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Greece JOINT STATEMENT: Open The Islands no more dead from cold!
Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece
This Joint Statement has now been signed by 109 groups from across the EU, including Statewatch.
EU: Council of the European Union: SIS: Overstayers, Border checks & Police and judicial cooperation
Overstayers: Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third country nationals - draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 13164-17, pdf): The Council working on its negotiating position: "Changes to the original Commission proposal are marked as follows: new or modified text is in bold underlined. Deletions are in strikethrough."
Object: "The return of third-country nationals who do not fulfil or no longer fulfil the conditions for entry, stay or residence in the Member States."
Comment: This Regulation would apply to all overstayers including those having a visa or long-stay -visa.
Border checks: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks... draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 13163-17, 86 pages, pdf): With 110 Footnotes including Member State positions:
"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."
SIS: Police and judicial cooperation: 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, amending... - draft compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 13162-17, 114 pages pdf): With169 Footnotes including Member State positions:
"This Regulation establishes the conditions and procedures for the entry and processing in SIS of alerts on persons and objects, the exchange of supplementary information and additional data for the purpose of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
This Regulation also lays down provisions on the technical architecture of SIS, the responsibilities of the Member States and of the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, general data processing, the rights of the persons concerned and liability."
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Surveillance by intelligence services: fundamental rights safeguards and remedies in the EU Volume II: field perspectives and legal update (pdf): Useful review:
"Intelligence services perform vital work, and the growing threats of terrorism, cyber-attacks and sophisticated criminal networks have rendered more urgent their efforts to protect our security. Technological advancements have also made their work more complex, and the transnational nature of todays threats has made it ever more challenging.
But intelligence work to counter these threats, particularly large-scale surveillance, can also interfere with fundamental rights, especially privacy and data protection. As this report underscores, effective oversight and remedies can help minimise the risk of such interference."
Meijers Committee: Note on Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a centralized system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third-country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN) and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 (pdf):
"The Meijers Committee would like to express its concerns with regard to the Commission proposal of 29 June 2017 on the introduction of a centralized system, ECRIS-TCN (COM (2017/344) (further: the proposal).
ECRIS, as it currently exists, is a European decentralized system used by EU Member States to exchange information on previous convictions of EU citizens as contained in the national criminal record systems. ECRIS is now regulated by the Framework Decision 2009/315 and Council Decision 2009/316. These legal instruments are to be amended, respectively replaced."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-22.10.17)
Why does the UK Data Protection Bill exempt the risk profiling industry? (Open Democracy, link) by Ben Hayes and Ravi Naik:
"Anyone trying to open a bank account or send money overseas must undergo extensive risk assessment by private data-brokers, which amass non-credible data and falsely blacklist the wrong people on a speculative basis. (...)
the bill transposing the GDPR into UK law is complex and labyrinthine. As the GDPR must be applied by May next year, the government has set a tight legislative timetable for its passage, and the bill has already had its second reading in the Lords.(..)
World-Check and its numerous competitors would ostensibly be exempt from the core data protection provisions that apply to other data controllers."
See also: Exclusive: Secret Blacklist Grows Even After Journalists Placed on 'Terror' List Are Paid Off (Vice News, link)
Greece: Refugees protest poor conditions in hot spot Moria, Lesvos, and VIAL, Chios (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Afghan refugees and migrants continued their protest also on Saturday after many of them spent the night outside the hot spot in Moria on the island of Lesvos. They demand better living conditions but also equal treatment in their asylum requests similar to those of Syrian refugees.
Afghan families holding their children by the hand marched from the hot spot Moria to the city of Mytilene to protest conditions and violence in the camp that hosts more than 5,000 people.
Police forces deployed in the north exit of Mytilene-Mantamathos highway did not allow the group to proceed to the city and especially to the market place.(...)
A member of the Moria management told athensnewsagency that the hygiene conditions in the camp are extremely poor, the water and sewage system is not sufficient for so many people. . Moria was reportedly designed for 800 people but it hosts more than 5,476 people."
And Lesvos Solidarity report: After spending the night outside the gates of Moria in protest, around 100 Afghans arrived in Sapfous Square, Mytilini. Many families with children. They refuse to go back to the overcrowded Moria camp where they fear for their safety as tension increases.
People taking part in the protest describe sleeping in small tents in Moria with too many people. No heating. No mattresses. People, including small children, got injured from stones launched during latest fight.
Some families arrived recently in Lesvos "We were hoping to find safety and protection in Europe, but everything is the opposite". Others have been in Lesvos 16 months and up to 2 years, without a decision. They refuse to spend a second winter in these conditions. "Why are we still here?"
Are You Syrious (22.10.17, link):
Feature: Greece - children
"The most vulnerable category among refugees and migrants are children, especially those who are forced to travel alone. This October, in Greece alone, there were about 2,950 registered unaccompanied children from various countries. Some of them were lucky to find accommodation in shelters across the country, but too many are on their own in the streets. In order to survive, these children are exposed to all sorts of violence, including sexual.
There are only 1,114 beds available in 49 shelters, meaning that 1,822 are wait-listed for shelters. The current plans are that four new shelters should open soon, but only for 60 kids.
Most of the children come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and many are among the new arrivals to islands where they face dreadful conditions in overcrowded camps or makeshift shelters where they are forced to stay due to the lack of accommodations.(...)
Here you can find some key figures about unaccompanied children left in limbo in Greece "
"During September, according to the Turkish authorities, the Coast Guard intercepted or rescued 3,408 people, contributing to a total of 15,471 in 2017 of persons mostly headed to Greece.
At the same time, the number of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers registered in Turkey stood at over 3.5 million. The biggest number are people from Syria??3.2 million under temporary protection in Turkey."
"The new arrivals find themselves in unbearable conditions on the islands, including Lesvos, where people are protesting for the second day. After yesterdays riots, around 100 people - mostly from Afghanistan - left the overcrowded area of Moria camp and spend a day and night on the main square in Mytilini, including many families with children.
People refused to go back to Moria camp, saying that they fear for their safety and demand to be accommodated in better conditions. Among those who are participating in these protests are mostly new arrivals, but also some people who have been stranded on the island for almost 2 years.
Our friends from No Border Kitchen in Lesvos send us stories of those who are protesting. Among them is a family from Afghanistan with a one-year-old baby. They arrived on Lesvos 25 days ago and are forced to sleep in a tent. The baby has been running a fever for three days but is sleeping on the ground.(...)"
"The Defense Minister of Bulgaria, Krassimir Karakachanov, stated that ladders had been used to climb the fence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border. A couple of days before, the media published photos showing a large hole underneath the fence. It was also discovered that even though the Bulgarian parliament voted in 2016 to use the army to protect the borders, this option has been used only intermittently.
At the same time, the UNHCR issued data showing that until the end of August this year, 17,067 people were intercepted at the Turkish-Greek and the Turkish-Bulgarian land borders."
UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017 (20 October 2017): Italy 110,382, Greece: 22,918, Spain 12,420 and Cyprus 847. Total: 146,535, Dead/Missing: 2,184.
Serbia: Life in limbo: The consequences of thwarted mobility for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in Serbia (link)
"While media attention largely has shifted to the central and western Mediterranean routes, thousands of refugees and other migrants continue to use the eastern route to Europe. This study highlights the situation of a largely forgotten population - refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants who are "stuck in transit" in Serbia along that eastern pathway. Such limbo situations are likely to become increasingly common as the European Union further externalises its approach to border control"
Public and Private Eyes - Surveillance in the Digital Age (Foreign Affairs, link):
"As Jeffreys-Jones details, surveillance is the prerogative not just of governments. It is something that was developed, relied on, and institutionalized by private actors as well."
Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: "We are concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation"
-"Pakistan have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"
- "Iran have hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the last forty years and we commend them"
Key document: COHAFA common messages on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan (LIMITE doc no: 12697-17, pdf)
Turkey, bridge to Europe, struggles with irregular migration (Daily Sabah, link):
"A favorite destination for migrants aspiring to reach Europe, Turkey has intercepted more than 644,000 migrants in the past seven years, the latest statistics show.(...)
Over the past two years, 3,703 migrants were deported, and 2,555 migrants voluntarily returned to their countries or countries they arrived from under the Voluntary Return Project by the migration authority.
Turkey hosts 8,186 centers for migrants, pending repatriation, and aims to increase it to more than 15,000."
European Parliament Study: ECON Thesaurus on Brexit (pdf):
"This thesaurus is a collection of ECON related articles, papers and studies on the possible withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Recent literature from various sources is categorised, chronologically listed while keeping the content of previous editions - and briefly summarised. To facilitate the use of this tool and to allow an easy access, certain documents may appear in more than one category."
European Commission: EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: First review shows it works but implementation can be improved (Press release, pdf) and:
Report on the first annual review of the functioning of the EUU.S. Privacy Shield (COM 611-17, pdf) and Staff Working Document (SWD 344-17, pdf)
See: EU: Privacy Shield works, but US can do more to protect non-Americans (ZDNET, link):
"A little more than year after the EU-US Privacy Shield went into effect, the European Commission (EC) says the multi-national pact is doing an "adequate" job protecting Europeans' personal data after it's transferred to companies in the US.
At the same time, the US could do more to protect non-Americans, the EC says, such as adding certain rules to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The recommendations came from the EC's first annual report assessing whether the Privacy Shield -- a pact between the EU and the US that sets the terms for trans-Atlantic transfers of personal data -- is functioning as intended."
Returned and Lost: What Happens After Readmission to Turkey? (link):
"Turkey was regarded as a safe (third) country for asylum seekers and refugees for the purposes of the EU-Turkey Statement. This designation was an outcome of a political decision rather than a policy based on evidence from the field. Existing structural problems in Turkey where the asylum and migration systems are still in their infancy and the absence of effective safeguards against the violation of human rights, partly as a result of alarming developments in the legal framework, should remind us that political will - such as in the EU-Turkey Statement - alone does not make a country a safe place for migrants and asylum seekers."
Solidarity under attack (Open Democracy, link):
"These measures [against NGO search and rescue operations] can be interpreted as an attack against solidarity and as an acceleration of the measures that criminalize pro-migrant solidarity in Italy and the EU. In this regard, we argue that there is a very close relationship between: approval of the new immigration bill and the implementation of the so-called Code of Conduct for NGOs doing rescue operations in the Mediterranean. At the same time, the frequent and often violent evictions of migrant squats, buildings and encampments we are witnessing taking place in major cities such as Rome, Milan, Bologna, and the rising number of trials against pro-migrant activists facing persecution for their activities, reveal a concerted attempt on the part of the authorities in Italy and Europe to undermine forms of solidarity with and for migrants in civil society."
See: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born (Statewatch News)
European Parliament: Beefing up EU border controls: pre-screening visa-exempted travellers (press release, link):
"Third country nationals exempt from visa requirements on entering the Schengen area will need to apply for a travel authorisation before coming to the EU.
The new European Travel and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will allow for advanced checks on visa-free travellers and those considered to pose a risk in terms of security, irregular migration or high epidemic risk will be denied access.
Under the draft rules approved on Thursday by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs, non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area will have to fill in an electronic form with their personal data (including name, date and place of birth, sex and nationality), travel document information (validity, country of issue), home address and contact information, and the European country of first intended entry."
CoE: Report: The situation of migrants and refugees in Serbia and transit zones in Hungary (link):
"Thousands of migrants and refugees who travelled along the Western Balkans migration route in 2015 and 2016 are now stranded in Serbia in a precarious legal situation.
That is the verdict of the Secretary Generals Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomá Bocek in a report published today."
Amnesty International (AI) slams Poland for undermining freedom of assembly (DW, link):
"Rights group AI has published a damning report into measures taken by the Law and Justice government that have weakened the rule of law in Poland. In particular it called on Warsaw to respect the right to free assembly."
Committee launches probe into immigration policies in Scotland (The Scotsman, link):
"A Westminster committee has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of UK immigration policy in Scotland. The Scottish Affairs Committee will examine how well the current system meets the countrys needs and look at how easy it will be for non-UK citizens to move to Scotland after Brexit. Immigration is controlled by the UK Government but Scottish ministers want the power to be devolved to allow a more tailored system to be created north of the border. They argue it is needed to help meet Scotlands demographic and employment challenges."
EU: Council of the European Union: E-Privacy
Proposal for a Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC... Examination of the Presidency text (Articles 12 to 20 and related recitals)11 (Doc no: 13217-17, pdf): The Council of the European Union discussing its negotiating position:
"For the purposes of the WP TELE meeting of 25 October, delegations will find in Annex a revised text of the ePrivacy proposal (ePR), focusing on Articles 12 to 20 and the related recitals. The revisions are based on the discussions held in the WP TELE and on the written comments provided by delegations, and are without prejudice to any comments delegations might wish to make in the future, also bearing in mind that most delegations are still analysing the proposal."
EU: Juncker: Member states contributed too little to Africa Fund (euractiv, link):
"Speaking to the press after the first round of talks at the EU summit on Thursday (19 October), Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that EU action was reaching its limits due to insufficient financing.
We are reaching our limits when it comes to this Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, Juncker said.
We started by saying that we would take 1.8bn in our hands in order to be helpful to Africa, then we increased this to 2.5, then to 2.9, then to 3.1bn, money the Commission was providing by restructuring the existing budget. Member states have so far committed 175m, this is clearly not enough, he stated."
MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future (euobserver, link):
"Asylum seekers arriving in Europe would likely end up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia under the latest proposal put forward by the European Parliament.
MEPs on the civil liberties committee on Thursday (19 October) overwhelmingly backed a proposal that is likely to pivot the parliament against a small group of migrant-hostile EU states, led by Hungary.
The proposal seeks to impose mandatory migrant quotas and strip non-complying member states of EU funding in an effort to revamp a key EU asylum law."
Making profits in Irelands asylum market (IRR News, link):
"In the second of a series, campaigner John Grayson examines the asylum markets for private companies involved in providing services under the Direct Provision (DP) system for asylum seekers in Ireland."
Greece: Reporting on a Catastrophe: Mental Health Crisis of Refugees on Samos and Lesvos (Samos Chronicles, link):
"Medicin Sans Frontieres (MSF) at least on Samos has sometimes been disappointing. In particular it was too often silent and should have used its influence and been more outspoken about the in-competencies of so many who are paid to care for the refugees. So it is refreshing to see their latest report on the mental health emergency engulfing the refugees on Lesvos and Samos. These are 2 of the islands where MSF are especially active and have had a lengthy presence.
Without pulling punches MSF lays clear that refugees are being damaged and suffering unacceptable levels of stress by the way they are being treated and cared for on the islands. It is a system that is driving people mad."
See: MSF report (pdf)
Commission proposes new security measures
- Public spaces, Canada and EU PNR, Europol personal data exchanges with third states and European Intelligence Unit
Press release: Security Union: Commission presents new measures to better protect EU citizens (pdf) which includes:
"protecting public spaces and help deprive terrorists of the means to act. The Commission is also proposing to further strengthen the EU's external action on counter-terrorism - including through Europol - and is recommending the EU open negotiations on a revised Passenger Name Record agreement with Canada."
"Enhancing Europol's cooperation with third countries by presenting, before the end of the year, recommendations to the Council to authorise the opening of negotiations for agreements between the EU and Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey on the transfer of personal data between Europol and these countries to prevent and combat terrorism and serious crimes." [emphasis in original]
Europol: The Internet of Things: when your washing machine and blood pressure monitor become a target for cyberattacks (link):
"With at least 20 billion devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay. While it has many undeniable positive effects, the threats and risks related to the IoT are manifold and they evolve rapidly (...)
The Internet of Things is a wide and diverse ecosystem where interconnected devices and services collect, exchange and process data in order to adapt dynamically to a context. In simpler words, it makes our cameras, televisions, washing machines and heating systems smart and creates new opportunities for the way we work, interact and communicate, and how devices react and adapt to us."
Euro-parliamentarians say a clear no to the anti-privacy lobby (EDRI, link):
"On 19 October, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted on the proposed e-Privacy Regulation. The Committee voted in favour of measures defending privacy, security and competition for phone and internet services.(...)
Currently, when people surf the internet, use apps on their mobile phone or use connected devices, they are monitored, tracked and profiled. The massive amounts of data that are generated create privacy risks, security risks, economic risks and, as we have seen recently, risks for democracy itself."
The vote in the LIBE Committee was: 31 in favor and 24 against.
EU: Extending the use of eID to online platforms risks to privacy? (EDRI, link):
"On 10 October 2017, the European Commission published the draft principles and guidance on eID interoperability for online platforms on the electronic Identification And Trust Services (eIDAS) observatory. Building on the eIDAS Regulation, the Commission would like to extend the scope of use for the eIDs to online platforms, in addition to public services. This raises a number of issues, particularly on the protection of privacy."
Brussels promises more police access to encrypted data, but no backdoors (euractiv, link):
"The European Commission insists that it does not want to weaken encryption as part of its latest push to give law enforcement authorities more access to private data.
Julian King, the EU Commissioner in charge of security, announced a handful of new initiatives on Wednesday (18 October) to fund more police training to crack encryption technology.
Despite Kings disavowal of so-called backdoors for police to access private data, some technology policy observers are concerned the new proposals wont safeguard encryption."
US supreme court to hear appeal in Microsoft warrant case (Irish Tines, link):
"The Supreme Court of the United States is to hear an appeal by the US government in a case involving efforts to get Microsoft to hand over emails held on its servers in Dublin, which are of interest in a drugs case.
The court confirmed in its order list on Monday that it will hear the case, which has been dragging through the courts there for four years and has major implications for cloud computing and for privacy rights worldwide."
Radical Right Populist Success in Elections Endangers Human Rights in Europe - Mainstream Parties Adopting Anti-Immigrant Platforms to Win Votes (HRW, link):
"On Sunday, Austrias national elections much like Germanys earlier elections saw radical right populists win substantial vote shares, while mainstream political parties embraced right-leaning positions to win votes.
In Austria, the centre-right Peoples Party (ÖVP), led by Sebastian Kurz, is likely to enter into coalition with the radical right populist Freedom Party (FPÖ). Both parties have an anti-immigrant agenda. When Austria last had an ÖVP-FPÖ government in 2000, other EU governments sought to isolate and sanction it.
An EU already grappling with Hungary and Poland, which both have governments implementing policies that undermine core EU values of the rule of law, human rights and democratic safeguards, is unlikely to contemplate similar action against Austria now."
Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future' (euobserver, link):
EU Council head Donald Tusk has said obligatory migrant quotas "have no future" amid efforts to mend fences with eastern European states.
"I don't see any special future for this project, but it's important to find an understanding that does not separate Poland and other Visegrad group countries from the rest of Europe," Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, told the Polish press agency, Pap, in the margins of a meeting on social affairs in Brussels on Wednesday (...)
Tusk said Poland had to decide whether to "jointly solve the problems related to migration, which means securing borders, but also helping those countries who have too many refugees" or to opt for a "firm break from European solidarity"."
Arrivals surge on Greek islands despite EU-Turkey deal (euractiv, link):
"With Turkey being one of the items on the agenda of the EU summit starting on Thursday (19 October), AFP is reporting that migrants are still coming to Greek islands despite the EU-Turkey deal to stem the arrival of refugees from Turkish territory. (...)
According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), 5,000 migrants arrived at Greek islands in September, an increase of 35% from the same period a year earlier, according to AFP calculations."
Developments in the Central Mediterranean over the past two years (Alarmphone, link):
"Most sea crossings by refugees trying to reach Europe take place on the route between Libya and Italy. Refugees are forced to board overcrowded boats that are not suitable for use at sea, making this route the deadliest. Without the NGO search and rescue boats (SAR-NGOs), the number of deaths would be far higher, because the capacities of the official coast guards are insufficient.
Until recently, the Italian coast guard deliberately stayed away from the Libyan coast and EU forces of Frontex and the military operation EUNAVFOR Med focus their efforts exclusively on reducing the number of crossings by fighting smugglers.There is no unified Libyan coast guard, only multiple, autonomous formations, of which some even operate as smugglers."
Greece: Refugees relocated, others go to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A group of 234 refugees boarded a charter flight from Athens to Lyon, France on Wednesday as part of the European Unions relocation program, while dozens more migrants, deemed to belong to vulnerable groups, were transferred by ferry from the islands of the Aegean to mainland Greece.
The group relocated to Lyon comprised 132 adults and 102 minors, 190 of them Syrian nationals and the remainder from Iraq and the Palestinian territories.(...)
Mouzalas took a swipe at the countries which fail to honor their obligations to participate in the EU relocation program, claiming that some even refuse to take in unaccompanied minors."
IRELAND: EXCLUSIVE: Athlone asylum-seekers very critical of care at direct provision centre (shannonside, link):
"Up to 175 asylum-seekers from the direct provision centre in Athlone have strongly complained about the care theyre receiving.
Theyve told the Department of Justice that sometimes people get sick, suffer diarrhoea or need hospital care because of the quality of food at the facility."
CoE: Parliamentary Assembly: Ahead of meeting with EU counterparts, rapporteur underlines suffering of migrants separated from their families (link):
"PACEs rapporteur on family reunification for migrants and refugees, speaking ahead of a meeting with EU officials, has underlined the suffering that migrants can experience if they are separated from their families.
Ulla Sandbæk (Denmark, UEL), who begins a two-day meeting with officials of the EU Council, Commission and Parliament in Brussels tomorrow, said she would emphasise to them that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to family life for everybody, including migrants."
UK: Documents obtained by Privacy International show that UK intelligence agencies may analyse our Facebook and Twitter accounts (Privacy International, link):
"Privacy International has obtained previously unseen government documents that reveal British spy agency GCHQ collects social media information on potentially millions of people.
GCHQ collected and accesses this information by gaining access to private companies databases.
Letters obtained by Privacy International reveal that the body tasked with overseeing intelligence agencies activities (the Investigatory Powers Commissioner) was kept in the dark as UK intelligence agencies shared massive databases with foreign governments, law enforcement and industry, potentially for decades.
Because of Privacy Internationals litigation, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner sought immediate inspection when secret practices came to light.
Inappropriate and uncontrolled/uncontrollable sharing with industry third parties currently remains without any proper oversight. Yet some contractors have system access rights which could allow them to enter the Agencies system, extract data and cover their tracks."
Exclusive: Secret Blacklist Grows Even After Journalists Placed on 'Terror' List Are Paid Off (Vice News, link):
"Thomson Reuters' World-Check apologised and compensated prominent British journalists for secretly listing them as terrorists, but VICE has found the service has also been profiling trade unionists and animal rights activists.
VICE can exclusively reveal that a high profile radio host who has advised numerous Prime Ministers, and a journalist who the government has consulted on anti-terror measures, have been paid damages after being profiled on the "terror" list of a secret database, "World-Check", which is used by banks and intelligence agencies.
VICE can also reveal:
- Animal rights activists have been profiled on a "terror" list.
- Trade Unionists were secretly profiled in practices that the TUC says has "echoes of the blacklisting scandal".
- Experts and MPs are warning that loopholes in the new data-protection bill could make the database exempt from oversight.
- Mortgage lenders are using the database, meaning being profiled on it could be even more disruptive than previously thought.
- A Trade Union has slammed the Information Commissioner for turning a "blind eye"."
UK: Forged IDs: Landlord laws 'fuelling black market' (BBC News, link):
"Legislation aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties is fuelling a black market in forged IDs, a BBC investigation has found.
Under Right to Rent rules introduced last year landlords must check the immigration status of new tenants.
But criminal gangs are helping undocumented immigrants flout the law by them selling fake documents.
A Home Affairs spokesperson said landlords were not expected to be experts in spotting forged documents."
UK: Recent deaths at HMP Nottingham 'symptomatic of wider prison crisis' (The Guardian, link):
"Five newly arrived prisoners have died over a four-week period at Nottingham prison, where serious concerns have been raised about staffing levels in reception areas.
Ten prisoners have died in two years, compared with four deaths in the previous 10 years. Campaigners say the deaths are symptomatic of a prison system in crisis.
Four of the five inmates who died in September and October are believed to have taken their own lives. The death of the fifth prisoner is believed to be drug related."
See: Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Nottingham for reporting year 2016-17 (pdf)
EU: How the arms lobby is hijacking Europes defence policy (Vredesactie, link):
"40 billion euros. Thats how much the European Union wants to spend on the research, development and procurement of new weapons during the next 10 years. The establishment of the European Defence Fund is an unprecedented acceleration in the militarization of the EU and only serves one purpose: sustaining the competitiveness of the arms industry. The question, which weapons should be developed and if they are actually needed, is not even asked.
The decision making process was heavily dominated by corporate interests. Civil society nor the European Parliament were given any substantial input on these far reaching decisions. Based on disclosed EU documents, Vredesctie shows how the arms industry had access to every stage of the decision making process, from setting the agenda to drawing up the modalities of the military research programmes. It documents the symbiotic relationship between the arms industry and the EU institutions and the effect of this relationship on the creation of a European Defence Fund."
Full report: Securing profits - How the arms lobby is hijacking Europes defence policy (link to pdf) and: istopthearmstrade.eu (link): "Knowledge is power. Few people know that the European member states taken as a whole is one of the biggest arms exporters in the world. On the international stage Europe likes to present itself as a continent that stands for democracy and peace, but this façade does not correspond to reality."
UK: Press release: FLEX condemns on-going Home Office control of modern slavery victim identification (Focus on Labour Exploitation, link):
"Home Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday announced that all potential modern slavery cases would now be decided by a single unit within the Home Office, completely contradicting the findings of its own 2014 review of the decision-making process.
In a 2014 review of this system (called the National Referral Mechanism) found that: a majority press for the removal of responsibility for the National Referral Mechanism from the Home Office and the establishment of an independent body outside of UK Visas and Immigration and the Police. Concerns surrounding Home Office bias and extremely slow decision-making led to a recommendation to pilot a new system that removed the sole decision-making roles of the NCA and Home Office, and trialled the use of multi-disciplinary expert panels to make decisions.
However, in making the announcement yesterday, the Home Secretary has ignored the findings of the review and rejected the recommended multidisciplinary approach. Instead, multidisciplinary panels will only have a role in reviewing negative decisions."
See: Home Office: Modern Slavery Taskforce agrees new measures to support victims (press release, pdf)
UK: From IRA to Islamic State: The UK's age of 'unprecedented terror' (Middle East Eye, link):
"Late last month, the incoming independent reviewer on terrorism, Max Hill, told the media that Islamic extremists were targeting UK cities. Hill, a former prosecutor whod helped convict the failed 21/7 bombers, added that the threat was at least as great as the IRA threat to London 40 years ago.
In truth, the last major bombing carried by The Real IRA (RIRA) was in 1998 in Omagh. Twenty-nine people were killed. That was 17 years ago.
Britain today has more anti-terror powers than it had at the height of the Irish Troubles. That fact alone is particularly alarming, considering more than 3,000 people were killed in that conflict.
In fact, some of the most important lessons that should have been learnt from it were not. Rather, resultant state abuses became a template for torture techniques used in the current war on terror."
EU: European Council: "roadmap" implementation paper highlights migration, internal security, military efforts
"The Bratislava Roadmap emerged from the Leaders' debate in September 2016. In March 2017, the Rome Declaration broadened the scope and set additional priorities for the longer term.
One year on, the EU has made significant progress and can demonstrate tangible results. The Bratislava method is working. The attached table shows that many tasks have been completed, and many others are on track. Some tasks however have progressed slower than expected, and a few require a fresh push, including at the highest level."
SPAIN: Catalonia: detention of independence leaders sparks massive protests calling for release of "political prisoners"
"A Spanish judge has jailed two key members of the Catalan independence movement.
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who lead prominent separatist groups, are being held without bail while they are under investigation for sedition.
The men were leading figures in the 1 October independence vote, which the Madrid government regards as illegal."
Child safety smartwatches easy to hack, watchdog says (BBC News, link):
"Some smartwatches designed for children have security flaws that make them vulnerable to hackers, a watchdog has warned.
The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) tested watches from brands including Gator and GPS for Kids.
It said it discovered that attackers could track, eavesdrop or even communicate with the wearers."
See: Significant security flaws in smartwatches for children (Forbrukerrådet, link): "The Norwegian Consumer Council has uncovered serious security and privacy flaws in smartwatches for children. Strangers can easily seize control of the watches and use them to track and eavesdrop on children."
UK: Exclusive: Neo-Nazi and National Front organiser quits movement, opens up about Jewish heritage, comes out as gay (Channel 4 News, link):
"A white supremacist active as recently as the start of this year says today he is publicly renouncing 40 years of hate. Speaking on Channel 4 News he comes out as gay for the first time and admits to a violent past.
After a lifetime of involvement with the far-right Kevin Wilshaw announces on Channel 4 News that he is leaving the movement at the same time publicly coming out as gay.
The well known National Front organiser in the 1980s was still active in white supremacist groups earlier this year including speaking at events.
But tonight on Channel 4 News he explains for the very first time why he is publicly disavowing the movement sharing his secrets, explaining how he was both a Neo-Nazi and of Jewish heritage , while admitting to violent acts and what motivated his hatred."
SPAIN: Catalan referendum: police operation sought to "generate panic amongst the civil population"
A report by Barcelona city council has denounced the police operation undertaken by the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil on 1 October that attempted to halt the vote on Catalan independence, saying it involved "generalised institutional violence" that was "indiscriminate", "disproportonate" and sought to "generate panic amongst the civil population".
Switzerland should reinforce its human rights protection framework and better respond to the needs of vulnerable migrants (Council of Europe, link):
"Reinforcing the institutional and legal framework for safeguarding and promoting human rights and enhancing the protection of migrants and asylum seekers are the key recommendations addressed to the Swiss authorities by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muinieks, in a report published today following his visit to the country in May 2017.
The Commissioner welcomes the new law on asylum, which should result in faster and higher quality procedures for determining refugee status, in particular through the provision of free legal assistance from the outset. Noting that there are plans to revise the rules on temporary admission, which apply amongst others to Syrians who have fled the conflict, the Commissioner calls on the authorities to establish an international subsidiary protection status guaranteeing the same rights as are granted to persons holding official refugee status."
EU: The Transnational Far Right (European International Tolerance Centre, link) by Rob May, PhD. Researcher for Teesside Universitys Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies (CFAPS), UK:
"The transnational far right is currently flourishing. The unexpected election of the racist, nationalist and isolationist Donald Trump as president of the United States has galvanised far right groups across the world. In Europe, the rise of Trump combined with an increase in Jihadi Islamist terrorism and an influx of refugees escaping Middle Eastern war has led to a resurgence of far right activity. Politically, the far right has become mainstream in many countries, for example France, Germany and Austria, and far right themes (racism, xenophobia, anti-liberalism, nationalism and social conservativism, amongst others) are gaining traction with the European electorates at an alarming rate. Beyond the confines of the nation-state, moreover far right movements are also scoring victories and mobilising activists, as this report will emphasise."
Freedom of the press in Hungary: an American critique (Hungarian Spectrum, link):
"Before I summarize the speech itself, I should note one way in which the Hungarian government restricts the flow of information. In fact, this Kostelancik speech is an excellent example of a centralized media in the grip of an autocratic government. The method is simple and effective. Prior to the new media law introduced by the Orbán government, media outlets had to pay a fee for news gathered by Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI), Hungarys official news agency. After the change of leadership, access to MTIs materials was made free. The downside was that MTIs reporting became distorted in favor of the government, and the free access to MTIs materials made certain that the same colored information reached all media outlets. So, if the authorities dont want a piece of information to reach a wide audience, it is enough to instruct MTI to remain quiet. Or, it is possible that special coaching is not necessary because the people at MTI know what is risky to report on. Hungarians have experience with this kind of self-censorship from the pre-1990 days."
French police arrest far-right militants suspected of plotting attacks on mosque, politician (France 24, link):
"French anti-terror agents arrested 10 people on Tuesday over a suspected plot to target mosques and politicians, including a government spokesman, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
The arrests of suspects aged 17-25 were made in the Paris region and southeast France as part of an investigation into far-right activists, the source said.
The nine men and one woman are suspected of links to 21-year-old Logan Alexandre Nisin, a former militant of the far-right group Action Francaise Provence who was arrested in June, the source said.
One source said the woman arrested Tuesday is Nisins mother.
Police investigations had unmasked intentions to commit violent action of which the details remained unclear, a judicial source said, but that involved a place of worship, a politician, a migrant, drug trafficking."
AUSTRIA: Why Europe isnt worried by Austrias right tilt (but should be)
"Regardless of whether it joins the next Austrian government, the far-right Freedom Party was the victor in the countrys election last Sunday. Like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the anti-immigration party has built the theater in which the mainstream parties are now performing."
Article 13 Open letter Monitoring and Filtering of Internet Content is Unacceptable (Liberties.eu, link):
"Here is the open letter from 57 signatories asking EU policy-makers to delete Article 13 of the new proposal on copyright in the digital single market."
Council of Europe: CPT publishes report on Turkey (link)
"The Council of Europes Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Turkey, which took place from 16 to 23 June 2015, together with the response of the Turkish Government. Both documents have been made public at the request of the Turkish authorities.
The visit focused on the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation, and the report contains the CPTs findings and recommendations relating to various removal centres, as well as the holding facilities in the transit zone of Istanbul Atatürk Airport."
See: Report (pdf)
UK-EU: European Parliament: Brexit Literature Update 10/2017 (pdf):
"identifies some of the more useful articles, taking into account, in particular, the following elements:
- Scholarly rather than a journalistic character of the publication
- Originality and interest
- Recent publication
- Be of interest for the EU
- Constitutional or institutional relevance."
EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says (euobserver, link):
"A pro-transparency group has documented intense industry lobbying in the lead up to a vote on digital privacy at the European Parliament this week.
Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory, an NGO, on Tuesday (17 October) said over 800 amendments had been tabled on a bill designed to protect privacy and protection of electronic communication data for people.(...)
The NGO report suggests a heavy footprint from the industry in the lead up to the EU commission's proposal in January and towards MEPs ahead of the Thursday vote.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12-16.10.17) including: campaign to close Greek island camps; CoE wants clarification over Italian maritime operations
How Companies Use Personal Data Against People (Cracked Labs, link)
"Automated disadvantage and personalized manipulation? A working paper on the societal ramifications of the commercial use of personal information, with a focus on automated decision-making, personalization, and data-driven behavioral change.
The large-scale commercial exploitation of digital personal information raises major concerns about the future of autonomy, equality, human dignity, and democracy. Our previous report, published in June 2017, documented the massive scale and scope of how companies collect, disclose, trade, and utilize personal information about individuals today (Web, PDF).
Our new working paper further explores and examines how the corporate aggregation and use of personal data can affect individuals, groups of people, and society at large, in particular in the context of two partially overlapping areas of concern: automated decisions and data-driven persuasion.
GREECE: Open The Islands - no more dead from the cold! Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece
Over 40 solidarity groups and organisations are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold as winter sets in once again. They expect more groups and organisations to join them over the next days and weeks.
ITALY: Solidarity is not a crime: the Observatory of the Milan Charter is born
On 30 September 2017 around thirty activists, journalists, jurists, citizens acting in solidarity, members of NGOs and associations met in Milan to set up the Observatory which the 'Milan Charter: solidarity is not a crime' proposed in its document launched on 20 May 2017 during the demonstration 'Together without any walls', to safeguard the honour, freedom and rights of civil society in all its humanitarian expressions: when it saves lives at sea; when it protects and rescues people experiencing hardships at the borders; when it monitors respect for the principles of legality and equality; when it reports the failure to respect fundamental rights in procedures for administrative detention and forced removals; when it complies with the binding duty of solidarity which is a foundation of the Italian Constitution.
TURKEY-ROMANIA: Old route, new dangers: Migrant smugglers revive Black Sea route to Europe (IRIN, link):
"Advertised as a "tourist yacht" to Europe, spacious and loaded with food and water, it was in fact a stripped-down, rusty blue fishing boat lacking any supplies for two stormy days at sea. Almost 160 men, women, and children were crammed on board, sick and fearful as the boat rocked violently from side to side, its leaky hold taking on water.
For Iraqi asylum-seeker Ahmed* and his family, transported to the vessel in the middle of the night and initially kept in the dark about their true destination Romania the experience was terrifying. When I saw [the boat], I said, Oh my god! recalled the former army sniper from Kirkuk, explaining that he refused to board until a smuggler with a handgun threatened to kill his family.
Over the last few months, reports of migrant boats being intercepted in the Black Sea have proliferated, along with tales of the tragedies that occur when the vessels capsize in its rough waters. This route from Turkey to Romania is not entirely new it was used in Soviet times to ply illicit goods but it appears smugglers are now attempting to revive it."
UK: Home Office splits British man from his wife 10 months after she gives birth to their daughter (The Independent, link):
"A British man has been told his Ecuadorian wife cannot settle in the UK despite the couple having three young children, including a baby who is still breastfeeding.
Dan Newton, 41, lived with his wife and three young children in Abu Dhabi in the UAE for nearly five years. The couple had previously lived in the UK for a year, where they had their first child.
In June, Mr Newton was told his employment in the Abu Dhabi was to be terminated with three months notice and no previous warning, so the couple decided to return to the UK.
As a result, his wife, Carla Zamora, who is still breastfeeding their 10-month-old daughter, applied to the UK Visa and Immigration branch of the Home Office for a Spouse Settlement Visa. But their request was refused in September."
And see: Why is the Home Office separating a British man from his wife when she is still breastfeeding their daughter? (Free Movement, link): "It is not a mistake. Since harsh new rules were introduced in 2012, UK immigration policy does not usually allow British citizens working abroad to return to the UK if they have a foreign spouse. In effect, British citizens are exiled from their own country if they marry abroad."
SPAIN: Human rights groups denounce "racist" focus of G6 summit in Seville
The interior ministers of Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Italy and Poland, the so-called G6, and high representatives of Morocco and the European Union are meeting today (16 October) in Seville to analyse "the fight against jihadist terrorism and illegal immigration." The focus of the summit has led to protests from activists and NGOs who consider it "racist" and have said that it "turns migrants and racialised citizens into a threat."
UK police earned millions training officers in repressive regimes (The Guardian, link):
"British police earned millions of pounds by training officers in repressive regimes in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
The College of Policing, an arms-length body of the Home Office, has earned more than £3.3m by providing international leadership and international strategic leadership training to police forces in 23 countries since it was set up by Theresa May in 2012.
It is UK government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. However, documents obtained by the Guardian under a freedom of information request show that 89% of the money earned by the college came from countries where the death penalty still exists."
UK: Pacifists refute claim that they are 'indoctrinating children' with white poppies (Peace Pledge Union, link):
"British pacifists have rejected claims in today's Sunday Telegraph that they are indoctrinating children by promoting white poppies in schools. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said that the claim by ex-colonel and right-wing commentator Richard Kemp was absurd and bore no relation to the facts.
The PPU explained that they want young people to hear a range of different views about war and peace and to make up their own minds about ethical and political issues as they grow up.
The organisation also pointed out that the vast majority of schools that sell white poppies also sell red poppies, thus giving young people a choice and helping them to make their own decisions about the issues involved.
The PPU added that the accusation was particularly ironic at a time when armed forces' visits to schools are on the rise. They suggested that young people who hear a biased perspective are far more likely to hear a pro-military view than a pacifist one.
White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of all wars, a commitment to peace and a rejection of attempts to glorify war. In contrast, the Royal British Legion, who produce red poppies, insist that remembrance should be about only members of British and allied armed forces."
See: Peace campaigners accused of 'indoctrinating' children, as teaching union promotes white poppy scheme (The Telegraph, link)
IRELAND: Trauma passed from generation to generation in absence of mechanism to deal with the past (The Irish News, link):
"Almost two decades after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, a public consultation on legislation to deal with the past is due to be launched within weeks. Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson tells The Irish News that a line will never be drawn under Northern Ireland's troubled history until victims receive truth and acknowledgement "
UK-THAILAND: National Crime Agency and the death penalty in Thailand
"The National Crime Agency has been forced to admit that it acted illegally in assisting Thai police investigate, arrest and convict two young Burmese men sentenced to death for the murder of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.
The admission by the NCA in a High Court settlement, raises new doubts over whether the 2015 convictions of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are safe and it leaves open the possibility that the real killers could still be at large while innocent men await their execution. The two men were forced to take legal action, supported by Reprieve, after the agency refused to admit its full role in their conviction.
Phone metadata provided by the NCA was presented at trial to bolster a prosecution case marred by widespread allegations of corruption, incompetence and fabricated evidence. In the UK legal proceedings, it came to light that the NCA had also secretly shared other data with the prosecution data which pointed to other suspects and would have supported the defence case, but which was never disclosed to the defence team."
See: National Crime Agency Admits Illegal Action in Thai Murder Case (Reprieve, link)
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 12-13 October: all the documentation including background documents
Updated 16.10.17: On the agenda: European Public Prosecutors' Office, freezing and confiscation orders, the European Criminal Records Information System for third-country nationals, implementing data protection legislation, criminal justice in cyberspace, Schengen Borders Code, counter-terrorism resettlement and the reform of the Common European Asylum System.
UK: Share public data to allow advances in artificial intelligence, review says (aol.news, link):
"Information about people's health and lifestyles should be opened up to allow major advances to be made in developing artificial intelligence (AI), a report to ministers has recommended.(...)
It suggested the NHS could use facts and figures from supermarkets, transport organisations and town planning to work out ways to encourage healthier lifestyles.
The report highlighted how health app Your.MD wants access to data sets of anonymised personal health records from the health service in order to improve its free of charge advice service."
UK: Use terror powers proportionally (Sunday Herald, link):
"Eleanor Jones is an activist who exercised her democratic rights by attending an anti-G20 demonstration. At Edinburgh airport, after going through security, two police officers detained her, asked for her iPhone and laptop, and took a DNA sample. She was also quizzed about her familys political views. No charges were laid.
This intimidating and chilling treatment, it must be noted, is perfectly legal. Under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 - passed before the September 11 attacks - police were given huge powers at airports and other locations.
Under this law, failure to cooperate on matters such as handing over digital devices could lead to prosecution. Anti-terror powers should be used against dangerous people, not ordinary citizens or well-meaning activists who want a better world."
UK: The Lammy Review: will it change outcomes in the criminal justice system? (IRR News, link):
"Lee Bridges, Emeritus Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick, continues our examination of the Lammy Review.
Having already written on an allied subject the 2011 riots - the Conservative government chose Labour MP David Lammy to head its inquiry into the treatment of black and ethnic minority (BAME) groups within the criminal justice system. But the government made sure the terms of reference specifically excluded the police from its remit, given the already well-known high levels of ethnic disproportionality arising from police stop and searches and arrests, which in part may explain why the Lammy Review is not as hard hitting as so many had hoped.(...)
Nor will changing the complexion of those working in the system necessarily alter its class base or bring about the radical changes in its structures, policies, processes and priorities that are required to tackle the ethnic disadvantages that it continues to perpetuate."
Council of the European Union: Reception Directive and European Electronic Communications Code
RECEPTION: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 12185-17,121 pages, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position. With 211 Footnotes including Member State positions.
"the Asylum Working Party examined the proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (...) New text for discussion at the JHA Counsellors meeting on 16 October 2017 is indicated with addition in bold and underlined, and the newly deleted text is indicated in strikethrough (bold)."
Proposal for a Directive establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (Recast) - Preparation for the first informal trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 12797-REV-1-17, 418 pages, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position.
"The aim of the first political trilogue with the EP will be to discuss the CODE overall, and to identify those areas where there is broad agreement, those where technical work may be able to identify compromises, and above all those areas which require political solutions at further trilogues."
Council of the European Union: European Public Prosecutor's Office
ENHANCED COOPERATION of 20 Member States: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office - Adoption (LIMITE doc no: 12791, pdf):
"The draft Regulation aims to set up a European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) which will be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment the perpetrators of, and accomplices to, criminal offences affecting the financial interests of the Union.(...)
Following the lack of unanimity registered in the Council of 7 February 2017 on the draft Regulation, the referral of that draft Regulation to the European Council by a group of 17 Member States on 14 February 2017 and the discussion leading to a disagreement in the European Council of 9 March 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission were notified on 3 April 2017 of the wish of 16 Member States (Belgium,Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) to establish enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the EPPO. (...)
Later on, four additional Member States (Austria, Estonia, Italy and Latvia) have informed the three institutions that they wish to participate in the enhanced cooperation." [emphasis added]
The EPPO will be in charge of tackling fraud against European funds and VAT in its cross-border dimensions and is expected to be operational by 2020. It is also expected that the Commission will seek to extend its competencies to other serious offences such as terrorist crimes later.
FINAL TEXT: COUNCIL REGULATION implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office ("the EPPO") (Doc no: 9941-17, 210 pages, pdf)
See also: European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO) (Statewatch News, 5 June 2017) and the European Parliament's postion (29 September 2017, pdf).
EU: Daddys gonna pay for your crashed car? The ECJ clarifies the vertical direct effect of Directives (EU Law Analysis, link):
"The test for defining an 'emanation of the State', as applied in Foster, was formulated in the following terms:
... a body, whatever its legal form, which has been made responsible, pursuant to a measure adopted by the State, for providing a public service under the control of the State and has for that purpose special powers beyond those which result from the normal rules applicable in relations between individuals is included in any event among the bodies against which the provisions of a directive capable of having direct effect may be relied upon (C-188/89 at , emphasis added)."
Worth Reading: the Rule of Law Checklist, of the Venice Commission adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (FREE Group, link):
"On October 11, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved a list of six criteria, set out by the Venice Commission in 2016, to clarify the so far undefined notion of the rule of law.
The pragmatic approach of the Venice Commission got round the problem of a formal definition of the notion of Rule of Law by setting out specific criteria as resulting by the doctrine and the jurisprudence of the European and national Courts such as: (...)
See: European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission): Rule of Law Checklist (pdf)
UK: Caroline Lucas tells ministers to get a grip over accidental deportation letters (aol, link):
"Ministers have been urged to "get a grip" after they confirmed more than 100 deportation letters were accidentally sent to EU nationals living in the UK ordering them to leave.
Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis said the error was made as a result of an "incorrect interpretation" of an EEA national's unsuccessful application for a registration certificate, and that he had written to apologise to all recipients.
It was previously thought that up to 100 deportation letters had been accidentally posted, after Finnish academic Eva Johanna Holmberg - who was ordered to leave - highlighted the issue."
GREECE: Three young men arrested for racist attack against Pakistanis in Aspropyrgos (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"hree young men were arrested on Thursday for the attack against two Pakistani nationals on Saturday in Aspropyrgos. Two of the arrestees are 17 years old and one 18.
According to police, the three are supporters of the extreme right but no evidence was found officially linking them to far-right Golden Dawn or any other extreme right group. In their houses police found clubs and other objects. The suspects are known to police for their participation in a series of incidents.
The three were detained in last April and June for attacking police and throwing molotov cocktail bombs during an anti-racist protest in Aspropyrgos."
UK-FRANCE: Calais Research: mapping the deals and decision-makers (link):
"The calaisresearch website is a collaborative project to gather and analyse information about the Calais border. Formed by members of Calais Migrant Solidarity, Corporate Watch, and Passeurs dHospitalités, its first publication in 2016 was a list of 40 companies profiting from the jungle eviction and other border violence. The sites aim is to help those fighting for freedom of movement in Calais develop effective strategies.
To do that we need to understand what were up against: the decision-makers and deals that create the Calais Border Regime. Most obviously, the orders come from the UK and French governments. But there also other important players, including the business interests which govern cross-border trade. The latest section of the calaisresearch site maps these key decision-makers, with another new page cataloging the security funding deals announced since 2009."
GREECE: Island mayors raise alarm bell over congestion at hotspots (ekathimerini.com, link):
"In a series of letters to the Greek government, mayors and the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDE) have raised the alarm bell over the congestion at hotspots hosting asylum seekers in the islands of the northeastern Aegean. (...)
Migrant flows have picked up recently with more than 100 people arriving daily on the Greek islands, while on Thursday alone another 245 people arrived. Since the beginning of the month until Thursday, a total of 1,535 migrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands."
IRELAND: New 24/7 intel unit on airline passengers (Irish Examiner, link):
"The Passenger Information Unit (PIU), due to be up and running by next May, will have its own premises and staffing complement, financed by an initial 4m budget.
It is being set up to implement an EU directive to create a union-wide system for collecting, analysing and sharing airline passenger information with a view to identifying unknown persons who may be involved in terrorism or serious transnational crime.
Under the EU Directive on Passenger Name Record, (PNR) airlines have to give PIUs passenger details on all flights coming into their country from outside the EU.
PNR data includes a passengers travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, payment details and baggage information."
UK: Police drag 85-year-old woman across road from fracking site and promise to review tactics (Drill or Drop, link):
"Lancashire Police is reviewing tactics after three officers dragged 85-year-old campaigner Anne Power across a busy road during anti-fracking protests in Lancashire.
Ms Power, honoured by the Green Party conference earlier this week, was dragged by her shoulders with her unsupported feet catching along the road."
EU: Better protection and durable solution for refugees (European Parliament, press release, link):
By 37 MEPs to 20 and 2 abstentions) on 12 October, the European Parliaments civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its negotiating position for the permanent EU echanism for resettlement refugees. It called on the EU to accept 240,000 refugees:
"EU member states host 8% of the worlds refugees. In 2015, 22 EU countries resettled 13 000 people; the US resettled almost 70 000 refugees. MEPs therefore call on member states to increase both resettlement efforts and the number of resettlement places in order to shoulder a fair share of global responsibility. They want the EU to take on at least 20% of the annual projected global resettlement needs. In 2017, this would amount to around 250 000 people."
Listicle: Germanys new ground rules for migration (info migrants, link):
"The ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) have agreed to put a limit on the number of refugees Germany would accept on humanitarian grounds each year. They also laid out further steps to regulate migration in a regulatory framework. What are the key points of the plan?"
EU: Border controls extended without justification (euobserver, link):
"EU member states must demonstrate a serious threat to public order and internal security to impose temporary border controls.
But government documents suggest member states are broadly allowed to deny people the right of free movement even when their own available statistics suggest that there is no major problem.(...)
EUobserver has obtained letters from each of the member states, where they explain their reasons for upholding the border controls. Some admit there is no problem, while others offer scant data to support their arguments."
And see: Germany extends border controls, citing terrorism and migration (DW, link): "Germany extended temporary passport controls on its border with Austria and for flights departing from Greece for an additional six months due to the prospect of irregular migration and terrorism, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday."
Warning that western spies put lives in danger by posing as journalists (Press Gazette, link):
"The Guardians Edward Snowden revelations were widely condemned by those involved in secret intelligence for undermining spies safety.
But a new study, by City Universitys Paul Lashmar, has warned that western intelligence agencies themselves have put journalists in danger by using the profession as cover whilst operating covertly.
In Tinker, tailor, journalist, spy Lashmar notes that in March 2014, Nils Horner, a 51-year-old British-Swedish radio reporter, was assassinated in Kabul by a Taliban splinter group which accused him of being a spy."
European Council draft Conclusions on migration
The European Council (19 October 2017) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 11572-17, pdf) say on migration:
"To consolidate and deepen this approach on all migration routes, the European Council further calls for:
- continued full commitment to our cooperation with Turkey on migration as well as - support to the Western Balkans;
- reducing the attractiveness of illegal migration through enhanced returns, effective readmission agreements and arrangements and by making full use of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which should be further strengthened....."
MSF report: Greece: Confronting the mental health emergency on Samos and Lesvos Why the containment of asylum seekers on the Greek islands must end (pdf):
"Asylum seekers held on Greeces islands are in the midst of a mental health emergency. Many have lived through extreme violence and traumatic events. But it is the conditions they face in Greece, including the continued violence and the lack of appropriate services, which are pushing them into hopelessness and are greatly compounding their mental health suffering."
CoE: Commissioner seeks clarifications over Italys maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters (link):
"addressed to Mr Marco Minniti, Minister of Interior of Italy, published today, the Commissioner requests information with regard to Italys maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters aimed at managing migration flows.
Expressing appreciation for Italys efforts in saving lives at sea and in receiving migrants arriving at its shores in the last years, the Commissioner underscores that, even when a state faces difficulties in coping with the influx of migrants, it still has the duty to protect and safeguard their human rights.
The case law of the European Court of Human Rights is clear about this duty and I think it bears relevance for Italys operations in Libyan territorial waters, writes the Commissioner."
See: Letter to Italy (pdf)
European Parliament Study: Strengthening the Position of Press Publishers and Authors and Performers in the Copyright Directive (pdf):
"Upon the request by the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, this study reviews Art 11 and Arts 14-16 of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. It outlines criticisms that have been made of the proposals, includes reports of research into the operation and effects of precursors of Article 11 in Germany and Spain, a summary of the cultural economics literature on legal regulation of authors contracts and analysis of the laws of 7 Member States to see in what way Arts 14-16 would add value."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9-11.10.17) including: 5-year-old girl dies in Moria hotspot; "grave abuse" in EU migration policies; Common European Asylum System progress report
UK: Da Costa death: five Met officers investigated for misconduct (The Guardian, link):
"Five police officers are being investigated for alleged misconduct over the detention of a man who later died, the police watchdog has said.
The officers are to be told their handling of the restraint of Edson Da Costa and the care they gave him once he became unwell may have fallen below acceptable professional standards, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said on Tuesday.
Da Costa died six days after being stopped by police in east London in June. Investigators have previously said they believed force and CS spray were used on him."
EU: Reforming the 'Common European Asylum System': progress report
The Presidency of the Council of the EU has published a useful note outlining the state of play with seven legislative proposals that were published by the Commission in 2016. These proposals are aimed at reforming the 'Common European Asylum System' (CEAS) and the EU's system for resettling refugees from non-EU countries.
The proposals in question are: "the recast of the Dublin Regulation and of the Eurodac Regulation, a proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), a proposal for a Regulation establishing a common [asylum] procedure in the EU, a proposal for a Qualification Regulation, the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive and a proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework."
EU-AFRICA: Paris summit on migration (28 August 2017): English translations of statements
English translations of the statements produced following the EU-African summit on migration held in Paris on 28 August 2017. The translations were produced by the German state.
European Parliament study: EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies: Securing Good Governance (pdf):
"This study, commissioned by the European Parliaments Policy Department for Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, examines the governance structures of EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies. Specifically, it maps and analyses across-the-board agencies relationships to the main institutional actors in terms of core reporting and scrutiny mechanisms. Drawing on agency founding acts and interviews, it looks closely in particular at management boards composition and operation, ranging from voting allocation to institutional and Member State representation to issues of board expertise. The study further considers some of the implications of the current governance set up with respect to ensuring co-operation from corresponding national structures, identifying existing structural shortcomings inherent to current mandates and proposing suggestions for improvement."
Council of the EU: Address by President Donald Tusk to the European Committee of the Regions (10 October 2017, pdf). On Brexit, migration and asylum, climate, the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, security and Catalonia:
"We last met 18 months ago, and much has happened since then. At the time, the European Council was working hard to end the most serious migration crisis Europe has ever faced, and also to prevent the exit of one of our largest Member States. As regards the first issue, we have been able to achieve a lot. By ordering the closure of the Western Balkan route and improving our cooperation with Turkey, the flows of irregular migrants on this path to Europe were stemmed by 98 per cent. However, on the second issue, we have unfortunately not been as successful. On June 23, Britain voted for Brexit. Immediately after the result, I told the media what my father used to tell me: "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." Thankfully, this is what has happened. But it did not happen automatically, it took much effort."
France takes anti-terror legislation to next level (Deutsche Welle, link):
"France is about to pass a new anti-terror law as it eases its way out of the state of emergency. But civil rights campaigners say it will put citizens under general suspicion. Lisa Louis reports from Paris.
Braun-Pivet maintains the law will strike a fair balance. "We have consulted police services, the prosecutor's office, and the secret services and are providing them with what they need to protect our country. And yet, they will have considerably less powers than during the state of emergency," she told DW.
But Laurence Blisson, Secretary General of the Magistrates Union, disagrees. The union has joined forces with dozens of NGOs, researchers and lawyers and is asking for the legislation to be withdrawn.
She describes the anti-terrorism law as "a further step towards a repressive state based on general suspicion.""
And see: FRANCE: New anti-terror law makes emergency powers permanent
ITALY: Appeals lodged before the entry into force of new Asylum Law have automatic suspensive effect
On 27 July 2017, the Italian Court of Cassation ruled that the expulsion of an asylum seeker, pending the second instance appeal proceedings against the rejection of the asylum claim, is unlawful.
EU: Offshore processing of asylum claims and legal responsibility in "scenarios of extraterritorial complicity"
Two recent posts on the blog of the European Journal of International Law discuss the ongoing moves towards the "offshore processing" of asylum claims by the EU, its Member States, non-EU countries such as Chad and Niger and international organisations such as the IOM and UNHCR; and the question of legal responsibility in such "scenarios of extraterritorial complicity".
SPAIN: Official Statement by the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, on the political situation in Catalonia (pdf):
"I stand here before Parliament to present to you the results of the referendum held on October 1 and to explain the political consequences derived from it. I am conscious, as Im sure are many of you, that today I also stand before the people of Catalonia and before many others, who have focused their attention on what happens today in this chamber.
We are living in an exceptional time, of historical dimension. The consequences and effects run beyond our country and its evident that, far from being an internal and domestic affair, as we have often had to hear from those who neglected their responsibility by not wanting to know about whats happening, Catalonia is a European issue."
And see: useful background on Catalonia, the Catalan independence movement(s) and the current situation: Catalonia: Past and Future (Jacobin, link): "As Catalonia prepares to declare independence we examine the history and politics behind its independence movement."
UK: Stop the Spy Cop Cover Up (one small window, link):
"In recent years, laws curtailing civil liberties and sanctioning greater surveillance of British citizens and residents have been passed in the Houses of Parliament, making it an unusual venue for a meeting on the Undercover Police Inquiry, even though the inquiry core participants include a number of politicians.
A public meeting was hosted there by Naz Shah MP on Tuesday 10 October to discuss recent critical events in the trajectory of the inquiry, called for over three years ago. The inquiry should have completed its work and produced a report by now. Instead, not a single piece of evidence has been heard and allegations have come to light that a secret police unit concerned shred evidence weeks after the inquiry was ordered in 2014.
The focus of the meeting lay on the actions of the new inquiry chair: Sir John Mitting is a controversial figure with a long history of work in secret courts and protecting government interests. One of his first actions as chair was to publish a minded to note granting restriction orders on the disclosure of the cover and real names of a number of officers involved, on the grounds of protecting the privacy and rights of spies.
Attendees at the meeting passed a unanimous motion demanding Mittings resignation. How and when Mittings resignation will be formally demanded will be set out in the coming weeks. Neville Lawrence, father of teenager Stephen Lawrence whose racially-motivated murder led to the inquiry, stated no one trusts him [Mitting]. A group of women coerced into relationships with undercover officers have already written to the Home Secretary to raise their concerns about his appointment."
EU: Oxfam exposes great abuse in EUs approach to migration
"Oxfams Brussels office has published a report saying that the European Unions migration policy needs an urgent shift in direction in order to respect the EUs founding values of human rights, in a lobbying effort ahead of the 19-20 October EU summit."
Press at risk as EU-based companies export surveillance software to hostile regimes (Committe to Protect Journalists, link):
"According to a 2016 policy review by the European Commission, three EU member states issued 27 export licenses of mobile surveillance in 2015 alone, and denied only two. The review said that intrusion software--which allows the covert interception and monitoring of online activity--exported from companies registered in EU member states was connected to government-sponsored online attacks directed at journalists, activists and human rights defenders in countries including Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
The review estimated the dual-use technologies market in 2014 was worth 2.8 billion ($3.3 billion).
Current EU legislation on technologies, including cyber surveillance tools, specify licensing criteria between EU member states and non-EU countries, but leaves licensing decisions at a country's discretion. On October 12, the EU parliament will vote on proposed legislation that will bind member states to a set of regulations and include a review mechanism that examines the potential abuse of these tools against journalists and activists."
EU: Migrant smuggling tops EU crime priorities - restricted document shows extent of police operations
"Preventing the arrival of immigrants with no legal rights to the EU is more important, in terms of EU policy priorities among member states, than fighting terrorism and online child pornography.
Erkki Koort, who chairs an internal security group at the European Council, representing member states, told MEPs on Tuesday (10 October) that fighting "the facilitation of illegal migration" involves more EU states than any other crime."
UK: Closed justice: how British courts are still keeping the public in the dark (The Guardian, link):
"Reporting public court cases can sometimes feel like you have come into a conversation halfway through and are then left struggling to understand what is being talked about. It is an open court, but it feels like it is being conducted as private business between the lawyers and the judge.
Barristers often start their speeches by saying that they have submitted their arguments in a document to the judge so there is no need to repeat some of them to the court. The documents, however, are often not passed to the press or members of the public sitting in the courtroom, leaving them in the dark. At other times, barristers point to a passage in a document, and then the judge and the lawyers sit there in silence reading it before the proceedings resume. Again, those documents have invariably not been shared with the press or public who have no idea what was being examined.
In theory we have open justice in this country. In practice it often does not seem like that."
UK: Condom-detecting fingerprint test 'set for court use' (BBC News, link):
"Fingerprint technology which can detect the brand of hair gel used by a suspect or whether they have handled a condom could soon be admissible in court.
The technique uses a form of mass spectrometry to detect traces of various substances within a fingerprint.
It can provide "diverse information" about a suspect, including any alcohol or drug use, researchers have said.
The Home Office said it could be "only months" before it is used in casework."
UK: Officers cleared by Met of gross misconduct following the restraint death of Olaseni Lewis (Inquest, link):
"Six officers have been cleared of any misconduct at a Metropolitan Police disciplinary hearing following the death of Olaseni Seni Lewis in 2010. The hearing, which opened on 11 September and was heard at the Empress State Building was intended to examine whether the actions of six police officers relating to the death of Olaseni Lewis in 2010 amounted to gross misconduct.
Olaseni Lewis, a 23 year old IT graduate died as a result of prolonged restraint by MPS officers at Bethlem Royal Hospital (part of the South London and Maudsley SLAM Mental Health Trust) on 31 August 2010. The hearing concluded that the failings were outside the remit of the panel and were a matter of performance."
India-EU joint statement on cooperation in combating terrorism - New Delhi, 6 October 2017 (pdf):
"Acknowledging the developing partnership on security, including counter-terrorism, between India and EU, the Leaders expressed satisfaction with the progress made at the 10th meeting of the India-EU Counter-Terrorism Dialogue on 30 August 2017 in New Delhi. They welcomed the joint commitment to explore opportunities to develop cooperation between the relevant institutions on both sides, to, inter alia, share information, best practices, including on countering the on-line threat of radicalization, and to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops. They welcomed the resolve to deepen cooperation on domestic and international terrorist designation listing proposals through exchange of information."
FRANCE-AFRICA: In Niger, Chad: France to open asylum centres (Pulse, link):
"France will open offices in Niger and Chad in the coming weeks to identify people who could be granted asylum, President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday.
The offices would also "warn people in Niger and Chad better about the situation in order to avoid an influx of economic migrants" who would only be sent back from France, Macron said.
The French president had made a similar proposal for migrant registration centres in Libya in July.
But the idea was axed due to chronic insecurity in the North African country, a launchpad for hundreds of thousands of migrants setting sail for Europe across the Mediterranean.
In Chad and Niger, candidates for asylum would come from lists provided by the United Nations refugee agency, Macron said after talks in Paris with the UNHCR's chief Filippo Grandi.
The presidency said the first mission in Niger, operated by France's refugee protection office Ofpra, would start work at the end of October."
EU: Public consultation on interoperability of databases: deadline Wednesday 18 October (European Commission, link):
"This consultation seeks views on the interoperability of EU information systems for borders and security. It is a public consultation, and we welcome views from individuals and organisations alike. We are particularly interested in views from members of the public and practitioners in the fields of borders, law enforcement and security, as well as those active in a field of fundamental rights.
In order to ensure that interoperability is implemented in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection legislation, the Commission will undertake an analysis of necessity and proportionality, and implement effective safeguards. We therefore also seek your views on these issues, including on possible safeguards.
This consultation seeks views on the Commission's proposed approach to improving interoperability of EU information systems."
EU: Taking Stock of Assisted Voluntary Return from Europe: Decision Making, Reintegration and Sustainable Return Time for a paradigm shift (link to pdf) by Katie Kuschminder:
"Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) is a central component of European Union (EU) member states migration management policies and has grown in popularity over the past two decades. At present, all EU member states have active AVR programmes, however, despite the growing prevalence of these programmes there has been a dearth of research and evaluation on AVR. In addition, a common goal of these AVR programmes is to achieve a sustainable return, but this term lacks a commonly used definition, making sustainable return an ambiguous policy objective. This paper takes stock of the most recent research on AVR focusing on decision making in the uptake of AVR, reintegration, and sustainable return. It is argued that it is time for a fundamental shift in our underlying assumptions regarding sustainable return in the field of AVR policy and practice. The working paper addresses key research gaps in the field and poses recommendations on how to move the agenda forward on AVR."
EU: Eurojust meeting on illegal immigrant smuggling, Eurojust, The Hague, 15 June 2017 - outcome report (pdf):
"The participants included practitioners from the Member States, Norway and the USA, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the European External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED, Europol, and FRONTEX.
The principal aim and focus of the meeting was to strengthen the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling (IIS), promote the judicial dimension at an early stage of the smuggling scam, and enhance judicial cooperation at EU level. The concept of the meeting was to provide a judicial perspective, reflecting the smuggling route from countries of origin and transit towards destination countries. The first plenary session was devoted to the work of key EU partners in fighting IIS beyond EU borders and the challenges faced. The second plenary session focused on specific problems at the external borders and on the collection of data/evidence. The third plenary session underlined obstacles and solutions in relation to judicial cooperation, with emphasis on the specific challenges faced at national level. The fourth plenary session highlighted the work of Eurojust in the fight against IIS."
Dangerous Borderlands: Human Rights for Displaced People on the French-Italian Border (Border Criminologies, link):
"While hot-spots in Greece and Italy and the squalid make-shift camps in Northern France have received periods of international attention, the migratory transit point in the small Italian town of Ventimiglia on the French-Italian border seems to have been largely overlooked by media agencies and human rights groups, with the exception of a few noteworthy examples (see for example news coverage by Al-Jazeera, a blog post on Are You Syrious?, and a research study conducted by UNICEF and the REACH Initiative). Recent research by Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) highlights detrimental living conditions coupled with police violence and dangerous border crossings, creating a situation for displaced people characterised by chronic insecurity and extensive mental and physical health concerns. This post is a summary of findings of a study conducted from 21 to 24 August 2017, based on interviews with 150 refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia through a semi-structured survey, conducted in Amharic, Arabic, English, Persian and Tirgrinya. The survey findings were corroborated through RRDPs field observations and informal interviews with INGOs, NGOs and local charities and volunteers."
See: Refugee Rights Data Project: In dangerous transit: filling information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Ventimiglia, Italy (link to pdf)
The Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding: The baseline of a policy approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe? (EU Immigration and Asylum Law and Policy, link) by Anja Palm:
"On 2 February 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding (English Version**) on development cooperation, illegal immigration, human trafficking, fuel smuggling and reinforcement of border security (hereafter memorandum or MoU), was signed between the Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni and Fayez al-Serraj, Head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord.
Increasing crossings through the Central Mediterranean, which represent the final step for Sub-Saharan migratory flows transiting primarily through Niger and Libya, have led to the emergence of a policy approach aimed at reducing crossings from Libya to Italy at any cost, dictated by the need to give quick answers to the mounting uneasiness in the public opinion. If the memorandum represents its baseline, such policy has been expanded as to include dialogues with numerous Libyan actors ranging from institutional players to local tribes, mayors, entrepreneurs and even contending actors. This approach has further been reinforced by both multilateral and bilateral dialogues with other countries situated along the main migratory routes such as Tunisia and Niger.
European institutions and key Member States have repeatedly praised Italy for its proactive role in Africa, most recently in occasion of the Paris summit held on 28 August 2017. As explained elsewhere, this policy, if not counterbalanced with the opening of legal access channels for persons in need of international protection, challenges international and European law, a reality which the funders and outsourcers of those actions cannot easily ignore."
See: English translation of: Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of development, the fight againstillegal immigration, human trafficking and fuel smuggling and on reinforcing the security of borders between the State of Libya and the Italian Republic (pdf) translated by the Odysseus Network (link).
INTERPOL General Assembly adopts data processing policy on refugees (Interpol press release, pdf):
"BEIJING, China To avoid refugee status being abused by criminals and terrorists, INTERPOLs General Assembly has officially adopted a policy on the processing of data on refugees.
The resolution, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by delegates, outlines a range of measures which should be taken by member countries during the asylum application process. These include:
- systematically checking INTERPOLs databases
- use of INTERPOLs Information System to exchange information
- establishing the relevant protocols to enable regular communication between the authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications and the relevant INTERPOL National Central Bureau/s
- expanding to all relevant authorities, including border control and authorities in charge of reviewing asylum applications, access to the INTERPOL Information System
In accordance with their national laws and confidentiality requirements, the policy also encourages member countries to inform INTERPOLs General Secretariat headquarters, or the Commission for the Control of INTERPOLs Files, if an individual has been granted refugee status and on the outcome of an asylum application review."
EU: Evaluation of the code of Conduct for computerised reservation systems (European Commission, link):
"The purpose of this evaluation is to assess to which extent Regulation (EC) No 80/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on a Code of Conduct for computerised reservation systems1 (hereinafter Code of Conduct) has achieved its objectives. Its aim is to understand to which extent the Code of Conduct has contributed to offer consumers an unbiased choice of air fares with low airline ticket distribution costs via effective competition between the CRS providers. The Code of Conduct furthermore aims to prevent possible distortions of competition in the market for computerised reservation systems (hereinafter CRS) as well as in the related market for Marketing Information Data Tapes (hereinafter MIDT) ensuring effective competition between airlines controlling CRSs (i.e. parent carriers) and airlines using the services of CRSs, but not controlling them (i.e. participating carriers) and ensuring consistent application of data protection rules across EU.
The evaluation will provide an up-to-date overview of the application of the provisions of the Regulation. It will also seek to identify evidence based areas of concern in its application.
Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, we will decide on the best course of action to be taken, also taking into account market developments."
CRSs are a crucial element in the Passenger Name Record 'ecosystem' as they are where air passengers' information is stored. See: European Commissioner responds to Parliamentary question on CRSs (Papers, Please!, February 2012, link)
UK: Thousands of British citizens swept up in immigration spot checks (TBIJ, link):
"Members of Parliament and human rights lawyers are calling on the Home Office to review how immigration officers carry out spot checks after data suggested that they were using racial profiling and stopping Britons.
The Bureau, working with the media co-operative, The Bristol Cable, has obtained new Home Office data. The data shows that over 19,000 British citizens, out of a total of 102,552 people, were caught up in immigration checks over the last five years - nearly one in five.
Human rights lawyers say that this high proportion of British citizens suggests that "the checks are led by racial profiling". The Labour MP, Stella Creasy, who has previously raised the issue of raids in her own constituency, is calling on the Home Office to urgently review its practices and told the Bureau: the blanket targeting of communities like mine is neither intelligent nor effective."
GREECE: Racist hit-squads beat and stab Pakistani workers in Aspropyrgos (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Two migrant workers were attacked in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens, on Saturday. The Pakistani nationals were working on a farm when a hit-squad consisting of five men surrounded them hurling racist slurs, beat them with knuckled-dusters and stabbed them with knives. The brutally beaten men were heavily injured transferred to a hospital in Piraeus. Although, two of perpetrators were identified in police records, no operation so far to arrest the attackers.
The two workers, identified as Pakistani nationals Safak Mahmud and Vakas Hussein, were working on a farm when they were surrounded by five men hurling racist slurs and brutally beaten."
Defence R&D does not belong in Framework Programme 9 says EU industry chief (Science | Business, link):
"The EUs first defence research programme should be ring-fenced from civil research, the industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, told MEPs on Monday.
Lets be very clear, Bienkowska said, The EU defence programme should be clearly separated, in terms of budget, in terms of rules and in terms of procedures.
The question of whether high-end defence technologies should be financed from Framework Programme Nine, due to start in 2021, has been the matter of debate and concern in Brussels."
UK: GCHQ is coming out of the shadows to protect Britain's economy from cyber-criminals (The Telegraph, link):
"GCHQs role has always been to collect and use intelligence to disrupt, divert and frustrate our adversaries. Weve been doing this since 1919 and were very good at it. But we cannot afford to stand still. The Governments investment in a bigger GCHQ gives us a chance to recruit the brightest and best from across our society as the threat becomes more diverse, so must the workforce that tackles it.
Were using much of that funding to make GCHQ a cyber organisation as well as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one. We have a longstanding mission to keep sensitive information and systems secure. This has a distinguished history, notably in protecting our own secrets in wartime. But it too often felt like the poor relation. Our new mandate, to help make the UK the best place to live and do business online, has transformed that perception. This profound development is led within GCHQ by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), one year old last week."
See: Popular Security Software Came Under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks (The Intercept, link) and: Bulk Personal Datasets Challenge (Privacy International, link)
UK-EU: Brexit, Fundamental Rights And The Future Of Judicial And Police Cooperation (European Law Blog, link) by Cristina Saenz Perez:
"Fundamental rights are a crucial issue in order to ensure cooperation in criminal justice and security matters. The lack of adequate fundamental rights protections after Brexit complicates the negotiations in an area that the UK has set as a priority in the Brexit talks. A separate agreement UK-EU could be the answer to the UK aspirations. The difficulties of this agreement are obvious once the UK does not incorporate the Charter. However, a separate agreement could make the Charter applicable to these instruments or incorporate the Roadmap Directives on Procedural rights, which effectively develops Charter rights concerning the right to a fair trial. In this case, the UK would have to incorporate directives that it has refused to incorporate claiming that the national safeguards available were more generous than the ones offered at EU level. In this case, the paradox will be that the UK would be forced to apply more EU law than it did before Brexit in order to guarantee the same degree of cooperation with the rest of the EU."
EU: Left in limbo: UNHCR study on the implementation of the Dublin Regulation
"The objective of this study was to examine how the Dublin III Regulation is applied and to assess the extent to which the procedures, safeguards and guarantees under the Dublin III Regulation are implemented and deliver on the aims of determining swiftly the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection in accordance with the criteria under the Regulation."
USA: Guantanamo inmates starving amid new medical rules (Reprieve, link):
"The authorities at Guantánamo Bay have ceased the ten-year practice of force-feeding hunger-striking prisoners, under a new policy by the Trump Administration.
Some so-called forever prisoners have been striking for as long as four years, peacefully protesting a lack of charges or a trial. The ten-year practice had been to force feed them when they have lost one fifth of their body weight. However, human rights organisation Reprieve understands that on September 20th, a new Senior Medical Officer (SMO) stopped tube-feeding the strikers, and ended the standard practice of closely monitoring their declining health."
In landmark terrorism trial, France confronts roots of homegrown extremism (The Washington Post, link):
"PARIS This was the case that started it all: the first chapter in Frances struggle with homegrown Islamist violence.
In 2012, between March 11 and March 19, Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French citizen of Algerian origins, murdered seven people: first three French police officers, and then a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in the southwestern city of Toulouse.
The Merah affair was a shock at the time pointing to an attacker raised in France rather than a militant who slipped into the country to carry out previous Islamist-linked strikes for groups such as Lebanons Hezbollah or factions that grew out of Algerias civil war in the 1990s.
In the years since Merahs bloodshed, the episode has come to reflect the elements in many other recent attacks: youth against authority, Islamist extremist against Jew, and, perhaps most of all, French against French.
This week, the Merah case was brought to trial in Paris, although Merah was killed at the end of his rampage."
Council of the European Union adopts policy on "open data" - but will continue to keep a lot secret
- Reuse is subject to: "the obligation not to distort the original meaning or message of the documents." and the current rules to keep LIMITE documents secret will continue.
EU: After Hamburg and Barcelona: Outlaw rubber bullets Europe-wide! (Andrej Hunko MP, link):
"Most of the Member States of the European Union permit their police to use rubber and plastic ammunition. Switzerland and Turkey also use such ammunition. Time and again rubber bullets are used to fire into crowds of people, causing serious injuries. Although prohibited, the police target peoples heads. As a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I am taking the events of this nature that took place in Barcelona as grounds to call for this type of ammunition to be outlawed Europe-wide, declared Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag.
According to a situation report produced by the Research Services of the German Bundestag, the only European countries where such ammunition is not used are Romania, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria."
See: Research Services of the German Bundestag: Situation report on the use of rubber ammunition in Europe (pdf)
EU: German spy chiefs say 'no' to EU intelligence service (euobserver, link):
"The EU does not need a joint intelligence service despite the heightened terrorist threat in Europe, German spy chiefs have said.
"Although I am a true friend of European integration, in my opinion, we do not need a European intelligence service, and we would not get one," Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, said on Thursday (5 October).
"Intelligence is better organised at the national level," he said.(...)
The spy chiefs spoke at the first-ever public hearing of the Bundestag's intelligence oversight committee in Berlin. The EU foreign service in Brussels already has an intelligence-sharing office, called IntCen."
CoE: Latvia: Court judgment reveals inhuman and degrading detention conditions of deaf and mute prisoner (Press statement, link):
"Human rights judges have told Latvian authorities that the detention conditions of deaf and mute prisoner amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.
In todays Chamber judgment in the case of Abele v. Latvia (applications nos. 60429/12 and 72760/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned a complaint from Valters Abele, who was born in 1968. He is currently in jail in Jekabpils, after being sentenced to 15 years and six months in prison for aggravated murder."
Setting A Cap On Refugees - Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democracts and their Bavarian sister party respond to election losses (Handelsblatt, link):
"The ruling Christian Democratic party (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday reached an agreement with its sister Christian Social Union (CSU) in the state of Bavaria to push for a limit on the number of refugees Germany will accept. After several hours of talks on Sunday between the CSU leadership and the CDU, a compromise was reached setting a limit of 200,000 refugees a year.".
GREECE: Syrian girl, 5, dies at Moria hotspot (ekathimerini.com, link):
"A 5-year-girl from Syria has died at Moria hotspot, on the island of Lesvos, one of the main entry points for migrants and asylum-seekers.
The girl, whose family landed on Lesvos last Tuesday, was suffering from serious health problems. An ambulance transferred the girl to a nearby hospital on Sunday where doctors could only confirm her death. Its parents said they were traveling to Europe to seek treatment."
Europe's new migrant policy comes at a moral price (euobserver, link):
"The European Union has sought to absolve itself of addressing what many of its leaders have described as the "migrant crisis" with a quick-and-easy-fix that will haveand already has hadsevere consequences.
Its new containment policy deflects its own legal obligation to migrants onto the gatekeepers of popular migration routes like Libya, which is already struggling from a myriad of its own issues."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-8.10.17)
Vanessa Redgrave: This film will open minds to Europes criminal ways (The Observer, link)
"Carlo Nero stands behind Vanessa Redgrave, his long fingers resting on her right shoulder as the camera captures the moment, a special moment, of mother and son in Athens. The Acropolis shimmers in the mid-afternoon sun behind them. Thats it. No more barking today! he jokes as Panos, the photographer, takes what turns out to be his final frame. In Neros hands, Redgrave jauntily agrees to conform. A timeless pose is struck.
But this is not theatre. Neither Nero nor Redgrave is under Hellenic skies to act or take in the sights. They are here to promote Sea Sorrow, their latest documentary depicting the plight of refugees who, forced to flee homelands through persecution and war, have landed on Greek shores.
Athens is on the whistlestop tour of capitals and cities that, in less than a month, has taken them to Lisbon, Nuremberg, the Greek capital and, this weekend, New York."
ECRE: Greek Council of State dismisses all complaints on fast track border procedure and declares Turkey safe third country based on doubtful documentation (link):
"On 22 September 2017, the Greek Council of State, the highest administrative court of the country, delivered two long-awaited judgments (2347/2017 and 2348/2017) regarding two Syrian nationals whose claims were rejected as inadmissible. The rulings will have important consequences on all main elements of the Greek asylum procedure and further deemed Turkey as a safe third country in their case, based on selective and limited documentation.(...)
The dissenting judgment from one judges sharply criticises the credibility of the sources and evidence supporting the notion of Turkey as a safe third country: It is a fact known to all that in the past years and particularly in 2016 in Turkey, both before and after the failed coup of 15 July 2016, prevails a regime, in which fundamental rights and liberties are openly violated, judicial independence has been dismantled, where freedom of speech and press are not applied and guarantees of rule of law are not applied to those opposing the regime; The assurances of the diplomatic authorities of this country, forming part of the hierarchy of said regime, have no credibility. This is valid when both the Directive and Greek law do not refer to any protection status, but require the highest possible protection status (in accordance with the Geneva Convention) to be guaranteed, as seen below; What matters is not the protective legislation of a country, but whether and how that is implemented in practice (para 60)."
Are You Syrious (6.10.17, link):
MORIA Overcrowding: Feature
"Overcrowding on the hotspots of the Aegean islands has been an ongoing issue for quite some time, one that Greek authorities seem either unable or unwilling to fix. The problem is worst in Moria on Lesvos. The camp, which was created to host 2,000 people, is currently housing 5,000, two and a half times above its capacity. According to Human Rights Watch, this has led to widespread abuses and difficulties, such as a shortage of water for children and abuse against women. The HRW representatives who spoke to the Greek parliament also stated that there are no shower facilities for people with limited mobility.
This severe level of overcrowding is preceded by the largest movement of refugees from Turkey to Greece in a very long time, numbering nearly 5000 people in the month of September. Even with a limited flow of people into the country, the Greek bureaucracy was failing to process applications and organize timely relocation for refugees whose status as asylum seekers had been confirmed. There is no lack of housing on the mainland, this is, simply speaking, a result of foot-dragging by the Greek authorities. With winter on the horizon, it is difficult to imagine the troubles that will take hold on the islands. UNHCR has brought attention to the fact that the facilities on the islands are woefully underprepared for winter, with 1,500 in Moria alone living in makeshift tents without so much as proper flooring or insulation."
Austria: Mass deportation to take place on October 10
There is to be a charter flight deporting refugees from Austria and Sweden to Afghanistan. The flight is scheduled to depart on October 10, and this will certainly be a mass deportation. Deportations from Austria are currently very frequent, the most recent case having taken place on September 30. However, the recent cases have been deportations of individuals accompanied by two or three police officers. The number of Afghan refugees taken to deportation centers continues to increase. The police is making a concerted effort to capture people whose asylum claims have not been approved, and there are reports of racial profiling of pedestrians in public places. It is important that people organize to protest these actions, and to all those who are at risk of deportation, we send our solidarity and wish them luck."
Italy: Report highlights the vast number of areas outside of the formal reception system
"An Italian language report commissioned by MSF has created a map of the non reception areas in Italy, underlining those regions and provinces where migrants are forced to sleep on the streets and are outside the formal reception system. As you can see, in Friuli Venezia Giulia (where Gorizia and Pordenone are located) migrants sleeping on the streets or outside the reception system is a common phenomenon in every province."
UNHCR: Overcrowded Greek refugee camps ill-prepared for winter (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Greece must speed up winter preparations at refugee camps on islands in the Aegean Sea where there has been a sharp rise in arrivals, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.
Nearly 5,000 refugees, mostly Syrian or Iraqi families, crossed from Turkey in September a quarter of all arrivals this year, UNHCR data shows.(...)
In the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, one of the main entry points, more than 1,500 people are in makeshift shelters or tents without insulation, flooring or heating, UNHCR said.
They include pregnant women, people with disabilities, and very young children."
EU police forces copy Israeli online 'predictive policing' (euobserver, link):
"EU-wide counter-terror rules are paving the way to allow authorities to crack down on people before any crime has been committed.
Also known as a predictive policing, the move is raising serious fundamental rights issues, as people innocent of any wrongdoing may end up falsely accused or arbitrarily detained.
Such tactics are already being employed by Israeli security services on Palestinians, sometimes with devastating consequences for victims and their families.
But with the recent spate of terrorist attacks across Europe, the prospects for predictive policing are becoming more enticing for security services, amid broader EU moves that also appear to restrict online freedom."
EU: Council of the European Union: eu-LISA
Proposal for a Regulation on the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, and amending Regulation (EC) 1987/2006 and Council Decision 2007/533/JHA and repealing Regulation (EU) 1077/2011 - Revised draft (LIMITE doc no: 11884-17, pdf): 140 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough."
And see: ADD 1: Member States general observations in relation to the proposal for the Regulation on eu-LISA (LIMITE doc no: 11884-ADD-1-17, pdf):
"as regards interoperability (Article 9), a few Member States welcomed the future role of eu-LISA, but one delegation underlined that interoperability also raises questions in relation to data protection which must be answered."
European Parliament: Study: Research of the Policy Department for Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs and the EPRS in the Fields of Responsibilities of the Special Committee on Terrorism (pdf):
"This paper provides a detailed analysis of the responsibilities of the Special Committee on Terrorism and the corresponding available and upcoming research of the Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs and the EPRS."
See: Decision setting up the Committee (link)
EU-Council: Interoperability and the EES (Entry-Exit System) and SIS (Schengen Information System): Possibilities for interoperability between EES and SIS (LIMITE doc no: 1253517, pdf): Concludes in the light of: The relatively low number of the volume of return decisions, "about 500 000" in 2016 which is "significantly lower than the volume of transactions between EES and VIS" (Visa Information System) that:
"On this basis and taking into account the discussions in the Schengen Acquis Working Party on 2 October 2017, where it was concluded that the SIS proposal would not be amended in this direction at this stage, the Presidency believes that interconnecting EES and SIS is for now premature." [emphasis added]
UK: Prevent racism, resistance, repeal (IRR News, link):
"A report from Just Yorkshire exposes the dangers of the governments Prevent agenda.
Commissioned by the racial justice and human rights charity Just Yorkshire, Rethinking Prevent shatters the myth that Prevent is a fundamental, fair or, indeed, fantastic way of tackling the threat of terrorism."
View the report website here (link)
Poland: Police raid offices of women's groups in Poland after protests (Guardian, link):
"Organisations which help victims of domestic violence have documents and computers seized after women stage marches to protest against abortion law.
Womens rights groups have denounced police raids on their offices in several Polish cities that resulted in the seizing of documents and computers, a day after women staged anti-government marches to protest at the countrys restrictive abortion law.
The raids took place on Wednesday in the cities of Warsaw, Gdansk, Lódz and Zielona Góra. They targeted two organisations, the Womens Rights Centre and Baba, which help victims of domestic violence and participated in this weeks anti-government protests."
The CIA Within Academe: Book documents how foreign and domestic intelligence agencies use - and perhaps exploit - higher education and academe for spy operations (Inside Higher Ed, link):
"Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think its not happening in the lab or classroom as well.
In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit Americas Universities (Henry Holt and Company), investigative journ
UK: Investigatory Powers Tribunal faces challenge in appeal court over mass hacking (Computer Weekly, link):
"Appeal court will decide whether UK citizens have the right to challenge controversial decisions made by Britains most secret court, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Non-governmental organisation Privacy International will challenge the government in court over the legality of GCHQs use of mass hacking of mobile phones and computer equipment using broad warrants that do not identify individual people for surveillance."
Amnesty condemns forced returns of Afghan asylum seekers (euractiv, link):
"A surge of failed Afghan asylum seekers forcibly returned from Europe are at risk of torture, kidnapping and death in war-torn Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today (5 October).
Almost 9,500 Afghans went back to their homeland in 2016 after their applications for asylum in Europe were rejected, compared with nearly 3,300 a year earlier, the human rights group said.(...)
European governments are forcing increasing numbers of asylum seekers back to the dangers from which they fled, in brazen violation of international law, Amnesty said in a report, Forced Back to Danger"
See: Forced back to danger: Asylum-seekers returned from Europe to Afghanistan (AI, pdf)
MSF: Serbia: Games of Vilolence: Unaccpompanied children and young people repeatedly abused by EU Member State Border authorities (pdf):
"Whilst providing primary and mental health care to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Médecins Sans Frontières medical teams based in Belgrade continue to treat the injuries, both psychological and physical, of those crossing towards the Schengen Zone. Whether they are living in unsafe and precarious conditions at Serbias borders with Hungary and Croatia, or recently arrived from Bulgaria, the injured and distressed are mostly young men and boys aged between 15 and 25 years of age."
EU: PNR Directive: Member States want to go beyond EU rules and share "additional information"
EU Member States are working towards implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of all passengers travelling by air within, out of and into the EU. The final report of a pilot project led by Hungary on exchanging PNR data between Member States' Passenge Information Units (PIUs) shows that some Member States see the Directive as limiting their efforts to share as much data as possible with other national authorities - including those of non-EU Member States.
See: NOTE from: Hungarian delegation to: Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX): Information Managment Strategy - Action 3 - Passenger Name Records Data Exchange Pilot (PNRDEP) - Final report (10879/17, LIMITE, 28 September 2017, pdf):
German spy chiefs face public grilling by lawmakers (DW, link)
"For the first time in Germany, top intelligence officials will publically answer questions in front of a parliamentary committee. The hearing is part of a government push to take the agencies "out of the grey zone."
The heads of Germany's secret services the foreign affairs body, the German Intelligence Agency (BND), its domestic equivalent the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), and the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) all convened for a public hearing before the German parliament's oversight committee for the first time on Thursday.(...)
The lawmakers are expected to quiz the intelligence heads about terrorism, cyber security, and the reform efforts for at least three hours. According to observers, some of the inquiries should also touch on the sore spots in the intelligence community, including the botched effort to stop the murderous neo-Nazi cell NSU and the spying scandal involving the US National Security Agency (NSA)."
European Commission steps up infringement against Hungary on NGO Law (Press release, pdf):
"Today, the European Commission issued a reasoned opinion - the second step in the infringement procedure - to Hungary for its law on foreign-funded NGOs."
EU-USA: High Court asks ECJ to examine Facebook case (The Irish Times, link):
"A High Court judge has asked the Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ) to determine the validity or otherwise of European Commission decisions approving EU-US data transfer channels used by Facebook and others.
The case has potentially huge implications for billions of euro worth of trade between the two blocs and the data privacy rights of millions of EU citizens, as well as their safety and security, Ms Justice Caroline Costello noted.
Facebook and the US government had opposed the Irish Data Protection Commissioners application for a referral but the judge agreed to refer, concurring with the commissioner that there are well founded grounds for believing European Commission decisions of 2001, 2004 and 2010 approving data transfer channels known as Standard Contractual Clauses are invalid."
See: High Court of Ireland: Executive Summary of the Judgment 3rd October, 2017 (pdf)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-4.10.17) including: ECHR: Spain guilty over migrant returns; commemorations in Lampedusa on fourth anniversary of shipwreck
Forget Killer RobotsBias Is the Real AI Danger (MIT Technology Review, link):
"Googles AI chief isnt fretting about super-intelligent killer robots. Instead, John Giannandrea is concerned about the danger that may be lurking inside the machine-learning algorithms used to make millions of decisions every minute.
The real safety question, if you want to call it that, is that if we give these systems biased data, they will be biased, Giannandrea said before a recent Google conference on the relationship between humans and AI systems.
The problem of bias in machine learning is likely to become more significant as the technology spreads to critical areas like medicine and law, and as more people without a deep technical understanding are tasked with deploying it. Some experts warn that algorithmic bias is already pervasive in many industries, and that almost no one is making an effort to identify or correct it."
EP Voted For "Access" of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Visa Information System (Novinite, link):
"The European Parliament voted for "access" of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen visa information system. This will allow both countries to check through the new visa system for third-country nationals without, however, being able to enter, modify or delete data, reported BGNES.
The proposal has already been approved by the European Council. According to the MEPs, Bulgaria and Romania have fulfilled all the conditions under the Schengen agreement on air, sea and land borders, police cooperation, protection of personal data and visas.
The final political decision whether the two countries can become part of the Schengen area and stop systematic border checks with neighboring EU countries must be taken unanimously by all sides of the European Council. For a quick decision, the European Commission called last week."
EU: Expansion of the Frontex agency
"In 2015, Frontex employed 320 people, but now it employs 460. Nearly 170 people are involved in operations, 150 work as analysts, and 80 work on operational logistics. By 2020, the number of staff is expected to increase to 1,000.
The Frontex offices now occupy the 6th to 13th floor of the building and the lower levels are occupied by a bank. "Maybe we will have to take their space?" said a Frontex officer.
The budget of the agency will grow from 143 million in 2015 to 322 million in 2020. Frontex is currently running 12 operations in cooperation with EU states. The largest of them are sea operations "Triton," off the coast of Italy and Malta (with more than 400 officers and 14 ships), and "Poseidon," in Greece and the Aegean Sea (with nearly 900 border guards and 14 ships). Maritime operations are the most expensive part of the agency's budget.
The agency also helps Bulgarian, Hungarian and Croatian guards in patrolling the borders with Serbia, and the Bulgarian authorities in monitoring the Turkish border Frontex has 270 border guards deployed at these crossing points"
See: Frontex puts down roots in Poland (EUobserver, link)
EU-BELGIUM: Royal decree on passenger name record data enters into force (International Law Office, link):
"The Passenger Data Processing Act of December 25 2016 transposes the EU Passenger Name Record Directive into Belgian law. This legal framework requires carriers of passengers in various international transport sectors (ie, air, rail, road and sea transport) and travel operators to transfer passenger data to a database managed by the Federal Public Service Internal Affairs.
The Passenger Data Processing Act will come into force for each of the above sectors following the publication of the corresponding royal decree. A royal decree containing the obligations imposed on air carriers was adopted on July 18 2017 and entered into force on August 7 2017.
The Passenger Data Processing Act and the royal decree oblige carriers and travel operators to transfer passenger data to a central database, the Belgian Passenger Information Unit (BelPIU)."
SPAIN: Digital repression and resistance during the #CatalanReferendum (X-Net, link):
"The battle presently being fought in the streets and polling stations in towns and cities throughout Catalonia before, during and after October 1, in which a diverse civil society has come together in huge numbers, putting their bodies and knowledge in the service of the shared goal of defending what is considered to be real democracy, has also had a crucial battleground in the case of the Internet."
And see: Evidence of Internet Censorship during Catalonia's Independence Referendum (OONI, link)
Mediterranean: Italy marks anniversary of Lampedusa tragedy following weekend rescues of over 1000 people
A march was held on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday in memory of the 368 people who died following the 3 October 2013 shipwreck off the coast of the island. The events come after a weekend in which over 1000 people were rescued at sea and three people are reported to have died off the coast of Libya. A further 226 people were "intercepted" and taken to a detention centre in Libya.
FRANCE: New anti-terror law makes emergency powers permanent
"France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a new counter-terrorism bill, making permanent several controversial measures in place under a nearly two-year-old state of emergency.
It will allow the authorities to confine suspected jihadist sympathisers to their neighbourhoods, close places of worship accused of condoning terror and carry out more on-the-spot identity checks -- all without the prior approval of a judge.
GREECE: No Border Kitchen Lesvos: 28 REASONS FOR ARBITRARY DETENTION
"The Greek government have recently introduced a way to abitrarily detain even more people in Moria. They will expand their practice of detaining people with citizenships of countries with low asylum acceptance rates, undermining the already barely existent right to a fair asylum procedure even more than before."
EU: Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures & ECRIS-TCN
ASYLUM Proposal: Regulation stablishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (LIMITE doc no: 12128-17, pdf): 106 Detailed Footnotes with Member State positions:
"Suggested modifications are indicated as follows: - new text compared to the Commission proposal is in bold; - deleted text is in strikethrough."
ECRIS-TCN: PRoposal for a: Regulation... to supplement and support the European criminal records information system (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU) No. 1077/2011 - Questions on prior convictions and on access by certain agencies (LIMITE doc no: 12033-27, pdf):
"Inclusion of prior convictions is essential for the ECRIS-TCN system to be effective as early as possible following the entry into force of the Regulation. Unless prior convictions are included in the ECRIS-TCN system, the system will only become useful several years after establishment of the system (...)
It must be noted, however, that ECRIS-TCN system will not achieve its full potential if only alphanumeric data of prior convictions would be included in the new system. As discussions have shown, central ECRIS-TCN system can only be efficient if fingerprint data complements the alphanumeric data of convicted TCN.
However, during the negotiations at the Working Party level, several Member States mentioned that the inclusion of the fingerprint data could create a substantial administrative burden for them. In most Member States, the fingerprint data is not part of the criminal records database and is stored separately in other databases."
EU: Council of the European Union: freezing and confiscation orders and European Electronic Communications Code
Freezing and confiscation orders: Proposal for a Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders - Revised text (LIMITE doc 11971-17, no: pdf): 94 Footnotes with Member State positions:
"The Presidency redrafted the text, see the Annex. In the footnotes, comments by Member States are set out, as well as observations submitted by the Commission. Where appropriate, the Presidency formulated new drafting suggestions (indicated by bold and underlined characters)."
And see: Previous text: Questions on a ground for non-recognition and on the management and disposal of frozen and confiscated property/costs (LIMITE doc no: 1970-17, pdf): CATS is invited:
B1) to indicate whether the executing State should have the right to deduct the costs, demonstrated by invoices, in each individual case, or whether the executing State should only be allowed to claim reimbursement of large or exceptional costs, as was foreseen in the Commission proposal (Art. 32);
B2) to state, as regards the disposal of money obtained as a result of the execution of a confiscation order, whether a more progressive division by fixed but decreasing proportions as proposed by PRES, or the rule as proposed by the Commission (up to EUR 10 000 for executing State, afterwards 50%-50% for executing and issuing State), would be preferable."
European Electronic Communications Code: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (Recast) - Examination of the Presidency text (Doc no: 12290-17. 477 pages, pdf)
Italy's deal to stem flow of people from Libya in danger of collapse (Guardian, link)
"Number of people crossing Mediterranean rises again amid power struggle between rival factions in Libyan human-trafficking port. A key pillar of the Italian governments effort to stem the politically toxic issue of people crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Italy is in danger of collapse as a result of a bloody power struggle in the key Libyan port of Sabratha, the epicentre of human trafficking to Italy."
And see: EU mission struggling in Libya, internal report says (euobserver, link) Also Restricted document highlights plans for ongoing EU interventions in Libya (Statewatch News)
SPAIN-MELLILA: The immediate return to Morocco of sub-Saharan migrants who were attempting to enter Spanish territory in Melilla amounted to a collective expulsion of foreign nationals, in breach of the Convention (Press release, pdf):
"the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
- a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of collective expulsions of aliens) to the European Convention on Human Rights, and
- a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken together with Article 4 of Protocol
The case concerned the immediate return to Morocco of sub-Saharan migrants who had attempted on 13 August 2014 to enter Spanish territory illegally by scaling the barriers which surround the Melilla enclave on the North-African coast."
Judgment: Affaire N.D. et N.T. c. Espagne (French, pdf)
Refugees' health problems in Greece mostly unmet, medical charity says (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Refugees and migrants in Greece receive little or no medical care for most health problems they face and fewer than half of those pregnant had access to maternal care, aid group Doctors of the World said on Tuesday.
About 60,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in Greece, most in overcrowded camps with unsanitary conditions. More than half of this years 20,000 arrivals were women and children, United Nations data shows."
And see: Refugees' health problems in Greece mostly unmet: medical charity (Reuters, link)
UK-BREXIT: Citizens' rights: Citizens;s rights (European Commission, pdf): With a number of red lines:
"Origin: European Commission, Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU and the UK Remarks: The joint technical note attached summarises the UK and EU positions and compares them following the 4th round of the Art. 50 negotiations."
U.S. government monitoring of social media (Papers please, link):
"Since December 2016, all visitors to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) have been asked to identify the social media IDs they use to the Department of State on the online ESTA form. In several recent notices in the Federal Register, and in official statements in response to questions about those notices, the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that it already searches for and reviews information about individuals from social media."
Germanys new online hate speech code pushes big fines and debate (Politico, link): "Berlin is pitted against big US tech companies and free-speech advocates."
UK: Big Data and Policing: An Assessment of Law Enforcement Requirements, Expectations and Priorities (RUSI, pdf) by Alexander Babuta:
"The research has identified a number of fundamental limitations in the polices current use of data. In particular, this paper finds that the fragmentation of databases and software applications is a significant impediment to the efficiency of police forces, as police data is managed across multiple separate systems that are not mutually compatible. Moreover, in the majority of cases, the analysis of digital data is almost entirely manual, despite software being available to automate much of this process. In addition, police forces do not have access to advanced analytical tools to trawl and analyse unstructured data, such as images and video, and for this reason are unable to take full advantage of the UKs wide-reaching surveillance capabilities."
The report notes that: "Systems underpinned by machine learning will inevitably reproduce the inherent biases present in the data they are provided with if particular minorities have been disproportionately targeted by police action in the past, the algorithm will disproportionately assess those individuals as posing an increased risk." However, aside from one minor suggestion, it proposes no possible way to remedy this serious problem.
EU: Five Schengen states want permission to extend internal border controls for up to two years at a time
On 27 September the European Commission proposed new rules for internal border controls in the Schengen area that would allow states facing "a serious threat to public policy or internal security" to reintroduce border controls for double the period currently allowed - one year instead of six months, and up to two years in certain cases.
A "non-paper" drafted by Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Norway - all of whom have introduced and repeatedly prolonged internal border controls in recent years - and dated 5 September, suggests that those five states will seek to extend that period even further during negotiations on the proposal.
EU: JRC makes its ship-detection software open source (EU Joint Research Centre, link):
"The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released the software of its SUMO maritime surveillance tool, which is helping to protect our oceans by detecting ships engaged in illicit activities.
The ship-detection tool has many other applications, including mapping ship routes, monitoring shipping intensity as an indicator of economic activity, helping to identify polluting ships, countering piracy and smuggling, and maritime border control."
DNA in the dock: how flawed techniques send innocent people to prison (The Guardian, link):
"....Butlers case is just one of many that highlight growing questions in the world of forensic science: what exactly are fingermarks, DNA or gunshot residue actually evidence of particularly now that even tiny traces can be detected?
Its a riddle whose answer may have profound consequences. According to research published by Morgan and her colleagues, rulings for 218 successful appeal cases in England and Wales between 2010 and 2016 argued that DNA evidence had been misleading, with the main issues being its relevance, validity or usefulness in proving an important point in a trial."
See: UK: Government Chief Scientific Adviser annual report for 2015: Forensic science and beyond: authenticity, provenance and assurance: Report (pdf) and: Evidence and case studies (pdf)
EU Buried Its Own $400,000 Study Showing Unauthorized Downloads Have Almost No Effect On Sales (Techdirt, link):
"One of the problems in the debate about the impact of unauthorized downloads on the copyright industry is the paucity of large-scale, rigorous data. That makes it easy for the industry to demand government policies that are not supported by any evidence they are needed or will work. In 2014, the European Commission tried to address that situation by putting out a tender for [research on the displacement of sales of copyrighted content by illegal downloading]...
The contract was awarded to Ecorys, a "research and consultancy company" based in the Netherlands that has written many similar reports in the past. The value of the contract was a princely 369,871 -- over $400,000. Given that hefty figure, and the fact that this was public money, you might expect the European Commission to have published the results as soon as it received them, which was in May 2015. And yet strangely, it kept them to itself."
See also: Copyright Directive: six Member States question legality of proposals for automated upload filtering (Statewatch News Online, 5 September 2017)
SPAIN: Spanish government crushes Catalan independence dreams at a high price
"Europe has had a rocky ride with referendums in recent years: think of Greeces anti-austerity vote in 2015, or the Brexit shock and Italys failed constitutional referendum in December 2016. As the UK found with the 2014 Scottish independence vote, even holding a referendum at all can be highly destabilising to the traditional political order and political party systems."
HUNGARY: Hatred of refugees has fundamentally changed the town Hungarian village succumbs to state propaganda (The Budapest Beacon, link):
"Residents of the Tolna county village of Ocsény in southwest Hungary held an emergency village assembly Monday evening. So many members of the roughly 2,000-person community attended that not everyone was able to fit into the community center. They had come together to discuss what they considered an imminent threat to their village: the arrival of several refugees, mostly women and children, for a few days of vacation.
The residents had gotten wind of the cooperation between a local guesthouse owner, Zoltán Fenyvesi, and the Migration Aid civil organization to bring four rounds of six or seven refugee children with adult chaperones to the village for a week of relaxation in the guesthouse and sightseeing tours in the region.
Upon hearing of the plan, residents convened the assembly, which Fenyvesi attended. The meeting was so hysterical and full of shouting, the guesthouse owner said, that he didnt have the chance to speak.
Later that night, the tires on two of Fenyvesis vehicles were slashed."
See also: The seeds of hatred taking root in the Hungarian countryside (Hungarian Spectrum, link): "What happened in Ocsény shocked people who have been watching with growing concern the Orbán governments perilous anti-refugee campaign. For some time one could hear anxious comments about the dreadful consequences of the brainwashing that has been taking place in Hungary over the last two and a half years. Some professionals familiar with the repercussions of such mind-changing techniques predict it will take a generation to alter the mindset of the approximately two-thirds of the population that has been heavily affected by Viktor Orbáns hate campaign."
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