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June 2017

German police conduct nationwide raids against Reichsbürgers (Daily Sabah, link):

"German authorities have launched an investigation in 14 states in response to a growing number of hate crimes among far-right extremist groups and "Reichsbürger" terrorists on social media, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) stated yesterday."

Change torture bill, CoE tells Italy (ANSA, link):

" The Lower House must change a bill against torture to bring it into line with international standards, Council of Europe (CoE) Human Rights Commissioner Nils Miuznieks said in a letter to parliamentary Speakers Laura Boldrini (House) and Pietro Grasso (Senate) Wednesday. Miuznieks voiced concern about the "profound differences" between the definition of torture ion the bill and that contained in various international treaties ratified by Italy, especially the UN's Convention against Torture.

The Senate approved the controversial bill introducing the crime of torture last month."

EU: European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption

- Draft conclusions for 22-23 June meeting also back multi-billion euro military research programme
- Migration: "Training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard is a key component of the EU approach and should be speeded up"

UK: EU citizens in Britain to be asked to register for post-Brexit status (The Guardian, link):

"The government is preparing to announce a registration process for the estimated 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, as a first step towards regularising their legal status post-Brexit.

It is understood ministers will unveil plans inviting all EU citizens to officially “register their interest” in acquiring documentation allowing them to live and work in the country after 2019 when Britain is scheduled to leave the European bloc.

The government is hoping the stocktaking exercise will help it understand the scale of the demand for residency applications once Britain leaves the EU and prevent an overwhelming avalanche of applications on Brexit day."

EU: Say yes to human mobility and no to Fortress Europe (EurActiv, link):

"EU leaders will this week meet to agree, once more, on ways to keep migrants out of the EU. Out of sight may be out of mind but such a policy is only encouraging the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of people, warns Leila Bodeux.

(...)

No walls, no human rights abuses, no coast guards or threat of return will stop desperate people from searching for a dignified life in Europe, no matter how deadly the attempt may be.

(...)

The time is ripe to anchor policies in facts and evidence, rather than in fear and quick fixes.

Europe has the moral duty and the material means to welcome, protect, promote and integrate people in need. There are plenty of tools to open efficient, safe and legal pathways to Europe, such as humanitarian visas, resettlement, community sponsorship, humanitarian corridors, and family reunification.

In these unsettling times, Europe can take strong global leadership and promote a fair and humane world by dismantling old, stiff Fortress Europe and by investing in a modern and dynamic, welcoming Europe that fosters human mobility.

This is the future."

UK: Women's prison population close to 4,000 after rapid twelve-month rise (Prison Reform Trust, link):

"The number of women in prison in England and Wales is in touching distance of 4,000 for the first time in four-and-a-half years. Ministry of Justice figures released last Friday show the female prison population currently stands at 3,994.

The latest edition of Prison: the facts (Bromley briefings summer 2017), published today and covered exclusively on this morning’s edition of BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour, shows an increase of 200 women in prison in the past year has pushed the female prison population towards this significant watershed after years of gradual but sustained decline in the numbers of women behind bars. The briefing highlights facts and figures which show the beleaguered state of our overcrowded prison system and the men and women in its care.

Some of the complex factors which may lie behind the growth in the women's prison population include a decline in the use of community orders, an increase in the use of suspended sentence orders, an increase in the number of women held on remand, an increase in the number of women sentenced to custody, and a rise in the number of women recalled to custody."

UK: Privatised probation service is failing prisoners

"Prisons and probation services are failing to meet the needs of newly released long-term prisoners, one in seven of whom end their sentence with no idea where they will spend their first night on the outside, according to a report which campaigners called "devastating"."

EU: The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal and the Not Quite Closed Balkan Route (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pdf) by Bodo Weber:

"The effect of the two measures [the closure of the Balkan route and the EU-Turkey deal] on the Balkan route has been threefold: First, the number of refugees and migrants moving along the route has dropped dramatically, but tens of thousands still succeed to transit; second, the route has been redirected, with the southern entry point shifting from the Greek islands to Bulgaria’s land border with Turkey; and third, the form of transit has shifted back to the use of smugglers. The three EU member states located at the southern entry (Bulgaria) and northern exit (Hungary, Croatia) of the Balkan route have reacted to the inability to completely close the route with intensified efforts of systematic push-backs of refugees and migrants. Bulgaria has done so with limited success, the other two have been more successful. The attempts to physically close the Balkan route, especially in the case of Hungary, have included changes to asylum legislation that, taken together with the physical push-backs, amount to the systematic violation of human rights and the systematic violation of domestic, EU and international laws and conventions and constitutes a departure from core EU values."

UK: Police seek to avoid accountability in Human Rights case over abusive relationships by undercover officers (Police Spies Out of Lives, link)

 "In 2017, Kate Wilson became one of eight women who have won an historic apology from the Metropolitan Police over their relationships with undercover police. She is now taking the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers to Court over human rights abuses she was subjected to by undercover officers. Ms Wilson’s claim questions the legitimacy of such political policing in a democratic society, and the legality of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) that is used to authorise such operations.

(...)

Despite having withdrawn their defence in Ms. Wilson’s Civil Claim, paying substantial compensation and issuing a personal apology [4] to Ms. Wilson acknowledging that these relationships were a violation of her human rights, the police have also stated that they intend to contest this claim, and are applying for it to be struck out."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-20.6.17) including: three shipwrecks on eve of World Refugee Day; pro-refugee protests in Madrid

EU: Council document outlines implementation of Europol/INTCEN recommendations against foreign fighters

In December 2016 a series of joint recommendations on dealing with foreign terrorist fighters were issued by Europol, the EU's policing agency, and INTCEN, the intelligence centre of the European External Action Service. A note sent to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) on 9 June outlines actions that are being taken to implementation the recommendations.

EU: Schengen: temporary internal border controls to be replaced with intensified police checks "across the entire territory"

The Council of the EU has begun to discuss ways to implement the European Commission's May 2017 recommendation for Member States to "intensify police checks across the entire territory, including in border areas," in the hope that the authorities "give precedence to police checks before deciding on the temporary reintroduction of border controls."

A painful record (Ekathimerini, link) by Pantelis Boukalas:

"Tuesday marks World Refugee Day. Although a plethora of heartfelt statements will come from official lips about the plight of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes, very little will reach the ears of the actual protagonists of this drama.

In any case, the figures released on Monday by the United Nations are enough to make you gasp: About 65.6 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict or persecution by the end of 2016.

This is a painful record, which leaves an indelible mark on the face of humanity, especially considering that half of the refugee population is composed of children.

(...)

Sixty-five point six million people. With no freedoms, no rights, no future. This Europe which so touts its respect of human rights does not even respect the right of families separated by violence to reunite. Officials always find a way to bypass the rules or to turn a blind eye to the plight of these people, while at the same time bragging about their official signature at the bottom of agreements and protocols."

UK: Terrorism-related arrests and trials increase as number of far-right extremists reported to Prevent programme grows by 30%

The number of arrests for terrorism-related offences in the UK jumped to 304 in the year ending March 2017, an increase of 18% on the previous year, while the number of completed trials for terrorism-related offences completed in the same period increased by 55%, from 51 to 79.

The change "was driven by an increase in arrests of people from 'white' ethnic groups," according to the Home Office, while a report in The Independent has revealed that "the number of suspected far-right extremists flagged to the Government’s key anti-terror programme soared by 30 per cent in the past year."

SERBIA: Thousands of refugees left stuck in limbo in Calais of the Balkans (The Herald, link):

"In recent months, Serbian authorities have tried to provide shelter, food and medical care to thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa camping within its borders.

But the newcomers do not want any of it. This country is quickly becoming the Calais of the Balkans, a reference to the northern French city where refugees live in limbo while awaiting either deportation, asylum or continuing their journeys in hope of landing in a more welcoming European country.

“I tried to leave Serbia 17 times,” said Jawad Afzali, 17, an Afghan who has lived for the past six months with 1,500 other Afghan, Iraqi and Pakistani migrants in abandoned warehouses and a tent village that sprung up behind the bus station."

UK: Number of people detained for longer than six months under Immigration Act powers increases by 10% (The Independent, link):

"The number of people detained under Immigration Act powers for longer than six months has increased by 10 per cent in the past year, statistics have revealed.

A total of 317 people were detained in immigration removal centres, short term holding facilities or pre departure accommodation for more than six months in the first quarter of 2017 — a 10 per cent increase on the same quarter in 2016, when there were 287.

In the first quarter of 2017, 236 people were detained for between six months and a year, 69 between a year and 34 months and 12 between two and three years."

HUNGARY: Asylum in Hungary: damanged beyond repair? ECRE's call for states to end transfers to Hungary under Dublin and bilateral arrangements

"A legal note published today provides a succinct analysis of the most problematic aspects of the Hungarian asylum system and legal framework, and the most egregious human rights violations asylum seekers currently face in the country, including at its external border with Serbia.

It concludes that Hungary’s legal framework, including alarming recent changes, puts rights at risk due to (1) the lack of access to asylum procedure (2) the application of “safe third country” concept to dublin returnees (3) the expansion of summary returns policy (4) inadequate reception conditions and automatic use of detention, and (5) increased risks of destitution.

Therefore, ECRE calls on all States not to transfer applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection to Hungary under the Dublin Regulation or any bilateral arrangements, and to assume responsibility themselves for the examination of these asylum claims."

See: Asylum in Hungary: damaged beyond repair? (link to pdf) and: SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link)

EU: Access to e-evidence: Inevitable sacrifice of our right to privacy? (EDRi, link):

"What do you do when human rights “get in the way” of tackling crime and terrorism? You smash those pillars of your democratic values – the same ones you are supposedly protecting. Give up your right to privacy, it is a fair price to pay for the guarantee of your security! This is the mantra that, during the past decades, we have heard populist politicians repeat over and over again – never mind that gambling with our rights actually helps very little in that fight.

One of the bargaining chips in the debate on privacy versus security is access to e-evidence.

(...)

The EU is working towards easing the access to e-evidence for law enforcement authorities. The plan of the European Commission is to propose new rules on sharing evidence and the possibility for the authorities to request e-evidence directly from technology companies. One of the proposed options is that police would be able to access data directly from the cloud-based services."

And see: Commission to present legal proposal on police access to cloud data; data retention discussion continues (Statewatch News Online, 9 June 2017)

USA: When a Computer Program Keeps You in Jail (New York Times, link):

"The criminal justice system is becoming automated. At every stage — from policing and investigations to bail, evidence, sentencing and parole — computer systems play a role. Artificial intelligence deploys cops on the beat. Audio sensors generate gunshot alerts. Forensic analysts use probabilistic software programs to evaluate fingerprints, faces and DNA. Risk-assessment instruments help to determine who is incarcerated and for how long.

Technological advancement is, in theory, a welcome development. But in practice, aspects of automation are making the justice system less fair for criminal defendants.

The root of the problem is that automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and sold for profit. The developers tend to view their technologies as trade secrets. As a result, they often refuse to disclose details about how their tools work, even to criminal defendants and their attorneys, even under a protective order, even in the controlled context of a criminal proceeding or parole hearing."

Commission report on relocation: Does it know how many refugees there in Greece?

Commission ask "the Greek authorities to clarify the total number of migrants present on the mainland and the islands."

German police seek volunteers for facial recognition surveillance (DW, link):

"Police are recruiting subjects to test biometric recognition systems at a Berlin train station. Data protection advocates are wary, but police and volunteers say the pilot project will help fight crime."

 COE: European countries must lift obstacles to reunification of refugee families (link):

"reunification is a fundamental part of the right to family life, which is protected by international human rights law. This right is particularly important for refugees in Europe. Because of the dangers they face at home, their only option to enjoy their right to family life is to bring their families to Europe. Regrettably, many European countries are limiting refugees’ access to this right through restrictive measures which are unjust, unlawful and cause immense hardship for refugees and their families.

This has to change”, says today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a report which aims at helping Council of Europe member states adopt a more humane and human rights oriented policy on family reunification for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection."

See: Issue Paper (pdf) and Summary (pdf)

European Parliament: Draft Opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (pdf): Rapporteur: Axel Voss:

"The rapporteur does not welcome the proposal concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications (‘ePrivacy Regulation’).

All the aims of the creation of a digital single market (growth, promoting innovation, boosting Europe’s IT-based economy, the free flow of data, and promotion of SMEs) will not be attained, and in some cases indeed the very opposite of what is intended will be brought about. Many existing business models would be outlawed by this."
[emphasis in original]

VENICE COMMISSION: Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGOs - despite amendments - still raises Venice Commission concerns (link):

"The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the “Venice Commission”) today adopted an opinion clarifying its preliminary opinion on the previous Draft Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad of Hungary.

In the clarification, the Council of Europe expert body expressed the view that the law, passed this week, only partly satisfies the preliminary opinion’s main recommendations."

See: Preliminary Opinion on the draft law on the transparency of organisations receiving support from abroad (pdf)

CoE: Europe and migration to take centre-stage at the Summer Session (link):

"Europe and migration will be one of the central themes of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Summer plenary session, to be held in Strasbourg from 26 to 30 June 2017.

Four reports will be debated on Wednesday 28 June, focusing on the humanitarian and political response to the migration crisis, the human rights implications of the European response to transit migration, migration as an opportunity for European development and the integration of refugees in times of critical pressure."

EU: Schengen Information System (SIS): Returns, Border checks and discrete checks

 SIS AND RETURNS: Draft Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 9592-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BE, BG, CZ, DE, DK, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND BORDER CHECKS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 9593-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 73 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, and SI. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE and PL. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes."

 SIS AND "DISCRETE" CHECKS: 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.... - draft compromise text regarding alerts on persons and objects for discreet checks, inquiry checks or specific checks (Articles 36 and 37) (LIMITE doc no: 9594-17, pdf): Council developing its negotiating position: 98 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.....

Article 2: Scope

This Regulation establishes the conditions and procedures for the entry and processing in SIS of alerts in respect of third-country nationals, the exchange of supplementary information and additional data for the purpose of refusing entry into and stay on the territory of the Member States."
[emphasis added]

EU: Potential expansion of Eurodac database scope raises data protection concerns (ECRE Bulletin, link):

"The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament has adopted a report on the European Commission proposal to recast the Eurodac Regulation. It outlines a wide expansion of the scope of the Eurodac database that raises strong concerns about data protection.

These measures have raised serious concerns about asylum seekers’ right to data protection from a number of actors and organisations including ECRE, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the Meijers Committee."

See European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee position on recast Eurodac Regulation and the Council's position (LIMITE doc no: 10079-17,pdf) going into trilogue meetings..

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-18.6.17)

EEAS Discrimination? (New Europe, link):

"n an unprecedented, yet exemplary case of discrimination, the European External Action Service has treated two Access to Documents requests filed by different parties for the same documents inconsistently, in one case providing access to a requested document for one party and not the other!

New Europe has been investigating for months now, the case of the purchase made by the EEAS of the residence for the Head of Delegation in Albania. ..."

EU: Passenger Name Record (PNR): Meijers Committee: Note on the EU law aspects of PNR in public transport pdf)

"The note concludes that the Meijers Committee is not convinced that national instruments extending the scope of application of PNR rules beyond the air transport sector would be in accordance with all requirements of EU law. This being said, the note also specifies the main issues that should, in any event, be resolved in the decision making process."

See: Putting the PNR pieces in place: more EU funding for mass surveillance (March 2016) and: EU-USA: PNR Directive: USA offers a helping hand to EU air travel surveillance and profiling efforts

WikiLeaks Reveals How the CIA Could Hack Your Router (Wired, link):

"Your Wi-Fi router, sitting in the corner of your home accumulating dust and unpatched security flaws, provides an attractive target for hackers. Including, according to a new WikiLeaks release, the CIA.

On Thursday, WikiLeaks published a detailed a set of descriptions and documentation for the CIA's router-hacking toolkit. It's the latest drip in the months-long trickle of secret CIA files it's called Vault7,..."

See: Vault 7: Projects (Wikileaks, link)

Europol: TE-SAT: Terrorism: Situation and Trend Report 2017 (8MB, pdf):

Largely concernng Spain, Italy and Greece: "Left-wing and anarchist activities included riots, arson attacks and attacks with explosives, criminal damage and spreading propaganda."

And: "Migration and the perceived threat from Islamisation are key topics on the agenda of right-wing extremists....

Germany stated that after the investigation into the National-Sozialistischer Untergrund (NSU, National Socialist Underground) in 2011, additional investigations into groups such as the Old School Society in 2015 and Gruppe Freital (Freital Group) in April 2016 demonstrated that the formation of right-wing terrorist structures cannot be excluded."

EU-USA: Joint EU-U.S. press statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting, Valletta, 16 June 2017 (Press release, pdf) Includes:

"The European Union and the United States of America agreed on the importance of advancing towards reciprocal visa free travel under their respective legal frameworks. Both sides endorsed a cooperative approach to assisting Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania in advancing more rapidly towards the fulfillment of the requirements for designation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, consistent with U.S. law."

Comment: This has been in the agenda and unresolved for years.

"Both sides welcomed the entry into force of the EU-U.S. Data Protection "Umbrella" Agreement and reiterated their commitment to ensure its full implementation."

Comment: The exchange of personal data agreement - remains to be seen how much redress there will be for EU citizens under the USA Judicial Redress Act. The Agreement covers all crimes however minor.

A new item: "The discussion further covered the implementation of the U.S.-EU Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the question of access by law enforcement authorities to electronic evidence."

Comment follows new initiatives in the EU access data/files for electronic evidence, which in the EU could includes material gathered under an EIO (European Investigation Order) using remote access - prior to charges being brought. See: Commission: Improving cross-border access to electronic evidence: Findings from the expert process and suggested way forward (9543/17, 22 May 2017, pdf) and Council follow-up: Improving cross-border access to electronic evidence - findings from the expert process and suggested way forward (9677/17, 29 May 2017, pdf)..

EU: Court of Justice in the European Union (CJEU): Making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works, such as ‘The Pirate Bay’, may constitute an infringement of copyright (Press release, pdf):

"Even if the works in question are placed online by the users of the online sharing platform, the operators of that platform play an essential role in making those works available.

Ziggo and XS4ALL are internet access providers. A significant number of their subscribers use the online sharing platform ‘The Pirate Bay’. This platform allows users to share and upload, in segments (‘torrents’), works present on their computers1. The files in question are, for the most part, copyright-protected works in respect of which the rightholders have not given the operators or users of that platform consent to share those works.

Stichting Brein, a Netherlands foundation which safeguards the interests of copyright holders, has brought proceedings before the courts in the Netherlands seeking an order that would require Ziggo and XS4ALL to block the domain names and IP addresses of ‘The Pirate Bay’.

See: Judgment (pdf)

European Parliament Briefings: Uncritical but useful summaries prepared for High-level Conference on migration management 21 June 2017:

  What has the European Union done in the field of migration since 2014? (pdf)
   European Parliament’s positions on key issues related to asylum and migration (pdf)

European Parliament

  Study: The impact of Brexit in relation to the right to petition and on the competences, responsibilities and activities of the Committee on Petitions (pdf):

"first looks at the changes that Brexit will determine in relation to voting rights, the right to petition, the right to apply to the European Ombudsman and the European Citizens’ Initiative. It then focuses at length on the way Brexit will affect UK citizens in the EU-27, and EU citizens living in the UK. In this respect, it considers challenges and risks for both citizens who have resided in the EU-27 or the UK for less than 5 years, and for those who have already acquired the right to permanent residence at the time of Brexit."

  Briefing: Smart Borders: EU Entry/Exit System (June 2017, pdf):

"Under the new proposal, the current system of manual stamping of passports would be replaced by automation of certain preparatory border control procedures. The system would be interconnected with the Visa Information System (VIS) database and used by the same authorities: border control and consular posts. Moreover, it would allow law enforcement authorities to perform restricted queries in the database for criminal identification and intelligence to prevent serious crime and terrorism."

UK: Jermaine Baker shooting: Firearms officer will not be charged (BBC News, link):

"A Met Police firearms officer will face no charges over the shooting of a man who was killed in a botched attempt to free a prisoner, prosecutors said.

Jermaine Baker was killed in London by armed officers in December 2015.He was with two other men in a car near Wood Green Crown Court who had intended to help spring an inmate from a prison van. Firearms officers were deployed to foil the plan and the 28-year-old was shot dead during the escape attempt."

And: Police officer who shot 'gangster' Jermaine Baker during failed prison van escape to face 'no action' (Mirror, link) and also: CPS statement on the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker (Crown Prosecutiion Service, link)

Hungarian NGOs embrace civil disobedience (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"I don’t think anyone was surprised when two days ago the Hungarian parliament with its overwhelming, almost two-thirds Fidesz majority passed a law imposing strict regulations on foreign-funded non-governmental organizations. The law bears a suspicious resemblance to the 2012 Russian law that required groups that received funds from abroad to identify themselves as “foreign agents.” The Hungarian version is somewhat more “lenient.” The targeted NGOs don’t have to call themselves “foreign agents,” but they must bear the label that they are the recipients of foreign funds, which can be considered a stigma....

Only a few hours after the enactment of the “civic law,” TASZ announced that it will not obey the law, i.e. it will not register as the law demands because “this is the most effective way of combating this unconstitutional law.” According to TASZ, the law violates the freedoms of speech and association and unlawfully differentiates among civic organizations."

May And Macron's Ridiculous Adventure In Censoring The Internet (Techdirt, link):

"apparently they agree on one really, really bad idea: that it's time to massively censor the internet and to blame tech companies if they don't censor enough. We've been explaining for many years why this is a bad idea, but apparently we need to do so again...."

France's Macron ‘to end state of emergency’, but keep its anti-terror powers (France24, link):

"President Emmanuel Macron’s government wants to end a 14-month 'state of emergency' in France, but at the same time integrate several of its exceptional anti-terrorism powers into common law, alarming judges and civil liberty groups."

And: Macron's security law plan under fire as state of emergency criticised (RFI, link): "The Constitutional Council found that the state of emergency gives too much power to prefects – representatives of the state in a department or region – to ban individuals “seeking to obstruct the authorities’ activities” from certain places at certain times and said that it should be amended to protect individual freedoms."

See also: France's Macron says new anti-terrorism law to respect public freedoms (Reuters, link)

UK: How BAE sold cyber-surveillance tools to Arab states (BBC News, link):

"A year-long investigation by BBC Arabic and a Danish newspaper has uncovered evidence that the UK defence giant BAE Systems has made large-scale sales across the Middle East of sophisticated surveillance technology, including to many repressive governments.

These sales have also included decryption software which could be used against the UK and its allies.

While the sales are legal, human rights campaigners and cyber-security experts have expressed serious concerns these powerful tools could be used to spy on millions of people and thwart any signs of dissent."

And see: BAE 'secretly sold mass surveillance technology to repressive regimes' (Guardian, link): "Documents reveal official concerns that deal with countries including Saudi Arabia could put UK security in danger, says BBC..."

EU: European Parliament Study: Children On the Move: A Private International Law Perspective (pdf):

"The child’s best interests are a primary consideration under international and EU law. EU migration and private international law frameworks regulate child protection, but in an uncoordinated way: the Dublin III and Brussels IIa Regulations are neither aligned nor applied coherently.

This should change. In particular, the rules and mechanisms of Brussels IIa should be used to enhance the protection of migrant children. These include rules on jurisdiction to take protective measures, on applicable law, and on recognition and enforcement of protective measures, and mechanisms for cross-border cooperation between authorities."

EU: Commission: latest reports on the refugee crisis and "returns" to Turkey

- Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland face infringement proceedings
- Greece: Arrivals outpace returns to Turkey
- Next steps - dodgy figures or wishful thinking?

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.6.17) including: Germany offers millions to Libya, Swiss court halts returns to Hungary

Hungarian parliament approves "unecessary, stigmatising and harmful" law on NGOs receiving funds from abroad

On Tuesday 13 June the Hungarian parliament approved the 'Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Foreign Funds' that requires non-governmental organisations (NGO) receiving more than €24,000 in direct or indirect funding from abroad to register as "civic organisations funded from abroad". The Civilizáció coalition of Hungarian NGOs condemned the law as "unecessary, stigmatising and harmful" and "a new step in a longer process that aims at fully discrediting civil society organisations."

UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU

"The Final Report of the Panel of Experts on Libya... discusses links between armed groups, criminal groups, and different coast guard factions, including involvement by coast guard factions in migrant smuggling and coast guard factions shooting at or sinking migrant boats operated by competitors. The report makes clear that after interception at sea, migrants are “often beaten, robbed and taken to detention centres or private houses and farms where they are subjected to forced labour, rape and other sexual violence.”

The report questions whether any of the coast guard factions are under the control of the Government of National Accord and questions the vetting of the coastguard trainees who are receiving training from EUNAVFOR MED. This information is further reason for the EU and EUNAVFOR MED to immediately suspend all collaboration with the Libyan coast guards and navy."

EU: Relocation: Commission launches infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (press release, pdf)

"The European Commission has today launched infringement procedures against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for non-compliance with their obligations under the 2015 Council Decisions on relocation.

Despite the Commission's repeated calls for action, these three countries remain in breach of their legal obligations and have shown disregard for their commitments to Greece, Italy and other Member States.

The Council Decisions require Member States to pledge available places for relocation every three months to ensure a swift and orderly relocation procedure. Whereas Hungary has not taken any action at all since the relocation scheme started, Poland has not relocated anyone and not pledged since December 2015. The Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since August 2016 and not made any new pledges for over a year"

And see: EU opens legal case against Warsaw, Budapest and Prague over migration (Reuters, link)

NGO says Israel’s biometric database law an infringement of privacy rights (Biometric Update, link):

"The Digital Rights Movement has filed a request to Israel’s High Court to block the state from a public campaign to convince the public to sign up for smartcard identification and the country’s biometric database.

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post this court action is a part of the NGO’s broader campaign to get the new biometric database law struck as an unconstitutional infringement of privacy rights, asserting that the campaign is designed to fool the public into signing up for all aspects of the biometric database, even though the public has the right to refuse giving over their fingerprints.

From the outset, there have been concerns raised about privacy rights and risks of identity and personal information theft but defenders of the law say the final version reflects a number of compromises to address privacy concerns."

Transnational terrorism focus of INTERPOL meeting (INTERPOL, link):

"ATHENS, Greece – An international counter-terrorism meeting has been held in Athens under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project Nexus to review regional and global trends on the activities and movement of returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs).

The three-day (6 – 8 June) INTERPOL Project Nexus Working Group Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters gathered more than 60 representatives from the counter-terrorism units of 32 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean.

Co-hosted by the Greek Police and INTERPOL, the meeting was part of INTERPOL’s global counter-terrorism strategy which focuses on assisting INTERPOL member countries in targeted regions to contain and disrupt transnational terrorist activities, including by addressing information gaps."

HUNGARY-SWITZERLAND: Court rules against sending asylum seekers to Hungary (Al Jazeera, link):

"Switzerland's highest administrative court on Friday ruled against the deportation of an asylum seeker to Hungary, citing humanitarian and legal concerns over conditions in a country that has been sharply criticised for its harsh treatment of refugees.

Judges at the Federal Administrative Court said the situation in Hungary is too insecure for asylum seekers, delivering a verdict in the case of a young male from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had filed a judicial complaint against his return to the Eastern European country, where he was officially registered.

Under the European Union's Dublin Convention, member states can return asylum seekers to the country where they first applied for protection. Switzerland is not an EU member state, but it is a signatory to the accord.

Seeing as the court issued a so-called "pilot ruling", its provisions automatically apply to all present asylum seekers in Switzerland who had registered a complaint against their return to Hungary.

Local media reported that 202 people would now have their asylum requests processed in Switzerland."

Untangling the other dark web – of pervasive, inescapable, corporate surveillance (Privacy News Online, link):

"Visitors to this site are well aware of how our every move is tracked as we move around the Internet. We know that companies are building minutely-detailed profiles of us, stored on huge databases, and that the information held there not only changes the ads we see, and the prices that companies offer us when we visit e-commerce sites, but even the mix of news stories that we view. The scale of this “surveillance capitalism”, as it has been called, is vast. One recent study looked at a million Web sites, and found that over 80,000 third-party services receive details about the visitors to them."

A brief overview of some of the information made available in the recent report: Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life (Cracked Labs, link

UK: Cressida Dick: public supports police on stop and search (Evening Standard, link):

"The public is giving “lots of support” to police in London over the decision to step up the use of stop and search in their battle to combat knife crime, the Met Commissioner said today.

Cressida Dick said that street searches were a “very powerful tool” for officers as she spoke of her deep concern about a surge in knife crime which has led to 37 fatal stabbings in the capital so far this year.

She emphasised that Met officers carrying out searches must be “courteous” and “use intelligence” to target prolific offenders."

The statistics, on the other hand, do not support the police: Mass stop and search by police doesn't reduce crime, says study (The Guardian, link):

"The use of large “surge” stop-and-search operations by the police has no discernible effect in reducing crime, according to newly released Home Office research.

The study looks at the mass use of stop and search by London’s Metropolitan police to tackle knife crime in 2008/09, at a time when officers were carrying out one search every 20 seconds on average nationwide."

And: Black and minority ethnic groups increasingly more likely to be stopped and searched by police (The Telegraph, link)

France and UK announce internet counter-terror plan (EUobserver, link):

"The UK and France are moving ahead with a joint plan to fight terrorism, online hate speech, and to crack encrypted data.

Speaking together in Paris on Tuesday (13 June), French president Emmanuel Macron and UK prime minister Theresa May said the two countries were renewing their counter-terrorism cooperation.

The plan includes possibly imposing fines on social media giants for not taking down flagged online hate speech quickly enough. They also spoke about prying apart encrypted messages, which posed broader questions on civil liberty and cyber security.

But Macron said they first wanted to make sure internet operators "delete any content promoting hatred and terrorism in any way.""

And see: Theresa May ‘still plans to clamp down on the internet’ – despite losing her majority (Metro, link):

"A privacy group has criticised Theresa May over hints that she will continue with plans to ‘clamp down’ on internet services – despite failing to win a majority in last week’s election."

EU-USA: PNR Directive: USA offers a helping hand to EU air travel surveillance and profiling efforts

The USA has invited EU Member States to visit its National Targeting Center (NTC), which "uses several automated enforcement data processing systems that are focused on detecting and preventing terrorist access to the United States," as joint efforts between EU institutions, agencies and the Member States to implement the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive on the surveillance and profiling of air passengers continue. Official documentation made public here also reveals other aspects of the implementation of the Directive, such as the inclusion of customs authorities as recipients of PNR data.

EU: Space and Security: Crucial synergies for European citizens (European Defence Agency, link):

Joint Opinion Editorial by Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency and Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director general of the European Space Agency:

"Europe has been earmarking space and security as priorities for over a decade. Yet, it still hasn’t fully lived up to its ambitions. There is now an unprecedented window of opportunity for addressing these shortcomings: a series of ambitious EU security related initiatives launched in 2016 can finally make space and security cooperation a tangible reality with positive effects on Europe’s security, its economy and, perhaps even more important, on how citizens perceive Europe. This is why the partnership instated in 2011 between our two organisations through an Administrative Arrangement holds such strategic resonance. While EDA is Europe’s defence capability development actor, ESA is Europe’s uncontested space agency, whose Convention, pursuant to its second article, scopes ESA’s security initiatives: these must be provided for exclusively peaceful purposes, a provision which has been interpreted under international law as non-aggressive uses of outer space.

Synergies on dual-use amongst sectors make political, technological and budgetary sense. Such synergies have been called upon in most policy documents for over a decade, and again more recently in the European Commission’s 2016 Space Strategy. But have we made real and genuine headway in fostering dual-use cooperation? Or have we perhaps not done enough to bring the two communities together and to build the confidence needed? "

And see: Space Strategy : Europe needs civil-military synergies (EDA, link)

UK: Former MI5 chief defends intelligence service (Defence IQ, link):

"The former director general of MI5 has hit out at critics of Britain’s intelligence service, saying the threats of today are “worse and more complex” than ever.

Dame Stella Rimington, who oversaw MI5 in the mid-nineties, said that intelligence officers will always be subject to criticism in the days after a terror incident because the public rarely understands the huge difficulties of counter-terror operations.

“When an incident happens, people are quick to blame and throw the whole thing up in the air," she said. "That is not the way to deal with security.""

EU: Shock Monitor: documenting and studying "private war" and its impact on human rights

"Shock Monitor is created to document and study the evolution of Private War and its worldwide impact on human rights. Through the documentation, systematisation and analysis of incidents involving PMSCs and private contractors, it studies not only the development of the industry but also the incidents and related legal cases, perpetrator accountability and remedy for the victims."

EU: Partnership Frameworks in Africa: Commission publishes progress reports on first year

"A year into its implementation and ahead of the June European Council, the Commission and the High Representative present today the fourth progress report on the Partnership Framework on Migration."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.6.17)

EURODAC: eu-LISA: European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice: Eurodac - annual statistics (Press release, pdf):

"In 2016, Eurodac processed: "Over 1,000,000 fingerprints of applicants for international protection aged 14 or more - more than 370,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended when irregularly crossing the external border of a Member State - over 252,000 fingerprints of persons aged 14 or older, apprehended illegally present on the territory of a Member State."

In July 2015, the new Eurodac Regulation (No 603/2013) took effect and national police forces as well as Europol can now have access to the system but in 2016 only 327 searches were made by EU police forces.

See also: 2016 Report (pdf) and List of authorities with access (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Reflection Paper on the future of European Defence (pdf):

"The reflection paper on the future of the European Defence is the fourth in this series. It outlines the main trends and challenges that will shape the future of our security and defence and on this basis, sets out options in three different scenarios for moving towards a Security and Defence Union. While not mutually exclusive, these scenarios are underpinned by different levels of ambition for the EU in doing things together in security and defence....

Finally, systematic defence cooperation and integration in turn requires a true Single Market for defence."

UK: Police boss considers letting vigilantes with guns protect Britain from terrorists (Mirror, link):

"A police boss has vowed to "look into" whether vigilantes with gun licences can defend their communities against terrorists .

Alison Hernandez, the police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall , has promised to talk to her chief constable about whether people with gun licences can use private weapons to defend their community against terrorists."

And see: Czech Republic: Interior Ministry wants to enable public to use legally held weapons against terrorists (Prague Monitor, link)

UK: High Court to rule on acquittal of eight anti-arms fair activists (Winter Oak, link):

"On Tuesday 13th June 2017 the High Court in London will consider whether the decision by Stratford Magistrates Court to acquit eight activists of seeking to prevent crimes at one of the world’s largest arms fairs, was correct in law (see previous reports and updates)...

The case against the activists had been formally closed since November 2016 because of the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to pursue the case. The case was reopened in March 2017, following an application by the CPS....

On 15th April 2016, the eight activists were acquitted at Stratford Magistrates Court of seeking to obstruct one of the world’s largest arms fairs. They had been accused of Obstruction of a Public Highway by blockading roads to frustrate the setup of the DSEI arms fair in September 2015."

Does your MEP run a ghost office? (Investigative Reporting Denmark, link):

"Is your member of the European Parliament a rent payer or a subsidy player?

Last week the journalists of The MEPs Project revealed that one out of three MEPs across the EU does not maintain a national office or has declined to disclose its location. Citizens are now asking:

What is the address of my MEP’s national office, if any?
How much of the tax-free 4342 Euro allowance per month does he or she pay in office rent?
Did my MEP vote to hide or disclose how this money is spent?
Who declined to comment on their use of my tax money?"

And see: EU Citizens pay for Misused or Non-Existent 'Ghost' Offices (OCCRP, link)

Greece earthquake hits Lesbos: Tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens (BBC News, link):

"A strong earthquake has struck off the Aegean coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos, with tremors felt in Istanbul and Athens.

The epicentre of the 6.3 magnitude quake was 5km (3 miles) south of Plomari, a town on the coast of Lesbos, the US Geological Survey said. Several buildings were damaged but the village of Vrisa was worst hit with 10 people taken to hospital.".

See also: Vrisa: The ghost village of Lesvos after earthquake strikes with 6.3R (Keep Talking Greece, link)

BULGARIA: Administrative Court in Sofia held that the deliberation process at the President’s office cannot be classified forever (AIP link)

"On 5 June 2017 the Sofia Administrative Court (SAC) declared unlawful the denial of the Bulgarian President’s Secretary to provide access to the minutes of consultations chaired by the President on 14 July 2014. The document marked as “confidential” recorded a discussion addressing the problems of the Bulgarian financial system following the bankruptcy of the 4th biggest commercial bank (KTB) in the country, which happened under suspicious circumstances. Former President Plevneliev whose administration classified the document for a period of 5 years said he agreed with the restriction as it was still necessary to protect national security and the confidentiality of consultations chaired by the President."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.6.17) including: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

EU: European travel information and authorisation system - Council agrees negotiating position (press release, pdf):

"On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council's position for negotiations with the European Parliament.

ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. It will help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, limit public health risks and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders."

See: General approaches on the draft regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS) (9763/17, 1 June 2017, pdf) and on the draft regulation amending regulation 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing ETIAS (9763/17 ADD 1, 1 June 2017, pdf)

And see: Estonia heads EU interior ministers meeting for the 1st time (The Baltic Times, link): ""The foundation of the security of the European Union is solidarity and helping each other in a difficult situation. The key to success can lie only in cooperation, not in encapsulating," Anvelt said, adding that it's important for the member states that the problem is dealt with together. What is especially important for Estonia is that progress was made on several topics having to do with databases – such as the ETIAS travel authorization system, renewal of the Schengen information system and developing interaction between databases more broadly."

Thousands in Moldova protest over proposed voting changes (EurActiv, link):

"Several thousand people took part in demonstrations across Moldova on Sunday (11 June), protesting both in favour of and against proposed changes to the electoral system that European rights experts see as “inappropriate”.

The pro-European ruling coalition has been seeking to change the voting system in time for a parliamentary election next year, when its parties will be in a tough fight with pro-Moscow rivals who reject closer integration with Europe.

Chanting “We will not surrender!”, some 4,000 protesters gathered in central Chisinau, appealing to the Venice Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United States to prevent the changes coming into force."

HUNGARY: Gulyás: Fidesz backs most Venice Commission proposals on NGO bill (Politics.hu, link):

"Lawmakers of Fidesz will support “the majority” of the recommendations the Venice Commission has made concerning the government-initiated bill on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs, the party’s deputy group leader said. Referring to the commission’s evaluation of the bill, Gergely Gulyás said that “the body has acknowledged that ensuring access to information on foreign funding to non-governmental organisations is a legitimate objective”. Gulyás noted that positions by the Venice Commission have no binding effect. He added, however, that Fidesz “has so far considered and will again consider the majority of the body’s recommendations”. Referring to US billionaire George Soros, Gulyás insisted that the new law was necessary to ensure the transparency of Hungary’s “Soros-organisations” and to clarify allegations of some organisations being financed “from the east”."

See: CoE: Venice Commission on Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGOs: legitimate aims, but excessive obligations, disproportionate sanctions (link) and: Press release (pdf)

Hungary to extradite Holocaust denier Horst Mahler to Germany (Politics.hu, link):

"Horst Mahler, a former German lawyer sentenced to prison for Holocaust denial, is to be extradited to his homeland, the Budapest Court of Appeals said. Mahler was apprehended in the western Hungarian town of Sopron on May 15 on the basis of an international arrest warrant. The ruling to transport him to Germany is in force. According to international regulations, Hungary can keep Mahler in custody until June 16 and is to set him free afterwards, should Germany not receive him until then."

1,000 Migrants Rescued Off Libyan Coast; Two Dead (Reliefweb, link):

"Two migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday during a rescue operation that saved more than 1,000 others who were attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe, according to a Spanish aid group.

Laura Lanuza, spokeswoman for Spain's Proactiva Open Arms, said that while two migrants perished in international waters off the Libyan coast, the Spanish aid group and five other humanitarian organizations saved 1,058 migrants after intercepting several smugglers' boats.

Lanuza said that in addition to the two deaths, another two migrants were in critical condition.

The Golfo Azzurro, Proactiva Open Arms' converted fishing trawler, pulled 243 migrants from two smugglers' boats. That group included one baby, a pregnant woman and several children.

The other boats that participated in the massive rescue operation belonged to Save the Children, Sea Watch, Moas, Sea Eye and Jugend Rettet Iuventa."

EU: The BIG DATA Challenge: Impact and opportunity of large quantities of information under the Europol Regulation (Computer Law & Security Review, link) by Daniel Drewer and Vesela Miladinova:

"In the digital age, the interaction between privacy, data protection and advanced technological developments such as big data analytics has become pertinent to Europol's effectiveness in providing accurate crime analyses. For the purposes of preventing and combating crime falling within the scope of its objectives, it is imperative for Europol to employ the fullest and most up-to-date information and technical capabilities possible whilst respecting fundamental human rights.

The present article addresses precisely the “paradox” of on one side protecting fundamental human rights against external terrorist and/or cybercrime intrusions, and on the other providing a privacy-conscious approach to data collection and analytics, so that Europol can even more effectively support and strengthen action in protecting society against internal threats in a proportionate, responsible and legitimate manner. The advantage proposed in this very context of large quantities of data informing strategic analysis at Europol is a purpose-oriented data protection impact assessment. Namely, the evolution from traditional instruments in the fight against organised crime and terrorism to more technologically advanced ones equally requires an alteration of the conventional notions of privacy and investigative and information-sharing methods."

Anti-EU rhetoric props up Czech election race (EUobserver, link):

"The Czech government's decision on Monday (5 June) to stop taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy is the latest sign of the development of an anti-EU stance in the country, with the elections approaching in October.

Interior minister Milan Chovanec said that pulling out of the EU relocation scheme was justified by an "aggravated security situation and the dysfunctionality of the whole system".

This new stance could largely be due to the upcoming elections in October of this year, as only 23 percent of Czechs think that the country should help refugees, according to a survey from March 2017.

After the elections, the Czech Republic may edge closer to Hungary and Poland, whose governments are very vocal in their criticism of Brussels."

Slovakia Tackles Its Constitutional Skeleton in the Closet (I-CONnect, link):

"On 31 May 2017, six days before a parliament imposed deadline and 19 years after the fact, the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic (CC) upheld constitutional changes which annulled amnesties introduced by the former strongman prime minister and acting president Vladimír Meciar (‘Meciar’s amnesties’). The amnesties shielded from criminal prosecution multiple persons allegedly involved in the abduction of the son of the first Slovak president (Michal Kovác Jr.) in 1995 and in the obstruction of a referendum on direct elections of the president and Slovak accession to NATO in 1997. Making things more complicated was a prior amnesty decision of the first president, Michal Kovác, which halted the investigation of his own son in a fraud case.

(...)

The important part of the story is that none of the previous seven attempts at annulling the amnesties had been successful. The first annulment by presidential decree was thwarted on legal grounds by the CC which made all subsequent attempts at finding a political consensus in conjunction with a legally acceptable solution much more difficult. Between 1998 and today, the issue gradually attained the status of a permanent stain in Slovakia’s transformation to a liberal democracy. The constitutional skeleton was also kept largely dormant by political elites; only intermittently, and in any event with no results (until now), were parliamentarians interested in wriggling some bones out of the proverbial closet."

UK-EU: Data commissioner calls for government action on police data handling laws (Government Computing, link):

"While the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becoming UK law from next May will have limited impact on law enforcement, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has said there remains significant uncertainty regarding data protection in the sector.

Speaking this week at the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Information Practitioner event, the UK data regulator said GDPR did not cover how personal data is used for law enforcement purposes, with these matters falling under the separate legal instrument known as the Law Enforcement Directive.

The Law Enforcement Directive, which covers how data is processed for certain European justice and home affairs measures, is still required to be implemented into UK law by the government.

Denham said there had not been any public announcement from government with details of how and when this will happen, or a broader position on data processing in domestic law enforcement."

See: Speech by Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner at National Police Chief Council Information Practitioner event, 7 June 2017 (pdf)

EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee position on recast Eurodac Regulation

New rules governing the EU's Eurodac biometric database are one step closer to being adopted following the approval by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of its position on the recast Regulation.

The recast Regulation will extend the scope of the database from holding the fingerprints of asylum-seekers to the inclusion of biometric data on irregular migrants. Facial images are also to be included in preparation for the future use of facial recognition systems.

USA: Washington state places restrictions on commercial biometrics data use (Planet Biometrics, link):

"Washington State will next month become the third US state to statutorily restrict the collection, storage and use of biometric data for commercial purposes.

On July 23, a new biometrics law will come into force that aims to require that businesses ensure consent before it that collects and can attribute biometric data to a specific individual.

Firms must also provide notice to and obtain consent from an individual before enrolling or changing the use of that individual’s biometric identifiers in a database."

And see: Paying With Your Face: Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities, and track down criminals. Will other countries follow? (MIT Technology Review, link)

EU: Military research: calls for proposals on naval drones, "force protection" and technology foresight

The EU's 'Preparatory Action on Defence Research' (PADR) is moving ahead with three calls for proposals recently published on "enhanced situational awareness in a naval environment" showing the "added value of unmanned systems"; "Force Protection and Soldier Systems" and "strategic technology foresight". The PADR is supposed to be pave the way for a full-blown military research programme from 2021 onwards that the European Commission thinks could be worth over €5 billion annually.

UK-EU: Brexit and Northern Ireland: trouble brewing?

"THERE can be no doubt that Brexit is reopening old wounds in Northern Ireland.

The pattern of the election results speaks for itself.

The image above shows Sinn Féin’s clean sweep along the border and the DUP stronghold in the north east.

The distribution of seats matches a recent data map by The Detail which revealed the extent to which Catholic and Protestant communities continue to live apart, nearly 20 years after the violence of the Troubles ended.

But these patterns are inherited from the distant past."

UK: How a crippling shortage of analysts let the London Bridge attackers through (The Guardian, link):

"Last Tuesday, in the wake of the latest terror atrocity to strike Britain, the former head of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington recalled just how primitive intelligence gathering used to be. Addressing a conference of security officials in west London – four miles from London Bridge where the terror attack had taken place three days earlier – Rimington recounted an anecdote about how her spy training in the 1970s involved infiltrating a local pub to eavesdrop on targets.

Over the four decades since then, intelligence gathering within Britain’s security services has evolved beyond comparison. Eking out a lead is no longer an issue – instead extraordinary volumes of information are relentlessly harvested electronically. The worry, according to experts, is whether they are acquiring too much."

And see: How to detect a potential terrorist? Heed warnings from people who know them (The Guardian, link):

"The only way potential attackers will be identified before they kill and maim is through the most old-fashioned means one can imagine: someone warning authorities about what they plan to do. This can be people in the workplace, the mosque, or at school. Research tells us that more than 70% of Islamic militants who operate alone tell someone of their plans. The first line of defence against Islamic militancy is not our crash barriers or covert operations, nor armed cops or MI5, it is a potential terrorist’s brother, mother, partner or friend."

EU: Migration: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

The EU and its Member States are working towards the implementation of the European Commission's "renewed Action Plan" on European returns policy, published in March this year. At the latest meeting of the Commission-hosted 'Contact Group - Return Directive', which brings together EU and national officials, "Member States expressed general support in relation to the policy line and specific recommendations," but also highlighted that "on some specific recommendation, [sic] there may be divergences of views among Member States and with the Commission, and that some may be difficult to apply in practice for technical or political reasons."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.6.17)

USA: Intelligence Agency Dodges Congressional Scrutiny (HRW, link):

"Does the National Security Agency (NSA) understand that it should be accountable to its overseers in the other branches of government – and to the public?

Few would dispute that monitoring someone’s communications is sometimes necessary to achieve a legitimate goal. However, it is critical that such activities be subject to independent, impartial, and effective oversight involving all branches of government to prevent violations of people’s rights. Testimony by top officials during a Senate hearing yesterday gives rise to doubts as to whether the United States intelligence agencies accept this principle. As a result, it appears that Congress, which is responsible for ensuring that the intelligence agencies respect the law, will not have crucial information it needs to determine whether one of the country’s most important and problematic surveillance laws (which will expire at the end of 2017 unless renewed) is leading to more abuses than we realize."

UPDATE: EU: Final: Press release (pdf)

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: agendas and other documentation including draft conclusions heading for approval

Agendas and documentation in relation to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.6.17) including: Serbia-Hungary police cooperation on migration "excellent"; new report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs

UK: Law firm Leigh Day cleared over Iraq murder compensation claims (The Guardian, link):

"The law firm Leigh Day and three of its solicitors have been cleared of all the allegations of professional misconduct they faced over Iraq war murder compensation claims.

The not-guilty verdicts delivered by the solicitor’s disciplinary tribunal in London are a crushing setback for the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which launched the costly prosecution, and the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, who had called for legal action.

The seven-week trial is believed to have cost almost £10m. The SRA can appeal against the findings."

EU: New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean

A new report examines the accusations made by state officials, commentators and others that search and rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are a "pull factor" for migrants and are effectively working in league with people smugglers. The report, Blaming the Rescuers, argues that as well as being false, those accusations have allowed state actors "to divert public attention from their own responsibilities and failures" and are part of "a wider attempt to criminalise solidarity towards migrants and refugees, which endangers the possibility of EU citizens standing in solidarity and exercising civilian oversight at the EU’s frontiers to contest their deadly effects."

UK: Three Musketeers terror trial: Undercover officer 'honest' (BBC News, link):

"An undercover officer would have had "nothing to gain" by putting a bomb in a car to frame an alleged terror cell, a colleague has told a court.

The policeman, known as Vincent, infiltrated a group known as the Three Musketeers, who are accused of plotting an attack on British soil

A fellow covert officer told the Old Bailey Vincent, who has denied planting incriminating evidence, was "honest".

The four men deny preparing terrorist acts."

And see: West Midlands police unit accused of perjury and falsifying evidence (The Guardian, link):

"A West Midlands police counter-terrorism unit has been accused in court of perjury, falsifying notebooks and hiding text messages related to the trial of a group of terror suspects who called themselves the “Three Musketeers”.

Simon Hussey, a senior officer in West Midlands police’s special projects team, began giving evidence at the Old Bailey trial of four men from the Midlands accused of plotting terror attacks in late April but his cross-examination was interrupted, and the personal and work phones of several officers involved in the case were seized by the police shortly afterwards."

UK: Can protesters believe anything Sussex Police tells them? (Netpol, link):

"Within 24 hours of the start of drilling on 31 May by UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) at its Broadford Bridge well in West Sussex, Operation Edmond – the response by Sussex Police to protests at the site – is already raising the same concerns we highlighted last year about unpredictable policing and an unwillingness by officers to accommodate minor disruption to unconventional energy exploration without making arrests.

A week after a somewhat bizarre arrest for alleged obstruction of the highway that involved a protester clearly walking on a grass verge, members of the recently established Broadford Bridge Community Protection Camp were handed a map (below) by a Bronze operational commander offering a “tolerated slow walking area” along 600 metres heading towards the UKOG site from a scrap yard on Adversane Lane. Members of the camp had neither negotiated nor agreed to this proposal but it seemed to indicate that senior officers were intending a less confrontational attitude to the presence of protesters.

(...)

What was evident from the events we witnessed at Broadford Bridge was that officers had either not been briefed about a ‘tolerated slow walking area’ or that Sussex Police had abandoned the proposal, without informing protesters, within hours of offering it."

And see: Dissent is not a crime: News from Netpol: May 2017 (link)

EU Citizens pay for Misused or Non-Existent 'Ghost' Offices (OCCRP, link):

"Hundreds of members of the European Parliament are potentially misusing EU funds meant to pay for offices in their home country, but at least 249 of these offices either do not exist or are nowhere to be found, according to an investigation by 'Journalists of the MEPs Project' published Wednesday.

Each month MEPs are given a tax-free lump sum of €4,342, called the General Expenditure Allowance (GEA). The fund costs the EU around €40 million annually and is meant to provide MEPs with national offices that, among other things, should keep them in touch with citizens.

The series of investigations across all 28 members states, however, found that in 249 cases MEPs either said they have no offices, refused to reveal their addresses, or the locations could not otherwise be tracked."

HUNGARY: Will Hungary’s detention practices put an end to the Common European Asylum System? (Migration News Sheet, link):

"The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is today much less ‘common’ than it used to. Large-scale arrivals of refugees in 2015 have tempted Member States, starting with Hungary, to act unilaterally and in complete violation of EU rules.

Are Hungary’s unpunished waves of massive detention paving the way for other national governments to openly violate EU regulations?

Would this race to the bottom signal the end of CEAS and its Dublin System?

In turn, will European institutions manage to force governments to comply with its legislation?

This article will look into these questions."

IRELAND: Irish police phone tapping undermines citizens’ rights (EDRi, link):

"An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force has fallen, yet again, under public scrutiny for privacy violations of innocent citizens. An investigation by the Irish Independent newspaper has found that members of the public had their phones tapped without proper justification.

The widespread phone tapping was revealed after a senior officer tried to highlight his concerns about the legality of the covert surveillance. According to this account, he was put under pressure to listen in on private conversations of citizens without a necessary court order. When he raised the concerns about this activity with his superiors, the authorities sidelined him. He decided to take legal action, but the State avoided full extent of the phone tapping scandal being made public with agreeing to an out-of-court settlement."

See: Exclusive: Inside the murky world of phone taps and Garda intelligence (Irish Independent, link):

"AN Irish Independent investigation has found that innocent members of the public had their phones tapped by Garda intelligence.

Our investigation has also seen accounts of where a decorated detective has said he was put under pressure to routinely bypass strict protocol to listen in on private conversations for almost a decade."

USA: Congressional Republicans seek to obliterate record of CIA torture (World Socialist Web Site, link):

"It was reported last week that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture is being “retrieved” from executive agencies in the Trump administration. Congressional Republicans have demanded the confiscation of all copies of the report in order to cover up and, if possible, erase entirely the record of the investigation into the agency’s torture program.

A heavily redacted executive summary of the report was released to the public in December of 2014, but the full 6,700-page “Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program” remains secret. Only a limited number of copies were made, which were distributed to a handful of federal executive agencies. Since 2015, when the US Senate passed into the hands of the Republican Party, the new committee Chairman Richard Burr has led efforts to suppress the report, declaring that the report should become a “footnote to history.”

In a statement released June 2, Burr declared, “I have directed my staff to retrieve copies of the congressional study that remain with the executive branch agencies and, as the committee does with all classified and compartmented information, will enact the necessary measures to protect the sensitive sources and methods contained within the report.”"

And see: Trump buries Senate torture report: Reprieve comment (Reprieve US, link)

UK: Former chief constable wins legal challenge over Hillsborough resignation (The Guardian, link):

"A former chief constable has won a high court challenge over a decision requiring him to resign.

Lawyers for David Crompton claimed there was no “fair or reasonable basis” for forcing the officer out of office in South Yorkshire.

Crompton attacked a decision taken by Dr Alan Billings, the region’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), after inquest findings into the deaths at the Hillsborough stadium disaster 27 years before.

Lady Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Garnham, sitting in London, ruled in Crompton’s favour on Friday.

The judges quashed a number of decisions made by Billings."

USA: Secret Algorithms Threaten the Rule of Law (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Predicting and shaping what you will do next—whether as a shopper, worker, or voter—is big business for data-driven firms. But should their methods also inform judges and prosecutors? An ambitious program of predicting recidivism among convicts is bringing algorithmic risk assessments to American courthouses.

These assessments are an extension of a trend toward actuarial prediction instruments for recidivism risk. They may seem scientific, an injection of computational rationality into a criminal justice system riddled with discrimination and inefficiency. However, they are troubling for several reasons: many are secretly computed; they deny due process and intelligible explanations to defendants; and they promote a crabbed and inhumane vision of the role of punishment in society."

UK: May to forge 'government of certainty' with DUP backing (BBC News, link):

"Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists that can provide "certainty" for the future.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party could form a "legitimate" administration after winning the most seats and votes.

She said she would work with "friends and allies" in the DUP to take forward Brexit, saying "let's get to work".

The Tories are eight seats short of the 326 needed to command a majority."

See: So, who are the DUP? (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The most likely coalition partners for a floundering Conservative party sit on the hard right fringe of British politics.

The Democratic Unionist Party now look like the Tories preferred coalition partners. The DUP, which is the biggest Unionist (ie pro-UK) party in Northern Ireland, are often treated as though they are just the same as the other Unionist party they have essentially replaced – the Ulster Unionists. But while the UUP have a long running relationship with the Tories, and are a centre right party, the DUP are another thing entirely. The idea that they are near power in Westminster should worry us all. Here are some things you need to know."

EU: Commission to present legal proposal on police access to cloud data; data retention discussion continues

The European Commission is planning to present a legal proposal on easing police access to data hosted in the cloud "by the end of this year or early 2018", according to a Commission spokesperson, acting on a "sense of urgency" raised by justice and interior ministers at the JHA Council in Luxembourg yesterday.

Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life (Cracked Labs, link):

"Report: How thousands of companies monitor, analyze, and influence the lives of billions. Who are the main players in today’s digital tracking? What can they infer from our purchases, phone calls, web searches, and Facebook likes? How do online platforms, tech companies, and data brokers collect, trade, and make use of personal data?

In recent years, a wide range of companies has started to monitor, track and follow people in virtually every aspect of their lives. The behaviors, movements, social relationships, interests, weaknesses and most private moments of billions are now constantly recorded, evaluated and analyzed in real-time. The exploitation of personal information has become a multi-billion industry. Yet only the tip of the iceberg of today’s pervasive digital tracking is visible; much of it occurs in the background and remains opaque to most of us.

This report by Cracked Labs examines the actual practices and inner workings of this personal data industry. Based on years of research and a previous 2016 report, the investigation shines light on the hidden data flows between companies. It maps the structure and scope of today’s digital tracking and profiling ecosystems and explores relevant technologies, platforms and devices, as well as key recent developments."

See the full report: Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life: How Companies Collect, Combine, Analyze, Trade and Use Personal Data on Billions (link to pdf)

SPAIN-EU: Cautious Openness: the Spanish Constitutional Court’s approach to EU law in recent national case law (European Law Blog, link):

"In recent months, the Spanish Constitutional Court (SCC) has issued a series of decisions related to EU law that show an interesting combination of both openness toward the European legal order and a certain degree of apprehension to the growing role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in constitutional matters. In these cases the SCC has arrived at fairly pro-EU results: the SCC decided that preliminary references from Spanish courts to the CJEU take precedence over constitutional questions submitted to the SCC, and that a non-transposed, directly-effective EU Directive can be taken as a factor in the interpretation of a constitutional provision. But, as discussed below, the details subtly suggest that the SCC does not fully agree with the ways in which the CJEU has asserted its institutional position, and prefers to avoid potential conflicts in the future."

UK-EU: Britain drops opposition to new EU military command centre

"The European Union approved a new military command centre for foreign training missions on Thursday after Britain dropped its opposition, the latest step in EU efforts to integrate its militaries and defence industries.

A day after the European Commission offered 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion) a year in support of Franco-German plans for greater EU defence cooperation, all 28 EU governments agreed for the command centre in Brussels to run training missions in Somalia, the Central African Republic and Mali."

UK-EU: Italian police say they ‘constantly monitored’ third London Bridge attacker (Financial Times, link):

"Italian police “constantly monitored” Youssef Zaghba, one of the three London bridge attackers, during his stays in Italy over the past eighteen months, a senior prosecutor said, in contrast to British authorities, who did not consider him to be a high priority.

Giuseppe Amato, the chief prosecutor of Bologna, said that while the 22-year old Italian citizen born in Morocco could not be charged with any terrorism-related crimes, he was considered at risk of radicalisation and trailed on the two occasions he returned to Italian soil.

“I don’t know what the English did, but we constantly monitored him,” Mr Amato said in an interview with the FT. “We constantly controlled him, verified him, interviewed him and evaluated him. That’s what is done normally in Italy.”

(...)

Italian officials said they warned British authorities of Zaghba’s case and inserted his details into the Schengen Information System, a European database containing the names of individuals considered to be at risk of terrorism. “The communication was exhaustive and complete,” Mr Amato said."

And see: Pressure rises on anti-terror chiefs as London Bridge toll rises to eight (BT.com, link): "The death toll from the London Bridge attack has risen to eight as pressure on British authorities intensified amid new questions about how the terrorists slipped through the net. "

EU-MALTA: €9.2 million in EU funds for police modernisation, border security projects

"€9.2 million in EU funds are being spent on modernising the Malta Police Force and on border surveillance, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and PS for EU Funds Ian Borg announced.

Mr Abela said five projects on border security, which is a priority, have been completed so far.

These include the acquisition of radios and biometric devices for border guards and modern equipment that can analyse a person’s unique physical characteristics, like fingerprints.

(...)

Mr Abela said the Malta Police Force is also benefitting from other projects falling under the EU Internal Security Fund 2014-2020.

These include the purchase of bullet-proof vests, riot kits and surveillance equipment; access to the Europol and Interpol databases; the Smart Policing project, which will see the Cyber Crime unit strengthened, the purchase of new forensic equipment; and the strengthening of the automated case management system."

See: Article in Border Security Report (in World Security Report, p.24, link to pdf)

EU: I’m So Angry in 261 protest signs (Iron Curtain Project, link):

"Wherever the I'm So Angry (I Made a Sign) Pop-Up Museum appears, we register visitors’ slogans, in search of an answer to the question what Europeans want for the future. Watch them here!"

See: I’m So Angry (I Made a Sign) Pop-up Museum (link):

"The I’m So Angry (I made a sign) Pop-up Museum is an exhibition that pops up for a short time in different cities through Europe. The exhibition tells the personal stories of people who joined one of the protests that shaped Europa. It shows the symbols they used and asks the question: what are we willing to fight for nowadays.

A protest is a powerful tool for the powerless. When the difference between the dreamed future and daily reality becomes insurmountable, people revolt. They awake from their lethargy or overcome their fear and decide to fight for their ideals. Newspapers and television channels spread the images of their protests. We see masses of demonstrators, moving as a single organism, but when you look closer, you see individuals. A student of mathematics, a mother with her child, a retired steelworker, a middle-aged man who has just lost his job; people who, independently of each other and for their own reasons, decided that that day, their patience had come to an end."

Serbia-Hungary police cooperation deemed "excellent" (b92, link):

"Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic spoke on Thursday in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart Sandor Pinter about illegal migration.

They also discussed cooperation in protecting external borders and exchange of information in the fight against human trafficking, the Serbian government announced.

It was assessed during the meeting that cooperation between the two police forces in the fight against organized crime is on an exceptional level, while the excellent results achieved through the work of joint investigation teams in combating human trafficking have been particularly highlighted.

Stefanovic and Pinter concluded that the involvement of police officers from EU countries, among them those from Hungary, who are, together with Serbian colleagues, securing Serbia's borders, resulted in better control of migrations and prevented illegal border crossings and human trafficking.

Stefanovic said that the Serbian police in the last two years arrested more than 2,000 persons suspected of smuggling people and filed more than 1,200 criminal charges."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.6.17) including: Greek police continue to illegally return Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.6.17) including: Commission may launch sanctions over central European refugee relocation intransigence

ECHR: Refusal of Bulgarian authorities to register an association promoting the rights of the Muslim minority was not “necessary in a democratic society” (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of National Turkish Union and Kungyun v. Bulgaria (application no. 4776/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the refusal of the Bulgarian authorities to register an association promoting the rights of the Muslim minority in Bulgaria.

Referring back to its case-law, the Court found that there was no “pressing social need” to require any association wishing to pursue political aims to constitute a political party if it was not the intention of the founders to take part in elections.

The Court further noted that the domestic courts had not referred to any action of the association or its members which might have compromised the territorial integrity or unity of the nation, or any action or speech which might have been regarded as a call to hatred or violence.

It concluded that the refusal to register the applicant association had not been “necessary in a democratic society”."

See the judgment: AFFAIRE UNION NATIONALE TURQUE ET KUNGYUN c. BULGARIE (application number 4776/08, French only, pdf)

EU: EP approves fingerprinting asylum seekers from age 6 (ANSAMed, link)

"The Civil Liberties Commission of the European Parliament on Tuesday [30 May 2017] approved fingerprinting asylum seekers as young as six in order to facilitate reunification with their parents. Under current EU law asylum seekers can be fingerprinted only from the age of 14. The measure was part of a package of amendments to an overhaul of the Eurodac fingerprint database, which were approved with 35 yes votes, 10 no votes and 8 abstentions. The MEPs also greenlighted the start of negotiations with the European Council in view of a definitive agreement. Under the changes, detention of minors should be prohibited. In addition, unaccompanied minors who disappear from reception facilities should be recorded in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and reported as missing persons. MEPs also voted to give the European police force Europol direct access to the Eurodac data base in order to prevent terrorist attacks and common crimes. In addition to fingerprints, the system should also allow the search and comparison of facial images and other personal data, such as name and identity document number when this information is available."

EP press release: Asylum: MEPs tighten internal security and improve safety for refugee children (pdf)

EU parliament groups want inquiry into terror failures (EUobserver, link):

"Two main political groups in the European parliament are hoping to launch a special committee to probe failures by EU states in the fight against terrorism.

The joint-announcement on Wednesday (7 June) by the centre-right EPP and the liberal Alde groups comes on the heels of the latest round of terror attacks in Manchester, London and Paris.

A draft mandate seen by EUobserver calls for a 12-month probe into "potential faults and malfunctions" that allowed the terror attacks to be carried out in Belgium, France and Germany.

It also wants to analyse, among other things, the lack of police cooperation and problems in cross-border investigations. Hearings with sensitive or secret information would be held behind closed doors. "

UK: Another round of criticism from UN Special Rapporteur for policies on counter-terrorism, surveillance and undercover policing

One of the final reports of the UN's former Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, follows up on a previous visit to the UK and offers further critique of the UK's counter-terrorism policies (in particular Prevent), surveillance (the Investigatory Powers Act) and undercover policing, noting with regard to the latter that the damage caused by police infilitration of non-violent protest groups "can partly be remedied by imposing real accountability and transparency for the survivors, together with full reparation." The report also examines a number of other issues including the policing of anti-fracking protests and restrictions on the work of civil society groups.

EU: Why Schengen deserves to be saved (EUobserver, link):

"By exploiting latent fears of uncontrolled immigration across open borders, far-right parties such as the Danish People’s Party, France's Front National, and the UK Independence Party (Ukip) have managed to turn the Schengen area into a political hot potato despite its manifold benefits.

Macron’s victory in France has temporarily neutralised this political threat, but he himself has repeatedly assessed that the work is not over.

An open Europe must successfully protect its citizens against terrorist threats, aggressive powers, and internal dumping.

Otherwise, the narrative being pushed by illiberal and anti-European populists will regain traction sooner rather than later."

See: The Economist Cost of Rolling Back Schengen (pdf) by Vincent Aussiloux and Boris Le Hir: "This paper looks at the economic consequences of re-establishing permanent border controls within the Schengen Area."

Polish court rules presidential pardon was premature (Radio Poland, link):

"Poland's supreme court has indicated that the president's 2015 pardon of a former anti-corruption agency chief was premature because his jail sentence was still being appealed.

In 2013, Law and Justice (PiS) MP Mariusz Kaminski – who served as head of the anti-corruption agency from 2006 and 2009 – was found guilty of overstepping his powers.

He was sentenced to three years in prison and was banned from holding public office for ten years.

Polish President Andrzej Duda pardoned Kaminski even though he was still appealing his sentence at the time. The case against Kaminski was then discontinued.

A supreme court judge said that the president interfered in the legal process because Kaminski was proven neither innocent nor guilty when he was pardoned, making a future ruling redundant."

EU: MORE FENCES: Lithuania starts erecting fence on border with Russia (The Washington Post, link):

"VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania has started building a fence on its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in an attempt to curb smuggling and illegal immigration and strengthen the EU’s external border.

State border officials on Monday kicked off construction works of the first segment of the 130-kilometer (80-mile) -long metal fence at the Raminiskiu village in a ceremony attended by the Lithuanian Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas.

The installation comes complete with electronic surveillance systems and drones. It will cost some 3.6 million euros ($3.9 million) in total and is to be completed by the end of this year."

UK: Danny Sewell-French: 'Failures' contributed to Blackburn death in care (BBC News, link):

"Staff at a children's home missed opportunities to find drugs and alcohol on a 16-year-old boy who died in their care, an inquest has heard.

Danny Sewell-French was found dead in his room at Cherry Tree Resource Centre in Blackburn on 2 October 2016.

He was intoxicated with a mixture of alcohol, morphine and buprenorphine.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, which runs the home, said it had since "rigorously reviewed" its safety procedures."

Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters (The Guardian, link):

"Consider for a moment how your life has changed thanks to digital technology. You can become friends with 2 billion connected people, chose your own news, and watch/date/order whatever you want, on demand. Infinite choice and control is now the norm, and yet formal politics has barely evolved since the days of Robert Peel. Our modern political system came of age in the industrial revolution, which was a time of massive organisations and centralised control. We are now, however, firmly in a new industrial revolution, characterised by endless choice, digital technology, data, automation and artificial intelligence. The economy, identity, political allegiances, perhaps even the essence of what it is to be human, are all starting to change, and our politics will have to change with it. The current set-up, including the populist right, will cling on for a while, like a legacy IT system that’s too pricey to update, but it will shortly become redundant."

USA: Customs and Border Protection entry/exit program pilot successful (Biometric Update, link):

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has found a feasible solution for a biometric entry/exit program, CBP Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations John Wagner told a congressional committee meeting on visa overstays last week.

As previously reported, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says that 629,000 visitors to the U.S. overstayed their visas in 2016 due to the lack of a biometric exit system.

A program piloted at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in which a facial image is captured and compared to a database without first reading the travelers passport, has processed 28,000 people with accuracy in the “high ninetieth percentile,” Wagner said."

England's forgotten armed uprising to be celebrated in Derbyshire (The Guardian, link):

"Britain goes to the polls this week almost exactly 200 years after the last armed uprising in English history, when a group of Derbyshire weavers and miners resorted to pitchforks and muskets in a futile attempt to overthrow by force the government that denied them the vote.

The uprising lasted only the length of one cold, rainy night and ended in public executions and beheadings, but Derbyshire is preparing to commemorate the bicentenary this weekend.

The Pentrich Revolution is little remembered now – certainly not taught in the local schools – and there is little trace of it in the cluster of villages 14 miles north of Nottingham where it occurred. But in 1817 it terrified ministers sufficiently for them to take extreme measures to make sure nothing like it ever happened again. It is a tale of violence and despair far removed from the common and placid image of Jane Austen’s England – the author died six weeks after the uprising."

EU: Legislative Tracker : an interinstitutional agreement on the new EU “Entry-Exit” system is approaching... (FREE Group, link):

"The rapporteur Agustín Dían De Mera García Consuegra stated before the LIBE Committee (11 May 2017) that progresses have been made during the “trilogue” negotiations and that the good cooperation between delegations will probably allow to come to a political agreement by the end of the summer. Two “political” trilogues as well as nine technical meetings have already taken place and a third political “trilogue” is scheduled for 31 May 2017. Needless to say no public recording is accessible on the debates which took place during these trilateral meetings"

Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey (FIDH, link):

"On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen. The refoulement was witnessed and the HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved Mustafa Can, his wife and their four children, as well as Yilmaz Erdogan, Fethullah Çatal, and one more man, whose name is still not known.

(...)

The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of our country."

EU: European Parliament analysis: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs: an overview (pdf):

"The interconnections between border management, migration and internal security have become more apparent recently in the context of high inflows of refugees and irregular migrants and of increasing terrorist activities in the EU. To address these challenges, the EU has taken steps to revise and develop the European information systems in order to improve the collection, processing and sharing of data among Member States and relevant EU agencies. This publication provides an overview of the existing and proposed European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. It discusses the legal basis, the purposes, the scope of data and access, the utilisation and the proposed changes for each information system, including issues of interoperability."

USA: NSA contractor facing 10-year Espionage Act sentence for alleged journalistic leak may have been tracked down by printer used

"Reality Winner, the woman alleged to have leaked classified information about Russian interference in the US election, could face up to 10 years in prison if the Trump administration pursues its complaint that she violated the Espionage Act.

The 25-year-old allegedly shared documents that reveal Russian intelligence agents hacked a US voting systems manufacturer in the weeks immediately before the 2016 presidential election."

USA-POLAND-GERMANY: US officials targeted in push for justice and accountability on rendition and torture

Reprieve US and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights are pursuing new legal cases seeking accountability and justice for torture carried out as part of the USA's "extraordinary rendition" programme.

COMMERCIAL SURVEILLANCE: I Bought a Report on Everything That's Known About Me Online (The Atlantic, link):

"On a recent Thursday, I waited for an email that was supposed to contain every personal detail the internet knows about me. The message would be from an online data broker—a company that collects and sells information that many people would hope is private. This includes browsing history, online purchases, and any information about you that’s publicly available: property records, court cases, marital status, social-media connections, and more. Facebook collaborates with data brokers for targeting advertisements. In some states, the Department of Motor Vehicles, among other agencies, sells information to brokers. Brick-and-mortar stores do, too.

(...)

Historically, data brokers don’t do nuance. Companies care about demographics: If they can get information that is in the right ballpark, it’s likely to suit their needs just fine. I thought opening my data would be like looking in a mirror, maybe a dressing room mirror under lighting that makes you think you should start taking many vitamins. Instead, it was like seeing an expressionist painting of myself. I caught glimpses of something I recognized, but everything was hazy and a little off.

The sight was a relief. Conversations and debates about privacy tend to take for granted that the technology invading privacy finds information that is correct. But while our data is collected aggressively these days, clearly companies still aren’t infallible. Maybe the death of privacy isn’t quite so near."

London attack: UK was warned about third attacker (BBC News, link):

"One of the London Bridge attackers was able to enter the UK, despite being placed on an EU-wide watch list.

Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian man who lived in east London, was named as the third attacker.

(...)

An Italian police source has confirmed to the BBC that Zaghba had been placed on a watch list, which is shared with many countries, including the UK.

In March 2016, Italian officers stopped Zaghba at Bologna airport and found IS-related materials on his mobile phone.

He was then stopped from continuing his journey to Istanbul.

The BBC understands he was not prosecuted but was listed on the Schengen Information System, an EU-wide database which includes details of potential suspects.

When Zaghba entered Britain, staff at passport control should automatically have been alerted by the Schengen system, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said.

"One unconfirmed report suggests that did happen, apparently when Zaghba arrived at Stansted Airport in January - but that border staff still let him in," he said."

UK: Theresa May's comments on human rights are 'reckless and misinformed', says Amnesty

Responding to Theresa May’s comments about changing human rights laws, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK section, said:

"Theresa May’s comments are reckless and misinformed.

"This is exactly the time that human rights must be protected and cherished, not attacked and undermined."

Turkey arrests Amnesty International head and lawyers in Gulenist sweep (Guardian, link):

"Police detained Taner Kiliç and 22 other lawyers on suspicion of ties to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen."

EU reassures Turkey over its €3bn refugee package (euractiv, link):

"The EU’s €3billion package to help refugees in Turkey will have been fully assigned to projects by the end of the year, the bloc’s envoy said Tuesday (6 June).

All the funds, part of a deal with Turkey to tackle Europe’s refugee crisis, will be fully assigned by the end of 2017, said Christian Berger, the EU ambassador to Turkey."

EU: Meijers Committee: Comment on the Draft Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (pdf):

"On 21 December 2016, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM(2016) 819 final). In this comment, the Meijers Committee wishes to express its concerns as to several aspects of the proposal. Moreover, with a view to future negotiations on the proposed Regulation, this letter contains a number of recommendations on how to respond to its troubling aspects."

UK: On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist (link) by Hillary Wainwright:

"Robin Murray who died late on Sunday exuded vigour and hope. And he inspired those around him with his spirit. Maybe as a resuIt I find myself resisting the sadness which threatens to overwhelm me now that he is gone. The tears well, but they refuse to flow. He was not one for a passive response of any kind. The only respite is to ring common friends for mutual comfort...

This is just one way in which Robin’s legacy of hope will live on with us and through us. In the intervening years, to give just one example, his restless and inventive energy pioneered twin trading and created the Fair Trade network that supports tens of thousands of small farmers in developing countries. "

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: Background Note (pdf):

"On Friday, ministers will take stock of the current situation on migration, in particular in the Central Mediterranean, and will discuss return policy. They will also touch upon the issue of improving the interoperability of information systems.

Ministers will take stock of work carried out so far regarding the proposals to reform the common European asylum system and will discuss the proposals on the Schengen Information System (SIS). The Council is expected to adopt a general approach on a proposal on a European travel and information authorisation system (ETIAS).

In the margins of the Council, the Mixed Committee (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) will take stock of work on the proposals on the SIS and on ETIAS. Exceptionally, the Schengen associated states will be present in the discussions on migration, return policy and information systems and interoperability.

Over lunch, ministers will discuss counter terrorism."

Council moves quickly to get interoperable centralised database operative

Among the issues to be discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June: "Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on improving interoperability of information systems." (Council)

See the Draft Council Conclusions on the way forward to improve information exchange and ensure the interoperability of EU information systems (LIMITE doc no: 9132-REV-2-17, dated 30 May 2017, pdf) which draws on:

European Commission: Seventh progress report on an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2017) 261 final, 16 May 2017, pdf), the High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability (HLEG) final report (pdf) and a Council discussion paper, LIMITE 8797-17, pdf).

Background: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020 (Statewatch) and EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases (Statewatch).

Council of the European Union: Eurodac

Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person.... (LIMITE doc no: 9879-17,100 pages pdf):

"identifying an illegally staying third-country national or stateless person and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes,"

Council developing its negotiating position with 62 Footnotes including Member State position.

"Delegations are reminded that the intention of the Presidency is to submit the modifications on the inclusion of scanned colour copies and the possibility to query Eurodac using alphanumeric data for approval of Coreper..."

EU judges may be asked to rule on legality of UK surveillance powers (Guardian, link):

"Fresh court challenge by privacy campaigners could impact the controversial Investigatory Powers Act.

EU judges may be asked to decide whether the intelligence services’ bulk collection of email data in order to prevent terrorist attacks is legal.

In a fresh challenge that could impact the Investigatory Powers Act, the campaign group Privacy International has argued in court on Monday that interception of social media that is not targeted and subject to sufficient safeguards is forbidden by a previous European judgment.

After a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the attack in London on Saturday, the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) said it was considering whether to refer the issue – concerning the use by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 of bulk communication data – back to the court of justice of the European Union in Luxembourg."

European media plurality at risk (New Europe, link):

"It considered four topical areas which could be of concern: basic protection of freedom (of main foundations for freedom of expression and media pluralism), market plurality, political independence and social inclusiveness."

CoE: Venice Commission on Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGOs: legitimate aims, but excessive obligations, disproportionate sanctions (link):

"The Venice Commission has published today its preliminary opinion on the Draft Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad of Hungary.

The Venice Commission acknowledges that the draft law pursues the legitimate aim of ensuring transparency of civil society organisations and may also contribute to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism."

See: Press release (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO)

The Council developing its negotiating position:

TEXT: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Consolidated text (LIMITE doc no, 9545-17, pdf): 17 Member States support "enhanced cooperation":

"Delegations will find in Annex a consolidated version of the draft Regulation, established with a view to reaching a general approach at the Council (JHA) of 8 June 2017....

Having regard to the notification by Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, by which those Member States on 3 April 2017 notified the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of their wish to establish enhanced cooperation on the basis of the draft
Regulation,"

And see: Latvia joins too: LATVIA: LIMITE do co; 9546-17 (pdf)

GENERAL APPROACH: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - General approach (LIMITE doc no:9476-17, pdf):

"Coreper is invited to agree to submit the draft text of the Regulation, as set out in document 9545/17, to the June 2017 Council, for the purpose of attaining a General Approach."

 EPPO - Financial issues (LIMITE doc no 9276-17, pdf):

"The model means that expenditure of the EPPO shall be borne by the Member States which participate in enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the EPPO."

FINANCE: European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) - Financial issues - Contributions from delegations (LIMITE doc no, 9278-16, pdf):

"Following the invitation of the Presidency to delegations to written comments on the issue of the financing of the EPPO, the Polish, Swedish and UK delegations have made the contributions in Annex."

Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Outstanding issues (LIMITE doc no, 9066-17, pdf):

"At the meeting of COPEN on 12 May 2017, delegations were asked to indicate all concerns they have with the current Council draft. The annex to this note enumerates all the issues thereby indicated, on which agreement could not be reached."

EARLIER DRAFT: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Presidency text (LIMITE doc no 8750-17, pdf):

"Delegations are invited to indicate whether they can preliminarily agree to the full text of the draft Regulation at the COPEN meeting of 12 May, or - if they cannot yet agree - which provisions they consider it is absolutely necessary to reflect further upon. In this context,"

and see: 8750-COR-!-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf)

Eurojust: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) - EPPO related provisions (Presidency document) (LIMITE doc no:9069-17, pdf):

"The partial general approach on the draft Eurojust Regulation agreed in March 2015 did not include any EPPO-related provisions, as the negotiations on the EPPO Regulation had not sufficiently advanced at that moment in time."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-4-17- 4-6-17)

Hungarian civil society victimized by Orban government (DW, link):

"Hungarian NGOs - especially those working with migrants - are facing stigmatization under a new law being pushed by Viktor Orban's government. DW's Ben Knight talks to some of those NGOs in Budapest."

Archives, race, class and rage (IRR news, link):

"Below we publish an excerpt of a commentary in the April 2017 issue of Race & Class, in which Colin Prescod (IRR Chair) examines the challenges of black heritage facing archivists today.

This is an edited version of a keynote speech to the annual conference of the Archives and Records Association 2016 in which a leading black British cultural curator, using the concept of ‘reparative histories’, charts his own involvement in and knowledge of recent milestones in black cultural heritage intervention in the UK. Referencing the London Mayor’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage, the museum world’s marking of the ‘2007 bi-centenary of the Act abolishing the Atlantic slave trade’ and the significant ‘No Colour Bar’ archive and art exhibition of 2015, he challenges archivists to understand the issue not as the need to simply ‘include’ Black experience, but to allow Black agency in the making of the record.""

European court launches new system for single judge decisions (CoE, link):

"A new system for single judge decisions with more detailed reasoning has been announced today by the European Court of Human Rights.

Its statement confirms that: “Following the entry into force of Protocol No. 14 in 2010 introducing the possibility for a Single Judge to declare applications inadmissible, the court initiated new working methods to tackle the massive backlog of clearly inadmissible cases."

European Parliament Study: An assessment of the Commission’s Proposal on Privacy and Electronic Communications (pdf):

"In this study we discuss weaknesses of the proposed provisions, and ways to improve these provisions. We recommend that the EU lawmaker pays extra attention to four points;

(i) location tracking; (ii) browsers and default settings; (iii) tracking walls; (iv) the confidentiality of communications.

Regarding those topics, the ePrivacy proposal does not ensure sufficient protection of the right to privacy and confidentiality of communications. Some provisions in the ePrivacy proposal offer less protection than the GDPR."

EU: Juncker: Death penalty in Turkey would mean end to EU accession talks (euractiv, link);

"The European Union should continue accession negotiations with Turkey but a reintroduction of the death penalty would clearly put an end to the process, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said."

France: A right not a threat: Disproportionate restrictions on demonstrations under the state of emergency in France (AI, link);

"In 2016, French authorities banned dozens of public assemblies using emergency powers and placed restrictions on hundreds of individuals to prevent them from exercising their right to freedom of assembly. Individuals not linked in any way to acts of terrorism are getting caught in the cross-hairs of the emergency measures. This report shows the disproportionate use of emergency powers to restrict the right to freedom of assembly in situations unrelated to any specific threat of attacks on the general population. Moreover, the report shows that French authorities often relied on unnecessarily resource-intensive strategies and used force disproportionately when policing public assemblies."

See: Report (pdf, link)

Germany: Uneven progress in treatment of detained persons and detention conditions, says anti-torture committee (CoE, link):

"In the report on its most recent visit to Germany, published today, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) praises progress made to improve the treatment of detained persons and detention conditions, but also found striking contrasts between establishments visited in different Federal States (Länder).

During the visit, carried out in late 2015, the CPT’s delegation heard no allegations of deliberate physical ill-treatment of detained persons by police officers whilst in police custody. However, some allegations were received – in particular from foreign nationals and persons suffering from a mental disorder – about excessive use of force by police officers at the time of apprehension (such as punches or kicks after the person concerned had been brought under control or unduly tight handcuffing)."

And: Switzerland: Commissioner welcomes progress on asylum, but the most vulnerable need better protection (CoE, Link);

"stop detaining migrant children arriving at Swiss international airports. Children, with or without their families, do not belong in detention” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after a three-day visit (22-24 May) to Switzerland, which included a visit to the closed reception facility in the international transit zone of Zurich airport."

May 2017

EU: Council of the European Union: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS )

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 9580-REV-1-17, pdf, 144 pages): The Council developing its negotiating position:

"Three outstanding issues were specifically discussed at the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee/Mixed Committee on 24 May 2017...

The Presidency proposal to require all third country nationals to hold a valid travel authorisation in case of airport transit (unless they require an airport transit visa or they are in possession of a valid visa) could be supported by a majority of delegations....

The Committee is therefore invited to examine and endorse the text as set out in the Annex to this note with a view to reaching a general approach at the JHA Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

The European Parliament is in the process of establishing its position on the proposal.... "

Earlier documents: 9580-ADD-1-17 (LIMITE. pdf) and 9580-17 (LIMITE, pdf)

DATA RETENTION: The judgment of the Grand Chamber dated 21 December 2016 in the two joint Tele2 Sverige and Watson cases: The need for a harmonised legal framework on the retention of data at EU level (pdf) by Xavier Tracol:

"On 21 December 2016....The Grand Chamber ruled that EU law does not allow a general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data. It also ruled that access of competent national authorities to retained data must be restricted solely to fighting serious crime and subject to prior review by a court or an independent administrative authority." [emphasis added]

Met ordered to disclose evidence in Welsh undercover relationships case (Police Spies Out of Lives, link):

"Judge in Court Hearing about Undercover Cop, Marco Jacob’s, abusive relationships orders Met Police to disclose evidence

Police have been avoiding and delaying disclosure in this case for several years."

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Difficulties for defence caused by infiltration and observation methods were counterbalanced by adequate procedural safeguards (Press release, pdf): The Court held:

"unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing) of the European Convention on Human Rights, on account of a lack of access to a confidential case file...and:

by four votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d) (right to examine witnesses) of the Convention on account of the applicant’s inability to examine undercover officers, or have them examined,"

EU: Meijers Committee: Comment on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on countering money laundering by criminal law (pdf)

"In the Commission’s proposal, the definition of criminal activity from which the property is derived (the 'predicate offences') has a wide scope. Whereas the Commission explains the necessity of the proposal mainly from the viewpoint of countering (financing of) terrorism, this is in reality only a small part of the proposal. Besides the list of EU-criminal offences, the proposal deals with ‘all offences as defined in the national law of the Member States, which are punishable by deprivation of liberty or a detention order for a maximum of more than one year..." [emphasis added]

EU: Council of the European Union: New EASO Regulation & SIS:Returns, biometrics and "inquiry checks"

New EASO Regulation: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010: State of play and guidance for further work (LIMITE doc no: 9563-17, pdf): 4-column document with present state of play in trilogues and sets out issues where there is disagreement between the Council and the parliament:

"the Presidency started negotiations with the European Parliament in January 2017. To date, four informal trilogues have taken place on 7 February, 8 March, 21 March and 2 May (continued on 11 May). In preparation for these informal trilogues, numerous
technical meetings with the European Parliament have taken place.... See the attached 4-column table (Annex II) including the text agreed in political trilogues."

See also European Court of Auditors report: Migration hotspots are working, but critical issues remain, say EU Auditors (Press release, pdf):and Full report (pdf)

SIS & Returns, biometrics and "inquiry chexcks": Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (First reading) & Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... Policy debate / Progress report (LIMITE doc no: 9595-17, pdf):

"This package is composed of three separate proposals, in order to respond to the different degrees of participation in the SIS of several groups of States (the so-called 'variable geometry')...

These proposals contain a series of measures aimed at maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of the system – which is the most used of the IT systems in the area of freedom, justice and security in the EU – by technical enhancements, focusing on end-users and giving access to more national authorities and EU agencies. In particular, more categories of data, including biometrics, would be inserted, including for search purposes, and new types of alerts, including alerts on return decisions, would be inserted...

Chapter IX of the proposal on police cooperation (15814/16) introduces a new form of check, the 'inquiry check', besides the existing 'discreet check' and 'specific check'." [emphasis added]

EU-UK BREXIT: European Commission: Working paper "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights" (pdf):

"Objective: For discussion at the Council Working party (Art. 50) of 30 May 2017.

Remarks: The attached working paper on "Essential Principles on Citizens' Rights" contains the main principles of the EU position in this regard, to be presented to the UK in the context of negotiations under Art. 50."

UPDATE: Near final version: Doc no: 9571-17 : (29 May 2017, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (LIMITE doc no: 9082-REV-2-17, pdf): The Council preparing to take new moves to enforce return and readmission policies especially for Africa through so-called "Partnership Frameworks":

"Considers that it remains necessary to improve the rate of return of illegally staying third country nationals as a matter of urgency...

Agrees that comprehensive, [gradual - deleted] incremental, pragmatic and tailor-made solutions are required in order to improve cooperation with third countries in the field of return and readmission, in line with the Partnership Framework approach;

Recalls the views expressed at the JHA Council of March 2017, and agrees on the need to consider the use of the necessary leverage by using all EU policy instruments and tools, including visa policy;

stronger coordination [could - deleted] should be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve cooperation of third countries on return and readmission. Concerted action by the Member States within the applicable legal framework should continue to provide the possibility for achieving results." [emphasis added]

See: European Commission belatedly make available: Africa: "Partnership Frameworks" report (Statewatch database) and Viewpoint; Migration, EU cooperation and authoritarianism (Statewatch)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23-29.5.17)

UK-EU: We need deal with the EU to combat terror, experts tell Theresa May (Guardian, link):

"Chair of Commons intelligence committee and leading security figures warn that Brexit threatens to deprive UK police of access to key European databases...

The UK’s full participation in European Union security and intelligence co-operation will be critical to the fight against terrorism after Brexit, leading British security experts have said, as Theresa May announced wide-ranging new plans to counter extremism.

The growing demands for the prime minister to face down anti-EU forces in the Tory party and make membership of bodies such as Europol, the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, a top priority, came amid fears that Brexit could leave the UK with inferior access to key European databases and deprive British police forces of vital tools in high-level, pan-European anti-terror probes."

And: Will the UK lose access to EU's crime-fighting database after Brexit? (Guardian, link)

Comment: To work with Europol. as Denmark has agreed. requires recognising the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

US might ban laptops on all flights into and out of the country (euractiv, link):

"The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said yesterday (28 May)."

Council of the European Union: Entry-Exit System (EES) and LEA access:

Entry-exit: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System (LIMITE doc no: 9468-17, pdf): 4-column document with Commission proposal, European Parliament, Council and "compromise" position:

"Delegations will find in the Annex the four-column table relating to the draft Regulation in the subject."

Law enforcement agencies access: Proposal for a Regulation establishing an Entry/Exit System (EES) to register entry and exit data and refusal of entry data of third country nationals crossing the external borders of the Member States of the European Union and determining the conditions for access to the EES for law enforcement purposes... (LIMITE doc no: 9465-17, pdf): 4-column document with Commission proposal, European Parliament, Council and "compromise" position:

"Delegations will find in the Annex the four-column table relating to the draft Regulation in the subject."

LEA access: State of play (LIMITE doc no: 9415-17. pdf):State of play and 4 column document: Sets out a series of differences with the parliament's position including

"The EP opposes the possibility to transfer information to third countries and international organisations for the purpose of returns, unless there is a decision by the Commission regarding the adequate protection of personal data in that third country or a binding readmission agreement. In particular, the EP opposes the possibility to transfer such information on the basis of an arrangement similar to readmission agreements, arguing that these are not binding, do not contain the necessary data protection safeguards, do not follow the institutional procedure for agreements and should therefore not be legitimised. The EP also insists on the explicit agreement and the provision of guarantees by the third country concerned to use the data only for the purposes for which it is transferred, and that such transfers should only be possible once the return decision is final, and subject to the consent of the Member State that entered the data."

USA: Secret court rebukes NSA for 5-year illegal surveillance of US citizens (repubhub.icopyright.net, link):

"U.S. intelligence agencies conducted illegal surveillance on American citizens over a five-year period, a practice that earned them a sharp rebuke from a secret court that called the matter a "very serious" constitutional issue.

The criticism is in a lengthy secret ruling that lays bare some of the frictions between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and U.S. intelligence agencies obligated to obtain the court's approval for surveillance activities.

The ruling, dated April 26 and bearing the label "top secret," was obtained and published Thursday by the news site Circa."

Italian riot police deploy tear gas at anti-G7 protest (Daily Sabah, link):

"Police deployed tear gas after being rushed by 20 to 30 demonstrators at an anti-Group of Seven (G7) protest near the site of the summit, according to a dpa reporter at the scene of the incident.

About 1,000 people had gathered in the southern Italian town of Giardini Naxos for the rally in Sicily on Saturday.

Prior to the tear gas incident, organizers insisted that their aim was to conduct a peaceful demonstration."

ITALY: Milan like Barcelona. Together, without walls, against the racist criminalisation of migrants and the poor. For an international network of antiracist cities (by S. Palidda)

"Following the example of Barcelona, where between 160,000 and 300,000 people mobilised on the past 18 February in support of rights for migrants and to promote an international network of cities against racism where immigrants will be welcomed, around 100,000 people participated in a demonstration in Milan on 20 May.

The appeal for the demonstration (https://www.20maggiosenzamuri.it/ in Italian, English, French, Spanish and Arabic) was launched by the Milan mayor's office, several personalities from all walks of life, 600 associations, NGOs and institutions as well as 70 Italian city councils."

The irregular border (ciutatrefugi.barcelona, link):

"Human rights. A report by Irídia, Novact and Fotomovimiento, subsidised by Barcelona City Council, details and denounces the racism, violence and illegality of migration control policies at the border areas between Ceuta and Melilla and Morocco."

See also: Frontera Sur (link)

EU: Challenge mounted to Court judgment on opposing access to the documents concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016

- the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction"

On 28 February 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected three applicants' cases requesting access to the documents held by the Council of the European Union concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. The Court argued that:

"the three actions as inadmissible on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the General Court held that the EU-Turkey Statement did not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside the Court's jurisdiction." [LIMITE doc no: 9148-17, pdf) [emphasis added]

On 23 April 2017 the three applicants lodged an appeal against the judgment on the general grounds that:

"the appellants claim that the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction. They request the Court of Justice to rule that their actions for annulment of the EU-Turkey Statement are within the Court's jurisdiction and to send the cases back to the General Court for a decision on the merits of their claims." [emphasis added]

Court of Appeal finds Theresa May acted unlawfully in denying refugees access to UK (leighday.co.uk, link):

"Court of Appeal rules that Theresa May acted unlawfully when Home Secretary in denying refugees access to the UK who have been living on a British Sovereign Base since 1998... In a unanimous decision the Court of Appeal has today (25 May 2017) found that Theresa May acted unlawfully by refusing to consider allowing entry to the UK to a group of refugee families stranded on the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) in Cyprus.

The unlawful decision was made in November 2014 when Mrs May was Home Secretary. "

See: Full judgment (pdf)

Brexit transparency is 'political play', says EU watchdog (euobserver, link):

"The promise by the EU to be as transparent as possible in the negotiations with the UK over its exit from the bloc is “political play”, said the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, at a press conference on Wednesday (24 May).

She spoke two days after the Council of the European Union, where national governments meet, had published a document that laid out rules on when to publish documents relating to the Brexit negotiations."

See: Council of the European Union: Guiding principles for transparency in negotiations under Article 50 TEU (pdf)

EU: New Data Protection Regulation: Commission: Statement by Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vìra Jourová one year ahead of the entry into application of the General Data Protection Regulation (pdf). See: The Regulation (link)

EU slams Turkey’s record on human rights in talks with Erdogan (euractiv, link):

"Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met senior European Union officials on Thursday (25 May) for talks that included Turkey’s human rights record following sharp disagreements between Ankara and Brussels on a range of issues.

The EU has expressed concern over the sacking and jailing of tens of thousands of soldiers, police, teachers and civil servants since a failed military coup last July. It has also criticized a revamping of Turkey’s constitution – backed by a referendum – that greatly expands Erdogan’s powers."

EU states back bill against online hate speech (euobservver, link):

"EU ministers on Tuesday (23 May) backed a bill that seeks to curb hate speech on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google's YouTube.

The move follows wider concerns over online radicalisation and the incitement to commit terrorist acts.

It also comes on the heels of a suicide terror attack in the UK that ended the lives of 22 people and injured 59 others following a concert in Manchester.

The EU bill still needs the support of the European Parliament before it becomes law.

But if passed, the tech giants will need to remove offensive content, posing broader concerns over free speech."

Statewatch Analysis: Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases (pdf) by Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy

The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against 'foreign terrorist fighters'.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18-22.5.17) including: Greece: cynical numbers game on refugee relocation

EU: Public access to Council documents: 2016 report (press release, pdf):

"Over 350 000 documents are listed in the Council's register, and over 70% of these are public and can be downloaded for free. That is one of the key points in the Council's 2016 report on access to documents which was approved by the Council on 22 May 2017.

During 2016, 22 671 documents were added to the register, of which 71%, or 16 181 documents, are public. The Council's public register was consulted around 380 000 times and attracted 9% of the Council's website traffic."

See: Fifteenth annual report of the Council on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (7903/17, pdf) and corrections: COR 1 (pdf)

Note: the statistics certainly sound good, but it remains the case that many Council working parties - including some dealing with legislation - produce no minutes/outcomes of their meetings; while legislative deliberations and discussions are frequently shielded from public view, particularly through the trilogue procedure.

SERBIA: Police blasted for not letting Roma children play in park (b92, link):

""In a video that appeared on social networks one can hear and see communal police officers not allowing Roma children to play in a park. To prevent children from playing in a park just because they're Roma is a brutal, chauvinist, and racist act," said Omerovic.

He added that "such scandalous and disgraceful behavior of the Communal Police of Belgrade is an unprecedented act."

"I ask the authorities to urgently determine the responsibility of those who publicly and knowingly violate the law, of those who won't let the children of our fellow citizens play in a park just because they're Roma. Evil must be recognized and immediately suppressed," said Omerovic. "

Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence (The Guardian, link):

"Facebook’s secret rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2 billion users can post on the site are revealed for the first time in a Guardian investigation that will fuel the global debate about the role and ethics of the social media giant.

The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm.

There are even guidelines on match-fixing and cannibalism."

SERBIA: Migrants and refugees in Belgrade evicted to camps

In early May volunteer group No Name Kitchen warned of the impending eviction of over 1,000 migrants and refugees living in disused buildings in Belgrade, who were recently removed by the government to camps, in some cases overcrowded and with poor sanitary conditions.

Council of the EU considers "introducing a legal link" between visa and returns policy

"The Council...

Recognises the importance of linking the negotiations of readmission and visa facilitation agreements...

Underlines the importance of introducing a legal link between readmission and visa in the Visa Code...

Considers that stronger coordination could be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve return cooperation of third countries on return and readmission..."

See: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (9082/1/17 REV 1, LIMITE, 19 May 2017, pdf)

EU: Combating Institutional Anti-Gypsyism: Responses and promising practices in the EU and selected Member States (CEPS, link):

"The notion of ‘anti-Gypsyism’ aims to refocus public policies addressing Roma discrimination in order to place responsibility for combating structural, historically-embedded and systemic forms of racism, discrimination and exclusion towards Roma squarely on state institutions and actors. This report examines the ways in which policies and funding combat ‘anti-Gypsyism’ in the European Union and selected Member States and assesses the added value of the ‘anti-Gypsyism’ concept, with particular reference to its institutional forms. It explores ways in which these institutional forms could be combated by identifying some ‘promising practices or experiences’ found in five selected EU Member States (Germany, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK). These ‘promising practices’ include reactive and proactive measures organised around four main themes: i) national, regional and local institutional responses; ii) training and education activities; iii) access to justice and effective remedies; and iv) media, public attitudes and political discourse."

UK: The Conservative Party Manifesto and the Constitution (Public Law for Everyone, link):

"The Conservative Party — which, barring an electoral surprise that would make the election of Donald Trump look pedestrian, will form the next UK administration — has published its manifesto. What does it reveal about the constitutional aspects of the party’s programme for government?

(...)

...a new Conservative Government “will ensure that the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons”. The threat is implicitly clear. It is also pertinent. As the UK stands on the cusp of Brexit, the “Great Repeal Bill” will entail an unprecedented conferral of legislative power upon the executive government, and the role that Parliament — including the House of Lords — must play in scrutinising the use of that power is plain. That Parliament should embark upon that task against the backdrop of an implicit threat to the House of Lords should it deign to stand in the Government’s way is, to put the point mildly, regrettable."

Emphasis added. See also: The White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill: Invasion of the Parliamentary Control Snatchers (April 2017, pdf) by Steve Peers

NORTHERN IRELAND: Brexit appears to mean taking back control of everything but border (Belfast Telegraph, link):

"Tacitly accepted, if not wholly endorsed, by Leavers and Remainers alike in the Conservative and Labour parties in the months since the referendum result, "taking back control" has gradually become the lingua franca of Brexit. Consequently, there has been little practical opposition to the Government's hard Brexit plan.

On borders and immigration specifically, analysis of each party's election manifesto would suggest there is little disagreement among the main parties in this area.

It is rather striking therefore that, to date, nobody within either the Government or on Opposition benches has yet been able to articulate a plausible plan for taking back control of the only land border that the UK shares with the EU: the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Contrary to the Government's long-established and oft-stated ambition that a hard border in Ireland should be avoided, the lack of any credible proposal as to how this might be achieved tends to suggest a distinct lack of control."

UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Picket against spycop Marco Jacobs’ abuse (COPS, link):

"Court cases against the police for abusive undercover relationships continue, and on Tuesday 23rd May 2017 the South Wales Case has a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. Show your support at a picket outside the court!

Two women and one man are suing The Metropolitan Police, South Wales Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers over sexual abuse committed by an undercover police officer in Cardiff – “Marco Jacobs”.

In conducting these abusive and degrading relationships, the police have demonstrated institutional sexism against women, and institutional prejudice against campaigners. The undercover policing scandal shows an utter contempt for our democratic right to participate in social justice campaigning.

You and your friends are needed to be there, to show that these issues are important to us all."

EU: Is the refugee crisis going to disappear? Is the Council Presidency playing a cynical numbers game with the figures - or are we going to see mass returns?

There are currently 62,184 refugees in Greece.
The Council says that: 20,000 refugees in Greece are deemed eligible for relocation but are 13,758 refugees on the Greek islands, 28,426 on the mainland and those still arriving going to be subject to mass returns?

Book review: Refuge: Transforming a broken refugee system. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, March 2017 by Frances Webber:

"when you dig beneath the benevolent surface, the book's message is profoundly objectionable, and dangerous. For the authors' take on the crisis of displacement wilfully ignores the role of the global economy, and their vision of autonomy for refugees is working for multinational corporations in special economic zones coupled with a ban on travelling outside their region of origin - a sort of captive reserve army of labour. It is hard to see the autonomy in that."

Sweden: And now, under-the-skin RFID tags replace train tickets in Europe (Privacy News Online, link):

"The Swedish State Railways has decided to accept under-the-skin RFID tag implants for ticket purchases, arguing it enhances ticketless travel better than having your ticket in your mobile. Actually, they didn’t argue that at all. They just said “we’re digital” and “it works” as if that would justify the rest."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection.. Period of Validity of Residence Permits issued to Refugees and Beneficiaries of Subsidiary Protection = Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 9001-17,pdf):

"The Presidency proposed that both permits would thereafter be renewed in accordance with national legislation, including for an unlimited period. Although there was some support for this Proposal, it was opposed by those Member States which grant residence permits with a validity period of more than five (5) years to beneficiaries of refugee status, as well as by those Member States which grant residence permits with the same validity period of more than three (3) years to both beneficiaries of refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection status."

These are Africa’s most powerful passports (World Economic Forum, link):

"Visa-free travel is something many of us take for granted in today’s increasingly interconnected world. But for many Africans this modern luxury is much more of a lottery, with citizens of some African countries enjoying similar travel rights to Europeans, while others fare little better than residents of war-torn Syria."

UK: HSBC voice recognition system breached by customer's twin (Guardian, link):

"BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons said his non-identical twin brother was able to fool system and gain access to account.

HSBC’s voice recognition ID system used by half a million customers for secure access to their bank accounts has been breached by a customer’s twin mimicking his voice.

When it was launched last year HSBC’s head of retail banking claimed the new system was secure, insisting that “just like your fingerprint, your voice print is unique”."

European Parliament Study: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS): Border management, fundamental rights and data protection (pdf):

"It provides an assessment of the necessity, implications in relation to interoperability, and impact in terms of fundamental rights, including the right to personal data protection and the right to privacy. It finds that the necessity of ETIAS has not been made, that the proposal is likely to introduce interoperability through the backdoor, and that it constitutes a significant interference with fundamental rights."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 18 May 2017: Press release (pdf) Includes: Common European asylum system reform, Fight against serious and organised crime, Aviation security, Counter-terrorism and Migration:

"During a joint dinner, home affairs and development ministers addressed the external dimension of migration, to ensure full coherence between migration and development policies."

"B" points Agenda for discussion (pdf) and "A" points -adopted without discussion - non-legislative (pdf)

EU: Restrictive refugee relocation scheme means new lower targets might be met

The European Commission has published its 12th report on the relocation of refugees from Greece and Italy and progress made in the EU's resettlement scheme, highlighting that while "the number of persons relocated so far in 2017 is almost as many as in the whole of 2016.... the current pace of relocation is still below what is needed to meet the targets set to ensure that all those eligible are relocated over the coming months."

New Police Scotland stop and search code in force (BBC News, link):

"The code received widespread support during consultation and was unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament.

It was introduced following concerns over the number of people being searched without a legal basis.

The code says statutory searches must be "necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law". There is also specific guidance on dealing with children and vulnerable adults. Non-statutory or "consensual" stop-and-searches are now banned entirely."

See: Code of Practice on the Exercise by Constables of Powers of Stop and Search of the Person in Scotland (pdf) and The report of the dvisory Group on Stop and Search (pdf)

Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised (IRR News, link):

"As petitions are launched to stop the criminalisation of humanitarians, calls for the European Commission to intervene to change the law intensify."

EU: Council: new criteria for Schengen alerts on terrorism-related "discreet or specific checks"

"The Presidency therefore invite delegations to take into account the changes made and agree on this list of criteria as an initial joint understanding of when a person should be entered in the SIS for discreet or specific checks in the context of terrorism or terrorism-related activities for inclusion in the catalogue of recommendations and best practices for SIS.

Finally, the Presidency would invite Europol and European Border and Coast Guard Agency to continue working on updating the list of criteria referring to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) or terrorism-related activities involving as much as possible experts in the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the exchange of supplementary information, whenever this is necessary."

See: Joint Understanding on the list of criteria on when a person should be included in the SIS in relation to terrorism and terrorism-related offences (8806/17, LIMITE, 11 May 2017, pdf)

UK: How the Anthony Grainger inquiry shone a light on policing the murky world of serious organised crime (Manchester Evening News, link):

"Mistakes were made, some of them serious ones. The force is braced for severe criticism about the way it handled the operation and its aftermath, particularly how armed police could be given such wildly inaccurate intelligence overstating their targets’ potential for armed violence.

Five years ago, a policeman known to the inquiry only as Q9 killed Grainger by firing a single bullet from his powerful Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine gun.

Grainger, a 36-year-old convicted criminal, was behind the wheel of a stolen Audi A6 estate in a car park in the Cheshire village of Culcheth. Q9 had been told Grainger and his team were armed and poised to commit a robbery, but no gun, or any weapon, was found: so a police officer had shot dead an unarmed suspect and leaving his two children without a father."

UK: General Election 2017: Partner of abducted Andy Tsege stands against Theresa May in Maidenhead (Islington Gazette, link):

"The partner of abducted Upper Holloway man Andy Tsege feels so hopeless about his illegal imprisonment that she has resorted to standing against the Prime Minister in next month’s general election.

Yemi Hailemariam, of St John Street, is standing in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency. Her ultimate aim is to secure a meeting with Mrs May, nearly three years since Andy was jailed in his native Ethiopia.

Andy, 62, is a human rights activist who fled to the UK in 1979, becoming a citizen and making a new life in Islington. But at a trial in his absence in 2009, he was given a death sentence. And in June 2014, while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea, Andy was abducted at an airport in Yemen."

Traffickers and smugglers exploit record rise in unaccompanied child refugees (The Guardian, link):

"A record increase in the number of refugee and migrant children travelling alone has left many exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of traffickers and opportunists.

At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in 80 countries in 2015-16, a rise of almost 500% on the 66,000 documented in 2010-2011, according to a Unicef report published on Wednesday.

The central Mediterranean passage is one of several migration routes identified as particularly dangerous for children. More than 75% of the 1,600 14- to 17-year-olds who arrived in Italy reported being held against their will or forced to work."

See the report: A child is a child: Protecting children on the move from violence, abuse and exploitation (pdf):

"Among the millions of children on the move worldwide, many – including hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied children and adolescents – undertake dangerous journeys. This report shows how the lack of safe and legal pathways for refugee and migrant children feeds a booming market for human smuggling and puts them at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. Building on recent UNICEF policy proposals, it sets out ways that governments can better protect these vulnerable children."

EU: Development serving the purpose of migration control (EUobserver, link) by Bob van Dillen:

"Last November, NGOs gave a guarded welcome to the European Commission’s proposals for a major overhaul of the EU’s development policy framework, which should guide the EU development efforts until 2030.

One of our key concerns was that – despite the rhetoric that Europe is serious about addressing poverty and inequality – a series of earlier EU policy proposals for cooperation with third countries had rather given priority to short-term domestic priorities, including migration objectives.

We are extremely worried that such policy objectives have now also been included in the new EU Consensus on Development.

Building on its 2016 Migration Partnership Framework with third countries, the EU will agree to use its development cooperation, policies, instruments and budgets to promote migration management and border control.

Development cooperation will also be made conditional on the cooperation of the partner countries in the areas of return, readmission and reintegration of their nationals, while the EU is willing to agree to “maximising the synergies and applying the necessary leverage by using all relevant EU policies, instruments and tools, including development and trade”."

EU: European Parliament briefing: Revision of the Blue Card Directive (pdf)

"Attracting highly qualified immigrants to Europe has been one of the EU's key priorities for several years. However, up until now the EU has not been as successful as other OECD countries. This demand for workers is expected to increase due to the increasing shortage of certain skills and the aging of the EU’s population.

The proposed directive, which would replace the 2009 Blue Card Directive, increases the attractiveness of the EU highly skilled migration scheme by expanding its scope, lowering criteria for admission, expanding the rights of beneficiaries, and abolishing parallel national schemes.

Stakeholders and experts agree with some proposed changes, while others have received more criticism (for example, the abolition of national schemes). Both EU advisory committees have issued opinions and some national parliaments have made comments on the proposal. The Council started work on the proposal in July 2016."

And see: Council moving towards its negotiating position, documentation from May and April 2017 (Statewatch News Online.

EU: European Parliament calls for action on rights and democracy in Hungary

The European Parliament yesterday (17 May) adopted a resolution condemning "a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights over the past few years" in Hungary, and calling for the start of the Article 7(1) procedure, which can end in the suspension of the EU voting rights of a state in breach of the EU's fundamental values.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.5.17) including: Commission takes first steps against Hungary asylum law - for the second time

Frontex: minutes of all Management Board meetings, May 2014-February 2017

Minutes from all the meetings of the Management Board of Frontex held between May 2014 and February 2017, obtained through an access to documents request to Frontex.

UK: Cage director charged under Terrorism Act after failing to hand over passwords (The Guardian, link):

"The international director of Cage, Muhammad Rabbani, has been charged under the Terrorism Act after refusing to hand over passwords to his laptop at Heathrow airport.

Rabbani, who regards it as a privacy v surveillance test case, said he intended to fight the charge. “I am innocent of these charges that have serious implications for journalists, lawyers and human rights,” he said.

He is due to appear at Westminster magistrates court on 20 June.

Rabbani, 35, from London, is involved through Cage in investigating torture cases. He said he was stopped at Heathrow in November returning from one of the Gulf states where he had been investigating a torture case allegedly involving the US."

Italian commission says more controls needed on aid groups rescuing migrants (Reuters, link):

"An Italian parliamentary commission said on Tuesday more controls needed to be imposed on humanitarian organisations that are taking an increasingly significant role in rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean.

In a series of non-binding recommendations, the commission also said that Malta and Tunisia should do more to help Italy tackle the huge numbers of migrants who are using Libya as a springboard in search of a better life in Europe.

The Senate Defence Committee launched the inquiry earlier this year amid accusations that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were colluding with people smugglers to help with search and rescue operations close to the Libyan coast.

In their conclusions, parliamentarians said no NGO groups were under investigation, but they called for them to be put under greater scrutiny, saying their ship crews and financial backers should be registered with authorities.

They also suggested that police should travel aboard NGO vessels -- something most humanitarian groups have rejected."

EU: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020

In its latest report on the 'Security Union', the European Commission has called on the Council and the European Parliament to ensure that current proposals on police and border control databases are agreed swiftly, and has announced its intention to publish a host of new legal proposals - including one on the "interoperability" of EU databases and information systems "as soon as possible" to ensure 'one-click' searches of multiple systems, the establishment of a "shared biometric matching service to enable searches across different databases holding biometric data", and a "common identity repository" of alphanumeric identity data.

EU: Commission takes first steps against Hungarian asylum law - for the second time

Following the passing of draconian new asylum legislation in Hungary, the European Commission has taken the first step in initiating infringement proceedings against the country by issuing a "letter of formal notice" - just as it did in December 2015, with the same warning that if no response is received in two months then "the Commission may decide to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure," which can ultimately end up in the European Court of Justice.

UK: The seven security firms that made it onto the FT1000 (IFSEC Global, link):

"Seven security firms have made it into the FT1000, the Financial Times’ listing of Europe’s highest growth companies.

All but two – the others were based in Germany and Ireland – were based in the UK."

Why are there still British military bases in Cyprus? (New Internationalist, link):

"The continued division of Cyprus suits Britain’s geopolitical interests, as well as those of world powers that see the Mediterranean island as a useful pawn in a longstanding game of chess. Darren Loucaides reports from a country that wants to determine its own future."

Serbian authorities should acknowledge Srebrenica massacre as genocide, eradicate racism among football fans, and address violence against Roma and LGBT (ECRI press release, link)

"Strasbourg, 16.05.2017 – Despite progress in anti-discrimination legislation, strong efforts to reconcile with the war past, and improvement of the situation of Roma, much needs to be done in Serbia to address the continued rise in hate speech, fight racism among sports fans, protect Roma and LGBT persons and step up the prosecution of war crimes, said the Council of Europe anti-discrimination commission in its new report published today."

See: ECRI report on Serbia (fifth monitoring cycle) (pdf)

USA: Free Chelsea: Seven years ago, Chelsea Manning changed the world. Today she’ll see how (The Verge, link):

"When she’s released today, Chelsea Manning will have served one week short of seven years in federal prison, shuttled between facilities in Kuwait, Quantico, and Fort Leavenworth. The level of isolation varied from prison to prison, but certain restrictions have been constant. For the full length of her sentence, she’s been forbidden from accessing the internet or meeting with people she did not know before prison. In some, she’s been forbidden from having paper or even clothes.

See: WarDiaries.Wikileaks.org (link):

"WarDiaries.Wikileaks.org is a website which provides an easy way to search through the Iraq and Afghan War Diaries, which were made public by Wikileaks on 22nd October 2010. The documents are a set of over 391,000 reports which cover the war in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009. "

How HIV became a matter of international security (Mosaic, link):

"The rhetoric of national security has shaped the way activists and officials address epidemic diseases today, solidifying partnerships and funding streams. And though there are clear advantages to this large-scale, top-down approach of military involvement, there is much to learn about the best way to stop a pandemic."

EU: European Arrest Warrant: reports on Eurojust casework 2014-16 and Member States' prison conditions

EU judicial cooperation agency Eurojust recently issued two reports: one examining its casework in relation to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) between 2014 and 2016, and the other summarising a recent debate held by Member States' representatives at Eurojust on the topic of EAWs and prison conditions.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.5.17) including: 388 people die in one year trying to reach Spain

EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases

Statewatch Analysis: Who drives EU counter-terrorism? On the legislation of the European Union (pdf) by Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy:

The formal process of developing and implementing EU counter-terrorism law and policy begins with the heads of government, in the European Council, setting out strategic guidelines. Thereafter, the Commission produces proposals for laws and policies that are discussed by the Council of the EU (made up of government officials) and the Parliament. However, this formal task-sharing between the institutions of the EU does not say much about the power relations and impulses surrounding counter-terrorism policy.

EU: Plans to boost information-gathering and exchange by law enforcement authorities and agencies - implementation report

An updated report on the implementation of the Council's 'Roadmap to enhance information and exchange and information management' gives a detailed overview on the numerous initiatives underway that seek to increase the gathering, processing and exchange of data amongst law enforcement authorities in the EU.

EU: Council foresees "strong and effective legislation" on data retention, encryption and "online investigation powers"

The Council's latest version of its 'Cybersecurity Strategy Roadmap' gives an overview of current EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, and under the heading of "cybercrime" foresees a need for "strong and effective legislation" on data retention, e-evidence, mutual legal assistance, encryption, online investigation powers, cryptocurrencies and due diligence.

EU: Council pushes to "increase the feed and use of biometric data" in draft conclusions on security checks and irregular migration

"The effectiveness of cross-checking both regular and irregular migrants against security databases depends to a large extent on the availability of biometrics. Illegal border-crossings are often undocumented, which means that it is impossible to run a check against any security database unless biometrics are utilised."

UK: Deputy police and crime commissioner resigns following spycop reports

A deputy police and crime commissioner has resigned following reports that he worked as an undercover police officer in the early 1990s, infilitrating political groups and deceiving a 19-year-old woman into a sexual relationship.

Home Monitors Are Getting Smarter (and Creepier) (MIT Technology Review, link):

"Startup Lighthouse’s home assistant-slash-monitor can tell you who’s in your house, and what they’re doing.

A new smart-home assistant and security monitor can tell the difference between specific adults and spot kids and pets, and send you smartphone alerts about what they’re up to."

BULGARIA: No access to a lawyer for first three days under arrest: no problem, says European Court of Human Rights

"In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Simeonovi v. Bulgaria (application no. 21980/04), the European Court of Human Rights found:

- unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and
- by twelve votes to five, that there had been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to a fair trial/right to legal assistance)

The case concerned the absence of legal assistance for the first three days of the detention of Mr Simeonov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the conditions of the detention and prison regime imposed on him.

The Court found in particular that Mr Simeonov’s conditions of detention, in combination with the strict regime under which he was serving his sentence and the length of his period of imprisonment since 1999, had subjected him to an ordeal exceeding the suffering inherent in serving a prison sentence, which had amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, reiterating its recommendations in paragraph 280 of the Harakchiev and Tolumov v. Bulgaria judgment.

The Court also found that Mr Simeonov’s right to legal assistance had been restricted for the first three days of his police custody, but that that restriction had not irremediably infringed the criminal proceedings as a whole."

See: Lack of legal assistance in police custody did not irremediably infringe the fairness of criminal proceedings, against a person whose conditions of detention amount to in human and degrading treatment (press release, pdf) and the judgment: Case of Simeonovi v Bulgaria (application no. 21980/14, pdf)

ECHR: Danish chairmanship of the Council of Europe to weaken the European Convention on Human Rights (ECRE, link):

"Denmark, once a proud Scandinavian front runner in the global work to strengthen human rights, might have surprised some observers when it was announced in November 2016 that the government had formed a task force of civil servants that were going to lobby the other 46 governments in the Council of Europe in order to change the “dynamic interpretation” of the ECHR. Those closely acquainted with developments in Denmark, however, would have noticed a series of very restrictive legislative measures following the arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe in the autumn of 2015.

While the 1951 UN Refugee Convention does not contain a right to family reunification the ECHR’s Article 8 on the right to private and family life is a vital legal instrument for the protection of this right. When undermining the “dynamic interpretation” of the ECHR, practiced by the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, Denmark is in fact targeting the right to family reunification."

Italy, Germany call for EU mission on Libya-Niger border (EurActiv, link):

"The German and Italian interior ministers have called for an EU mission to be installed on the border between Libya and Niger to stem migrant crossings to Europe.

In a letter to the European Commission dated 11 May, of which AFP obtained a copy on Sunday (14 May), ministers Thomas de Maizière and Marco Minniti said they “are convinced that we all must do more” to “prevent that hundreds of thousands of people once again risk their lives in Libya and on the Mediterranean Sea in the hands of smugglers”.

Italy had already registered nearly 42,500 migrants coming by sea by mid-April this year and 97% of them arrived from Libya, the letter said.

It called for the setting up of “an EU Mission at the border between Libya and Niger as soon as possible”."

See also: Germany and Italy want EU to halt migrants in Libya (EUobserver, link)

EU: Council moves towards adopting position on audiovisual media services Directive

The Council of the EU is moving towards adopting its position on the audiovisual media services Directive, according to a recent document obtained by Statewatch.

SPAIN: 388 people die on the Spanish coasts in one year including 122 children

Between September 2015 and December 2016, 388 people died in their attempt to arrive in Spain by boat. 31.4% of them were children and 7.9% of them women, according to an extensive report by the NGO Caminando Fronteras. The organisation documents that, behind these deaths, beyond the risk implicit in the sea crossing, are deficiencies in the rescue efforts at the southern border that "give precedence to migration control over saving lives."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-14.5.17)

Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies... Preparation for a general approach (LIMITE doc no: 8431-17, pdf): Following on from the General Regulation on the processing of personal data comes an important follow-up facing a bit of a rushed procedure:

"The rules of the Regulation on data protection rules for Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and those of the General Data Protection Regulation should be coherent, aligned as far as possible and applicable as of the same date: 25 May 2018."

"State of play: "Changes to the Commission proposal are indicated in bold. DK, FI, SI, UK and the Commission maintain a general scrutiny reservation on this text..... The European Parliament is expected to establish its position on the proposal at its October Plenary session....

Conclusion: The Presidency invites the Permanent Representatives Committee to endorse the text of the Regulation on data protection rules for Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies as it appears in Annex with a view to the adoption of a general approach on this text at the Council (JHA) on 8/9 June."

UK: Police drop investigation into racist gang stabbing of refugee child and tell him 'don't go out alone at night' (Independent, link)

"Exclusive: Search for men who beat Eritrean boy in hate crime attack abandoned, in same week Britain First are accused of targeting asylum seekers in the area."

EU: Council of the European Union: Blue Card ("Legal" Migration) and ETIAS

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: 8912-17, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 139 Footnotes on Member State positions:

"the Presidency has introduced modifications in the text to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 15 May. These modifications are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with strikethrough."

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 8584-17, 10 May 2017, pdf) The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 21 Footnotes on Member State positions:

"Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the above-mentioned subject."

ETIAS: Previous amendments (LIMITE doc no: 8579-17, dated 10 May 2017, pdf): Substantial revisions:

"Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the recitals of the ETIAS proposal."

Note from: Czech and Belgian Delegations (LIMITE doc no: 9050-17, dated 11 May 2017, pdf):

"Delegations will find in the ANNEX the non paper prepared by the Czech and Belgian delegations,... In our opinion, there are still many outstanding legal and technical questions"

EU: Council of the European Union: SIS and the return of illegally staying third-country nationals

Proposal for a Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals - Revised compromise version of Articles 1 to 4 (LIMITE doc no: 8108-17, pdf):

"General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.

Changes to the original Commission proposal are marked as follows: new or modified text is in bold underlined. Deletions are in strikethrough."

EU: Council in a twist over data retention judgment

The Council of the European Union is really struggling to finds ways around the Court of European Justice judgment in "Tele 2 and Watson": See: Access criteria for competent authorities to retained communication data - Exchange of views (LIMITE doc:no 8798-17, pdf)

The Court essentially laid down that data could only be retained for the purpose of serious crime and terrorism, that there must be set out in law:

"ex-antereview, oversight, individuals' rights and security and protection of retained data"

And that there must be a legal requirement that the data: "concerned should be retained within the European Union." Thus personal data cannot be transferred to a third state (eg: the USA)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Despite the 2014 Digital Rights Ireland judgment the Council, the Commission and Member States have simply carried on ignoring the ECJ's verdict that the Data Retention Directive has been unlawful since it was adopted in 2006. In 2016 the "Tele 2 and Watson" judgment came to the same conclusions. For how long will they be allowed to flout the rule of law?"

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

With substantive reservations by Member States:

Revision 2 (LIMITE doc no: 8968-REV-2-17, 11 May 2017, pdf): With 186 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"New or modified text compared to the previous version of this document is to be found in Recitals (36a) and (41a), in Article 2 (9) and (14) and in Article 28 (2)."

Revision 1 of text (LIMITE doc no: 8968-REV-1-17, 10 May 2017, pdf): 186 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text and on the Presidency compromise proposals, orally and in writing, as well as explanations given by the Presidency, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

Proposal for a Regulation on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection... (LIMITE doc no: 8968-17, 10 May 2017, pdf): 187 Footnotes with Member State positions:

"The attention of the delegations is drawn to the fact that , following the JHA Counsellors meeting on 16 May, the Presidency intends to submit the text to Coreper and subsequently to the Council for a partial general agreement."

EU: Legislative Tracker : the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (FreeGroup, link):

"The European Commission, on 16 November 2016, has put forward a proposal (COM(2016) 731, 16.11.2016, 2016/0357(COD)) establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulation (EU) (EU) 2016/399 (the ‘Schengen Borders Code’), (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624.

This proposal is being negotiated as part of the Smart Border Package and aims to ensure a high level of internal security and free movement of persons in the Schengen area. The Commission didn’t conduct an impact assessment but published a feasibility study on ETIAS, conducted between June and October 2016."

EU: Think of the children: the ECJ clarifies the status of non-EU parents of EU citizen children living in their own Member State (EU Law Analysis, link):

"What immigration rights do non-EU citizens have under EU law? There are three main areas of EU law that address this issue: EU immigration and asylum law; EU treaties with non-EU countries; and EU free movement law. The latter area of law is focussed on EU citizens’ right to move between Member States, and so only covers non-EU citizens if they are family members of EU citizens who have moved to another Member State. Those rules also apply by analogy where an EU citizen with a non-EU family member has moved to another Member State, then moved back to that citizen’s home Member State. (These are known as Surinder Singh cases: see this discussion of the ECJ’s most recent ruling on such cases, from 2014)."

See: ECJ: A third-country national may, as the parent of a minor child who is an EU citizen, rely on a derived right of residence in the EU (Press release, pdf)

"The fact that the other parent, an EU citizen, could assume sole responsibility for the primary day-to-day care of the child is a relevant factor, but is not in itself a sufficient ground to refuse a residence permit. It must be determined that there is not, between the child and the third-country national parent, such a relationship of dependency that a decision to refuse a right of residence to that parent would compel the child to leave the EU."

EU: European Parliament: Reception Directive: Report: on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (pdf) Details the parliament's proposed amendments.

See also Council developing its position: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Council Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States' positions: "The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage."

Entry-Exit System (EES) Council of the European Union: Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (Doc no: 6960-17, pdf): "The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in underline and […]."

And see: The European Parliament's amendments to the Commission proposals (pdf)

A second, secret, trilogue meeting of the Council and parliament was held on 10 May 2017.

Germany makes the leap from hate crime to far-right terrorism (New Europe, link):

"Ahead of regional elections on Sunday, May 14, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, DW reports on a hate campaign against foreigners. Hundreds of letters marked with the regional council logo (LVR) are sent to unsuspecting households. The letters include references to women allegedly killed by refugees in Freiburg and Stockholm, complete with appalling photo images designed to shock. The regional council has filed criminal charges, while the national postal service is conducting an investigation."

Nine EU Governments Tell Poland to Restore Rule of Law (Liberties.eu, link):

"Nine EU governments at the UN yesterday called on Poland to restore its formerly independent and effective Constitutional Tribunal and protect the rule of law. But will EU ministers speak up again at next week’s General Affairs Council?"

Istanbul Convention: Action against violence against women and domestic violence: EU to join Istanbul Convention (Coe, link):

"The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, warmly welcomed today the European Union Council's decisions on the signing of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

By deciding to join the Istanbul Convention, the European Union confirms its commitment to combating violence against women within its territory and globally, and strengthens the existing legal framework and its capacity to act. "

See: The Convention (link) and Explanatory report (link)

EU demands urgent talks with Washington over laptop ban (euractiv, link):

"The European Union has demanded urgent talks with the United States over a possible extension to some European countries of a US ban on airline passengers taking laptops into cabins, saying any security threats faced are common."

GERMANY: Second German soldier arrested over 'false flag' plot to assassinate left-wing politicians in terror attack (The Independent, link)

"A second soldier has been arrested for allegedly planning a “false flag” terror attack to be blamed on refugees in Germany amid fears of a wider neo-Nazi network within the army.

The plot was exposed with the arrest of a German lieutenant, Franco A, who was found to be posing as a Syrian refugee in order to carry out a shooting attack targeting left-wing politicians.

One of his friends at Illkirch-Graffenstaden barracks in France has now been detained for allegedly covering for the soldier’s absences as he periodically returned to Bavaria to continue the ruse."

EU: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at the EP: Responding to the security threat landscape (Eurojust, link):

"Today, the President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, presented the Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at a hearing of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE Committee), followed by a question and answer session with LIBE Committee members on topics ranging from radicalisation, freezing and confiscation, the European Arrest Warrant, harmonisation of legislation, and complementarity with other agencies.

Ms Coninsx highlighted the operational, strategic and tactical work of Eurojust. The year 2016 has been challenging in the security context. Eurojust has stepped up its activities to counter terrorism, cybercrime and serious organised crime, including illegal immigrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. To do so, Eurojust connects and cooperates with practitioners’ networks, the centres at Europol and its network of judicial contact points in third States. Eurojust was involved in the judicial response to all the terrorist attacks in 2016, ensuring speedy mutual legal assistance in 2 306 cases, support to 148 joint investigation teams and assistance with the execution of more than three hundred European Arrest Warrants. Three hundred cases involved third States."

See: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 (7 MB, pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.5.17) including: 500 people turned back to Libya after altercation with NGO ship

GREECE: Between Deterrence & Integration (Refugees Deeply, link)

An in-depth examination of the attempts, succeses, challenges and failures in the integration of migrants and refugees in Greece:

"It has been tempting amid the fallout from Greece’s historic recession to dismiss the mishandling of the other crisis forced upon it – that of hugely increased refugee and migrant flows – as unavoidable or inevitable.

It is a temptation that Andreas Pottakis is determined to resist. A lawyer who took over as national ombudsman toward the end of 2015, a year that saw just over a million refugees and migrants enter Greece, he is putting the finishing touches to a report on the official response. It is expected to compound recent criticism of the Greek government and the European Commission, which, as by far the largest donor, has been party to all aspects of the handling of the crisis."

MEDITERRANEAN: Libyan coastguard turns back nearly 500 migrants after altercation with NGO ship (Reuters, link):

"Libya's coastguard said it had intercepted nearly 500 migrants packed onto a wooden boat and returned them to Tripoli on Wednesday after warning off a ship that was preparing to pick them up for passage to Europe.

Footage filmed by Sea-Watch, a non-governmental organization, showed a Libyan coastguard vessel coming within meters of its own ship as it sped to stop the migrants.

...Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesman for Sea-Watch, said the NGO had received instruction from Italy's coastguard control center in Rome that the Libyan coastguard would be taking over "on-scene command", and that the Sea-Watch ship had stopped to await further instructions.

"Without any warning, they crossed our bow on the way to the migrant boat," Neugebauer said. "They made an extremely dangerous maneuver. They nearly hit our boat, they endangered our crew.""

The EU is currently providing training to the Libyan coastguard. See: Why Cooperating with Libya On Migration Could Damage the EU’s Standing (Human Rights Watch, link):

"But Italy and the EU may also see another benefit [in giving training to the Libyan coastguard]: preventing arrivals on EU shores by getting the Libyans to intercept the boats before they reach international waters. Once there they could come into any contact with the EU operation in the central Mediterranean known as EUNAVFOR MED or Operation Sophia, the European border agency Frontex, or vessels operated by nongovernmental groups.

EU-flagged vessels are bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which bars returning anyone to a place where they face threats to their lives and freedoms. If migrant boats intercepted in Libyan waters by Libyan vessels are taken back to Libyan shores, however, the EU non-refoulement obligations would not be triggered. Libya has not ratified the international refugee convention, does not have a functioning asylum system, and, as stated above, subjects migrants and asylum seekers to abuse."

See also: Italy investigating some migrant aid workers for people smuggling (Reuters, link)

EU: Schengen area: Council recommends up to six month prolongation of internal border controls (press release, pdf):

"On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted an implementing decision setting out a recommendation to prolong temporary internal border controls in exceptional circumstances.

As from this date, when the previous decision expires, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway may prolong proportionate temporary border controls for a maximum period of six 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"

See: Council implementing decision setting out a recommendation allowing for the prolongation of temporary internal border controls (9040/17, pdf) and: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU (Statewatch News Online, 3 May 2017)

India's biometric identity cards spark privacy concerns (France 24, link):

"In India, debate is raging over what's been dubbed "the world's largest mass surveillance project". Over a billion Indians now have identity cards with unique ID numbers associated with their biometric information. The card is essential for many things in daily life, from opening a bank account to accessing welfare schemes. The government says the system will help stamp out corruption and increase digital transparency, but critics denounce a case of "Big Brother". Our correspondents report."

Here Comes the War for Commercial Drone Dominance (Bloomberg, link):

"At some point in the not-too-distant future, fleets of commercial drones are expected to swarm across American skies. Companies in a wide range of industries will employ unmanned vehicles for tactical advantage—inspecting infrastructure, surveying crops, maybe even estimating how much your new roof will cost.

And when these drones fly, a torrent of data will follow them like an invisible contrail."

Hungary Indicts 11 for Truck Suffocation of 71 Refugees (OCCRP, link):

"Hungary indicted on Thursday 11 suspected people-smugglers for the death of 71 refugees whose bodies were found two years ago in a truck in Austria during the peak of Europe’s migration crisis.

Between February and August 2015, prosecutors say the smuggling ring moved more than 1,200 people into Western Europe. From June, they were transporting immigrants to Germany and Austria on a daily basis.

The alleged ringleader of the group was a 30-year-old Afghan man, who funded and orchestrated the operation. He is believed to have personally profited at least €300,000 (US$ 328,000) from the venture."

And see: Italy arrests Libyan suspected of involvement in migrant murder (Reuters, link):

"Italy has arrested a Libyan man suspected of involvement in the killing last week of a migrant, who was shot dead when he refused to take off his baseball cap, police said on Thursday."

UK: An AI Will Decide Which Criminals in the UK Get Bail (Motherboard, link):

"Get arrested in Durham, England, and artificial intelligence could help decide whether you're held in custody or sent home—but it's not yet clear if the algorithm is more accurate than police officers when it comes to assessing whether someone is likely to reoffend.

Durham Constabulary has worked with academics from the University of Cambridge to develop the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART), an algorithm that analyses crime data and predicts whether an arrested suspect is likely to pose a risk if released from custody.

The tool is similar to those recently rolled out in the United States."

Leaked EU digital progress report reveals hurried changes (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission revealed some of the last-minute changes it made to its own assessment of its digital single market strategy, by publishing a draft document instead of the final version on Wednesday (10 May).

While EU commissioner Andrus Ansip was presenting the “mid-term review of the digital single market strategy” in the commission's press room in Brussels, the final report was supposed to be made public on the website of the commission, which is the EU's executive body.

Instead, the commission's press release linked to a word processor document, which showed a draft version, including changes made by two commission officials."

See: Big business interventions leave the EU Digital Single Market with more holes than Swiss cheese (Julia Reda MEP, link)

And: European Commission: Communication on the Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy - A Connected Digital Single Market for All (COM (2017) 228): draft and final version (pdfs).

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-10.5.17) including: racism plays a key role in exclusion and violations of migrants' rights

NETHERLANDS: Four arrested; €1 million seized in encrypted phone investigation (NLtimes.nl, link):

"The police arrested four people and seized 1 million euros in cash in an investigation into providers of smartphones that encrypt communication data. Investigators believe the suspects sold these encrypted phones to criminals, RTL Nieuws reports.

The encryption makes it harder for the authorities to listen in on conversations or read text messages from a distance. This trait makes encrypted phones extremely popular among criminals who want to hide their communication from the police.

Arrests were made in Diemen, Berkhout and Huizen on Tuesday. The million euros in cash was found in a building on Plantage Muidergracht in Amsterdam. According to Het Parool, this is the home of the prime suspects in the investigation. Houses and office buildings were raided in Amsterdam, Almere, Huizen, Zandvoort, Koggenland and Zeewolde by the police's High Tech Crime team."

European Parliament: studies on implications of Brexit for UK territories, EU and UK citizens, forthcoming negotiations

The European Parliament has recently published four studies examining various facets of the Brexit process: the legal, political and institutional situation in the UK with regard to the negotiations with the EU on Brexit; the consequences for Northern Ireland; the consequences for Scotland, Wales and Gibraltar; and the potential impact and consequences on the acquired rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

Statewatch Analysis: Germany: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation (pdf) by Heiner Busch:

The lorry attack on the Berlin Christmas Market on 19 December 2016 was the perfect reason for the German government to demand even stricter laws on counter-terrorism. With 12 people killed and 55 hurt it was the most severe individual attack since the neo-Nazi assault at the Oktoberfest in 1980.

UK: Leaked: The UK's secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors (The Register, link):

"The UK government has secretly drawn up more details of its new bulk surveillance powers – awarding itself the ability to monitor Brits' live communications, and insert encryption backdoors by the backdoor.

In its draft technical capability notices paper [PDF], all communications companies – including phone networks and ISPs – will be obliged to provide real-time access to the full content of any named individual within one working day, as well as any "secondary data" relating to that person."

See: Selective, secret consultations have no place in open Government (Open Rights Group, link)

UK: Police take crime fighting to the skies with launch of new drone unit (Wiltshire Times, link):

"WILTSHIRE Police will soon be taking the fight against crime to the skies with the launch of their Unmanned Aviation Support Group (UASG) pilot.

In 2016, Chief Constable Mike Veale began exploring an opportunity for Wiltshire Police to follow the lead of a small number of forces in developing an Unmanned Aviation capability to augment the provision provided by the National Police Aviation Service (NPAS).

The Chief Constable recognised that members of the Special Constabulary already had extensive experience in this area, and decided to harness their experience by asking these Special Constabulary officers to take the lead on the project. Special Superintendent Scott Bateman has led the project and swiftly brought the aircraft into service.

Members of the Special Constabulary and one regular police officer have been professionally trained in the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the proper licences have been obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Special Constables undertake a variety of different roles in their day jobs and have the same powers as regular officers. They all give at least 16 hours a month, many volunteer for many more hours, and get involved in all areas of policing. "

Italy builds new detention centers to speed up migrant deportations (Reuters, link):

"Italy will open new detention centers across the country in the next few months as part of its push to speed up deportations of illegal migrants, despite critics saying that the centers are not only inhumane but also do not produce the desired result.

Violent protests and difficulty identifying migrants has led to the closure of similar centers over the past few years, but on Tuesday the Interior Ministry asked regional governments to provide a total of 1,600 beds in such centers.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti says migrants must be detained to stop them from slipping away before they can be sent home."

ITALY/MALTA: 'You have to call Malta': recordings suggest Italy dallied while hundreds drowned (Times of Malta, link):

"By 1.48pm, Mohammed Jammo was on the verge of despair.

"We are dying, please! Don't abandon us! We have no captain, he ran away. I have no credit on my phone, please help," he pleaded with an official at Italy's rescue coordination centre in Rome.

By that time, Mr Jammo - a self-described Syrian doctor - and the hundreds of men, women and children aboard the rickety boat some 60 nautical miles south of Lampedusa had been waiting more than an hour for help to arrive.

The reply from Rome was chilling. "Yes, yes. You have to call Malta. You have to call Malta."

It would take a further four hours for a rescue vessel to make it to their position, despite an Italian warship being situated just an hour-and-a-half away. By then, Mr Jammo and the boat's other passengers were in the water. Hundreds were dead."

EU: The rise of post-national democracy: Macron, Brexit and the electoral reform of the European Parliament (European Policy centre, link):

"Emmanuel Macron is the first European leader to be elected on a platform that embraces the electoral reform of the European Parliament. He is convinced that, in order to change the Union, the EP needs greater legitimacy, and that such legitimacy will only come if the relationship between the Parliament and the electorate gets to be closer and more direct. In this Discussion Paper, Andrew Duff examines the likelihood of electoral reform of the Parliament, and whether or not the circumstances today are right to introduce a transnational list on the ballot in time for the European elections of May 2019. Many electors in the polling stations would be amazed; some would be confounded; but most would enjoy their first material prize from the privilege they enjoy as European Union citizens. European democracy would be refreshed. Mr Macron would have delivered."

EU: Racism plays a key role in migrants’ exclusion and violations of rights in the European Union

Brussels, 2 May 2017 – Anti-migrant political discourses and exclusionary migration policies are having a disproportionate impact on racialised migrants, according to a new report by the European Network Against Racism, covering 26 EU countries. Migrants are increasingly the targets of racist violence and speech; and face discriminatory policies and attitudes hindering their access to the labour market.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Girl Scout threatened after confronting neo-Nazi protesters in striking photo (The Independent, link):

"A Girl Scout has been placed under police protection after a photo showing her confronting a group of neo-Nazis during a rally in the Czech Republic went viral.

The Interior Ministry's centre against terrorism and hybrid threats said the move was prompted by threats against 16-year-old student Lucie Myslikova that appeared on Facebook.

The teenager was among about 300 protesters who confronted a rally of the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice on May Day, in the second-largest city of Brno."

And see: The story behind a powerful photo of a Czech girl’s contempt for neo-Nazis (The Washington Post, link)

EU-UK: Brexit: Against free movement? Let's start with those northerners flocking to London (New Statesman, link):

"Absolute free movement within the UK means that over 200,000 people move to London from elsewhere each year. This must stop!"

UK: Don't let Trump get his hands on our data - Sign now! (Open Rights Group, link):

"President Trump now has unrivalled access to data collected by UK intelligence agencies. And thanks to the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act, the UK is collecting huge amounts of data about all our lives in Britain and around the world - in bulk.

Trump has threatened to use torture, ban Muslims from entering the US, and expand use of the death penalty. He plans to ban most refugees and suspend visas for people coming from majority-Muslim countries.

The Investigatory Powers Act is a careless law, passed by MPs who didn’t consider future abuse. We can’t let Trump use our data to strip away basic liberties.

Can the UK really continue listening in on our lives and putting the data in Trump’s hands to use as he likes?"

Why We’re So Hypocritical About Online Privacy (Harvard Business Review, link):

"Social psychologists have known for decades that the relationship between attitudes and behaviors is complex, if not weak. This is true online as well as offline. For example, though you may be irritated by the retargeting ads that follow you around the web, it probably hasn’t changed your online shopping behavior. By the same token, the widespread anger and distrust reported by the general public when the Edward Snowden NSA saga erupted did not decrease internet use. In fact, it did not even increase the adoption rate of higher security settings on social media. In other words, even when people say they are concerned with online privacy, their concerns may not be strong enough to drive digital abstinence. While more people are using VPNs, ad blockers, and tracking blockers to reclaim lost privacy, they’re still in the minority."

Council of the European Union: Reception, Eurodac & Visas

RECEPTION: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Concil Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States' positions:

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage."

EURODAC: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person]... (LIMITE doc no: 8502-17, 94 pages, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament.

"Delegations will find in Annex suggestions from the Presidency for modifications of the text of the draft Eurodac Regulation."

VISA FORMAT: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1683/1995 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas (LIMITE doc no: 8510-17, pdf): Almost final Council text.

One of the first times that the impending BREXIT is referred to in Council decision-making:

"This proposal envisaged a "hybrid" Regulation, applying to the Schengen States and allowing for Ireland and the UK to opt in by reference to Protocol 21 TFEU. However, the Council Legal Service (CLS) expressed the view that the proposal constituted a development of the Schengen acquis, and therefore it was not subject to Protocol 21 but to Protocol 19. This means that Ireland and the UK cannot opt in. At the same time, Member States agreed that a solution would need to be found to allow Ireland to use the visa sticker format in one way or another." [emphasis added]

Swiss bank account 'spy thriller' case raises German ire (Reuters, link):

"erman politicians reacted angrily on Thursday to reports that Switzerland planted a spy in a regional finance ministry to find out how it obtained details of secret Swiss bank accounts, days after police arrested another man also suspected of spying.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and broadcasters NDR and WDR reported that the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FSI) had a mole in the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) finance ministry searching for details of German tax investigators. "

Hungary withdraws from negotiations over asylum law, dares EC to take legal action (Budapest Beacon, link):

"The Hungarian government walked away from the negotiating table as discussions with the European Commission broke down over Hungary’s asylum policy. In a defiant statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office on Wednesday, the government insisted that “Since the … negotiations were unsuccessful, Hungary’s government does not wish to change the rules concerning immigration, and if the Brussels commission launches legal proceedings, we stand ready to fight the legal dispute.”

With this, the government has given up on all negotiations with the European Commission over its asylum policy, and openly invited the EC to take legal action. The government’s statement made clear that it would not budge on the existence of the so-called “transit zones” erected along Hungary’s southern border, designed to hold asylum-seekers in detention and house them in shipping containers while their asylum applications are being processed.

The Commission opposes the existence of these transit zones, arguing they break EU rules that prohibit the detention of persons based solely on their request for international protection.... "

Director of Public Prosecutions asks Foreign Office to withhold evidence in torture case (Reprieve, link):

"Britain’s most senior prosecutor has asked the Foreign Office to apply to withhold evidence from two survivors of a UK-US ‘rendition’, it emerged today.

The move surfaced in a court hearing involving the 2004 rendition of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his then-pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar. The couple – who were kidnapped, tortured and forcibly taken to Gaddafi’s Libya in a joint UK/US operation – are challenging last year’s decision by Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not to charge any UK officials over their abduction.

It emerged today that the DPP has asked the Foreign Office to intervene in the victims’ legal challenge to seek so-called ‘closed material procedures’, or CMPs, in the case. The court also heard how the DPP has shared confidential Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) case files with the Foreign Office."

Norway defends NGOs in Hungary and Poland (euobserver, link):

"Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg said Hungary and Poland must allow independent funding of NGOs as part of a €1 billion Norwegian aid scheme, which is currently up for renewal.

Poland and Hungary want Norway to waive a requirement that EEA (European Economic Area) funds to civil society must be channelled through an administrative body that is meant to be independent of their governments. Solberg rejected the demand.

"We cannot allow Poland and Hungary to control the money to civil society. We must have independent organisations that assign them," she told Norwegian press agency NTB."

Support for far-right groups setting the tone for migration debate, EU Parliament told (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link):

"A hearing in Parliament has been told that in several EU member states, governments have made it clear that irregular and Muslim migrants are unwelcome."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (4-7.5.17)

WIKILEAKS: Archimedes: 5 May, 2017

"Today, May 5th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes "Archimedes", a tool used by the CIA to attack a computer inside a Local Area Network (LAN), usually used in offices. It allows the re-directing of traffic from the target computer inside the LAN through a computer infected with this malware and controlled by the CIA. This technique is used by the CIA to redirect the target's computers web browser to an exploitation server while appearing as a normal browsing session.

The document illustrates a type of attack within a "protected environment" as the the tool is deployed into an existing local network abusing existing machines to bring targeted computers under control and allowing further exploitation and abuse."

EU embraces UK counter-extremism policies despite human rights concerns (link):

"Europol chief describes Prevent as 'best practice model' as Home Office communications unit takes lead in EU-wide counter-extremism campaign...

Critics of Prevent, who include the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, argue that it is discriminatory against Muslims and potentially undermines free speech, civil liberties and even counter-terrorism efforts."

Press release: Undercover policing and Scotland: crowdfunding reaches first milestone

Press release from the Public Interest Law Unit, 5 May 2016

On Monday 24th October 2016 the Public Interest Law Unit hrough its legal agents in Scotland launched Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office and the Scottish government. The proceedings filed in Edinburgh seek to challenge the following:

(1) the decision of the UK Government to refuse to extend the terms of reference of the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing to cover Scotland and separately

(2) the decision of the Scottish Ministers to refuse to set up a Scottish Inquiry under and in terms of the Inquiries Act 2005 with terms of reference equivalent to those of the Pitchford Inquiry but covering Scotland.

European Parliament: Study: The impact and consequences of Brexit on acquired rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU-27 (pdf):

"examines the concept of acquired (or ‘vested’) rights in public international law, analyses the gradual establishment and evolution of these rights and draws from case law as well as other precedents in order to establish the validity and force of acquired rights in customary and conventional international law. It also analyses the protection of such rights within the EU legal order, and examines the citizenship rights that will have to be taken into account during the UK withdrawal negotiations as well as their potential permanence in the EU and UK legal orders after Brexit.

It concludes with an assessment on the legal force of acquired rights after Brexit and recommendations for their treatment during and after the withdrawal negotiations."

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): The state of privacy 2017: EDPS provides mid-mandate report (Press release, pdf):

"As we approach the mid-point of the current EDPS mandate and continue the countdown to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU must build on current momentum to reinforce its position as the leading force in the global dialogue on data protection and privacy in the digital age, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said today to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), as he presented his 2016 Annual Report.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “In March 2015 we launched the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019. It outlines three main goals for the current mandate and the actions required to achieve them. Though the publication of the GDPR on 4 May 2016 represented a big step towards achieving these goals, our work is far from complete. As we move into the second half of the current EDPS mandate, I intend to ensure that the aims outlined in our Strategy remain at the heart of all our efforts. This is particularly important in our work with the EU institutions and bodies, which must set an example that others can follow.”

See Annual Report (pdf)

Council of Europe: Nils Muižnieks: Greece must take action against “long-standing and systemic problem of excessive use of violence in law enforcement” (link):

"Today the Commissioner for Human Rights published correspondence with the Greek government in which he raises his concern about new reports of ill-treatment by police officers.

Nils Muižnieks stresses that these “well-documented and very serious cases” illustrate a “long-standing and systemic problem of excessive use of violence in law enforcement, which requires determined and systematic action by Greece.”....

In addition, the Greek government should ensure that the definition of torture contained in the criminal code is fully aligned with that contained in the European convention against torture."

European Parliament: Committees again reject blacklist of states at risk of money laundering (Press release, pdf):

"The EU should have an autonomous process for judging whether countries are at high-risk of money laundering, say committee MEPs after rejecting for a second time, by 61 votes to 7 with 32 abstentions, a blacklist of countries drawn up by the EU Commission.

The Commission is responsible for producing, under the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, an inventory of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing. People and legal entities from blacklisted countries face tougher than usual checks when doing business in the EU."

Greece paying asylum seekers to reject appeals (euobserver, link):

"The Greek government is giving cash incentives for rejected asylum seekers on the islands to forgo their legal rights to appeal their cases.

Some €1,000 and free plane tickets home are now part of a largely EU-financed package to send them packing as quickly as possible.

"This is quite complicated and quite immoral," a Greek lawyer working for Save the Children, an international NGO, told EUobserver...

People have five days to decide whether to take the cash, with reports emerging that even that short delay was not being respected by authorities. Previously, people were entitled to the assistance even if they appealed."

Italian prosecutor investigating NGO rescuers says has no proof of wrongdoing (euractiv, link):

"An Italian prosecutor who began an investigation into possible ties between humanitarian organisations that rescue migrants at sea and Libya-based people smugglers said on Wednesday (3 May) he had no proof of any wrongdoing.

Carmelo Zuccaro, the chief prosecutor of the Sicilian port city of Catania, previously said he had evidence of phone calls between people smugglers and aid groups, but on Wednesday he said he was expressing only a “hypothesis” and had no proof that could be used in court."

EU-USA: Visa Reciprocity: Commission responds to Parliament (link)

"Today, the European Commission responded to the European Parliament resolution calling on the Commission to adopt a delegated act to suspend the visa waiver for Canadian and American nationals. The Commission considers that, in view of the significant progress achieved during the last year and the positive momentum of ongoing work, the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens."

See also: Position of the Commission following the European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on obligations of the Commission in the field of visa reciprocity and reporting on the progress achieved (pdf)

But see: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting, Valletta, 1-2 March 2017 (pdf):

"The US delegation begun by showing appreciation for the EU's balanced handling of the visa reciprocity issues and for its willingness to continue engaging with the US on what is clearly a thorny item in bilateral relations. It reiterated well known views on the 5 EU Member States nonfulfilment of the criteria for visa free travel...

On the issue of visa reciprocity, the EU delegation regretted the lack of progress and reminded US delegates that legal action remains an option if a solution is not found."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-3.5.17) including: Egypt: Europe's other north African border

European Commission: Third report on the operationalisation of the European Border and Coast Guard (COM(2017) 219, pdf):

"The number of European Border and Coast Guard Team members deployed has more than doubled from 3,584 in 2015 to 8,353 in 2016, and the total duration of deployments has more than tripled from 128,607 man/days in 2015 to 411,939 man/days in 2016. The provision of technical assets has also increased from 2015 to 2016: the patrolling hours of offshore patrol vessels increased by 14%, of coastal patrol vessels by 41% and of patrol cars by 34%.

(...)

As of 2017, the Agency will use EUR 10 million per year (EUR 40 million in total for 2017-2020) to acquire its own equipment, in particular small and medium size assets. The Agency is already examining the ways to build up its own permanent capabilities and/or to maintain them operational after acquisition.""

See also: Second report (March 2017, pdf) and: First report (January 2017, pdf)

EU: Internal border controls to end in six months, says EU

"The EU member states imposing border controls to stop migration flows from Greece will have to remove them before the end of year.

EU migration and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Tuesday (2 May) that Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway will only be allowed to extend existing controls one last time.

"This is the last prolongation, I repeat it, this is the last prolongation," Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels."

EU-TURKEY: It wasn’t me! The Luxembourg Court Orders on the EU-Turkey Refugee Deal (CEPS, link):

"We argue in this contribution that the EU institutions purposefully – and unfortunately, successfully – circumvented the democratic and judicial checks and balances as laid down in the EU Treaties. We find this problematic, especially as the Statement constitutes a measure that produces severe legal effects for the rights of asylum seekers and fundamentally alters the course of EU external migration policy. By choosing to conduct major policy decisions through press releases and refusing to take legal responsibility for the Statement, the EU institutions themselves jeopardise the Treaty-based framework that aims to ensure democratic rule of law and fundamental rights."

Germany's von der Leyen seeks to reassert leadership in army terror scandal (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The German defense minister has reiterated her "entire responsibility" for everything in the armed forces, including a recent extreme right-wing terror scandal. But criticism of her crisis management continues to grow."

See: Defence ministry investigating far-right terror cell in army: report (The Local, link):

"There is increasing evidence that a far-right terror cell has developed inside the Bundeswehr, according to a report on Tuesday in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ).

The report claims that Defence Ministry investigators estimate a cell of up to five people conspired with Franco A., who was arrested last week on terror charges.

Franco A. was detained in the southern German city of Hammelburg on Wednesday on suspicion of planning a gun attack which he meant to blame on his alter-ego - a fictitious Damascus fruit seller."

EU: Proposed Regulation promoting Internet connectivity in local communities: Council analysis of Parliament's position

"1. Following the vote by the European Parliament ITRE Committee on 25 April 2017, delegations will find in Annex the four-column document concerning the above proposal. The second column is based on the preliminary version of the final ITRE Report (before a full legal and linguistic revision).

2. Given the intention to start and conclude negotiations with the European Parliament quickly, the Presidency has prepared draft text of compromise proposals in the fourth column. This is based on our understanding of the views expressed by delegations in previous discussions. As such the text proposed in this column is a draft only and subject to a validation of the Member States."

See: Proposal for a regulation of the european Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2013 and (EU) No 283/2014 as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities - Analysis of EP position (8459/17, 28 April 2017, pdf)

EU-USA: Visa Reciprocity: Commission responds to Parliament

"Today [2 May 2017], the European Commission responded to the European Parliament resolution calling on the Commission to adopt a delegated act to suspend the visa waiver for Canadian and American nationals."

GERMANY: Young men drive over Egyptian student then mock her as she lies dying, witnesses say (The Local, link):

"In a case of shocking heartlessness, two men in eastern Germany are accused of racially abusing a young Egyptian woman moments after their friend drove over her. Three days later, the woman died of her injuries.

Shortly after midnight on April 15th, Shaden M. was waiting at a tram stop in Cottbus, Brandenburg. The 22-year-old was on an exchange programme at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) from her Egyptian university and was enjoying a night out with friends.

But then she stepped out into the street, not noticing a car which was driving well over the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit. She was struck to the ground by the vehicle and died three days later in hospital, Tagesspiegel reports.

At first local police opened an enquiry into negligent killing by the 20-year-old driver."

And see: Was the Egyptian student in Germany killed in a racially-charged attack?
(Egypt Independent, link)

EU: What Does It Mean to Disrupt the Business Models of People Smugglers? (pdf) by Luigi Achilli, Migration Policy Centre, and Gabriella Sanchez, University of Texas at El Paso:

"Despite the scaling-up of EU surveillance, enforcement measures and patrolling operations aimed at border security, the flow of irregular migrants towards Europe shows little sign of abating. This policy brief shows, first, that border enforcement and barriers to mobility lead migrants to rely on clandestine mechanisms to reach destinations abroad, even if this involves significant risk. Second, policy interventions aimed at disrupting smuggling networks may make smuggling more lucrative and increase incentives for criminals to enter this market. Third, more stringent border policies and practices can facilitate involvement by irregular migrants in human smuggling. We conclude by showing that ending irregular crossings is an unlikely outcome so long as emphasis is placed on security vectors alone. If the intended goal of security initiatives is the suppression of smuggling networks, they must be accompanied by structural, comprehensive approaches and solutions. Accessible pathways for people to move across the Mediterranean into Europe are a necessary component of this response."

On World Press Freedom Day, journalists are assailed on all fronts (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Rising authoritarianism and regressive politics signal a new front in the fight to protect and extend press freedom – and the right of citizens to be informed. Globally journalists are on the front line of a sustained assault on civic freedoms from state and non-state actors.

The determination of populist leaders to shape and control dominant narratives, together with the rise of fake news, extremist groups and increasing commercial pressure means journalists now not only face detention without trial and criminalisation for doing their jobs, they also face physical attacks, loss of life and livelihoods.

The CIVICUS Monitor, a new online platform that assesses the quality of civic space in every country, records 101 attacks on journalists between June 2016 and March 2017. It indicates that journalists are often at risk of attack for reporting on political issues, protests, conflicts and state corruption."

EU-ITALY: Humanitarian Corridors: A Tool to Respond to Refugees’ Crises (Border Criminologies, link):

"These deaths [in the Mediterranean] are a direct consequence of the international community's collective failure to implement a credible plan of humanitarian aid to refugees. As noticed by Roberts, Murphy and McKee, the refugee crisis has raised urgent questions about the quality of political leadership to ensure effective and adequate measures ‘both to stabilise the countries from which migrants are coming, thereby reducing the pressure to move, and to make the positive case for migration in a continent experiencing a rapid decline in birth rate.’ Civil society organisations have often filled the void of this political inaction, by providing adequate basic services to those in need. Their involvement should not abrogate states or for this matter, the EU from protecting people on the move. These initiatives instead indicate a new direction for effective and responsive interventions to the refugee crisis.

One of the best examples of civic actions can be found in the ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ (HC) pilot project, carried out in Italy by the Community of Sant'Egidio, in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches based on an agreement with the Italian Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. This initiative responded to the May 13, 2015 recommendation by the European Commission that ‘member states should use to the full the other legal avenues available to persons in need of protection, including private/non-governmental sponsorships and humanitarian permits, and family reunification clauses.’ "

The first in a series of articles. See: Seeking Refuge in Europe (Border Criminologies, link)

FOAA Online! The world's most user-friendly collection of legal arguments on assembly and association rights (link):

"The purpose of FOAA Online! is to provide easily accessible legal arguments to assist lawyers, activists and judges involved in freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (FOAA) cases. The site is organized per thematic topic or sub-question in order to direct users as straightforwardly as possible to relevant legal arguments. The FOAA Q&A assists users to link actual facts and incidents to pertinent legal questions. The website focuses on the most widespread issues experienced by those exercising their FOAA rights around the world.

The legal arguments in FOAA Online! are based upon a range of international instruments. In addition to legally binding obligations under international human rights law, they refer to standards and principles emanating from international treaty bodies, jurisprudence of regional courts and existing or emerging practice.. These include the findings of UN treaty bodies or of experts under the special procedures, as well as the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the European Court on Human Rights. Further, the reports of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are included as well as guidelines and reports on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association emanating from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the OSCE."

MEPs call for EU rules on private security companies (press release, pdf):

"Private security companies must respect minimum requirements on accountability, the screening of staff and reporting on misconduct, while staying away from tasks usually reserved for the military said committee MEPs on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Sub-Committee MEPs advocate EU-wide rules on private security companies (PSCs). The use of private contractors must be limited to logistical support and the protection of installations and only EU-based PSCs should be contracted for protection tasks abroad, say MEPs.

MEPs suggest drawing up an open list of contractors complying with EU standards on transparency, criminal records, financial and economic capacity, licences, strict vetting of personnel, and adhering to an international code of conduct,. This could be followed by a single set of rules for EU institutions that use PSCs to protect EU staff, modelled on UN or NATO practices."

UK: Govt secrecy over UK strikes ‘profoundly disappointing’, say MPs (Reprieve, link):

"Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) has criticised the Government for refusing to disclose information about the intelligence behind a 2015 UK drone strike in Syria, calling the lack of Parliamentary scrutiny “profoundly disappointing.”

In a report released this morning, the chair of the Committee – Conservative MP and former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve – said that ISC’s attempts to scrutinise the decision to take strikes had been hampered by the Government’s refusal to provide key information.

The Committee was “denied sight of the key Ministerial submission” relating to the strike, said Mr Grieve. He added that “this failure to provide what we consider to be relevant documents is profoundly disappointing.” He said: “Oversight depends on primary evidence: the Government should open up the ministerial decision ­making process to scrutiny on matters of such seriousness.”"

See the report: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: UK Lethal Drone Strikes in Syria (pdf) and: ISC press release (pdf)

HUNGARY: Thousands March For EU, Protest Rising Russian Influence In Hungary (RadioFreeEurope, link):

"Thousands of Hungarians marched across central Budapest on May 1 in a show of support for the European Union, protesting against what they described as a rise in Russian influence under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The rally follows a series of major demonstrations in Budapest in recent weeks, triggered by a new law inspired by Russia that would drive out of Hungary a top university founded by U.S. financier George Soros.

Momentum, an upstart political movement, called for the May Day rally, where an estimated 10,000 protesters chanted "Europe, not Moscow!" as they passed the Russian Embassy. It announced it would run candidates in parliamentary elections next April."

EU: The Romanian police officers and their partners in the Schengen states found 808 wanted persons through SIS (ACTMedia, link):

"The General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police (IGPR) announced, in a press release that the Romanian police officers and their partners from Schengen member states found, in the last week, 808 persons, 132 vehicles, 63 documents, 2 registering plates and 2 registration licences which were presented in the Schengen Information System.

Following the exchange of information through the SIRENE Office in the International Police Cooperation Centre on the territory of our country, 507 people were identified.

According to IGPR, the Romanian police officers put into practice 24 European arrest warrants, identified 177 people who were wanted for taking part in a judicial procedure and 8 who were given as disappeared by the partners in the Schengen states."

SCOTLAND: Mobiles to offer crime scene access to fingerprint database (The Scotsman, link):

"Fingerprints left at murder scenes could soon be checked against a national biometrics database using a mobile phone under plans being considered by Police Scotland.

The use of handheld devices in police forensic work is being looked at by the national force as part of its 10-year strategy.

(...)

Advances in DNA profiling mean that within five to 10 years police will be able to put together a description of a perpetrator, said Nelson.

“You could begin to eventually look at someone’s hair colour, their shape and size,” said Nelson. “That’s where things are going over the next 10 years.”"

Statewatch Viewpoint: Egypt: Europe’s other north African border (pdf) by Paolo Cuttitta (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam):

"This year, there has not been any migrant boat arriving from Egypt so far. Is this an effect of the new Egyptian anti-smuggling law? In the meantime, migrants in the north African country experience arbitrary detentions for indefinite periods, deportations which violate international law and scarce or non-existent protection for those who supposedly have a right to it. Asylum is a taboo for the authorities in Cairo, and the UN agency for refugees does what it can (but also - according to accusations by several workers - a lot less than that), while the work of humanitarian organisations in this sector is limited by the Egyptian regime’s repressive actions. In the meantime, the IOM, Italy and other EU countries renew their programmes to support Egyptian border guards, and the EU has agreed a five-fold increase in its budget for Egypt from the Africa Trust Fund."

Greek Hotspots: ECCHR urges European Ombudsman to investigate conduct of European Asylum Support Office (EASO):

"Berlin, 02 May 2017 – The work of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on the Greek Islands not only lacks a legal basis, it also fails to respect core standards of fairness. This is the conclusion of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) after analyzing a series of admissibility interviews conducted by EASO officers at the “Hotspots” in Greece. ECCHR – with support from Brot für die Welt – has therefore submitted a complaint against EASO to the European Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was established as an independent and impartial institution to hold the EU administration accountable for failures to respect fundamental rights or legal principles.

According to the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016, “[a]ll new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey”. Under this arrangement, refugees are entitled to first have asylum claims considered before leaving Greece. The decision on their right to international protection – processed at the “Hotspots” on the Greek islands – are in effect not taken by the Greek Asylum Service but by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). ECCHR has serious concerns as to the legality and legitimacy of EASO’s actions in the context of the EU-Turkey statement."

See: EASO’s influence on inadmissibility decisions exceeds the agency’s competence and disregards fundamental rights (pdf)

UK: Towards data justice? The ambiguity of anti-surveillance resistance in political activism (pdf) by Lina Dencik, Arne Hintz and Jonathan Cable:

"Based on in-depth interviews with a range of social justice activists, we argue that there is a significant level of ambiguity around this kind of anti-surveillance resistance in relation to broader activist practices, and critical responses to the Snowden leaks have been confined within particular expert communities.

Introducing the notion of ‘data justice’, we therefore go on to make the case that resistance to surveillance needs to be (re)conceptualized on terms that can address the implications of this data-driven form of governance in relation to broader social justice agendas. Such an approach is needed, we suggest, in light of a shift to surveillance capitalism in which the collection, use and analysis of our data increasingly comes to shape the opportunities and possibilities available to us and the kind of society we live in."

UK: Parliament: Home Affairs Select Committee: Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online (pdf):

"Hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, gender identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation."

UK: Call for inquiry over 'unbroken pattern' of deaths at prison (Guardian, link):

"HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes comes under fire during inquest into death of inmate – the 18th to have died there in past four years."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.4-1.5.17)

EU: Deploying armed Frontex teams on the 'Balkan Route': agreements with Serbia and Macedonia on the way

Will the deployment of armed European Border and Coast Guard teams in Serbia and Macedonia - with immunity from the civil and criminal law of those countries - improve the chances for protecting the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees, or legitimise the violence and abuse that is currently taking place?

Brexit: UK may have to recognise ECJ court rulings to keep security cooperation - Britain’s last EU commissioner suggests this could form part of talks with EU27 after bloc agreed tough negotiating guidelines (Guardian, link):

"Britain’s most senior EU official has warned that a post-Brexit Britain would have to recognise the rulings of the European court of justice if it wished to maintain the current level of cooperation in countering terrorism and organised crime.

Sir Julian King, the European commissioner responsible for security, said the UK’s security services had become increasingly reliant on shared crime-fighting tools to carry out their work."

Europol's new regulation: Today, on 1 May 2017, Europol’s new Regulation enters into force and takes effect in all EU Member States (link):

"Today, on 1 May 2017, Europol’s new Regulation enters into force and takes effect in all EU Member States. The new regulation was adopted on 11 May 2016, when the European Parliament voted on updated powers that will enable Europol to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. With the new regulation Europol is established as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation with a view to supporting cooperation among law enforcement authorities in the Union."


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