reybrouck pleads for a return to selection by lot, and outlines a range of well thought out plans for how sortitive democracy might be implemented.' [ J M Coetzee]

'In compelling us to subject all our received ideas and deeply-held convictions to rigorous scrutiny, this fine iconoclastic work could not be more timely.' [Karen Armstrong]

Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis - and an ancient remedy.

UK immigration centres record 218 hunger strikers in three months - Figures obtained through FoI requests lay bare scale of desperation among asylum seekers in UK, with 649 on suicide watch (Guardian, link):

"According to figures released following a Freedom of Information request, 218 people refused to eat in July, August and September this year. It is thought to be the first time data revealing hunger strikes in detention centres has been made public.

Human rights campaigners said some of those striking wanted to die from starvation, while others were refusing food to protest their incarceration or urge reconsideration of their immigration application.

The data was obtained by No Deportations, an organisation that provides signposting information to people who are subject to immigration controls, after a lengthy battle with Home Office, which had declined to release the information."

UK: Hillsborough families take 'cover up' fight to High Court (Liverpool Echo, link):

"“They allege that they suffered damage as a result of the anguish caused by the prolonged cover up...

A damages action brought by 465 people over the police “cover up” in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster has reached the High Court.

Their lawyers have applied for a group litigation order (GLO) as the most efficient and cost-effective way to manage the claim for misfeasance in public office against the chief constables of South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police.

The claimants are either relatives of the 96 Liverpool supporters who died as a result of the crush at the stadium in April 1989 - or those who were present and survived, or their family members."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-25.11.16)

EU-TURKEY: European Parliament: Freeze EU accession talks with Turkey until it halts repression, urge MEPs (Press release, link)

"MEPs want a temporary freeze on EU accession talks with Turkey. In a resolution voted on Thursday, they say Turkey should nonetheless remain “anchored” to the EU. They also pledge to review their position when the "disproportionate repressive measures" under the state of emergency in Turkey are lifted.:...

The resolution was approved by 479 votes to 37, with 107 abstentions."

And see: Turkey threatens to end refugee deal in row over EU accession - President Erdogan issues warning after European parliament vote urging ministers to freeze talks on Turkey joining the EU (Guardian, link):

"Turkey’s president has threatened to tear up a landmark deal to stem the flow of refugees into Europe a day after the European parliament urged governments to freeze EU accession talks with Ankara.

The threat underlines how far relations between Turkey and the European bloc have deteriorated in recent months, particularly after a coup attempt in July.

“If Europe goes too far, we will allow refugees to pass from the border gates,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech on Friday at a women’s rights conference. “Do not forget, the west needs Turkey.” Erdogan’s statements, the most direct warning yet that Turkey could abandon the agreement, came in response to a symbolic vote in the European parliament on Thursday that demanded an end to the decade-long accession negotiations."

EU-USA: Data Protection: "Umbrella" Agreement: European Parliament: EU-US deal on law enforcement data transfers backed by Civil Liberties Committee (Press release, pdf):

"The EU-US data protection framework, known as the “Umbrella Agreement” was backed by a large majority in the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday morning. The deal will ensure high, binding data protection standards for data exchanged by police and law enforcement authorities across the Atlantic.

The Umbrella Agreement covers the transfer of all personal data, such as names, addresses or criminal records, exchanged between the EU and US for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism....

[Vote in LIBE Committee]: 41 votes to 4, with 6 abstentions"

EU: European Parliament Studies

- The Implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the EU institutional framework (pdf):

"looks into the role of the Charter in the legislative process; in the economic governance of the Union; in the work of EU agencies; in the implementation of EU law by EU Member States; and, in the external relations of the Union, both in trade and investment policies and in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also analyses certain gaps in the judicial protection of the Charter and identifies measures through which the potential of the Charter could be further realized."

- The Marrakesh Treaty (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request by the PETI Committee, provides an analysis of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Copyright Works for the Blind or Print-Disabled. It explains the background and movements that led to its proposal, negotiation and successful adoption. It then considers the Treaty’s current situation in relation to its content and issues around its ratification, particularly by the EU. It finally examines future developments around copyright reform and makes recommendations to EU institutions and Member States."

UK: Rotherham 12: the jury finds defendants not guilty (IRR News, link):

" We reproduce a statement made by the Rotherham 12 Campaign following not guilty verdicts on 16 November.

We want to thank the jury for delivering resounding Not Guilty verdicts for all the defendants in this case.

The verdicts are a game changer, and they will have immediate and long term consequences for race relations in the region and nationally..."

EU-USA: New leaks confirm TiSA proposals that would undermine civil liberties (EDRI, link):

"Today, on 25 November 2016, German blog Netzpolitik.org in association with Greenpeace published new leaked documents concerning the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a “trade” agreement that is currently being negotiated between 23 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the European Union.

The new leaks confirm the problems identified in previous leaks, including serious threats to freedom of expression and protection of personal data of European citizens."

UK Parliament Approves Unprecedented New Hacking and Surveillance Powers (The Intercept, link):

"“There is no other democracy in the world, possibly no other country in the world, doing this.”"

EU: High-Level Group on law enforcement information-gathering and exchange: second report released

Two months after it took place, the Commission has released the minutes of the second meeting of the 'High-Level Group on Information Systems and Interoperability', which is tasked with "developing a joint strategy" to improve "data management" for internal security and the "protection" of external borders by mid-2017. The aim is to establish what information is currently unavailable to law enforcement officials across the EU and then work out how to make it accessible. The potential implications for privacy and data protection are significant.

See: European Commission, High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability - Second meeting - 20 September 2016 - Report (pdf)

UK: Rotherham 12: the jury finds defendants not guilty (IRR News, link):

"Below we reproduce a statement made by the Rotherham 12 Campaign following not guilty verdicts on 16 November.

We want to thank the jury for delivering resounding Not Guilty verdicts for all the defendants in this case.

The verdicts are a game changer, and they will have immediate and long term consequences for race relations in the region and nationally.

The jury, as representatives of the local population, have understood the impact of race and religious hatred fuelled by far right groups on the Asian Muslim residents of Rotherham. They have also understood the need for communities under siege to defend themselves when facing intolerable levels of racist threats and violence. That the racist killing of Mr Moshin Ahmed was a death too many.

Apart from the actions of the far-right groups, our anger is reserved for South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The prosecution evidence clearly acknowledged that far-right groups were intent on causing community divisions and segregation, deliberate fear and intimidation and terror through perpetual acts of violence and murder. Instead of protecting the Asian Muslim community, the police too turned against us. It beggars belief, knowing what the police and the CPS knew, that the defendants were even arrested, never mind charged and dragged through a trial. On the day of the demonstration, 5 September 2015, the police led the local community towards danger and left them unprotected."

And see: Calls for inquiry after 10 Asian men cleared of violent disorder following Rotherham clashes (The Star, link):

"Ten Asian men who were cleared of violent disorder following clashes in the wake of two rival demonstrations in Rotherham have called for an inquiry into why they were prosecuted."

UK: Stand-off with prison profiteers at the Tower of London (Red Pepper, link):

"The Tower of London has been a tourist attraction for as long as anyone can remember. But on 15 November the infamous tower was back in action, opening its doors to host the European Custody and Detention Summit. Despite the talk of progressive reform, the £1,500 per head summit was a closed-door trade fair for private security corporations and their public partners."

EU Policies Put Refugees At Risk (Human Rights Watch, link):

"A lack of leadership, vision, and solidarity based on human rights principles are at the core of the European Union’s dismal response to refugee and migration challenges. The mismanagement and politicization of a surge in boat migration in 2015, when over one million migrants and asylum seekers traveled to the EU by sea, has led to a humanitarian and political crisis largely of the EU’s own making that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency.

If chaos characterized the response of the EU and its member states in 2015, wrong-headed and rights-abusing policies have defined 2016. Instead of providing for safe and orderly channels into the EU for asylum seekers and refugees and sharing responsibility for them equitably, the EU and its member states have endorsed policies designed to limit arrivals and to outsource responsibility to regions and countries outside of the EU. The deeply flawed deal with Turkey and problematic cooperation with the Libyan authorities reflect this approach."

See the press release: EU: Show Leadership in Global Displacement Crisis (Human Rights Watch, link)

BELGIUM: Restrictions on legal aid in Belgium restrict access to justice

"A new law regarding legal aid in Belgium came into force on 1st September 2016. Fair Trials discussed its implications for criminal justice defendants and their lawyers with Crépine Uwashema, practising lawyer at Brussels-based law firm Jus Cogens and member of our Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP) network.

Fair Trials: So what has happened with legal aid in Belgium?

Crépine Uwashema: I find that this reform has made it harder for people to have access to legal aid. Resources have been cut down and especially for poor people it is very difficult now to access it."

See: Legal aid in Belgium: raising the bar for defendants and lawyers (Fair Trials, link)

BELGIUM: Yugoslav Spy Chief Convicted of Kosovo Dissident’s Murder (Balkan Insight, link):

"A court in Brussels on Tuesday convicted Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian criminal gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic, of the assassination of Kosovo rights activist Enver Hadri in the Belgian capital on February 25, 1990.

The investigation found that it was a political killing sponsored by UDBA, using the two gang members as the hitmen, Belgian media reported.

(...)

Two other suspects who allegedly participated in Hadri’s assassination, Andrija Lakonic and Darko Asanin, were murdered in Serbia in the 1990s.

Spasic, who was convicted of organising the killing of Hadri, is one of the most famous Yugoslav secret police operatives, working for the secret service from 1979 until 1993, when he suffered a heart attack."

And see: Kosovo Dissident’s Serbian Assassins Given Life Sentences (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Assize Court in Brussels on Wednesday sentenced Bozidar Spasic, the former head of special operations of the Yugoslav secret police, UDBA, and Serbian crime gang members Andrija Draskovic and Veselin Vukotic to life in prison for the murder of Kosovo émigré rights activist Enver Hadri."

CROATIA: New National Security Strategy to Be Adopted in 2017 (Total Croatia News, link):

"The first session of the Commission for Drafting the National Security Strategy and Law on Homeland Security System, which was established by the government on 3 November and is chaired by Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic, was held this week, reports Jutarnji List on November 22, 2016.

The session was attended by Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence Igor Dragovan, representative of the Office of the President Željka Antunovic, and representatives of ministries, government bodies, and experts in the field of national security.

(...)

As head of both working groups, special adviser to the Defence Minister, retired General Dragutin Repinc, presented the timetable of activities. According to plans, the draft of the National Security Strategy will be ready by April 2017, when the public consultation period will be launched. Adoption of both documents in Parliament is expected in July 2017."

And see: Opposition Against Plans to Introduce Homeland Security Concept (Total Croatia News, link):

"Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security Ranko Ostojic (SDP) says that this is a very dangerous proposal. “The first draft which was shown, that army should provide security on the streets or something similar, that is something which is absolutely unacceptable in a country in which rules are defined and civilian services exist to carry out these tasks”, says Ostojic."

EU: Towards a EU strategy to promote civic space? (Vita International, link):

"The meeting was timely: our society is ever more polarised, discrimination, particularly against immigrants and ethnic minorities is on the rise and there is a growing distrust of citizens towards institutions at national and European level. At the same time civil society organisations face increasing restrictions to their civic freedoms in many countries across the world.

Participants discussed findings of an online survey that targeted civil society organisations in Europe during early 2016 in order to assess the perception of civil society organisations on key civic space freedoms (freedom of registration, assembly, expression), challenges and opportunities and their views on political trends in Europe.
Although the framework and legal conditions for civic space are well in place in European Union countries, the survey results confirmed some worrying developments in terms of the implementation of those rights.
"

And see: Europe-wide survey shows "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms" (Statewatch News Online)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.11.16)

UK: Thomas Mair guilty: Right-wing extremist convicted for MP Jo Cox murder in EU referendum run-up (The Indepenent, link):

"A white supremacist and "terrorist" has been found guilty of killing Labour MP Jo Cox in a “planned and pre-meditated murder” in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Thomas Mair was convicted by a jury of murdering the 41-year-old mother-of-two outside her West Yorkshire constituency surgery.

The quiet loner was jailed for a whole life sentence for what Ms Cox's widower Brendan branded "a political act and an act of terrorism"."

And see: Was Jo Cox's killer tried as a terrorist? (The Guardian, link):

"When Thomas Mair’s trial began, many people queried why he was not being prosecuted as a terrorist. A frequent comment, on social media, was that he would have been, had he been a Muslim.

The answer is that Mair was indeed prosecuted as a terrorist, and this was made clear during preliminary hearings. This is the reason that he was tried in London, rather than Yorkshire."

How economic migrants become refugees as they seek a new life (The Independent, link):

"As right-wing politicians across Europe call for “economic migrants” to be deported or even left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea, analysts say the term is divorced from the harrowing reality faced by many of the men, women and children risking their lives to reach safety.

The passage from Libya to Italy, the deadliest crossing in the world, is now the dominant route after the controversial EU-Turkey deal aimed to close the comparatively safer and shorter path over the Aegean Sea.

Libya has been a draw for people seeking work across Africa for decades and the prospect of high wages and abundant construction work is still luring migrants unaware of the chaos and violence that awaits.

Migrants and refugees are frequently kidnapped by gangs in exchange for ransoms, being beaten, raped and tortured in squalid makeshift prisons, while others are detained in labour camps or forced into prostitution until they pay their way out.

With routes out of Libya controlled by militias and many borders closed, the only escape is flimsy rubber boats sent into the Mediterranean Sea by smugglers, who threaten to shoot anyone attempting to resist being packed into the overcrowded dinghies."

The FBI Hacked Over 8,000 Computers In 120 Countries Based on One Warrant (Motherboard, link):

"In January, Motherboard reported on the FBI's “unprecedented” hacking operation, in which the agency, using a single warrant, deployed malware to over one thousand alleged visitors of a dark web child pornography site. Now, it has emerged that the campaign was actually several orders of magnitude larger.

In all, the FBI obtained over 8,000 IP addresses, and hacked computers in 120 different countries, according to a transcript from a recent evidentiary hearing in a related case.

The figures illustrate the largest ever known law enforcement hacking campaign to date, and starkly demonstrate what the future of policing crime on the dark web may look like. This news comes as the US is preparing to usher in changes that would allow magistrate judges to authorize the mass hacking of computers, wherever in the world they may be located."

EU: Organised crime group behind illegal immigration dismantled (Eurojust, link):

"Today, the Prosecutor’s Office - Anti-Mafia District Directorate of Salerno, Italy, in close cooperation with the Public Prosecution Office of Karlsruhe, Germany and with the support of Eurojust, carried out an operation concerning an organised crime group (OCG) involved in facilitating illegal immigration of non-EU citizens into Europe. A total of ten people have been arrested and three house arrests were carried out by the Italian police (Mobile Squad of Salerno). Simultaneously, the German authorities executed several searches and a European Arrest Warrant against the main suspect, a German citizen of Somali origin.

The investigation started in spring 2015, following the docking of the military ship ‘Chimera’ in the port of Salerno, carrying 545 Somali migrants, who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tripoli by the Italian navy. Some migrants were left for three days without water, food and medicines, and were affected by scabies and high fever. For this reason, the OCG members, all of Somali origin, are also accused of harassment and inhumane treatment of the migrants during the journey from the Libyan coast to Italy."

UK: Destitute migrant families: study assesses voluntary sector work

"This study explores the role played by voluntary sector organisations [in England] providing services such as advice and material support to migrant children and families who are destitute. It seeks to explain one of the findings of a recent study conducted by COMPAS on the responses of local authorities to destitute children and their families, which observed that voluntary sector organisations found this area of work particularly challenging. The study seeks to identify the causes of those challenges, and how those challenges could be addressed."

The executive summary (pdf) identities five main challenges: 1. Structural imbalance in the sector; 2. Funding constraints; 3. Narrative: the deserving and the undeserving; 4. Fear of media attention; 5. Misunderstanding on the legality of provision to migrants.

Full report available on the COMPAS website: Meeting the challenge: Voluntary sector services for destitute migrant children and families (link)

Interpol: Use biometric data to find extremist fighters (Phys.org, link):

"Interpol urged all countries on Tuesday to obtain biometric data from fighters for the Islamic State and other extremist groups to help law enforcement track them down, especially when they return home.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said in an interview with The Associated Press that the international police organization only has biometric data—fingerprints, DNA, iris scans and the like—for about 10 percent of the 9,000 "foreign terrorist fighters" in its database.

Stock said Interpol is helping countries to develop biometric technology not only to identify fighters from extremist groups but criminals as well.

He cited the case of "a terrorist" who attacked a police station in France last year who had traveled across Europe using 20 different identities—something that could have been thwarted with biometric data."

EU: Meijers Committee note on EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement'

The Meijers Committee would like to welcome the Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences (further: the Umbrella Agreement) that has been submitted to the European Parliament for approval. However, with this note the Meijers Committee wants to express its concerns with regard to a number of issues. In addition to the comments expressed by the European Data Protection Supervisor, this note contains remarks on the effects of the Umbrella Agreement on existing agreements, judicial remedies and the legal basis. The Meijers Committee encourages the European Parliament to obtain clarifications on the following points.

See: Note on the EU-US Umbrella Agreement (pdf)

MACEDONIA: Special Prosecutor Investigates Secret Service for Illegal Wiretapping (OCCRP, link):

"Macedonia’s Special Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday it is investigating 10 current and former members of the Balkan country’s secret service for taking part in the illegal wiretapping of nearly 6,000 citizens between 2008 and 2015.

Fatime Fetai, the deputy head of the office, said the officials from the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (UBK) were under investigation for carrying out the wiretaps without court orders, thereby breaching “fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.”

Between 2008 and 2015, the Macedonian secret service allegedly intercepted the communications of at least 4,286 people without court orders ever being issued, OCCRP partner Nova TV reported. Another 1,541 citizens' communication devices were monitored, with court orders only being issued later."

EU: New counter-terror powers coming after hasty, secret negotiations on EU Directive completed

Less than a year after it was proposed, agreement on the EU's new counter-terrorism law has been reached following the seventh and final secret "trilogue" meeting on 17 November between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The final text of the new Directive (14673/16, LIMITE, pdf) is little-changed changed from a previous version published by Statewatch on 14 November.

The broad scope of the new Directive - which counts the criminalisation of "travel for terrorist purposes" amongst a number of new offences - has been criticised by civil society organisations and legal experts.

UK: Identity checks for healthcare?

"Patients could be told to bring two forms of identification including a passport to hospital to prove they are eligible for free treatment under new rules to stop so-called health tourism."

UK police chiefs hide ‘high-risk’ Gulf training (Reprieve, link):

"The National Police Chiefs’ Council has refused to publish details about UK training provided to officers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, despite admitting the work poses human rights concerns. “Human error” had resulted in some information being released earlier this year about these projects that should not have been made public, it added.

In the 18 months from January 2015, UK police chiefs approved ten projects to train foreign forces where they identified that the work carried a human rights risk. The list includes countries that use the death penalty, with three applications for work in Saudi Arabia and two for Bahrain.

Police chiefs are refusing to release the documents about their training for Saudi and Bahraini police, claiming that publishing them under the Freedom of Information Act might damage Britain’s diplomatic ties with the Gulf."

EU-TURKEY: MEPs intensify push to halt Turkey talks (EUobserver, link):

"The EU wants to maintain membership talks with Turkey but MEPs are calling for them to be suspended, amid an intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told the EU parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (22 November) that any move to annul Turkey's membership to the EU would be a lost opportunity.

"If the accession process came to an end I believe we would both find ourselves in a lose-lose scenario," she said.

But Erdogan has hinted that he would support the reinstatement of the death penalty, a move that Mogherini has set as a red line for the EU.

The EU parliament will vote on a non-binding resolution on Thursday to freeze accession talks, given the government-led purge in Ankara against so-called terrorists and state saboteurs."

And see: How Erdogan’s purge hit the EU and NATO (EurActiv, link): "The European Parliament will this week vote on whether to suspend Turkey’s EU membership bid. Andrew Duff explains how the Turkish military has reacted to Erdogan’s power grabbing and how NATO fits into the equation."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.11.16)

European Parliament Studies: European Public Prosecutor and self-defence in preventing violence against women

- Towards a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (pdf):

"The evolution of the text is analysed through a comparison between the initial Commission proposal and the current version of the text (dated of 28 October 2016).

The paper assesses whether the EPPO, as it is currently envisaged, would fit the objectives assigned to it, whether it will have some added value, and whether it will be able to function efficiently and in full respect of fundamental rights. It focuses on the main issues at stake and controversial points of discussion, namely the EPPO institutional design, some material issues, its procedural framework, and its relations with its partners."

- Knowledge and Know-how: the Role of Self-defence in the Prevention of Violence against Women (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request by the FEMM Committee, examined research on the effectiveness of self-defence and its place in policies at EU and Member State levels.

It concludes that there is a growing evidence base that feminist self-defence can be effective in preventing violence. Whilst references to self-defence are present in the EU and Council of Europe policy documents, they are not substantial and yet to be developed into a coherent approach. Self-defence should be considered a promising practice and be better promoted and supported. More space should be made for it in policy, financing and research."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime - November 2016 (link):

"Asylum seekers and migrants face various forms of violence and harassment across the European Union (EU). As this month’s report on the migration situation underscores, such acts are both perpetrated and condoned by state authorities, private individuals, as well as vigilante groups. They increasingly also target activists and politicians perceived as ‘pro-refugee’. "

See Report: Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime (pdf)

HUNGARY: Only state-run radio to broadcast nationally in Hungary from today (Budapest Beacon, link):

"Hungary has reached another new milestone. As of Sunday, only four radio stations will broadcast nationally in Hungary, all of them state-run. Not since 1991 has radio been so one-sided..."

UK-USA: $1 billion deal for up to 26 new armed drones

"The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft, equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $1.0 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on November 16, 2016.... "

The UK is a close ally and an important partner on critical foreign policy and defense issues. The proposed sale will enhance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the UK's capabilities to provide national defense and contribute to NATO and coalition operations."

See: USA-United Kingdom – Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (pdf)

US anti-terror legislation risks eroding international sovereignty (euractiv, link):

"Anti-terrorism legislation in the United States risks undermining the sovereignty of other countries, despite opposition by the current president, legal experts and numerous international governments including the EU, writes Abdulrahman S. Alahmed.

Abdulrahman S. Alahmed is Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and head of his country’s mission to the EU.

On 28 September, the US Congress enacted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in a bipartisan vote, in spite of vigorous protests from President Obama, US national security officials and experts, the EU and numerous foreign governments and business leaders. President Obama used his prerogative to veto the bill, but for the first time in his administration, Congress overrode the presidential veto."

EU terror bill casts wider net, raising rights issues (euobserver, link):

"The EU is pushing ahead with sweeping legislation to fight terrorism that could limit rights and be abused by unscrupulous state authorities....

Dr Marloes van Noorloos, assistant professor of criminal law at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, says the bill's definition of terrorism could be interpreted to include left-wing protests and animal rights activism.

"This will include extreme left terrorism, extreme right terrorism, animal rights actions, also groups like that and how will the state make a distinction between leftists activism and extreme left terrorism?," she said.

"Any glorifying remark you could make about Nelson Mandela or Che Guevara, in principle, it is part of the definition," she noted."

UK: Home Office ordered to review policy on torture survivors (Guardian, link):

"Hundreds of asylum seekers who are detained in UK immigration centres could be released after a high court judge ordered the government to review its policy on incarcerated torture survivors.

Justice Duncan Ouseley ruled on Monday that the Home Office must immediately provide “relief” to detainees at an interim hearing, releasing survivors of torture from countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

Human rights lawyers, representing an initial 20 cases, had launched a legal challenge against the Home Office’s new definition of “torture” introduced in September, arguing that an unreasonably strict interpretation of the word meant that “potentially hundreds” of people have been illegally detained after claiming asylum in the UK."

EU: November deadly for migrants crossing Mediterranean, IOM says (Reuters, link)

"At least 365 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this week in six sinkings, bringing the death toll so far this year to 4,636, already 1,000 more than in all of 2015, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.

Migrants, mainly from West Africa, are taking to the sea from Libya in flimsy rubber boats, trying to reach Italian islands and Europe, where they have little hope of being granted asylum, IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said.

"This is really a calamity in plain sight," Doyle told a news briefing. "We are seeing really tragic scenes of rubber rafts going under the seas in the middle of winter in the Mediterranean.""

See latest figures from: the UN (17 November, pdf) which records 4,518 dead or missing people in the Mediterranean in 2016; and the IOM (18 November, pdf) which reports 4,621 dead or missing.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Public inquiry confirms the identities of more police spies (The Guardian, link):

"The judge-led public inquiry examining the undercover infiltration of political groups has confirmed the identities of two more police spies in recent weeks.

In brief announcements, the inquiry - headed by a senior judge, Lord Justice Pitchford - confirmed that the pair - who used the fake personas of “Carlo Neri” and “Marco Jacobs” - were undercover officers.

...It means that the number of undercover officers embedded in political groups whose identities have been officially confirmed has risen to five."

See: Update on anonymity applications – N104 (“Carlo Neri”) (pdf) and: UK: Undercover Policing Inquiry confirms that "Marco Jacobs" was a police officer (Statewatch News Online)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-21.11.16)

EU: Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 18 November 2016: Final press release (pdf): European Travel Information and Authorisation System; information exchange and interoperability; Joint Action Days 2016; counter-terrorism programme; EU Internet Forum; PNR.

See: Provisional agenda: "B" Points for discussion (14272/16, 17 November 2016, pdf); List of 'A' items (non-legislative, adopted without discussion) (14273/16, pdf) and Background Note (pdf)

EU: ECRE Comments on the proposal for an Asylum Procedures Regulation (ECRE, link)

"ECRE has published its Comments on the Commission proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the EU. The proposal aims to transform the Asylum Procedures Directive into a Regulation. This means that rules laid down in the Regulation for conducting asylum procedures become directly enforceable in EU Member States’ national legislation.

The proposal’s very detailed approach, including the definition of the duration of administrative and first level appeals procedures and time limits for lodging appeals, reveals a highly ambitious mind-set with considerable impact on Member States’ practice.

While the introduction of measures such as the mandatory provision of free legal assistance and representation at all stages of the asylum procedure constitute an important safeguard for asylum seekers, ECRE is still highly concerned about the mainstreaming of mandatory safe country and admissibility concepts and about the extremely short deadlines for applicants to comply with often onerous procedural requirements in the proposed common procedure."

See: Comments (link to pdf)

EU: Entry/Exit System: latest Council position

"Delegations will find in the Annex to this Note compromise suggestions submitted by the Presidency on the draft Regulation setting up the Entry/Exit System. The compromise suggestions reflect the discussions and the relevant contributions by delegations put forward during the previous readings of the draft Regulation, as well as the Council Legal Service opinion (doc. 13491/16).

The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12176/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council 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 Member States of the European Union and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes and amending Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 and Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 (13962/16, LIMITE, 10 November 2016, pdf)

And: Annex (13963/16 ADD 1, pdf): logos for border crossing points, stamping rules, border check procedures for Member States not yet connected to the EES.

EU: Draft Conclusions on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU

The Council is drawing up a set of conclusions on the integration of legally-residing third-country nationals in the EU, as a follow up to the Commission's recent Action Plan on the topic. See: Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the integration of third-country nationals legally residing in the EU (14096/16, LIMITE, 10 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Systematic checks at the external borders: Council drafts final compromise text

The latest - and potentially final - version of the proposed Regulation on the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders: "The Permanent Representatives Committee is invited to give the Presidency a mandate to negotiate an agreement with the European Parliament on the draft Regulation, on the basis of the compromise text in the Annex."

See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (first reading) (14270/16, LIMITE, 14 November 2016, pdf)

How to Hold Algorithms Accountable (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Algorithms are now used throughout the public and private sectors, informing decisions on everything from education and employment to criminal justice. But despite the potential for efficiency gains, algorithms fed by big data can also amplify structural discrimination, produce errors that deny services to individuals, or even seduce an electorate into a false sense of security. Indeed, there is growing awareness that the public should be wary of the societal risks posed by over-reliance on these systems and work to hold themaccountable.

Various industry efforts, including a consortium of Silicon Valley behemoths, are beginning to grapple with the ethics of deploying algorithms that can have unanticipated effects on society. Algorithm developers and product managers need new ways to think about, design, and implement algorithmic systems in publicly accountable ways. Over the past several months, we and some colleagues have been trying to address these goals by crafting a set of principles for accountable algorithms."

And see: Principles for Accountable Algorithms and a Social Impact Statement for Algorithms (FAT/ML, link)

European Parliament: What if I had to put my safety in the hands of a robot? (pdf):

"Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are currently found in a wide range of services and applications, and their numbers are rapidly increasing. CPS are intelligent robotic systems linked to the Internet of Things. They make decisions based on the ability to sense their environment. Their actions have a physical impact on either the environment or themselves. This is what sets CPS apart: they are not solely smart systems, but rather, they have physical aspects to them. These robots are likely to infiltrate our everyday lives in the coming years. Due to this, we must look at what impact they will have on citizens’ safety and security. The question remains, how safe are these technologies?"

UK:-FRANCE: Charities criticise Home Office for UK ban on teenage refugees (Third Force News, link):

"Charities have hit out at the Home Office after it revealed most unaccompanied children over the age of 12 will not be allowed to enter the UK from the demolished Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp.

Representatives from Citizens UK, Calais Action, Refugee Action and Help Refugees say the government is breaking its promises after guidance was issued which means unaccompanied teenage refugees who do not have family in the UK and are from countries other than Syria and Sudan will not be allowed entry except in exceptional circumstances.

The guidance on how to implement the Dubs Amendment – passed by Lord Alf Dubs in April this year – that committed the government to taking 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, means that children as young as 13 and 14 from countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Eritrea will be barred from being transferred to Britain."

See: Government must not backtrack on commitment to protect refugee children from Calais (Refugee Action, link) and: Home Office Guidance: Implementation of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 in France (pdf): contains the new eligibility criteria.

POLAND-BELARUS: A road to nowhere for asylum-seekers

"On 2-5 October 2016, we conducted a monitoring visit as representatives of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in order to investigate the situation at the Brzesc-Terespol (Brest-Terespol) border crossing between Belarus and Poland. The purpose of our monitoring was threefold: (1) Uncovering the general situation of those of the foreign nationals present in Brest who express intention to seek international protection in Poland, and specifically the scale of the phenomenon, types of problems and aid actions taken on-site; (2) Observation of access to the procedure of filing an application for international protection at the Terespol border crossing point; (3) Conducting interviews with foreign nationals present in Brest with the purpose of exploring the expressed reasons for them seeking international protection and their experiences in contacts with Polish Border Guard (Straz Graniczna)."

See: A road to nowhere (Helsinki Foundation, link) and the report: A road to nowhere. The account of a monitoring visit at the Brest-Terespol border crossing between Poland and Belarus (link to pdf)

And see: Inaccessible? Polish asylum procedure at the border crossing between Poland and Belarus (ECRE, link)

UK: Freedom from Torture says Home Office mistreats expert medical evidence of torture (EIN, link):

"Freedom from Torture has said in a report released today that Home Office asylum caseworkers are disregarding or mistreating expert medical evidence of torture.

...The report provides a detailed analysis of how a cohort of 50 expert medico-legal reports documenting physical and psychological evidence of torture were treated by Home Office asylum caseworkers.

Freedom from Torture's Sonya Sceats told the BBC that the report found that caseworkers were too often dispensing with the expert views of doctors when considering evidence of torture and were instead substituting in their own views, despite being entirely unqualified to make such judgements.

Freedom from Torture says this goes against a clear Home Office policy."

See the report: Proving Torture: Demanding the impossible: Home Office mistreatment of expert medical evidence (link to pdf)

USA: Police are spending millions of dollars to monitor the social media of protesters and suspects (The Washington Post, link):

"Hundreds of local police departments across the United States have collectively spent about $4.75 million on software tools that can monitor the locations of activists at protests or social media hashtags used by suspects, according to new research.

The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit organization focusing on criminal justice issues, aims to take a comprehensive look at the fast-growing phenomenon of social media-monitoring by law enforcement. Using public records, the Brennan Center tracked spending by 151 local law enforcement agencies that have contracted with start-ups that siphon data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites, largely out of the public eye."

Erdogan says Turkey doesn’t need EU (New Europe, link):

"Turkey does not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and can become part of a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations. So said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on November 20.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn’t say ‘for me it’s the European Union at all costs’. That’s my view,” Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling reporters on his plane on the way back from a visit to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

“Why shouldn’t Turkey be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to [Russian President] Mr Putin, to [Kazakh President] Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said. “I hope that if there is a positive development there, I think if Turkey were to join the Shanghai Five, it will enable it to act with much greater ease.”

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Nato member Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations. European leaders have been critical of its record on democratic freedoms, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension."

European Court of Human Rights: Judgment confirms right to information from public authorities

"In a landmark decision, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the case of Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v. Hungary that there is a right to information from public authorities under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK’s Supreme Court had previously found that the Strasbourg court’s case law had not established this – but the new decision clearly does so."

BULGARIA: Helsinki Committee report on the detention of migrants and possible alternatives

A new report by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee examines the detention of migrants and possible alternatives: "The purpose of this report is making an analysis of the efficiency of the national practice in applying administrative detention of foreign nationals and the potential new alternatives to detention which, when put in place, would both improve the efficiency of immigration control and lower its financial and human costs."

The report: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee: Program for Legal Protection of Refugees and Migrants: Detention Mapping Report (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 18 November 2016: Final press release (pdf): European Travel Information and Authorisation System; information exchange and interoperability; Joint Action Days 2016; counter-terrorism programme; EU Internet Forum; PNR.

See: EU Ministers Back Changes to Security Database to Better Track Terror Suspects (Wall Street Journal, link): "European interior ministers backed planned changes Friday to the bloc’s main security database aimed at better tracking and catching terror suspects.

The changes—which still have to be finalized by the bloc’s executive by the end of the year—are aimed at preventing the sort of security blunders that led up to and immediately followed the Paris attacks a year ago. But they also emphasize how slowly the European Union machinery moves to plug gaps in its counterterrorism armory."

Background: JHA Council: travel authorisation system tops the agenda (Statewatch News Online)

UK: Extraordinary judgment rubber-stamps unfounded link between anti-fracking and extremism (Netpol, link):

"The Information Commissioner, in rejecting an appeal by Netpol over the refusal of the police to release details of a programme to ‘deradicalise extremists’, has endorsed unfounded and unsubstantiated links between anti-fracking protests and the threat of terrorism.

... There is no reason for Prevent officers to target anti-fracking events for extremist activities and no reason for a police presence at anti-fracking events “as a Prevent priority”.

... Instead, there is an urgent need for greater transparency about the false conflation of opposition to fracking – and increasingly other campaigns – with terrorism and a threat to national security."

TURKEY: 123 Migrants Flee Center in Turkey After Fire Breaks Out (ABC News, link):

"Turkey's interior ministry says that 123 migrants being held at a repatriation center in Istanbul have fled in the chaos that ensued after a fire broke out.

The ministry said in a statement that Saturday's fire was set by some of the migrants.

All rooms were vacated and the inmates were brought to an assembly area, from where 123 people fled during the ensuing chaos."

GREECE: Far-right group attacks refugee camp on Greek island of Chios (The Guardian, link):

"Dozens of people have been driven out of a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios after two successive nights of attacks by a far-right group.

At least two people were wounded after attackers threw Molotov cocktails and rocks as big as boulders from elevated areas surrounding the Souda camp, activists said.

Three tents were burned down and three others were hit by rocks. A 42-year-old Syrian man was assaulted, while a Nigerian boy was hit by a rock.

Fearing a third attack on Friday night, about 100 former occupants refused to re-enter the camp, instead taking shelter in a nearby car park. “We do not have any kind of protection,” Mostafa al-Khatib, a Syrian refugee, told the Guardian. “No one cares about us.”"

And see: Chios tense after unrest at migrant camp (Ekathimerini, link)

BELGIUM: Council of Europe: Conditions in Belgian prisons during strikes "intolerable"

"Strasbourg, 18 November 2016 – In its report published today, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) describes the disturbing situation it found during its visit in May 2016 to Huy, Ittre and Jamioulx prisons, as well as in the social defence establishment (EDS) in Paifve in the context of industrial action by prison staff."

GERMANY-EU: Major challenges ahead for German police (Deutsche Welle, link):

"At the autumn conference of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office the main topic was Global migration and its consequences. Holger Münch [president of Germany's Federal Criminal Police] talks to DW about jihadists, right-wing terror and new police digital equipment."

One topic of conversation is the adding of biometric data to the EU's Schengen Information System: "One of the main initiatives will be making the Schengen information system biometric, meaning that fingerprints will be able to be automatically retrieved... It won't take a long time. We are talking about a pilot project that Germany will also take part in. It will begin next year. After that, further changes will follow."

UK: 'Extreme surveillance' becomes UK law with barely a whimper (The Guardian, link):

"A bill giving the UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world has passed into law with barely a whimper, meeting only token resistance over the past 12 months from inside parliament and barely any from outside.

The Investigatory Powers Act, passed on Thursday, legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.

The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby."

ITALY-IRAN-INTERPOL: Fair Trials and Italian lawyer join efforts in fighting abusive INTERPOL Red Notice against Iranian activist (Fair Trials, link):

"Criminal justice cooperation mechanisms such as INTERPOL are an important tool in the fight against serious crime. However, these tools have been exploited by authoritarian regimes across the world to restrict domestic dissidents. At Fair Trials, we have been campaigning for simple changes to improve INTERPOL’s ability to filter out such abuses.

In Europe, we rely on the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), an EU-wide network of lawyers, academics and activists with expertise in criminal justice and fair trial rights, to maximise the impact of our work and the assistance we can provide to wanted people. Very recently, we have helped LEAP member and Italian defence lawyer Nicola Canestrini in the case of Iranian activist and political refugee Saied (not his real name), who was arrested in Italy under a Red Notice. Here is what he told us about the case."

UK: LONDON: MPS orders extra Tasers (Police Professional, link):

"The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has ordered an extra 180 Tasers to provide a “less lethal option” for firearms officers in the face of terrorist incidents.

It follows a strategic review of London’s terror level, which found the officers were “short in terms of capability”.

The MPS has more than 4,000 Taser-trained officers as part of Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s programme to provide a Taser response across London. All 32 London boroughs now have officer teams trained in the use of Taser."

Turkey failed coup: Officers 'seeking Nato asylum' (BBC News, link):

"A number of Turkish officers posted to Nato have sought asylum since the country's failed military coup in July, Nato's secretary-general has said.

Jens Stoltenberg said the officers had requested asylum in the countries where they had been posted but gave no names, numbers or reasons for the requests.

The countries involved will consider the cases individually."

EU: European Asylum Support Office: Country reports on Western Balkans and Turkey published

"The Country Focus reports at hand cover the most important topics related to the above-mentioned criteria for safe country of origin designation, namely: state structure (Constitution, Executive branch, Legislative Branch, Administration), socio-political landscape (Political parties, Elections, Civil society, Media), rule of law and state protection (Law enforcement, Judiciary), security situation and human rights situation (Legal context, Freedom of expression/religion/assembly, Detention, Situation of specific groups – ethnic or religious minorities, journalists, human rights activists, women, children, LGBTI persons, victims of trafficking, returnees)."

USA: EPIC Sues FBI Over Biometric Data Program (EPIC, link):

"EPIC has filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation for information about the agency's plans to transfer biometric data to the Department of Defense. The FBI maintains one of the world's largest biometric databases, known as the "Next Generation Identification" system, but the FBI has resisted maintaining privacy safeguards. The Bureau previously proposed to exempt the database from many of the safeguards in the federal Privacy Act, which EPIC opposed. Then EPIC, following a FOIA lawsuit, obtained documents that revealed an error rate up to 20% for facial recognition searches in the FBI database. Now EPIC has filed an open government lawsuit to obtain a secret document that details the transfer of personal data in the FBI system to the Department of Defense."

See: EPIC press release: EPIC Sues FBI for Details on “Next Generation Identification” - Privacy Organization Says FBI Director Shows “Reckless Disregard” for Privacy Rights of Americans (pdf)

EU: What chances for a real European Common Security and Defense Policy? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"Over the past few weeks, calls for more integration and coordination in EU Defense policy were raised from several powerhouses. The election of Donald Trump as US President is likely to trigger a shift of paradigm in how the Americans see the defense of Europe, ie. the message being that Europeans should prepare to rely more on themselves. Along with Brexit, this new development seems to be spurring momentum for going forward with defense integration plans, which have been stalled for decades.

But what are the real chances of this project? We have measured the level of support among the political forces across the EU and the balance of power between proponents and opponents."

EU-POLAND: The EU and Poland: Giving up on the Rule of Law? (Verfassungsblog, link):

"A little more than a week ago, Jean-Claude Juncker gave up on the rule of law.

Speaking in an interview with Belgian newspaper Le Soir (english summary here), the European Commission President suggested that there was nothing the European Union could do to halt the slide toward authoritarianism in EU Member States such as Hungary and more recently, Poland...

Juncker’s response reveals how little the Commission feels that it bears responsibility for enforcing the European treaties. If the Commission cannot enforce basic EU values in the face of a meltdown of constitutional government in two of its Member States, then the Commission is violating its own solemn obligation under the treaties and calling the rule of law into further question. It is important in our opinion to stress that the Commission’s job is not to uphold the rule of law only when its President is of the view, rightly or wrongly, that a number of national governments may not support the Commission’s activation of Article 7 against Poland."

And see: Juncker: EU powerless against authoritarian slide in Poland, Hungary (Europe Online, link): "The European Union is powerless to act against the slide towards authoritarianism being seen in Poland and Hungary, the head of the bloc‘s executive, the European Commission, admitted in a Saturday interview."

UK: Investigatory Powers Bill: 'Snoopers Charter 2' to pass into law, giving Government sweeping spying powers (The Independent, link):

"Despite criticism from almost every major technology and internet company – including usually reticent ones like Apple – and from senior parliamentary committees the legislation has received little opposition in parliament. Early on, the only amendment that the bill received from MPs was a measure that stopped themselves being spied on, and while Labour has raised objections to the sweeping spying powers it has not voted against the bill.

Those opposing the bill argue that it has been hastily written and is being pushed through parliament too quickly to ensure that it doesn't receive full scrutiny. That has led to the bill including measures that are still undefined and so could be used by the government to force companies to do almost anything, tech firms have argued."

EU: Asylum in the EU: Presidency "non-paper" calls for scrapping relocation in favour of "tailored solidarity contribution"

A "non-paper" on EU asylum policy drafted by the Slovakian Presidency of the Council suggests that Member States should be able to decline relocating asylum-seekers in favour of a "tailored solidarity contribution" such as "financial contributions to the Member State under pressure," contributions of asylum staff and border guards, and support with returns operations.

See: Slovakian Presidency "non-paper": Effective Solidarity: a way forward on Dublin revision (pdf)

EU: JHA Council: travel authorisation system tops the agenda

The recent proposal from the European Commission for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which would require non-EU nationals who do not require a visa to enter the EU to instead pay and apply for "travel authorisation", tops the agenda of today's Justice and Home Affairs Council. The system would gather the personal data of millions of people for "screening" against "specific risk indicators" to determine whether they "pose an irregular migration, security or public health risk".

Also on the agenda are recent EU-wide policing "Joint Action Days", information exchange and the interoperability of databases, counter-terrorism, the work of the EU Internet Forum and the implementation of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) travel surveillance Directive.

See: Provisional agenda: 3501st meeting of the Council of the European Union (Justice and Home Affairs) (14272/16, 17 November 2016, pdf); List of 'A' items (non-legislative) (14273/16, pdf) and: background briefing (pdf)

European Parliament: EU-US "Umbrella" Agreement on the exchange of personal data

Draft Recommendation to the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE, pdf) by Rapporteur: Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP.

Yesterday the following Amendments (pdf) were proposed:

Delete: "Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement" replace with "Declines to give its consent to conclusion of the agreement" proposed by Marina Albiol Guzmán, Cornelia Ernst, Barbara Spinelli, Marie-Christine Vergiat on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group:

Justification: "The agreement does not meet the requirements of the Charter and EU law. The wording is ambiguous regarding core DP provisions and does not provide effective judicial redress as the Charter requires. Furthermore, the agreement will serve as a form of adequacy decision, creating a false legal presumption of compliance of the US with EU data protection standards. Finally we regret that the committee did not wait for the ECJ ruling on the EU-Canada PNR agreement."

Another amendment to the same effect from Sophia in 't Veld: Justification: "While the Umbrella Agreement strengthens the data protection safeguards regarding existing law enforcement data transfers to the U.S, serious legal concerns persist and there is no guarantee that the level of protection afforded by the Agreement is fully consistent with EU law. The Agreement is deemed to fulfil the requirements of 'appropriate safeguards' as in Article 37 of the new Data Protection Directive (DPD), allowing for transfers under this Article to be automatically authorised. Furthermore, the US is not likely to (fully) implement the Agreement.""

See: European Commission: Proposed Council Decision (COM 237-16,pdf) and Annex: Text of Agreement (pdf)

Investigatory Powers Bill passed by Parliament with powers to secretly grab journalists' call records intact (Press Gazette, link)

"The House of Lords has passed the Investigatory Powers Bill meaning that is likely to be in force in a matter of weeks.

The Bill has already been passed by the House of Commons and codifies a system under which the state can deploy a variety of electronic snooping tactics to fight crime, including widespread collection of electronic data...

Internet and phone companies will be required to store comprehensive records for 12 months and enable law enforcement bodies to access those records on demand.

It also allows police and other bodies to hack into and bug computers and smartphones with the approval of the home secretary."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.11.16)

EU: Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 18 November 2016: Background Note (pdf)

Euro MPs cancel Turkey trip over coup criticism (euractiv, link):

"Top EU lawmakers yesterday (16 November) cancelled a visit to Turkey after Ankara refused to see one of the MEPs because of her criticism of Ankara’s massive crackdown following July’s failed coup, a parliament source said."

Sweden announces new prosecutor to relaunch Palme murder probe (DW, link)

"Sweden says it will appoint prosecutor Krister Petersson to lead a new probe into the 1986 murder of the Swedish prime minister. Petersson also investigated the 2003 killing of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh."

EU: ETIAS proposal: European Commission:

- Security Union: Commission proposes a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Press release, pdf):

""We need to know who is crossing our borders. By November, we will propose an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here." – President Jean-Claude Juncker, 2016: State of the Union Address."

- 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)

- Annex (pdf)

- Feasibility Study for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (7 MB, pdf)

See also: Statewatch story: European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS): the EU's next border control database

And: European Commission, 'High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability: Subgroup on new systems – meeting of 14 September: Report' (Ares(2016)5744990, 4 October 2016, pdf) also: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (first reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14270-16, pdf):

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.11.16)

EU Council of the European Union: Extra border checks at external borders: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (first reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14270-16, pdf): 4-column document giving the Commission proposal, the European and Council positions and "compromise" text prior to the next trilogue meeting between the Council and the parliament:

"After the European Parliament (LIBE Committee) voted its Report on the proposal on 21 June 2016, political trilogues were held on 13 July and 11 October 2016, along with several technical meetings....

The text of the proposal is set out in the annexed four-column document; changes are underlined and/or indicated in bold.

These issues concern: a) the length of the possible derogation from systematic checks at the air borders - Article 7 2d - for a transitional period, with a possible prolongation under specific circumstances for a further period, where the European Parliament insists on a total period of at least 24 months, and b) the databases to be consulted when verifying persons enjoying the right of free movement - Article 7(2b) - for which the European Parliament wants to specify which international databases could fall within the scope of the provision."

EU: Stockpiling, layering and carrying out profile-based searches: implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data (link):

"The PNR directive obliges air carriers to collect a whole host of data and pass it on to the border authorities in advance of all flights. This information includes registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses. PNR passenger information units (PIUs) in the Member States then analyse the information to identify “suspects and anomalous travel patterns”.

Turkey says it’s tired of ‘two-faced’ EU attitude (euractiv, link):

"Turkey is “fed up” with European Union condescension in talks over its application to join the bloc, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said yesterday (15 November), reflecting Ankara’s exasperation with EU criticism over human rights.

Çavusoglu’s blunt comments, made as visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier looked on, also highlighted Turkey’s frustration with the fact that, after 11 years of negotiations, its prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever....

The EU is treading a fine line in relations with Turkey: it needs Ankara’s continued help in curbing a huge flow of refugees and migrants, especially from Syria, but is alarmed by Turkey’s crackdown on opponents since the failure of a coup attempt in July.

Referring to an issue that could spell the end of Turkey’s accession bid, Çavusoglu said that the Turkish people would decide whether or not to reinstate the death penalty."

EU to mull new defence post at commission (euobserver, link):

"The EU should have a commissioner dedicated to defence and security to ease the burden on foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, according to an MEP who has written a report on setting up a European defence union.

"I am clearly convinced that in the European Commission there should be a special commissioner on defence and security," Urmas Paet, an Estonian liberal MEP, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (15 November). Paet said Mogherini was overstretched with too many portfolios. "She is doing everything, the whole world, all the foreign policy, all the conflicts, all the defence, security and so on," he said.

His report, if adopted next week, will shape the European Parliament's political direction in terms of defence and security for years to come."

EU: The European Parliament want a "humanitarian visa" - the Council and the European Commission are opposed: Regulation on the Union Code on visas (Visa Code) (recast) (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 14262-16, pdf): State of play:

"1) the Council and the Commission want to stick to the recast rules (possibility for the co-legislators to amend only the parts highlighted in grey in the Commission's proposal). However, as the EP has tabled amendments concerning the white and the grey parts, the Rapporteur pleaded during the last trilogues for a pragmatic approach and advocated widening the scope of the recast exercise.

2) the humanitarian visa: EP strongly insists to include this element and considers that it would be the key added value of the proposed Regulation...

 At the last trilogue on 11 October 2016, views remained strongly opposed regarding in particular the issue of the humanitarian visa...

The humanitarian visa is the main outstanding issue in the file and constitutes at the same time a red line for the EP, the Member States and the Commission.." [emphasis added]

See also: External processing of applications for international protection in the EU (EU Law Analysis, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.11.16)

UK to remain in Europol for now (euobserver, link);

"The British government has decided to opt in to a new regulation for Europol, ensuring it will still be part of the EU police agency after May 2017 despite negotiating UK's EU exit.

"The UK is leaving the EU but the reality of cross-border crime remains," minister for policing Brandon Lewis told MPs on Monday (14 November), while announcing the government's decision.

He said that "Europol provides a valuable service to the UK and opting in would enable us to maintain our current access to the agency, until we leave the EU."

Britain had until the end of the year to choose whether to opt in to the new regulation, which will enter into force on 1 May 2017."

UK Govt buried plans to weaken FOI on day Trump elected (Reprieve, link):

"The British Government published its response plans to weaken the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on the same day as the result in the US Presidential election was announced, it has emerged.

The statement was published on Wednesday 9 November as part of an 18-page document entitled ‘Government Response to the Justice Committee’s Second Report of session 2016/17.’

In it, the Government announces that “a number of recommendations” of a widely-criticised review of FOI undertaken by a panel including former Home Secretaries Jack Straw and Michael Howard “are being carefully considered.”

The recommendation referred to is that “legislation should be introduced to remove the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.” This would significantly weaken the ability of those making FOI requests to overturn decisions made by the Government not to disclose information, where those decisions have been supported by the Information Commissioner."

EU: Council of the European Union: Global Strategy - Security & Defence and Security and Defence Plan

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted the following on 14 November:

- Council conclusions on implementing the EU Global Strategy in the area of Security and Defence - Council conclusions (14 November 2016 (pdf):

"The Council is committed to strengthening the Union’s ability to act as a security provider and to enhance the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) as an essential part of the Union’s external action. This will enhance its global strategic role and its capacity to act autonomously when and where necessary and with partners wherever possible....

Invites Member States, working through the EDA and in close coordination with the EU Military Committee (EUMC), to specify and complement the identified preliminary capability priorities...

"Civilian and military rapid response, including military rapid response operations inter alia using the EU Battlegroups as a whole or within a mission-tailored Force package;" [emphasis added]

EDA (EUropean Defence Agency)

- Implementation Plan on Security and Defence (pdf):

"This Implementation Plan sets out proposals to implement the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) in the area of security and defence. It is presented by the HRVP / Head of the Agency for consideration and decision at the FAC in November and the European Council in December 2016.

It forms part of a wider package including the Commission’s European Defence Action Plan and the follow-up of the Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of NATO."

And including inteeligence-sharing: "EEAS to take stock of capabilities at hand in INTCEN and EUMS INT and develop short-, mid- and long-term proposals for Member States' consideration for upgrading such capabilities in line with the level of ambition. Reinforce links between INTCEN/EUMS INT with other EU and Member States’ entities providing situational awareness in order to further support the development of a European hub for strategic information, early warning and comprehensive analysis."

INTCEN (Intelligence Centre based in the External Action Service) and EUMS INT (Member States' intelligence agencies)

See also: Divided Austria unites in opposition to EU army (euractiv, link): "Calls for an “EU army” to be set up have increased since Donald Trump’s US election victory, but neutral Austria, at least, is handling the issue very carefully."

CoE: Migrants in limbo in Europe have the right to live in dignity (Commissioner for Human Rights, link):

"In some countries, they call them “invisible persons”, in others – “ghosts”. Throughout Europe there are many migrants, primarily rejected asylum seekers, who live in a state of protracted legal and social limbo without any long-term prospects. The authorities refuse to regularize them or to grant them any kind of legal status, but often, they cannot go back to their countries of origin for various reasons, most often, fear of persecution.

These desperate persons tend to live in substandard conditions, completely excluded from society, lacking residence permits and the means to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, health or education. In essence, they are deprived of any opportunity to live in dignity."

European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS): the EU's next border control database

It is expected that on Wednesday the Commission will publish a proposal to establish yet another EU "migration management" database - the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Based on systems in place in the USA (ESTA), Canada and Australia (ETA), the Commission's idea is to ensure an "additional layer of systematic control" for nationals of countries that have a visa waiver agreement with the EU - currently some 1.4 billion people.

See: European Commission, 'High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability: Subgroup on new systems – meeting of 14 September: Report' (Ares(2016)5744990, 4 October 2016, pdf)

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Public inquiry into police spies issues appeal to bereaved parents (The Guardian, link):

"The public inquiry examining the undercover infiltration of political groups is making an appeal to bereaved parents to get in contact.

Lord Justice Pitchford, the senior judge leading the inquiry, is investigating how undercover police officers stole the identities of dead children and adopted them to create their fake personas.

He wants to hear from parents who wish to know whether police used the identities of their dead child.

The police have previously been forced to apologise for stealing the identities of dead children following a public outcry about a technique that has been criticised as being “ghoulish and disrespectful”."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.11.16)

EU: Turkey is not safe for children: 56 MEPs call on EU to stop sending back migrants

A letter signed by 56 MEPs addressed to numerous officials from the European Commission, the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration highlights the abysmal educational and living standards for children in Turkey and calls for "the cessation of readmissions and returns of migrants to Turkey, especially of vulnerable categories such as children." Of particular concern is the fact that many Syrian children are employed in Turkish textile factories where they "work in painful conditions, in very close contact with a wide range of toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances such as hydrochloric acid."

See: Letter concerning the situation of refugee children in Turkey (pdf)

EU: Salzburg Forum: "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow" must not happen again

A recent statement by the Salzburg Forum, a central European security initiative, emphasises that the "unprecedented and uncontrolled migratory flow along the Eastern Mediterranean-Western Balkans route, which Europe has faced over the last two years, must not be repeated in the future." The "priority goals" for achieving this are findings ways to "strengthen the migration management and the control of the EU external border," and ensuring "the full implementation of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference, Prague (14274/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

FRANCE: What Can We Learn from the Existence and Eviction of the Calais Jungle? (Novara Media, link):

"To challenge the mainstream media portrayal of the Jungle as only a muddy, desperate environment without basic facilities or official authority, it is important to highlight what was built there, and to recognise the strength, resilience, and determination of people to create homes, an economy, and hold onto their autonomy in the worst possible conditions.

There have been refugee camps in the Calais region since the early 1990s, and after each eviction people have always come back, to rebuild and start again. Calais and Jungle residents alike are unanimous in the belief there will always be migration at the border, that people will continue to arrive and try to cross to the UK. In light of this, the eviction does not appear to be a sustainable solution; rather, with the upcoming elections in France, this reflects on political, not practical interests.

...as the Jungle comes to an end it is also crucial that we do not just write it off as a terrible by-product of EU border policies, but rather see what can be learnt from the camp and how can this can be integrated into the way Europe supports refugees and asylum seekers."

EU-UKRAINE-RUSSIA: Ukraine's annexed territories: Council ponders mutual legal assistance problems

The EU is examining ways to undertake "mutual legal assistance cooperation with the illegally annexed territories in Ukraine, both with regard to civil and criminal matters," with some Member States in favour of "a common EU standard as regards their cooperation with the illegally annexed territories of Ukraine." A recent paper from the Dutch Presidency of the Council explores the options.

See: Mutual legal assistance between the EU Member States and Ukraine (13954/1/16 REV 1, 11 November 2016, pdf)

EU: Cybercrime, encryption, obtaining evidence from the "cloud": report on Eurojust seminar "Keys to Cyberspace"

"The Strategic Seminar “Keys to Cybercrime” was held on 2 June in The Hague. The Seminar was jointly organised by the Netherlands Presidency of the EU and Eurojust.

This Outcome Report presents the summary of the main topics discussed by the participants in the Strategic Seminar, consisting mainly of national judicial authorities specialised in cybercrime, representatives from the European Commission and Council, the Council of Europe, Europol and the Eurojust Task Force on Cybercrime."

See: Strategic Seminar "Keys to Cyberspace" - Outcome Report (13982/16, 4 November 2016, pdf)

Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information (FRA, link):

"Protecting the human rights of individuals subject to criminal proceedings is an essential element of the rule of law. Persons who are suspected or accused of crimes in countries other than their own are particularly vulnerable, making appropriate procedural safeguards especially crucial. This report reviews Member States’ legal frameworks, policies and practices regarding the important rights provided in these directives, including with respect to individuals whose needs may require additional attention, such as persons with disabilities and children."

Full report: Rights of suspected and accused persons across the EU: translation, interpretation and information (pdf)

See also: JUSTICIA - European Rights Network (link): monitoring the adoption and implementation of the EU's procedural rights "package": "Recent developments under EU law to protect the rights of victims of crime, in addition to measures to protect the rights of accused and suspected persons in criminal proceedings, will have a significant impact on domestic criminal law, policy and practice throughout the European Union. More information about these measures and their impact within Network Member Organisations’ Member States can be found here."

EU: Europe Struggles to Harden Security in Wake of Attacks (The Wall Street Journal, link):

"PARIS—Shortly after the terror attacks here a year ago, European leaders pledged to close a legal loophole that militants could exploit to pass through border crossings without security checks.

A year later, negotiators in Brussels are still quarreling over how to change the problematic law, which forbids border guards from conducting systematic security checks on European citizens. France and some other governments, fearing the return of European-born jihadists from Syria, have grown increasingly exasperated.

“We have been quite irritated at the pace,” said one European diplomat involved in the talks."

Online freedoms decline worldwide for sixth consecutive year: report

"Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests."

EU: Internal security: Council documents on information exchange, foreign fighters, counter-terrorism, internet, PNR, organised crime

On 8 November the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) met to discuss the development and implementation of a host of new and existing measures: information exchange and interoperability between EU and national databases; counter-terrorism efforts; the 'EU Internet Forum' and Europol's Internet Referral Unit; the EU policy cycle on organised crime; and the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive. Here we provide the majority of documents discussed by participants in the meeting, along with other relevant information.

EU: Torture goods: Council adopts amending regulation (Council of the EU, link):

"On 14 November 2016, the Council adopted an amending regulation concerning goods that can be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The agreement will enable regulation 1236/2005 to be amended in the light of developments since it entered into force in 2006. It provides for modifications to the current rules on export controls, for new controls on brokering services and technical assistance, for a ban on advertising of certain goods and for amendment of the definition of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The aim is to prevent EU exports from contributing to human rights violations in third countries.

A ban on torture and ill-treatment is enshrined in United Nations conventions on human rights. At EU level, the Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits capital punishment and provides that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The EU also promotes respect for fundamental rights around the world."

See: REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1236/2005 concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (pdf)

And see: Civilizing the torture and execution trade (pdf) by Steve Wright

FRANCE: The Risks of France’s Big New Database (The New York Times, link):

"The government of President François Hollande has moved to combine existing information on at least 60 million French citizens into a single sprawling database. The government says the goal of merging data from French passports and national identity cards is to prevent identity fraud. But the measure risks opening the door to mass government surveillance of the entire country and increases the danger that private information about citizens could be hacked.

The new Secure Electronic Documents database, known as T.E.S., will contain biometric information — like fingerprints and eye color — ID photos, names, addresses and marital status. One big issue is that the database could easily be checked against information, like video footage, collected by intelligence agencies. While the government claims the new database will be used only to confirm identities, it rejected a proposal for individual data chips in passports and identity cards that would serve the same purpose without compromising citizens’ rights to privacy.

...As a French senator, Gaëtan Gorce, warned: The database would “offer to a future government the technical possibility to modify it to its ends,” an ominous possibility given the rising fortunes of the far-right National Front."

See: France to collect personal data of 60 million with controversial database (France 24, link)

EU: Drones: new EU rules to ensure safety and privacy (European Parliament, link):

"Drones are used for many things, from filming and taking photos to inspecting gas pipelines and spraying crops. But these small unmanned aircraft could also pose a risk to airplanes and be used to invade people’s privacy. On Thursday 10 November the transport committee approved changes to EU aviation safety rules that would also include basic safety measures for drones...

Drones that weigh less 150 kilos are currently regulated at the national level, however having different safety and technical standards for each country is proving a headache for manufacturers and complicates cross-border cooperation.

MEPs would like to see basic requirements for civil drones weighing less than 150 kilos enshrined in EU legislation to ensure clarity and coherence, especially concerning safety and privacy. This includes the mandatory registration of drones that weigh more 250 grammes."

And see: press release: Aviation safety: transport MEPs back draft EU rules on drones and emerging risks (pdf)

Plus: USA: Consumer drone business stumbles, but commercial markets beckon (Reuters, link): "The fledgling drone industry is in the throes of change as weak consumer demand and falling prices drive startups to shift their focus to specialized business applications."

EU: Human Rights and the European Arrest Warrant: Has the ECJ turned from poacher to gamekeeper? (EU Law Analysis, link):

"From its panicked conception in the febrile months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has been the flagship of EU criminal law. Replacing traditional extradition law with a fast-track system which scraps most of the traditional restrictions on extradition, it has alarmed critics concerned by miscarriages of justice, but thrilled supporters who welcomed the speedier return to justice of a greater number of fugitives.

Despite qualms by national constitutional courts, the ECJ has long been insouciant about the human rights critique of the EAW... However, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, this staunch approach has been mitigated by the adoption of six new EU laws on various aspects of fair trial rights – five of which also confer procedural rights on fugitives challenging the application of an EAW... the ECJ in the last eighteen months has begun to show a striking concern for ensuring at least some protection for human rights within the EAW system."

Biometric data on terrorists needed to activate global tripwire says INTERPOL (INTERPOL, link):

"BALI, Indonesia – The lack of biometric data being shared on terrorists at the international level is creating a dangerous security gap for exploitation by returning foreign terrorist fighters.

With at least 15,000 fighters still estimated to be within the conflict zones of which an unknown number could return home to engage in radicalization or covert cell operations, the INTERPOL General Assembly has emphasised the urgency with which this threat needs to be addressed.

...The role of biometric information focused on unique identifiers, such as fingerprints and DNA, is pivotal in this context. Although INTERPOL currently holds information on nearly 9,000 foreign terrorist fighter – including from within the conflict zone – less than 10 per cent of these files include biometric data or high resolution images which could be used for facial recognition."

EU: New counter-terrorism Directive: Council text finalised

The EU is coming to the final stages of approving a new Directive on countering terrorism, which expands the scale and scope of the previous Directive (passed in 2002 and amended in 2008). Following the sixth secret "trilogue" meeting between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament on 10 November, the Council produced a "consolidated text" of the Directive and aims to conclude negotiations "at the trilogue on 17 November 2016," before presentation to the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER, EU Member States' officials) on 30 November. Following final agreement on the text, it will also have to be approved by a plenary session of the Parliament.

See: Council of the EU: Consolidated text (14238/16, 11 November 2016, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-13.11.16)

EU: Council of the EuropeanUnion: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 14260-16, pdf):

"This report covers progress against the conclusions on counter-terrorism (CT) agreed by the Members of the European Council on 12 February 2015. It takes into account the CT related conclusions of the European Council of 17 and 18 December 2015 and the JHA Council of 20 November 2015 and the Joint statement on the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March 2016."

Read with: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-ADD-1-16, pdf): 50-page detailed summary

And see previous version of 14260-16: Implementation of the counter-terrorism agenda set by the European Council (LIMITE doc no: 13627-16, pdf)

ITALY-SUDAN MOU: ASGI/Italy: Memorandum of understanding between the Italian public security department and the Sudanese national police. A reading guide (pdf):

"The repatriation of around 40 Sudanese refugees on the past 24 August 2016 - taken from Ventimiglia, transported to the Hotspot in Taranto (Apulia) and then led, always by force, to the airport terminal in Turin - has uncovered the existence of an agreement between Italy and Sudan which has been vigorously criticised by the Tavolo Nazionale Asilo [a consultation group on asylum comprising Acli, Arci, Asgi, Caritas italiana, Casa dei diritti sociali, Centro Astalli, Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati, Comunità di S. Egidio, Federazione delle Chiese Evangeliche in Italia, Medici per i Diritti Umani, Medici Senza Frontiere, Senza Confine].

In a reply handled through an interview with [the newspaper] Avvenire on 29 September, the chief of police, prefect Gabrielli, explained that the Memorandum in question is merely one of 267 agreements underwritten by Italy with other countries for the purpose of perfecting police cooperation and, hence, it does not require any parliamentary oversight....

The Italian-Sudanese memorandum entails the distortion of the guarantees provided by the legal order in the field of returns, which are already weak as things stand."

Barbara Spinelli MEP writes to the President [of the Council of Ministers], Renzi: an independent inquiry into ill-treatment in hotspots is necessary

Barbara Spinelli MEP has sent a letter to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - and in copy to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and to the Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking to know the truth about the ill-treatment in Italian hotspots reported in the Amnesty International report published on the 3 November 2016.

See also: AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hospot system

EU: ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM (EES): Council of the European Union:

- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System (LIMITE doc no: 13963-16, pdf) Full-text of Council "compromise" position prior to entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament:

"Delegation will find attached a Presidency compromise text of the above Proposal. The compromise suggestions reflect the discussions and the relevant contributions by delegations put forward during the previous readings of the draft Regulation...

The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12178/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

- As above: ADD 1 (LIMITE doc, pdf) with travel document logos

- Annex to proposed Regulation (LIMITE doc no: 13962-16, pdf): With near final text on registration of third country nationals from visa-exempt states (eg: the USA), the restrictions on visa holders' movements and the Member State they can exit through.."The new additions are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the text (doc. 12176/16) are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission's proposal are marked as […]."

The Annex says: "Four fingerprints of visa exempt third country nationals should be enrolled in the EES... The facial image of both visa exempt and visa holding third country nationals should be registered in the EES.."

Background: EU-USA visa row on the cards

Turkey halts activities of 370 groups as purge widens (Reuters, link):

"urkey has halted the activities of 370 non-governmental groups including human rights and children's organizations over their alleged terrorist links, the government said as it widens purges following a failed coup in July.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus defended the ban on the activities of the NGOs operating across the country, which was announced by the Interior Ministry late on Friday.

"The organizations are not shut down, they are being suspended. There is strong evidence that they are linked to terrorist organizations," Kurtulmus said."

USA: Newt Gingrich wants new House Un-American Activities Committee (CNN Politics, link):

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for the creation of a new House Committee on Un-American Activities, invoking the infamous "Red Scare"-era congressional body as a blueprint for weeding out American ISIS adherents and sympathizers."

Privacy experts fear Donald Trump running global surveillance network - Concerns raised that current US and UK surveillance system is ‘ripe for further abuse under an autocratic, power-obsessed president’ (Guardian, link):

"Privacy activists, human rights campaigners and former US security officials have expressed fears over the prospect of Donald Trump controlling the vast global US and UK surveillance network...."

EU: German and French interior ministers demand EU discussion on undermining encryption

The latest step in government efforts to give the authorities access to encrypted messages comes in the form of a letter from the German and French interior ministers to EU officials that calls for "solutions that allow for effective investigation into encoded [encrypted] data linked to potential terrorist attacks or organised crime." The letter demands that the issue be put on the agenda of the forthcoming Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, to be held in Brussels next Friday (18 November).

See: German-French letter concerning cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communication service providers (14001/16, 7 November 2016, pdf)

What Happens After Deportation? Human Stories Behind the Closed Doors of Europe (Border Criminologies, link):

"It is important that what happens after deportation does not go unnoticed. A better examination of the human costs of forced returns and the political responsibilities of European states for post-deportation risks is called for. Only by listening to the human stories behind the closed doors of Europe, can we engage in an informed discussion about the security effects of European migration policies in a comprehensive manner."

Europe’s anti-immigrant leaders are taking Trump’s show on the road (The Washington Post, link):

"BRUSSELS — Europe’s far-right leaders on Wednesday heralded Donald Trump’s victory as a sign that they were on the verge of a historic sweep through Western nations to upend the post-Cold War globalized world order.

From Viennese cafes to hard-luck coastal French towns to the ex-Communist flatlands of eastern Germany, anti-immigrant Europeans with views similar to Trump’s said they could no longer be ignored by a political and media elite that unites conventional wisdom on both sides of the aisle. They exulted in their power to win their nations’ highest offices in a marathon of elections that starts next month with the Austrian presidency and circles across some of Washington’s most important partners."

EU: Implementing the commons in Europe (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The European economic crisis has been exacerbated by the lack of leadership in the continent. In addition to the financial turmoil, Europe has lost its ethical vocation inside and outside its limits.

We are living in times where the privatisation of basic common goods is the norm, and where reclaiming access to fundamental resources seems to be either utopian or radical. In this sense, the new political parties springing up across Europe can do a lot, both in regard to raising consciousness, and in the promotion of a new type of social and political values.

However, their lack of capacity for working transnationally to influence and change the political agendas prevents them from implementing practices of self-management of common goods. In order to restructure the model, it is necessary to inject new ideas and visions into it."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.11.16): France opens new centre after street camp clearance; European Parliament briefing on new EU reception Directive; Europol operations against migrant smuggling; Turkey promises to extend state of emergency as necessary.

EU-EGYPT: Italy trains Egyptian judges despite death sentences and torture (Reprieve, link):

"The Italian government has been supporting the Egyptian justice system as part of an EU project that risks complicity in abuses such as mass trials and the death penalty.

Italy’s highest judicial body, the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura, is one of four contractors involved in the €10 million EU project in Egypt, named ‘Support to the Modernization of the Administration of Justice’.

Human rights organization Reprieve has unearthed documents showing that the project includes training Egyptian judges who oversee death sentences; providing steel bars and a metal cage to a juvenile court, and video technology for ‘interview rooms’."

EU: Europol press release: More than 100 arrests in major international migrant smuggling operation (pdf):

"On 21 October 2016, the Spanish National Police, together with the Polish Border Police, joined forces with Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) in Operation Kolso to dismantle a transnational criminal organisation implicated in the smuggling of Ukrainian citizens into the United Kingdom and Ireland.

This extensive investigation was initiated in autumn 2015 as a result of bilateral cooperation between the Polish Border Guard and the Spanish National Police, but soon developed into an international investigation with links in several countries. In 2016, the operation concluded with more than 100 individuals being arrested for forgery of administrative documents and the facilitation of illegal immigration."

The new European Migrant Smuggling Centre, set up as part of the EU's response to the large-scale arrival of migrants and refugees over the last two years, has been keen to promote its work. The press release on the Poland-Spain-Europol operation follows one issued yesterday: Action day in the Balkans: Europol supports Hungarian Police (pdf)

UK: Undercover Policing Inquiry confirms that "Marco Jacobs" was a police officer

The Undercover Policing Inquiry set up in the wake of the scandal surrounding police infilitration and surveillance of activist and campaign groups has confirmed that "Marco Jacobs", who was involved in the anarchist movement in Bright and Cardiff, was a police officer. His real identity remains unknown.

EU: Europe-wide survey shows "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms"

A Europe-wide survey of 300 civil society organisations has highlighted significant concern over a "trend for deterioration in key civic space freedoms", with respondents from central and eastern Europe keen to highlight limitations on the freedom of association and a general decline in respect for democratic principles.

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Spycops Stealing Dead Children’s Identities (COPS, link):

"Parents who want to know if their dead child’s identity was stolen by undercover police officers have been invited to ask the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing.

Anyone whose child was born between 1938 and 1975 can do it, as long as they have somehow stumbled across the invitation (www.ucpi.org.uk > Preliminary Issues > Deceased Children’s Identities