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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2018
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Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.

October 2018

UK: Charter flights are brutal and illegal. Support the Stansted 15. (Red Pepper, link) by Zak Suffee:

"15 people are facing possible lengthy prison sentences for allegedly grounding a flight intended to forcibly remove migrants from the country they call home. This, in the eyes of the state constitutes the same risk as a random bomb thrown into a crowd. These scare tactics allows us to forget the real human lives at stake. They are designed to put people off similar actions, defending an indefensible system of deportations.

‘Charter flights’ refer to the Home Office practice of chartering flights to deport large numbers of people to specific countries. The flights don’t contain other passengers and take off late at night from undisclosed locations, hiding these deportations from public view. This was the first time such a flight has been grounded in the UK by people refusing to accept the brutality of the immigration system."

EU: Council: Joint Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism for the Western Balkans (12411/18, LIMITE, 24 September 2018, pdf):

"Delegates will find attached a clean version of the revised draft Joint Action Plan on Counter- Terrorism for the Western Balkans."

Previous version: EU: Joint Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism for the Western Balkans to be signed on behalf of the EU with Western Balkans Partners (11848/18, LIMITE, 5 September 2018, pdf)

Hungary's homeless fear they are Viktor Orbán's next target (The Guardian, link):

"Many countries have struggled to deal with the issue of homelessness but Hungary may be the first to put a constitutional ban on living on the streets. From next week, being homeless in Hungary will violate the constitution.

Activists fear the move could be the start of a political campaign against homeless people by the rightwing government of Viktor Orbán, which has previously focused heavily on the apparent threat posed to Hungary from refugees and migrants.

“The government has realised they can’t play the migrant card endlessly because there are obviously no migrants in the country. Migration issues can still be useful for national campaigns but for local issues they need a new scapegoat,” said Gábor Iványi, a Methodist priest who runs homeless shelters in Budapest’s eighth district."

France: Tensions reach boiling point in crowded detention centres (ECRE, link):

"NGOs have denounced the increase of acts of violence and tension between refugees and migrants in detention centres in France- a trend that La Cimade argues is the consequence of repressive policies of confinement which severely endanger detainees.

The number of people detained in France for immigration reasons has continued to rise, according to the annual report compiled by civil society organisations monitoring administrative detention centres (CRA) and other administrative detention places (LRA). Statistics for 2017 reveal that a total of 46, 857 people were detained, in comparison to 45, 937 in 2016. The number of detained children has also risen from 179 to 304 within the same time frame.

La Cimade argues that incidences of violence and aggression between detainees are becoming more frequent, because this prolonged incarceration is leading to reactions that can range from aggression, (directed to one’s self or others) self- immolation, resistance, defence, despair or anxiety."

GREECE: 11 killed as migrants smugglers' car crashes (Irish Independent, link):

"A car carrying migrants collided with a truck in northern Greece yesterday, killing 11 people, police said.

Ten of the victims were believed to be migrants who crossed into Greece from Turkey. The 11th person was the driver and a suspected migrant smuggler, police said.

Police said the car, in which the migrants were packed, had another vehicle's licence plates and is suspected of having been used for migrant trafficking. The car had not stopped at a police checkpoint during its journey, but it wasn't immediately clear how close to the site of the crash that it happened."

And see: Turkey migrants: Lorry crash in Izmir 'kills 22' (BBC News, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-14.10.18) including: Fears growing in 'unbearable' and overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece as winter approaches, The "hotspots" experiment: removing human rights from the equation and the contested Mediterranean

Fears growing in 'unbearable' and overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece as winter approaches (ITV, link):

"Unbearable, Hell, bad, dangerous - just a few of the words people use to describe the Moria refugee camp to us on the rare access we were given inside.

We visited the camp on the Greek island of Lesbos at what felt like a potential breaking point.

The thousands of refugees living there are traumatised, trapped and the hope they had when they arrived has been replaced with feelings of desolation.

The staff we spoke to in the overcapacity facility admitted to being overwhelmed and at a loss, but desperate for a solution."

European Commission releases data on Funds to Greece to deal with Migration (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"The European Commission has published a list of recipients of funds to Greece to deal with the migration crisis. An amount totaling 1.6 billion euros has been allocated to non-governmental organizations, international organizations and Greek authorities, even though only half of it has been disbursed."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 11-12 October, Luxembourg: Press release (pdf) See also: "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points agenda legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points agenda non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf)

Are You Syrious (11.10.18, link):

"Sea Watch’s reconaissance aicraft Moonbird took off from a new operating base on Thursday to give evidence of Europe’s deadly border policy and to call for rescue where needed. The aircraft had been prevented from continuing search-and-rescue operations by the Maltese government for three months. The death rate in the central Mediterranean sea has never been as high, as the number of active rescue boats has plummeted."

The “hotspots” experiment: removing human rights from the equation (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

"The Greek hotspots have been transformed into areas where human rights are being systematically breached. It is extremely problematic that these breaches continue despite the fact that a number of international organizations supervise and contribute to the hotspot operations."

Greece: Tents and Drones (Samos Chronicles, link)

"On Wednesday October 3rd 2018 over 200 refugees arrived on Samos.

On Thursday, a Palestinian friend living in one of the containers inside the camp was told he had to leave to make space for new arrivals who had more need for his place. Of course he asked where do I go. To the forest around the camp, he was told.

In what do I sleep?

A tent came the reply.What tent? You must go and buy one. On Friday we heard that the Chinese shops which sell small summer style tents had sold out. In the meantime…."

Germany extends border controls with Austria and Denmark (DW, link):

"Germany's Interior Ministry will extend migration controls at borders with Austria and Denmark for another six months. Denmark, Austria and France have also announced their intention to extend border controls."

EU: The European Border and Coast Guard: The Justice and Home Affairs Council is discussing: Policy debate: Doc no; 12768-18 (this is not a LIIMITE document, pdf) which includes proposals for:

"strengthening the cooperation with third countries by giving the agency a wider scope for action (not limiting it to neighbouring countries);

- supporting Member States on a technical and operational level with return operations; Agency staff can communicate directly with third countries."
[emphasis added]

Some "concerns" have been expressed as to the mandate of the standing corps of 10,000 officers.

EU: European Council: Updated Draft Conclusions: European Council meeting (18 October 2018) – Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 11837-18, pdf)

EU:  Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is in a mess

- disagreement amongst Member States blocking adoption

The Austrian Presidency of the Council has produced a report on the state of play in the while trying to agree its negotiating position: From: Presidency To: Permanent Representatives Committee/Council (LIMITE doc no: 12420-18, pdf). There are no fewer than six previous versions.

Each of the seven measures are held up because a minority of delegations (Member States) in the Council are opposed to changes made or proposed unacceptable changes to the Council's original, agreed, negotiating position on which trilogue talks are based.

On its part the European Parliament - after many trilogue meetings - stands by the agreement reached in June on three measures: the Qualifications Directive, Reception Directive and the Resettlement Regulation.

Hungary’s Orbán thanks Greek far-right Golden Dawn for its support (euractiv, link):

" Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has formally thanked the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party for their support during last month’s vote on the activation of Article 7 against Hungary in the European Parliament. The move is likely to cause new frictions in the European People’s Party, Orbán’s political home in the EU."

Three female migrants found murdered near Greece-Turkey border - Area is known for illegal migrant crossings and police say they suspect foul play (Guardian, link):

"Two women and a girl believed to be migrants have been found dead with their throats slashed near Greece’s north-eastern border with Turkey, Greek authorities said.

The victims appeared to be of North African, Middle Eastern or Asian origin, but their nationalities and identities were unknown, police said. An initial examination of the bodies suggested the three were killed about four days earlier, coroner Pavlos Pavlidis said on Wednesday.

“It is clearly a criminal act,” Pavlidis told Associated Press. “They were found with their hands bound, each body about two or three metres away from the other. Their throats were cut right across.”"

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 11-12 July 2018, Luxembourg: Background Note (pdf) Includes:

"On Friday, home affairs ministers are expected to discuss the Commission proposal on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), the Commission proposal reforming the return directive and the Commission sectoral proposals for the field of home affairs in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).The Presidency is also expected to report on progress regarding the reform of the Common European Asylum System. (...)

E-evidence package: regulation on European production and preservation orders: The Council will hold a policy debate on the regulation on European production and preservation orders for e-evidence in criminal matters."

EU: The next phase of the European Border and Coast Guard: towards operational effectiveness (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Two years after the establishment, in record time, of the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG), the Commission’s new proposed Regulation opens the way for a standing corps of 10,000 border guards, with its own equipment and greater executive powers."

UK-BREXIT: Can An Article 50 Withdrawal Notice be Revoked? The CJEU is Asked to Decide (verfassungsblog.de, link):

"The legal issue of whether the United Kingdom can change its mind and revoke – unilaterally – its notified intention to withdraw from the European Union has been a matter of academic and professional conjecture since the 2016 referendum. An authoritative interpretation of the issue may be delivered by Christmas following the lodging on 3 October 2018 of a request by the Scottish Court of Session for a preliminary ruling in Case C-621/18 Wightman and Others."

Greek court orders inquiry into use of EU migrant funds (euobserver, link):

"Greek Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou on Monday ordered an investigation of how €570m of EU funds for migrant aid was spent after the sacked head of hotspot reception centres, Andreas Iliopoulos, indicated in a newspaper interview that EU funds for migration were being mismanaged. Iliopoulos was responsible for reception centres on Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos and in Evros, northern Greece. He was dismissed last week."

And see: Prosecutor launches probe into alleged mismanagement of EU Funds for refugees (Keep Talking Greece, link)

In Italy’s ‘hospitality town’, migrants fight to save mayor who gave them a new home (Guardian, link):

"Domenico Lucano revitalised his community by welcoming foreigners. He has been detained by the state … and supporters fear a political motive."

Salvini threatens to shut airports over migrant ‘charter flights’ from Germany (euractiv, link):

"Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened Sunday (7 October) to shut the country’s airports after media reported that Germany planned to send charter flights of rejected asylum-seekers to Italy."

CoE: Commissioner for Hunan Rights: Commissioner calls on Croatia to investigate allegations of collective expulsions of migrants and of violence by law enforcement officers (link):

"Commissioner Mijatovic reiterates that all efforts to manage migration should be made strictly in line with the rule of law and binding international legal principles and urges the authorities to ensure that anyone who intends to make an asylum application gets access to a fair and effective procedure."

See: Letter to Croatia PM (pdf) and PM reply (pdf)

The Netherlands won’t send Polish nationals back to face trial (dutchnews.nl/news, link):

"Amsterdam district court has refused to extradite a Polish national to Poland because of ‘major doubts about the independence of the Polish judiciary’. The ‘constitutional right to a fair trial’ could now be in danger, judges said, announcing their verdict on Thursday. The case centres on a Polish national in Limburg said to be involved in drugs."

Hungary’s new law restricting freedom of assembly (hungarianspectrum.org, link):

"As of yesterday Hungary has a new law on the right of assembly which places more restrictions on citizens’ ability to express their dissatisfaction with the state and the government."

GREECE-TURKEY: Unprepared and overwhelmed: Greece’s resurgent river border with Turkey (IRIN News, link):

"Locals in Evros are used to new faces. People have been quietly slipping across the river that forms a natural barrier for all but 12 kilometres of the tense, militarised border between Greece and Turkey since Greece joined the European Union in 1981.

But everyone on the Evros River was puzzled when a crush of hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers began crossing their sleepy riverine border every day in March. Six months later, arrivals have slowed but worries persist that the region is still poorly prepared for any new influx."

EU: ATLAS network of special forces: Council examines ways to improve cooperation

ATLAS is the network of EU Member States' 'Special intervention Units' concerned primarily with anti-terrorism operations. According to a Council document, "the majority of the Member States deems the existing range of legal possibilities in cross-border cooperation available to the Special Intervention Units related to the ATLAS Network sufficient or nearly sufficient," however a number of possibilities for enhancing cooperation are suggested, principally concerning the legal basis for cross-border operations and "mapping" the capabilities of Member States' "special intervention units".

UK: Talking about human rights: how to identify and engage a range of audiences (Equality and Human Rights Commission, pdf)

"Background

We asked ComRes to conduct research to help us understand public attitudes to human rights and to specific human rights issues, and inform our work to promote understanding of the importance of human rights. The research has focused in particular on gaining a more detailed picture of people with mixed views on human rights – a group identified in previous research – and their values and motivations to support human rights. This is a summary of our key findings and recommendations for talking to the public about human rights.

Who is this for?

This summary will be particularly useful for NGOs, public bodies and other individuals and organisations working in areas that relate directly or indirectly to human rights and equality. It will also be helpful to anyone else with an interest in communicating effectively about the importance of human rights."

UK: 'Stopped and searched up to three times a day' - new report says (StopWatch, link):

"The controversial gang matrix, is counterproductive. It leads to continual, heavy-handed policing of young black men and boys labelled as 'gang nominals'. According to a hard-hitting new report published today (Wednesday 19 September) from stop and search campaign group StopWatch.

Being Matrixed, paints a bleak picture of people on the Gangs Matrix being subjected to relentless stop and search encounters sometimes multiple times a day, which seemingly lack an appropriate legal basis.

StopWatch branded constant searching of ‘gang nominals’ without legitimate grounds, an intrusive form of surveillance that directly impacts on the trust and confidence young people have toward the police.

Rather than preventing criminal offences, stop and search has the potential to increase offending behaviour, as people being repeatedly stopped and searched may lose their temper and consequently be arrested for a public order offence, the report warns."

See also: Trapped in the Matrix: Secrecy, stigma and bias in the Met's Gangs Database (Amnesty, link)

EU: Asylum: Austria and Denmark announce their "vision for a better protection system in a globalized world"

A paper published by the Austrian interior ministry and the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration declares that "migration and asylum policy will shape Europe's future", arguing that "many citizens have lost trust in their governments' ability to deal with the challenges of irregular migration" - trust which will only be restored by "an alternative, unifying vision".

Denmark still refusing to accept any quota refugees in 2018 (The Copenhagen Post, link):

"Denmark will not be accepting any quota refugees for 2018, according to the immigration and integration minister, Inger Støjberg.

The decision means Denmark hasn’t accepted any quota refugees since 2015 and remains the only country to halt its intake of the so-called resettlement refugees.

“Even though we’ve seen better control on the flow of refugees, we are still in a situation when we are fighting to integrate the many refugees who have arrived to Denmark in recent years,” Støjberg said.

“Despite more refugees finding work, there are still many who can’t support themselves – particularly among women. So I’ve decided that Denmark won’t be taking in any quota refugees in 2018.”"

UK: A Lord Chamberlain for the internet? Thanks, but no thanks. (Cyberleagle, link):

"This summer marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Theatres Act 1968, the legislation that freed the theatres from the censorious hand of the Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household. Thereafter theatres needed to concern themselves only with the general laws governing speech. In addition they were granted a public good defence to obscenity and immunity from common law offences against public morality.

The Theatres Act is celebrated as a landmark of enlightenment. Yet today we are on the verge of creating a Lord Chamberlain of the Internet. We won't call it that, of course. The Times, in its leader of 5 July 2018, came up with the faintly Orwellian "Ofnet". Speculation has recently renewed that the UK government is laying plans to create a social media regulator to tackle online harm. What form that might take, should it happen, we do not know. We will find out when the government produces a promised white paper.

When governments talk about regulating online platforms to prevent harm it takes no great leap to realise that we, the users, are the harm that they have in mind."

UK: Sajid Javid 'taking UK down dangerous road' by expanding citizenship stripping (The Guardian, link):

"The home secretary, Sajid Javid, is taking the UK down a “very dangerous road” with plans to expand powers to strip dual citizens of their British citizenship, a leading human rights group has warned.

Suspected terrorists have previously had their UK citizenship taken away – most often while they are abroad – and the move does not require prior approval from a judge or parliament.

In his speech at the Conservative party conference, Javid proposed extending the reach of the power to cover serious criminals, citing child grooming gangmasters as an example."

EU: Meijers Committee: Note to the Presidency of the Council concerning the General Secretariat draft policy paper on legislative transparency (pdf):

"On 13 July, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU circulated a draft policy note to the Members of the Council with proposals for reform of the policy on legislative transparency (document 11099/18 LIMITE). An initial discussion on these proposals was held at the Coreper meeting of 18 July. On 20 July, Agence Europe reported on the substance of the document. On 24 August, the document was published on the website of Statewatch (...)

As a general guideline, we propose that any access to legislative documents policy in the Council should meet three standards. It should:

1. Allow European citizens to see who is responsible for decisions made by the Council and in what way, particularly as regards their own national representatives.

2. Allow European citizens to comprehend the main lines of disagreement among Member States, and the reasons that Member States offer for disagreeing.

3. Offer sufficiently detailed and timely information to allow European citizens to participate in ongoing legislative procedures, particularly to make their voice heard concerning proposals that effect their personal situation or significant public interests."

See:Document 11099-18 LIMITE (pdf)

Libya is a war zone. Why is the EU still sending refugees back there? (Guardian, link)

Italian-flagged migrant rescue boat defies anti immigration minister (Guardian, link):

"Vessel Mare Jonio sets out towards Libya despite Matteo Salvini clampdown on rescued migrants entering Italian ports. (...)

The Italian flag on the 38-metre Mare Jonio will make it harder for Salvini to prevent it from docking, though he could still move to prevent people from disembarking. The boat has been bought and equipped by a coalition of leftwing politicians, anti-racist associations, intellectuals and figures in the arts, under the supervision of two NGOs. Its mission has been called Mediterranean."

Europe's migrant rescue boats face uncertain future (DW, link)

"The Aquarius has docked at the port of Marseille, carrying with it uncertainty about the future of migrant rescue missions. But even as the humanitarian vessel ends operations indefinitely, some see hope on the horizon. (...)

"It means the Aquarius is going to be in the port of Marseille for a certain period of time while we go through the administrative details of getting registration for the vessel to be able to head back out to sea," Nick Romaniuk, rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee, told DW."

MI5 can authorise agents to commit crimes, tribunal told (Irish Times, link):

"Calls for tribunal to order MI5 to release information about the Third Direction policy.

MI5 officers can authorise agents to commit criminal acts under a secret policy dating back decades that operated without oversight until 2012, an investigative powers tribunal in London has heard. The policy, known as the Third Direction, has no legal basis and its existence has been secret until now.

n November 2012, former prime minister David Cameron wrote to Mark Waller, the intelligence services commissioner, asking him to keep the policy under review. (...)

The letter was sent two weeks before the publication of an independent report into the 1989 murder of solicitor Pat Finucane. Mr Cameron said there were “shocking levels state collusion” in the murder and that agents “in the pay of the state” were involved."

European Council: 18 October 2018: Migration, internal security and Big Brother database

European Council: European Council meeting (18 October 2018) – Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 11816-18.pdf) target migration, disinformation and the interoperable centralised database.

A brutal life for migrants in Libya: trafficking, detention or death en route to Europe (pbs.org, link)

The contested Mediterranean (link)

"Private rescue organizations are put on the chain. In the middle of the standoff about the ship „Aquarius“ Frontex starts the surveillance with drones and wants to give the coordinates of refugee boats to Libya."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 11-12/10/2018 (link): Agenda highlights.

Hurriyet: Turkey sets up radars to monitor Aegean vessel traffic (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkey has set up eleven surveillance stations on the Aegean coast as part of the first phase of the Coast Surveillance Radar System (SGRS) Project which aims to "halt illegal activities" in the sea, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

The paper says, when the system testing has been completed, the radars and electro-optical sensors will monitor the sea around the clock."

UK: Police fail to close down undercover relationship case following new revelations (Police spies out of our lives,link):

"Today in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the police failed in their attempt to close down Kate Wilson’s human rights claim about secret political policing and her relationship with the undercover officer, Mark Kennedy.

This was the police’s fourth failed application to limit the extent of the IPT investigation. After seven years of litigation, they still haven’t answered the detailed claims made.

The IPT panel, headed by Lord Justice Singh, ordered the police to provide a fully pleaded defence to all aspects of the claim, supported by witness evidence, within three months."

Greece: "We have found hell': trauma runs deep for children at dire Lesbos camp (Guardian, link):

"Violent and unsanitary conditions in Moria refugee settlement are exacerbating the horror of fleeing conflict for the 3,000 children who live there."

Morocco's foreign minister rejects EU's migrant centers (DW, link):

"Morocco's foreign minister said his country should play a greater role in EU decisions on migration in a newspaper interview. Nasser Bourita said Morocco was opposed to the migrant centers that the EU has suggested."

EU: European Court: Parliamentarian Allowances Are ‘Personal’ (OCCRP, link):

"The European Parliament has no obligation to tell the public what its 751 members do with their tens of millions of Euros annually in tax-free allowances, according to a verdict released Tuesday by the European Court of Justice (EC).

“I don’t know if they realize what they’ve done. To put it mildly, we are shocked,” said Anuska Delic, an investigative journalist affiliated with the OCCRP."

Court press release: The General Court confirms the Parliament's refusal to grant access to documents relating to MEPs' subsistence allowances, travel expenses and parliamentary assistance allowances (25 September 2018, pdf) and: Judgment (Cases T-639/15 to T-666/15, pdf)

French police officer caught selling confidential police data on the dark web (ZDNet, link):

"A French police officer has been charged and arrested last week for selling confidential data on the dark web in exchange for Bitcoin.

The officer worked for Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (DGSI, translated to General Directorate for Internal Security), a French intelligence agency charged with counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, countering cybercrime and surveillance of potentially threatening groups, organizations, and social phenomena...

The officer stands accused of selling confidential information such as sensitive documents that made their way into the hands of cyber-criminals, Le Parisien reported last week. Investigators believe the criminals to whom Haurus sold the confidential files used them to create forged documents."

Global Counterterrorism Forum: New 'Terrorist Travel Initiative' to expand global biometric watchlists

The USA and Morocco, acting as part of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), launched on 28 September the 'Terrorist Travel Initiative' designed to identify and address "potential weaknesses and gaps in a country’s capacity to watchlist, share information, and utilize that information for screening purposes."

EU: The shrinking space for solidarity with migrants and refugees: How the European Union and Member States target and criminalize defenders of the rights of people on the move (TNI, link):

"Europe’s “refugee crisis” triggered a wave of solidarity actions by both civil society organisations and ordinary citizens. Their efforts were part of a wave of compassion, as people organised convoys to refugee reception centers, warmly greeted arrivals at train stations and lined highways to provide food and water to those making the journey from Syria and elsewhere. Just a few years later those same activists are treated as criminals and humanitarian search and rescue missions are criminalised.

The current onslaught originated in the intensification of the EU’s restrictive approach to immigration policy from late 2014 and the EU’s treatment of Italy and Greece, front-line states on the EU’s migration routes. Today in Europe, solidarity with migrants and refugees can lead to arrest, legal troubles, or harassment. The actions of national police, judiciaries, political powers and far-right militants have created and compounded hostility to solidarity with refugees and migrants.

This report looks at how EU policy has played out and offers a glimpse into the ways citizens and movements are resisting xenophobic and securitarian policies."

EU: On the fifth anniversary of the Lampedusa shipwreck that took 368 lives: Save the Aquarius, Save Lives - Joint NGO Letter (Human Rights Watch, link):

"Five years to the day after the Lampedusa tragedy in which at least 368 people died, rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea are more vital than ever. It is alarming that the last rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean may be forced to stop operating. We call on European leaders to ensure the Aquarius can continue to save lives at sea.

The decision by Panamanian authorities to strike the Aquarius, a nongovernmental rescue ship operated by SOS MEDITERRANEE and Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF), from its ships’ registry, apparently in response to pressure from the Italian government, is a reprehensible move. It will deny potentially life-saving assistance to vulnerable people at risk, including injured people, pregnant women, torture survivors, people traumatized by shipwrecks and unaccompanied minors.

This is just the latest in a series of moves to delegitimize and block nongovernmental groups performing vital search-and-rescue operations in the central Mediterranean. It risks forcing the last remaining NGO ship away from the deadliest stretch of water in the world, resulting in the end of nongovernmental rescue in the area, which for years, has courageously contributed to saving thousands of lives. All other NGOs are blocked in Italian or Maltese ports by legal actions or have been forced to suspend operations given unconscionable delays or refusals to disembark rescued persons in European ports."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25.9-2.10.18) including: Lesvos refugee camp at centre of Greek misuse of EU funds row; migrant aid worker convicted for tweet in France; Frontex begins testing drones

Are You Syrious (30.9.18; link)

Greece

"Horrific conditions in Moria camp are only worsened through the rain. Heavy cold rains are a feature of fall weather and Salam Aldeen has documented the horrifying misery in which thousands are trapped. Most international officials are aware of the situations, yet there are only minor efforts. In the photo below, people are packed into a children’s play centre to stay out of the rain. This was part of the government plan to “protect” people from the storm nicknamed “Zorbas” that moved across Greece this weekend."

Germany agrees on immigration law to tackle labor shortages (Reuters, link):

"Germany’s coalition parties agreed on a new immigration law on Tuesday to attract more skilled workers from countries outside the European Union, in a politically risky push to fill a record number of job vacancies and stabilize the public pension system."

UK: Police used stun guns on mentally ill patients 96 times in a year (Guardian, link):

"Mental health patients have had a stun gun drawn, aimed or fired at them almost 100 times in just over a year, the Guardian can reveal.

Data shows police officers in the UK were called to hospitals and other mental healthcare facilities where a stun gun was used 96 times since 1 April 2017, the date when forces were required to keep data on this.

One patient who had a stun gun fired at them by Greater Manchester police (GMP) was 16 years old. Figures showed the force also pointed a stun gun, with a red dot appearing, on a 14-year-old patient.

The government has said stun guns should be used only as a last resort, but campaigners argue vehemently against their use in such a setting."

German journalist stabbed in Saxony-Anhalt: reports (DW, link):

"Three youths in Saxony-Anhalt allegedly stabbed a journalist and made the Hitler salute outside a supermarket. The victim is reportedly in hospital where he is receiving treatment for a six-centimeter-deep stab wound."

UK: Stansted 15: Amnesty to observe trial amid concerns for anti-deportation activists (Amnesty, link):

"Amnesty International will be observing the trial of 15 human rights defenders set to go on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court next week (Monday 1 October) relating to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted airport.

The protesters - known as the “Stansted 15” - are facing lengthy jail sentences for their non-violent intervention in March last year.

Amnesty is concerned that the serious charge of “endangering safety at aerodromes” may have been brought to discourage other activists from taking non-violent direct action in defence of human rights. "

And see: Stansted 15 Court Demo (Stop deportation charter flights, link)

German far-right terror suspects detained in overnight raids (DW, link):

"Some 100 police officers raided several properties in the German states of Saxony and Bavaria early on Monday morning as part of an investigation into a terror group called Revolution Chemnitz, named after the eastern German city that was the scene of recent far-right demonstrations following the killing of a German man.

The six men arrested, aged between 20 and 30, are suspected of forming a terrorist organization under the leadership of 31-year-old Christian K., who had already been arrested on September 14.

Later on Monday, authorities detained a seventh suspect.

According to Germany's state prosecutors, the men were planning attacks on "foreigners" and people who did not share their political views. Batons, an air-rifle, and computer hard drives were seized during the raids."

EU: Meijers Committee: Letter to Chair of LIBE Committee: Registration of criminal records of Union citizens in ECRIS-TCN (pdf):

"With regard to the suggested compromise proposal, the Meijers Committee is still not convinced that the ´discrimination´ of dual citizenship is ´solved.´ The negative symbolic effects of the proposed treatment in Article 2(2), which introduces for the first time in Union law the treatment of Union citizens as third-country nationals will negatively affect large numbers of EU nationals of immigrant origin."

Facial Recognition Surveillance a Threat to Law-Abiding Citizens (Liberties.eu, link):

"The use of facial recognition surveillance is becoming widespread across Europe, and those who stand to lose the most are law-abiding citizens, not criminals...

Berliners are in for an Orwellian surprise at the Südkreuz train station, where the government has been testing a new facial recognition surveillance system. It’s the latest instance of the technology’s use in Europe, and it’s already widely used around the world.

But despite its widespread use, facial recognition technology is operating in a legal gray area. As legal challenges arise against the use of mass surveillance, courts are increasingly siding with people’s rights and limiting the use of privacy-invading policing tactics like facial recognition surveillance."

UNHCR concerned over lack of Mediterranean rescue capacity (euractiv, link);

"The Maltese authorities on Sunday (30 September) finally took 58 migrants from the Aquarius to Valletta after they had waited for days in rough seas on the rescue ship that can no longer go to port after its flag was pulled.

The migrants, including Libyans, sub-Saharan Africans and Afghans, boarded two buses at a Malta Armed Forces base in Valletta after being transferred from the Aquarius to a Maltese patrol boat in international waters."

EU: Reconsidering the blanket-data-retention-taboo, for human rights’ sake? Belgian Constitutional Court offers CJEU chance to explain its puzzling Tele2 Sverige AB-decision (European Law Blog, link):

"Compulsory retention, by ICT-providers, of all non-content user and traffic data, to ensure that that data will be available for subsequent use by law enforcement or intelligence, has been a controversial issue in the EU for several years now. On 19 July 2018 the Belgian Constitutional Court requested a preliminary ruling from the CJEU. Basically, it asks the EU Court to further clarify its earlier case law. The Belgian constitutional judges indicate that they find some aspects of the CJEU’s previous decisions puzzling and they also offer a new angle by explicitly linking the matter to the positive obligations of member states under the European Convention on Human Rights. The implied suggestion seems that the CJEU did not give those obligations enough weight when it found blanket data retention obligations disproportionate."

EU defence groups under fire for opacity (euobserver, link):

"The European Commission has implied it will improve the transparency of defence research advisory groups - following criticism from the European Ombudsman - but has stopped short of giving exact details. The ombudsman concluded two investigations this year relating to such groups."

UK: Police super-database prompts Liberty warning on privacy - Human rights group boycotts Home Office consultations on vast cloud system, saying they are a sham (Guardian, link):

"A new super-database being built for the police represents a “grave” risk to privacy, a leading human rights group has said.

Liberty claims the government is glossing over concerns that the database, the largest built for British law enforcement, threatens civil liberties. The group fears it gives massive power to the state at the expense of millions of Britons.

The Home Office has had consultation meetings with groups and experts concerned about privacy ahead of the super-database becoming operational later this year. Liberty said it has quit them in protest, damaging government hopes of neutralising civil liberties concerns."

See: Why we’re no longer taking part in a consultation on the police’s new super-database (Liberty, link): "We can’t be part of a process that gives a free pass to the creeping expansion of digital policing that shows contempt for our privacy rights."

EU: European Parliament factsheets on police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Two European Parliament factsheets setting out basic information on police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU: legal basis; objectives; achievements; and the role of the European Parliament.

September 2018

Greece: Lesbos refugee camp at centre of Greek misuse of EU funds row - European anti-fraud agency investigates irregularities after report alleges defence minister benefited from camp funds (Guardian, link):

"The conditions in which thousands of asylum seekers are being detained on Lesbos has unleashed a furious political backlash in Greece, as financing of the island’s overcrowded Moria detention camp comes under scrutiny.

Tensions mounted after the defence minister, Panos Kammenos, filed a defamation action against three journalists, including the editor-in-chief of the Fileleftheros daily, after the publication of a report alleging misuse of EU funds. (...)

The European anti-fraud agency confirmed on Tuesday it was investigating “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece”. Athens has received a total of €1.6bn in financial aid for refugees since 2015"

France: Aid Worker Convicted for Tweet - First Such Conviction in French Courts (HRW, link);

"A humanitarian worker’s defamation conviction on September 25, 2018, for an ironic tweet represents a dangerous escalation in official harassment of groups providing crucial aid to migrants, Human Rights Watch said today. It is the first conviction of its kind in France.

A court in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, found Loan Torondel guilty of criminal libel for a tweet he sent out at the beginning of January and sentenced him to pay a fine, which it suspended, and court costs."

EU: MEPs agree to scrap €70m in Turkey funding (euractiv, link):

"The European Parliament’s Budget Committee has voted to withhold €70 million in pre-accession funds from Turkey, after MEPs decided Ankara has not improved rule of law conditions.

On Tuesday (25 September), budget committee lawmakers voted 27 in favour, and one against, to adopt a draft report that will reallocate the earmarked funds to migration programmes instead."

Frontex begins testing unmanned aircraft for border surveillance (press release, link):

"This week, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has begun testing the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in Greece, Italy and Portugal to monitor the European Union’s external borders.

Frontex is exploring the surveillance capability of the medium altitude long endurance RPAS and evaluating the related cost efficiency and endurance. The agency will test the unmanned aircraft in several operational situations. These include surveillance of the sea, support of Search and Rescue operations, detection of vessels suspected of criminal activities, such as drug and weapon smuggling and information sharing with multiple users in real time."

CROATIA: Criminalising solidarity: Are You Syrious? statement on politically motivated, unjust guilty verdict for our volunteer

This past March, AYS volunteer Dragan Umicevic approached a police control near the Croatian border to alert police to a family of asylum seekers huddled in a field near Strošinci, already on Croatian soil. A few days later, he was shocked to find himself facing charges of aiding and abetting the asylum seekers’ “illegal crossing” of the Croatian border - despite the fact that he had never laid eyes on the family before and hadn’t even communicated with them directly beforehand.

EU: Document round-up: Council discussions on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters

Discussions are ongoing in the Council on proposals for new rules on cross-border access to electronic evidence, which are intended to make it easier for criminal justice agencies in one Member State to obtain material from telecommunications service providers located in one or more other Member States. The proposals contain some controversial provisions and the documents from the Council reflect some of these issues.

Morocco navy fires on migrant boat, one dead: local officials (France 24, link):

"Morocco's navy on Tuesday fired on a boat carrying migrants which refused to respond to its orders, leaving a Moroccan woman dead and three other people wounded, local officials said.

The patrol was "forced" to open fire on a speedboat driven by a Spaniard who "refused to obey" orders in waters off the Moroccan locality of M'diq-Fnideq, the authorities said in a statement.

Four migrants were wounded, including a Moroccan woman who died of her injuries in hospital, a local official told AFP."

Police Scotland amends counter terrorism plan after fracking fracas (The Ferret, link):

"Police Scotland has amended its counter terrorism plan after a report by The Ferret revealed they had labelled anti-fracking protesters as “domestic extremists”.

We reported on 16 September 2018 – in an article published in tandem with the Sunday National – that Police Scotland considered opponents of fracking as potential terrorists.

Official documents also disclosed that Police Scotland was trying to infiltrate communities near the Ineos petrochemical plant at Grangemouth, in order to glean information on people involved with peaceful anti-fracking groups."

EU: What to do with rejected asylum seekers? (EurActiv, link) by Anna Lundberg:

"This is not news. For many years, people who do not return to their country of origin have been described as a major policy problem. Forgotten in this debate is that some of the people who have had their asylum applications rejected cannot actually return home.

The underlying reasons vary. If the person is stateless, the designated recipient country may not see any obligation to grant entry permits. There may be political reasons for a state to deny a citizen’s return; an individual’s citizenship may have been withdrawn or it may be impossible to get to the designated country or very difficult to obtain entry permits.

These “Non-Returnable Returnees” end up being legally stranded, in an uncertain position with a high risk of exploitation. In many countries, such people has no right to work and no right to emergency support."

On the proposed legislation in question, see the proposal to amend the Return Directive, available here: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (Statewatch News Online, 14 September 2018)

Press release: UK intelligence agency admits unlawfully spying on Privacy International (Privacy International, link):

"- MI5 collected Privacy International’s private data and examined it
- GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 unlawfully collected data relating to UK charity Privacy International
- Privacy International has written to the UK's Home Secretary demanding action against spy agencies
- Disclosures come less than a fortnight after UK laws on mass surveillance ruled unlawful at European Court of Human Rights

The UK's domestic-facing intelligence agency, MI5, today admitted that it captured and read Privacy International's private data as part of its Bulk Communications Data (BCD) and Bulk Personal Datasets (BPD) programmes, which hoover up massive amounts of the public's data. In further startling legal disclosures, all three of the UK's primary intelligence agencies - GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 - also admitted that they unlawfully gathered data about Privacy International or its staff."

BELGIUM: ‘Crimes of solidarity’ in Europe multiply as 11 stand trial in Belgium for helping migrants (Global Voices, link):

"Eleven people who had been arrested and charged with human trafficking in October 2017 appeared in court in Brussels on September 6, the first hearing of a trial that activists say is yet another case of “criminalization of solidarity” in Europe.

The defendants have allegedly assisted 95 undocumented migrants, including 12 minors, to travel from Belgium to the United Kingdom last year, either by hosting them in their homes, by lending them phones and thereby indirectly helping them cross the channel.

On the day of the trial, three hundred people protested in front of the courthouse. Demonstrators say this is a political trial, aimed at dissuading people from helping migrants by establishing an intimidating judicial precedent."

UK: Breaking: anti-fracking protesters become first environmental campaigners to be jailed since 1932 (Drill or Drop, link):

"Three men who took part in what’s believed to be the longest single anti-fracking protest in the UK have been sent to prison.

The packed public gallery at Preston Crown Court listened in silence as the judge sentenced Richard Roberts and Simon Blevins to 16 months and Rich Loizou to 15 months [for public nuisance]...

A fourth man who also took part in the protest was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

The four had climbed onto lorries delivering to Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire in July 2017 and stayed there for a total of 99.5 hours.

The three who received jail sentences are thought to be the first people to be sent to prison for taking part in a UK anti-fracking protest. The barrister for one of them said they were the first environmental campaigners in the country to be jailed since the Kinder Scout mass trespass in 1932."

Portugal agrees to take 10 rescue ship migrants amid European divide (The Guardian, link):

"Portugal has offered to take in 10 migrants from the Aquarius rescue ship as Europe once again finds itself divided over what to do with the large number of people crossing the Mediterranean and arriving on its shores... As part of the deal, France will take 18 migrants and Spain and Germany 15 each.

SOS Méditerranée, the NGO that operates the ship, said on Monday it was making for the French port of Marseille carrying 58 people who had been rescued off the coast of Libya but the French government had signalled it was reluctant to welcome the boat, saying it should dock at the nearest safe port to its location near conflict-torn Libya.

Malta, the EU country closest to the ship, on Tuesday said migrants would be transferred to a patrol boat in international waters and taken to the island, which will then send them to the four other member states."

EU-USA Meeting: Draft agenda of the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Senior Officials Meeting (Vienna, 25-26 September 2018) (LIMITE doc no: 11859-18, pdf). Includes access to electronic evidence and "Cambridge Analytica".

EU: Interoperability Regulation for borders: Council discussing its position

The Council of the European Union is discussing its negotiating position, prior to trilogues, on: Proposal for a Regulation OF THE COUNCIL amending Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Regulation (EC) No 810/2009, Regulation (EU) 2017/2226, Regulation (EU) 2016/399, Regulation XX/2018 [Interoperability Regulation], and Decision 2004/512/EC and repealing Council Decision 2008/633/JHA - Presidency compromise proposals after the first reading (LIMITE doc no: 11778-18, pdf): 78 pages of detailed changes to Commission proposal.

EU: Trilogue discussions on the European Criminal Records System for Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN)

The Council of the European Union is in trilogue discussions on: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised 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 system) and amending Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011 - Four column table (LIMITE doc no: 11300-18, 6 September 2018, pdf) with the parliament. Covers ECRIS and records on third country nationals. It is a multi-column document showing the Commission proposal, the views of the Council and European Parliament and the agreed "compromises".

Germany: Hambach Forest evictions resume following journalist death (DW, link):

"Clashes broke out earlier this month when police tried to force out activists who have been occupying the forest as part of a protest against coal mining. Activists say there's more at stake than just the Hambach Forest."

European Parliament Study: An assessment of the Commission’s proposals on electronic evidence (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, analyses the added value and the shortcomings of the Commission’s proposals on cross-border access to electronic evidence, with a special focus on the proposals’ implications for territoriality and state sovereignty and fundamental rights of service providers and users."

The study argues that the use of production and preservation of electronic evidence will create a legally binding obligation on the territory of another member state, compared with the current framework of the mutual recognition of judicial decisions. This will affect the territorial sovereignty of the Member State where the service provider will carry out injunctions and will override the responsibilities of Member States for effective protection of fundamental rights on their territory.

European Parliament Study: Cyber violence and hate speech online against women (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, looks into the phenomenon of cyber violence and hate speech online against women in the European Union. After reviewing existing definitions of the different forms of cyber violence, the study assesses the root causes and impact of online violence on women. It continues by analysing and mapping the prevalence, victims and perpetrators. The document ends with an outline of the existing legal framework and recommendations for action within the EU remit."

European Parliament Study: The future partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom (pdf):

"This study looks at the respective aims for, and principles underpinning, the negotiations, as expressed publicly to date by each party, and analyses some of the legal constraints and existing practices or precedents shaping EU cooperation with third-country partners. This allows assessment of the possibilities and limits of any future EU-UK partnership, in light of the stated objectives and 'red lines' officially announced, leading to the conclusion that, notwithstanding several common aims, significant divergences still persist with respect to the means of achieving the stated objectives."

Poland referred to European court over judges' forced retirement (BBC News, link):

"Poland has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over a rule which forced almost a third of the country's top judges out of office.

The government lowered the retirement age of Supreme Court judges to 65, in what opponents say is an attempt to appoint more favourable replacements.

The European Commission has now sent the case to the ECJ, saying the change undermines judicial independence."

Aquarius migrant rescue ship heads for Marseille despite revoked registration (France 24, link):

"The Aquarius migrant rescue ship is headed for the port of Marseille with 58 people on board and will seek authorisation to dock from the French government, the vessel's operators said Monday, after the ship's registration was revoked."

And see: Charities plea for help after Aquarius migrant rescue ship's flag revoked - Operators claim Panama deflagged vessel after pressure from Italian government (Guardian, link) Also: Italy: A new underhand tactic for ending work of NGO rescue ship will cost lives (AI, link)

Italian government adopts measures to narrow asylum rights - New rules would make it easier to expel migrants and limit who is granted protection (Politico, link):

" Italy’s populist government approved a package of new migration measures Monday, aimed at making it more difficult for migrants to obtain asylum and humanitarian protection.

Under the legislation — which still needs parliamentary as well as presidential approval — migrants could have their asylum requests suspended and face immediate repatriation if they are considered “socially dangerous” or convicted of certain crimes, including drug dealing and sexual assault."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-24.9.18) including: Missing at the Borders project launches website; humanitarian emergency on Lesvos; Germany seeks cooperation with Algeria on deportations

EU: A majority of Europeans favor taking in refugees, but most disapprove of EU’s handling of the issue (Pew Research Center, link):

"Three years after a record 1.3 million migrants sought asylum in Europe, a majority of people in several European countries say they support taking in refugees who are fleeing violence and war, according to a Pew Research Center survey. However, most people in these countries disapprove of the way the European Union has dealt with the refugee issue."

On the Fragility of Detainees’ and Prisoners’ Rights in the EU (Verfassungsblog, link):

"The further east in the EU one goes, the more one is overwhelmed by the state of prison conditions and the violations of prisoners’ and detainees’ rights. The situation in Bulgaria is particularly challenging because of the scale of the problem and the local authorities’ denial that it exists. Human rights lawyers may be stunned by recent comments by Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister of Justice who is responsible for overseeing prisons: ‘Bulgaria has won cases in Strasbourg, Bulgaria has lost cases in Strasbourg. Sometimes, frankly speaking, this unpleasant opportunity is being abused… All European countries have been sued and the vast majority have lost cases in Strasbourg, including developed, recognized democracies.’ The comments were made in light of the news that a detainee in custody subjected to degrading treatment intended to submit an application against Bulgaria before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR): in August 2018, Bulgarian civil society was shocked to see how the tiny woman was escorted to hospital to have tumor treatment with handcuffs, leg shackles, and a security belt.

... Bulgaria’s challenges illustrate the necessity for a more concerted effort on an EU level. From a practical perspective, violations of prisoners’ and detainees’ rights undermine the principle of mutual trust and constitute obstacles to judicial cooperation. From a political perspective, the EU is a Union of values, which include the respect of human dignity of all citizens. Needless to say, a country’s capacity to curtail arbitrariness in prisons and detention facilities is a barometer of the state of rule of law, too."

EU: Missing at the Borders: the website for the project dedicated to the families of migrants deceased, missing or victims of enforced disappearances

"People not numbers". This is the fundamental principle that guides Missing at the Borders, the project aimed at giving voice to the victims of enforced disappearances and the families of migrants who have become deceased or missing while attempting to reach Europe.

The self-financed initiative is promoted by a network of organizations that works on both sides of the Mediterranean to combine forces with the families of migrants.

EU: Renewed Internal Security Strategy: draft of the latest Council implementation report

A draft version of the latest implementation report on the Renewed Internal Security Strategy (Council document 12009/18, pdf) jointly prepared by the Bulgarian and Austrian presidencies of the Council whilst the former was preparing to hand over to the latter. It contains an extensive 'to-do' list for the Council's working parties that helps to demonstrate the current scope of the EU's internal security priorities.

UK: Prison expansion programme will turn Britain into a "prison island", says report

This August, Corporate Watch is releasing its new report on prison expansion in England, Wales and Scotland: Prison Island. It shines a light on one of the biggest prison building programs in generations.

This once-in-a-generation prison building programme represents a significant expansion of the repressive apparatus of the British state, entrenching the power of corporations in the criminal justice system even further. This report aims to document and contextualise this escalation in mass incarceration and provide information to support those fighting against it.

Brexit will lead to more EU law for UK’s criminal justice systems, according to new report (Queen Mary University, link):

"Future EU-UK cooperation on security and criminal justice is dependant on the extent to which the UK complies with key EU law standards according to a new report by a taskforce from Queen Mary’s School of Law and the Centre for European Policy Studies.

The report, Criminal Justice and Police Cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit: Towards a principled and trust-based partnership, sets out a variety of possible options for post-Brexit cooperation between the UK and EU.

The taskforce found that if the UK wishes to continue cooperating with the EU on matters of criminal justice and policing then it is dependant on a number of variables, including the UK’s continued participation in the European Court of Human Rights. If the UK deviates from this then any future cooperation could be terminated."

See the report: Criminal Justice and Police Cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit: Towards a principled and trust-based partnership (pdf)

Hungary upholds 'terrorism' conviction against Syrian refugee (Al Jazeera, link):

"A Hungarian court rejected the appeal of a Syrian refugee and upheld his 2016 conviction for "terrorism", but reduced his seven-year sentence, in what a rights group called an abuse of anti-terrorism laws.

The appeals court handed down the decision on Thursday in the southern city of Szeged to uphold the conviction while reducing Ahmed H's sentence to five years.

Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International's counterterrorism campaigner who was in the courtroom, said in a statement to Al Jazeera, "this judgement comes as a blow for Ahmed, his wife and his two young daughters.""

Italy acquits Tunisian 'migrant smuggling' fishermen (BBC News, link):

"Six Tunisian fishermen arrested earlier this month by Italian authorities for "aiding illegal migrants" have been cleared.

One of the men's lawyers and their fishermen's association confirmed the acquittal to the BBC.

The arrests outraged Tunisian fishermen and activists who demanded their release.

Supporters of the fishermen, from the south-east coastal town of Zarzis, said the men were aiding a boat in distress."

For in-depth background and context to the case and the role of Tunisian fishermen in carrying out rescues at sea, see: When rescue at sea becomes a crime: who the Tunisian fishermen arrested in Italy really are (OpenDemocracy, link)

UK: Crushing terrorism online – or curtailing free speech? The proposed EU Regulation on online terrorist content (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In moving from non-binding to legislative form, the Commission is stepping up action against such content; this move may also be seen as part of a general tightening of requirements for Internet intermediaries which can also be seen in the video-sharing platform provisions in the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive and in the proposals regarding copyright. Since the proposal has an “internal market” legal base, it would apply to all Member States."

See the proposed Regulation and supporting documentation here: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (Statewatch News Online, 14 September 2018)

Belgian inquest implicates UK in phone spying (euractiv, link):

"A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington, it was revealed on Thursday (20 September).

The admission by Belgium is one of the consequences of the myriad revelations made in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden and risks fraying ties between the close allies.

The report, which summarises a five-year judicial inquiry, is almost complete and was submitted to the office of Justice Minister Koen Geens, a source close to the case told AFP, confirming Belgian press reports."

UK: Police admit managers supported serious human rights abuses, but try to obstruct court from learning more (Police Spies Out of Our Lives, link):

"The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has admitted that a sexual relationship a police officer had while he was undercover was a violation of her fundamental right not to be subjected to torture or inhumane and degrading treatment.

They have admitted that he had the backing of his cover officers and line manager to have that relationship.

They are now seeking to prevent the Tribunal from examining the legality of the operations, the role of sexism and political persecution in the decisions made, and the involvement of senior commanding officers."

Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp (euobserver, link):

"Greece is planning to move some 2,000 asylum-seekers from the overcrowded Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos by the end of September, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos announced - ahead of migration talks at an informal EU summit in Austria. The Moria camp currently houses 9,000 people in a facility built for 3,100. Those being moved will be sent to the mainland to have their asylum claims examined."

Comment: There are currently 10,956 refguees on Lesvos (Ministry figure 19.9.18). The largest numbers are in the Moria detention centre and the "Olive Grove" adjacent to it.

Morocco plays cat and mouse with Africans headed to Europe (euractiv, link):

"African emigrants are defying a campaign by Morocco to keep them away from land and sea crossings to Spain, which has become the main entry point to Europe for migrants and refugees following crackdowns elsewhere."

Rule of law in Poland: MEPs to check situation on the ground (link):

"Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will be in Poland from Wednesday to Friday this week to assess the rule of law and respect for fundamental values

This delegation will meet representatives of the Polish government and judiciary, Poland’s ombudsman, and representatives of other authorities, organisations and stakeholders to gather insights into the latest developments as regards the rule of law in Poland. Meetings are also scheduled with media representatives and women’s rights activists.

...Yesterday’s suspension of the Polish National Judicial Council (KRS) from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) has shown that this mission is crucial and timely. I am looking forward to the important discussions.”"

Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants (euobserver, link):

"Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell told attendees at a lunch in Madrid this week that US president Donald Trump seriously suggested the Spanish government build a wall across the Sahara desert to stop migration to Europe."

Misery Deepens for Trapped Asylum Seekers in Greece - EU should stop backing policy that confines people to Aegean island (HRW, link):

"Boat migration to Greece is no longer in the headlines but the crisis for asylum seekers on the Greek islands continues.

More than 18,000 asylum seekers remain trapped in overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands. The largest, Moria camp on Lesbos, now holds more than 9,000 people, triple its capacity. Children don’t have access to schools and vulnerable asylum seekers, including pregnant women and people with disabilities, cannot access critical services."

African Union 'dismayed' at Salvini, says 'migrants aren't slaves' - Body asks interior minister to retract statement (ANSA, link):

"The African Union expressed "dismay" on Wednesday after Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini reportedly compared migrants to slaves. "The African Union Commission expresses dismay at the comments made by the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Matteo Salvini, at a recent conference in Vienna at which he likened African immigrants to slaves," the AU said in a statement. "It is the view of the African Union that name-calling will not resolve the migration challenges facing Africa and Europe"."

EU: Fixing the Refugee Crisis: Holding the Commission Accountable (Verfassungsblog, link) by Cathryn Costello and Elspeth Guild:

"Whatever its rhetoric, the Commission’s room for manoeuvre as a political norm entrepreneur on hot issues is constrained. Nonetheless, it could still have worked better, and seized the opportunity to make a success of relocation, and abandon Dublin decisively. However, it failed to shine as technical coordinator, to maintain its integrity as guardian of EU legality, or even stealthily act to maintain EU scrutiny before the CJEU. The ‘political Commission’ appears to have been politicized, in the sense of creating space for ad hoc governmental power over asylum, with all the deep divisions and disagreements that entailed. Much has been lost in that process."

UK: Anti-terrorism bill 'undermines access to legal advice' (The Law Society Gazette, link):

"Suspects detained under latest terrorism legislation making its way through parliament could be questioned for an hour unaccompanied by a solicitor, the Law Society has warned. Even then, the onus is on the detainee to request a solicitor and consultations would not be private, Chancery Lane added.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill will have its second reading in the House of Lords next month. Chancery Lane has flagged up multiple concerns that appear to undermine suspects' rights to legal advice...

Christina Blacklaws, Society president, says the idea that detainees could potentially be questioned for an hour before being able to get legal advice 'runs against the usual standards of justice'.

Even when a solicitor is present, Blacklaws says the bill undermines a suspect's right to communicate confidentially with a lawyer. The bill states that a detainee may consult a solicitor 'only in the sight and hearing of a qualified officer'."

ECHR-BELGIUM: Exclusion from a courtroom of a woman wearing the Islamic headscarf (hijab): violation of Article 9 of the Convention (press release, pdf)

"The Court found that the exclusion of Mrs Lachiri – an ordinary citizen, not representing the State – from the courtroom had amounted to a “restriction” on the exercise of her right to manifest her religion. It also held that the restriction had pursued the legitimate aim of “protecting public order”, with a view to preventing conduct that was disrespectful towards the judiciary and/or disruptive of the proper conduct of a hearing. The Court found, however, that Mrs Lachiri’s conduct on entering the courtroom had not been disrespectful and had not constituted – or been liable to constitute – a threat to the proper conduct of the hearing. The Court therefore held that the need for the restriction in question had not been established and that the infringement of Mrs Lachiri’s right to freedom to manifest her religion was not justified in a democratic society."

See the judgment: Lachiri v Belgium (application no. 3413/09, French only, pdf)

EUCAP Sahel Niger: Council extends the mission for two years (Council of the EU, link):

"On 18 September 2018, the Council extended the mandate of EUCAP Sahel Niger until 30 September 2020 and agreed on a budget of €63.4 million for the period 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2020.

The Council also updated the mission's mandate. EUCAP Sahel Niger provides advice and training to support the Nigerien authorities in strengthening their security capabilities since its launch in 2012. The mission supports the capacity building of the Nigerien security actors to fight terrorism and organised crime. Since 2016, the mission has also assisted the Nigerien central and local authorities, as well as security forces, in developing the procedures and techniques to better control and address irregular migration.

EUCAP Sahel Niger contributes to the development of an integrated, multidisciplinary, coherent, sustainable, and human rights-based approach among the various Nigerien security actors."

German government seeks greater cooperation with Algeria on deportations

The German government wants to classify Algeria as a safe country of origin in terms of asylum law, as it has already done with Tunisia and Morocco. Rejected asylum seekers could be deported more quickly.

‘Fort Trump’: US considers permanent base in Poland (Military Times, link):

"President Donald Trump said the U.S. is considering a permanent military presence in Poland, something the Eastern European country has sought for more than a decade.

Speaking to reporters at the White House after he met with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump said, "Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland. If they’re willing to do that, it’s something we will certainly talk about.”

Poland has openly courted a permanent U.S. present since President George W. Bush was in office, and that administration had considered the possibility of using one of Poland’s military bases as part of its missile defense system and locating ground-based interceptors there. Those talks eventually fell through."

CoE: Hungary: anti-torture Committee observed decent conditions in transit zones but criticises treatment of irregular migrants when ‘pushed back’ to Serbia (link):

"The report highlights that in the context of ‘push-backs’, there was no procedure which would assess the risk of ill-treatment following the forcible removal, and the CPT recommends that the Hungarian authorities put an end to the practice of ‘push-backs’ to the Serbian side of the border.

The CPT expresses its misgivings about the fact that all foreign nationals seeking international protection, including families with children and unaccompanied minors (14 to 18 years of age), are compelled to stay in the transit zones at Röszke and Tompa while their asylum claims are being processed."

See: Report (pdf)

NUJ welcomes ECHR judgement on surveillance of journalists

(Press release) "The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the UK government has violated press freedom following a four year case brought by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In January 2016 the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) backed the case, and made a joint submission to the ECHR.

The NUJ said the judgement is significant victory for the campaign to protect journalists' sources and the right of journalists to adhere to the NUJ's ethical code of conduct that states:

"A journalist protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work."

Still The Heart of the Race, thirty years on (IRR News, link):

"A seminal radical black feminist text, first published in 1985, which tells the story of black women’s experiences in Britain, has now been republished by Verso, at a time when we need it more than ever."

Big Brother in Berlin: As Germany dabbles in state surveillance, facial-recognition technology raises privacy concerns (Politico, link):

"BERLIN — Authorities in a major city scan the faces of tens of thousands of passers-by at a vast train station, using software to compare them to photographs of people in a digital database.

Welcome to Berlin Südkreuz railway station, where a German government experiment with facial-recognition technology is raising privacy concerns in a country scarred by a history of oppressive state surveillance."

German police launch Europe-wide search for G20 riot suspects (DW, link):

"The "top culprits" are accused of committing crimes amid leftist demonstrations during the Hamburg G20 summit in 2017. It comes as one man was arrested in Hamburg, where police conducted raids relating to the protests."

Lesvos, Greece: Moria is in a state of emergency (MSF, link):

"I have worked for 14 years as a clinical psychiatrist in the Mental Health department of Trieste in Italy. I’m considered an expert on psychiatric emergencies and I work with people who have addiction and psychiatric comorbidities. I treat people who have been victims of human trafficking, I provide mental health support for refugees and people in prison, and advise on protection and social recovery programmes. Over the course of my career, I have gained significant clinical and professional experience in difficult contexts and crisis situations.

In all of my years of medical practice, I have never witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions, as I am witnessing now amongst refugees on the island of Lesbos."

UK: White people make up largest proportion of British terror arrests (The Guardian, link):

"White people make up the largest proportion of arrested terrorism suspects for the first time in 13 years, official British figures show.

There were 351 arrests for terrorism-related activity in the year to 30 June, a fall of 22% compared with the 449 arrests in the previous year, Home Office statistics show.

The proportion of suspects recorded as white by the arresting officer increased by four percentage points to 38% in the period, while those deemed to be from an Asian background fell by seven percentage points to 37%. The proportion recorded as black fell by two points to 9%.

It is the first time, since the year ending June 2005, the month before the 7/7 bombings, that more of those arrested were recorded as white rather than Asian."

See: Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation: Arrests, outcomes, and stop and search, Great Britain, quarterly update to June 2018 (pdf). Further documentation is avaiable on the Home Office website.

UN rules against expulsion of victim of torture from Switzerland to Italy (ECRE, link):

"The United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) has ruled that the expulsion of a torture victim from Switzerland to Italy under the Dublin Regulation violates the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by depriving him of the conditions conducive to recovery and rehabilitation."

See the ruling: Decision adopted by the Committee under article 22 of the Convention, concerning communication No. 742/2016 (pdf)

EU: Official evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur)

The European Commission has published an evaluation of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which recommends that the system be expanded for the "systematic inclusion" of all border crossing points; the monitoring of "secondary movements" of migrants within the EU; and to develop new services and better cooperate with "third parties", for example through "big data analysis" of EU databases such as the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System and Europol's computer systems.

EU: Joint Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism for the Western Balkans to be signed on behalf of the EU with Western Balkans Partners (11848/18, LIMITE, 5 September 2018, pdf)

"Delegates will find attached the draft Joint Action Plan on Counter-Terrorism for the Western Balkans as approved by the Commission.

The Commission informed delegations about this Joint Action Plan at the informal joint COTER/TWP meeting on 10 July 2018 in Vienna. Comments received by the Commission in bilateral contacts with Member States and Western Balkans partners are to a large extent reflected in this Joint Action Plan.

The Western Balkans partners will be asked for confirmation that they can accept this Joint Action Plan.

The document is to be signed by the Commission on behalf of the EU and by Western Balkans partners at the JHA Ministerial meeting in Tirana on 5 October 2018."

EU: Frontex tests drones for border surveillance: €6.5m for Leonardo and Israel Aerospace Industries

Frontex has recently signed two contracts for tests on border surveillance drones with the companies Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and Israel Aerospace Industries, worth €1.7 million and €4.75 million respectively.

SCOTLAND: Fracking campaigners are ‘domestic extremists’, say Police Scotland (The Ferret, link):

"Opponents of fracking in Scotland are considered “domestic extremists” by Police Scotland, despite Home Office advice that campaigners should not be bracketed alongside the likes of Islamic State and neo-Nazis under counter terrorism strategy.

Official documents also reveal that Police Scotland has been trying to infiltrate communities near the Ineos petrochemical plant at Grangemouth in order to glean information on people involved with peaceful anti-fracking groups.

The revelations by research group Spinwatch have prompted a furious response from anti-fracking groups, who are calling on the justice committee at the Scottish Parliament to ask Police Scotland to urgently change its approach."

See: Why are counter terrorism police still spying on the anti-fracking movement? (Spinwatch, link)

GREECE: 19 organizations demand decongestion of the islands and immediate improvement of refugee reception conditions

Athens, September 13, 2018 - Over 17,000 people remain crammed in Greek island reception centers with a total capacity for only 6,000, living in desperate conditions which do not meet humanitarian standards. This, despite public assurances from the Greek Minister of Migration Policy, Dimitris Vitsas, that the islands would be decongested by September and that thousands of new places would be created on the Greek mainland. As conditions continue to deteriorate, 19 civil society organisations once again urge authorities to engage in the creation of sustainable solutions for the decongestion of the islands and to immediately improve reception conditions for refugees. It is nothing short of shameful that people are expected to endure such horrific conditions on European soil.

UPDATED: Statewatch Observatory: Creation of a centralised Justice & Home Affairs database is "a point of no return". This Observatory covers the so-called "interoperability" of EU JHA databases which in reality will create a centralised EU state database covering all existing and future JHA databases.

GREECE: Number of refugees on islands rising

Official figures show that the total numbers on the islands (as of 13.9.18) have risen to 19,711 with the numbers on Lesvos rising to 10,599. The Hope Project on Lesvos reports: "Over just this weekend 10 boats arrived in Lesvos! 519 people! Many children!."

Informal Summit of Heads of State or Government, Salzburg 2018 (link to Austrian Council Presidency):

"The summit is part of the Leaders' Agenda and it will focus on internal security. Heads of state or government will take stock of progress achieved to:

- upgrade police and judicial cooperation
- strengthen border security and resilience in cyberspace

On the eve of the meeting, leaders will meet for an informal working dinner with migration as the main topic. Leaders will discuss the latest developments in this area. They will also assess progress achieved to reduce irregular arrivals and to cooperate with third countries."

UK-BREXIT: Security Cooperation: Government response (pdf) to Home Affairs Committee report (pdf)

EU: Court of Justice: A person cannot be excluded from eligibility for subsidiary protection if he is deemed to have ‘committed a serious crime’ on the basis of the sole criterion of the penalty provided for under the law of the Member State concerned (press release, pdf):

"...the Court takes the view that, even though the criterion of the penalty imposed under national criminal legislation is of particular importance for the purpose of assessing the seriousness of the crime justifying exclusion from subsidiary protection, the competent authority of the Member State concerned may apply the ground for exclusion only after undertaking, for each individual case, an assessment of the specific facts brought to its attention with a view to determining whether there are serious grounds for taking the view that the acts committed by the person in question, who otherwise satisfies the qualifying conditions for the status applied for, come within the scope of that ground for exclusion."

See the judgment: Shajin Ahmed v Bevándorlási és Menekültügyi Hivatal (case C-369/17, pdf)

GREECE: FreeHumanitarians (link):

"Nassos Karakitsos, Seán Binder & Sarah Mardini are three humanitarian workers who have been arrested and detained by Greek Authorities.

They have been accused among others for assisting illegally refugees to enter Greece,being a member of a criminal organization, and espionage."

See also: Help is no crime: stand with volunteers against the criminalisation of solidarity (JRS, link)

As the World Abandons Refugees, UNHCR’s Constraints Are Exposed (Refguees Deeply, link):

"The U.N. refugee agency lacks the funding, political clout and independence to protect refugees in the way that it is supposed to, says former UNHCR official and refugee policy expert Jeff Crisp."

Migrant rescue ship Aquarius back in troubled waters (euobserver, link):

"The Aquarius, a rescue ship operated by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Medicins sans Frontieres, sailed back to international waters off Libya this weekend to resume work despite an EU dispute with Italy and Malta on who should take in the people it picks up at sea. No charity ships have worked in the region since late August, when Italy refused to let people on board the Aquarius to disembark."

Germany and Austria back tougher EU external border (euobserver, link):

"German chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz agreed Sunday to back the creation of a 10,000-man EU border force and cooperate with African states to stem migration flows. "There can be no open borders within Europe without proper protection of external EU borders," Kurz said. Morocco, which stopped 65,000 people from coming to the EU last year, is to get €236m in EU aid to stop others."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-14.9.18)

EU: Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament calls on the EU to act

Parliament has asked EU member states to determine, in accordance with Treaty Article 7, whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU´s founding values.

The request was approved by 448 votes to 197, with 48 abstentions. To be adopted, the proposal required an absolute majority of members (376) and two thirds of the votes cast - excluding the abstentions.

UK: Young black men more likely to be prosecuted over dispersal orders (The Guardian, link):

"Young black men in London are disproportionately more likely to be prosecuted for breaking public dispersal orders available to police as part of a range of measures to crack down on antisocial behaviour.

Research produced by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies looked at a range of powers given to councils and police in 2014 and found that they had resulted in almost 1,000 young adults being prosecuted in two years.

One of these, the controversial dispersal power, allows police to ban individuals from an area for 48 hours if they believe there is a risk of antisocial behaviour. The order must be signed by an inspector or above but does not have to be consulted on more widely before coming into effect.

Anyone in breach of an order can be prosecuted and fined up to £2,500 or imprisoned for up to three months."

See: Anti-social behaviour powers and young adults: The data (The Guardian, link)

UK: The "deport first, appeal later" policy: Afghan father who sought refuge in UK 'shot dead by Taliban' after being deported by Home Office (The Independent, link):

"An Afghan man who sought refuge from the Taliban in the UK has been shot dead in his home town after being deported by the British government.

Zainadin Fazlie had lived in London with his wife, who had refugee status, and their four British-born children. But after committing a number of minor offences, the 47-year-old was sent back to Afghanistan after 16 years in Britain, despite threats to his life.

Last Friday, his wife Samira Fazlie found out he had been shot by Taliban forces after seeing an image of his dead body on Facebook."

France admits torture during Algeria's war of independence (Al Jazeera, link):

"France acknowledged for the first time it was responsible for systematic torture during the Algerian war of independence in the mid-1950s.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that Maurice Audin, a communist pro-independence activist who disappeared in 1957, "died under torture stemming from the system instigated while Algeria was part of France."

Macron, who paid a visit to Audin's widow on Thursday, was also set to announce "the opening of archives on the subject of disappeared civilians and soldiers, both French and Algerian.""

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: new opinions highlight privacy concerns with biometric identity cards and Visa Information System proposals

The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency has published two detailed new opinions examining recent proposals to expand and amend the Visa Information System (VIS) and to make the inclusion of biometrics (fingerprints and facial images) mandatory in all EU citizens' national identity cards.

EU: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation

A reinforced Frontex, a new European Asylum Agency, more measures against online terrorist content, a strengthened European Public Prosecutor's Office, lowering the standards in the Returns Directive and changes to decision-making in foreign policy were just some of the security and migration-related proposals announced in the 'State of the Union' speech given by European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, on 12 September.

GREECE: Update on Moria: mainland travel permitted for some; concerns over growing EASO role in asylum procedure; deportations without due process

Lesvos Legal Centre reports that on Friday 7th September the Greek government began lifting the geographical restrictions for individuals classified as vulnerable who are attempting to claim asylum in Lesvos.

This is supposed to enable around 5,000 people to leave the Moria detention centre/hotspot and travel to the mainland.

This 'solution' to the overcrowding in Moria will not, however, be sufficient to address the needs of the estimated 11,000 people trapped on Lesvos.

ECHR-UK: GCHQ surveillance powers violate human rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that various aspects of the surveillance powers used by the UK's signals intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), violate the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

UK: CPS to take no action against police over death of Leon Briggs (The Guardian, link):

"The mother of a vulnerable man who died after being restrained by police has spoken of her devastation after learning officers will face no criminal charges.

The police watchdog passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in March 2016 concerning two Bedfordshire police constables, three sergeants and a member of police staff, suggesting they may have committed crimes over the death of Leon Briggs in 2013.

In January, prosecutors said no action would be taken against one of the officers, and they have now confirmed the other five people will also face no charges."

UK-BELGIUM-FRANCE: Eurostar to trial passenger data exchange with Belgian authorities (IRJ, link):

"This requirement already applies to airlines and private aircraft flying in and out of Belgian airports. The Belgian government cites the move as a response to previous terrorist attacks and to prevent other serious crime.

The trial exchange of PNR data, which the Belgian government says has already been agreed with the British government, will be tested on Eurostar services between Brussels and London. Long-distance bus operator Flixbus is also included in the trial for its services operating from Belgium. The Belgian government has the powers to undertake this date collection as, under the PNR Directive, member states are allowed to determine their own approach for trains, buses and ferries.

According to reports in the Belgian media, the information will be given to the newly-created Passenger Information Unit within the Interior Ministry (known as the Federal Public Service of Belgium) where Belgian Federal Police, customs, security services and military intelligence share data."

EU: Engagement-based Alternatives to Detention in Europe (EPIM, link):

"EPIM has commissioned a first independent evaluation report on the three Alternatives to Detention pilot projects it funds in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland. These pilot projects provide holistic case management as engagement-based alternatives to confinement-focused migration control measures such as immigration detention. The work is supported by the European Alternatives to Detention Network.

In the context of increased pressure across Europe to detain migrants, the evaluation provides evidence that engagement-based case management can be effective in helping migrants to work towards resolving their cases in the community:

The report also provides insight into how, practically, a case management pilot project can be set up, and the challenges faced, which can support further pilots for evidence-building."

See: Briefing paper (pdf) and full report: Alternatives to detention from theory to practice: Evaluation of three engagement-based alternative to immigration detention pillot projects in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland (link to pdf)

GREECE: Lesvos: support at court for journalists in social media abuse case

Fifty journalists and supporters gathered at the court in Mytilini on the Greek island of Lesvos on Tuesday 11th September for the initial court procedure in a case involving the abuse of journalists for reporting on fascist activities.

EU police show little interest in processing passenger data (Matthias Monroy, link):

"Once called for as an indispensable tool in the fight against terrorism, the implementation of the EU directive on the use of passenger data is slow.

The "Passenger Name Records“ (PNR) package adopted over two years ago should have been transposed into national law by all Member States by 25 May this year. However, a considerable number of governments have not yet reported this to the Commission. This was confirmed by EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Julian King at a hearing in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). Previously, the civil rights organisation Statewatch had also reported on this."

UK-IRELAND: Human rights judges reject final appeal of Troubles 'hooded men' (The Guardian, link):

"The European court of human rights has rejected a final attempt by the Irish government to redefine as torture the maltreatment of 14 men interned without trial at the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Judges at the ECHR refused to refer the case of the so-called “hooded men” to its internal appeal court, the grand chamber. The “hooded men” were mainly republican suspects seized in predawn raids across North Ireland in August 1971.

The authorities in Dublin, backed by human rights organisations, had asked the ECHR in 2014 to revise its original 1978 judgment after large numbers of documents from the years of internment emerged."

See the original press release: ECHR rejects Irish request to find torture in 1978 judgment against UK (pdf) and: Full-text of Judgment (pdf)

Why we need to protect refugees from the ‘big ideas’ designed to save them (The Independent, link) by Heaven Crawley:

"As the so-called “refugee crisis” continues to dominate European political and media debate, I’ve become increasingly concerned about the way in which some academics are responding to “solve” the issue.

...Ideas on how to solve the so-called refugee crisis are heavily skewed towards the global north: its interests shape dominant research themes and produce a disproportionate focus on Europe and North America, often leading to the “out of sight, out of mind” solutions. An echo chamber has developed, which constrains the capacity of many of the poorest countries to analyse migration and other issues on their own terms.

Relinquishing control won’t be an easy process. There are huge vested interests in maintaining the status quo, on all sides. All too often I’ve sat in events and been told that while it’s important to listen to the voices of refugees and to “give them agency”, academics and policy makers are ultimately the experts and know what’s best."

UK-EU: Negotiating Brexit: policing and criminal justice (Institute for Government, link)

"Failure to secure a new agreement on policing and criminal justice after Brexit will make it harder to extradite dangerous criminals from the UK and reduce the number of people brought back to the UK to face justice.

Negotiating Brexit: policing and criminal justice says that without a new agreement, the UK will fall back on the patchwork of insufficient security arrangements that predate EU cooperation. Currently, the UK uses the European Arrest Warrant to extradite more than 1000 people a year – under the previous, politicised system of extradition the figure was less than 60.

It will also be harder to bring people who are suspected of committing crimes back to the UK to face trial. UK authorities will lose access to huge EU-wide databases and prosecutors will face difficulty collaborating with EU partners without initiatives like Europol.

The report explains how the UK has the most bespoke deal on policing cooperation of any EU country, but it will not be able to maintain this once it has left. The EU has not accepted the UK’s proposal of an overarching security agreement and is offering only slightly better arrangements than those it has with other 'third countries' including Canada and Norway. The report argues that this does not recognise the UK’s contribution to EU-wide policing, or the UK already trying to allay concerns around human rights."

Refugee Libya shipwreck survivors condemned to drown at sea or face arbitrary detention (MSF, link):

"More than a hundred people have reportedly died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast one week ago, survivors told Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams working in Libya. A group of 276 people, among them survivors of the shipwreck, were brought from the sea to the port city of Khoms (120 kilometres east of Tripoli) by the Libyan coast guard on Sunday 2 September. MSF has been providing urgent medical assistance following disembarkation.

...Upon disembarkation, the group was transferred to a detention centre under the control of the Libyan authorities. It is common for people returned to Libya from unseaworthy boats to be sent back into a harmful system of arbitrary detention. Between January and August 2018, the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard had returned 13, 185 refugees and migrants to Libya.

Among those detained, MSF has met asylum seekers and refugees who have been registered or recognised by UNHCR in Libya or another country. Their prospects appear particularly bleak: UNHCR-led mechanisms to evacuate them from Libya to Niger and resettle them in a third country, launched in 2017 in the aftermath of the global outrage sparked by CNN footage, have remained at a standstill for several months."

FRANCE-UK: The Jungle ‘Performance’: Recreating a Refugee Camp on the Fly (Refugees Deeply, link):

"In early 2017, just three months after the demolition of the Jungle, asylum seekers started to return to Calais. For the past year, there have been 400–700 migrants living informally in the area at any given time. Yet the Jungle has not reappeared.

There is no physical camp in Calais. Newcomers play an absurd game of cat and mouse with authorities, building makeshift shelters that are then destroyed by police. In response, volunteer humanitarians reclaim the camp in the only way they can: They publicly “perform” a recreation of the protective space that the Jungle provided for asylum seekers, challenging the police’s attempts to criminalize everybody involved."

And see: French police clear 500 migrants from Dunkirk camp (The Local, link): "Police moved in to clear 500 migrants from a camp near the French port city of Dunkirk, along the English Channel where many gather hoping to stow away on trucks or ferries heading to Britain, officials said Thursday."

UK: Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology: Biometric technologies (pdf):

"Biometric technologies identify individuals based on their distinguishing physical and behavioural attributes, such as fingerprints, face, and voice. Unlike passwords or traditional identity documents, biometric attributes are inherently linked to a person and cannot usually be lost or forgotten, potentially providing greater security and convenience. This briefing focuses on how these technologies work, their applications, and the policy challenges raised by their use."

MOROCCO: Relentless crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants and refugees is unlawful (Amnesty, link):

"The Moroccan authorities’ large-scale crackdown on thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees without due process is cruel and unlawful, Amnesty International said amid ongoing intensive government raids in the north of the country.

Since the end of July, the Moroccan police together with the Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces have carried out major raids on the neighbourhoods where refugees and migrants live in several cities, with particular intensity in the northern provinces of Tangiers, Nador and Tetuan, which neighbour the Spanish borders.

...An estimated 5,000 people have been swept up in the raids since July, piled on to buses and abandoned in remote areas close to the Algerian border or in the south of the country, according to the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). The group monitored the number of buses that left from Tangiers, Tetuan and Nador and calculated an estimate for the number of people seized.

...“Efforts to control irregular migration from Morocco to Spain are frequently praised by the Spanish authorities, who keep cooperating with Morocco to stop the arrival of migrants and refugees without conditioning such cooperation upon the respect of the rights of all people on the move. Spain and the EU in general should refocus their cooperation with Morocco, prioritizing the protection of human rights and the creation of an asylum system in the country, as required under international law.”"

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria camp "dangerous to public health" and majority of detainees "never feel safe"

The notorious Moria "hotspot" camp on the Greek island of Lesvos must be cleaned up within 30 days or otherwise closed down. Inspectors declared the camp "dangerous for public health and the environment," after finding "broken sewage pipes, overflowing garbage bins, and stagnant water and flies in the toilets," according to a report in the The Independent. Meanwhile, a recent investigation has found that over 65% of people living in the camp "never feel safe" there.

EU: European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS): Council adopts regulation

On 5 September 2018 the Council adopted a regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS).

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

EU: Forced into The Arms of Smugglers (OCCRP, link):

"...with no legal way for migrants and refugees to get in through the Balkans, honest and innocent people are forced into the welcoming arms of organized crime.

“We all failed this test, and organized crime took the route over from us,” Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic told TV1 in June.

“No country should have let that happen."

Seeing no other option, migrants and refugees are paying thousands to go on dangerous journeys with smugglers. Most are left stranded and penniless. Meanwhile, the European smuggling networks are earning an estimated US$ 5-6 billion per year, according to Europol.

Salma’s family alone paid smugglers $30,500 in an attempt to reach Austria after receiving threats from the Taliban and Daesh.

But two years later, they are stuck in this small room in the Salakovac refugee camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with no fan, no regular access to medical care, and no idea what comes next."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.8-7.9.18) including: UK asylum dispersal system close to failure; anti-migrant militias spring up in Central Europe; Mediterranean search and rescue operations not a "pull factor" for migrants

Council of Europe: Despite challenges in managing mixed migration Spain should guarantee effective access to asylum also in Melilla and Ceuta

Strasbourg, 06.09.2018 - ”Every person arriving in Spain, including those jumping the border fences in Melilla and Ceuta, should be protected against refoulement and collective expulsions with a real possibility to have access to an effective and fair asylum procedure”, says the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Ambassador Tomáš Bocek in a report published today.

UK’s asylum dispersal system close to 'catastrophic failure' (The Guardian, link):

"Britain’s asylum dispersal system is on the brink of collapse, according to a number of “unprecedented” warning letters written by council leaders and politicians to the Home Office.

Joint letters have been written by 14 leaders of councils across Yorkshire, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland, the Welsh and Scottish governments as well as by Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow council, the only local authority in Scotland to take asylum seekers.

They warn the government the voluntary system that provides accommodation in local authorities for those seeking refugee status is on the verge of “catastrophic failure”. There were 26,350 asylum applications in 2017."

Background: The Corporate Greed of Strangers (IRR, link): "John Grayson reveals the spread of corporate involvement in the provision of asylum housing in the UK and northern Europe, and how outsourcing and private companies are tarnishing Europe’s ‘welcome’ to refugees."

The Keys to Data Protection: A guide for policy engagement on data protection (Privacy International, link):

"In this section, you can access the different parts of our guide for policy engagement on data protection "The Keys to Data Protection". The guide is intended to help organisations and individuals improve their understanding of data protection, by providing a framework to analyse the various provisions which are commonly presented in a data protection law.

The guide was developed from Privacy International’s experience and expertise on international principles and standards applicable to the protection of privacy and personal data, and our leadership and research on modern technologies and data processing."

The guide covers: Data Protection Explained (Part 1); General provisions, definitions and scope (Part 2); Data protection principles (Part 3); The rights of data subjects (Part 4); The grounds for processing personal data (Part 5); The obligations of controllers and processors (Part 6); and Oversight and enforcement structures (Part 7).

UK: London, 13-14 October 2018: State racism, collusion and resistance (CCJS, link):

"A two-day conference discussing the pervasive nature of racism, injustice and austerity in contemporary Britain and their impact on working class communities.

The aims of the 2-day conference are twofold: firstly to identify and discuss the motivating factors of the pervasive nature of racism, injustice and austerity and their impact on working class communities. Secondly, we aim to bring different campaigns and communities together so that we can begin to collectively address the challenges ahead.

...The conference is an initiative of The Monitoring Group, co-organised with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and supported by Imran Khan and Partners and South Bank University."

Anti-migrant militias spring up in central Europe (EUobserver, link):

"Czech and Slovenian authorities have voiced alarm over the emergence of armed anti-migrant militias in the two central European countries.

The concerns come after revelations of a paramilitary base, with tanks and armoured personnel carriers, used by a biker gang with Kremlin ties in Slovakia.

The Czech intelligence service, the BIS, voiced its worries about a group that calls itself the National Home Guard in a classified report seen by Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes.

...The home guard groups, which have up to 2,500 members in 90 national branches, patrol the streets of some small Czech towns, such as Nymburk, 50km west of Prague, looking for irregular migrants.

They appear to have links with local police and have political support from National Democracy, a fringe far-right party."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Loughinisland killings: arrests an "attempt to intimidate journalists and whistleblowers"

"A search and arrest operation during an investigation into the suspected theft of confidential documents from the Police Ombudsman's Office was an attempt to intimidate journalists and whistleblowers, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for the company behind a documentary into the loyalist murders of six men in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre claimed police had abused their powers.

Two award-winning journalists involved in the film 'No Stone Unturned', Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, were arrested, questioned and released last week as part of the probe."

MEDITERRANEAN: Defending humanity at sea: are dedicated and proactive search and rescue operations at sea a "pull factor" for migration and do they deteriorate maritime safety in the Central Mediterranean? (Médecins sans Frontières, pdf):

"What are the main conclusions?

• The accusations levelled against the humanitarian vessels are not substantiated by evidence. There was no major increase in attempted sea crossings during the period of involvement of the humanitarian vessels (as would be expected by the pull factor hypothesis).
• Importantly, the involvement of humanitarian vessels was associated with a significant improvement in maritime safety compared to other periods. Without these boats, the counts of dead and missing at sea would likely have been considerably higher. The proactive search and rescue by humanitarian vessels have thus played a crucial and life-saving role."

Council of the European Union: Commission Implementing Decision establishing the report of the 2017 evaluation of the United Kingdom on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System (LIMIITE Document no: 11474-18, pdf)

"On this basis, the Presidency will suggest that Coreper recommends, as a I/A-item, that the Council invite the Commission to present a proposal for a Council Implementing Decision setting out a recommendation to address the very serious deficiencies identified in the evaluation of the United Kingdom in view of fulfilling the conditions necessary for the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the Schengen Information System, pursuant to Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1053/2013...."

Impasse on migration clouds EU-Africa relations (euractiv, link):

"The issue of how to control migration from Africa may have exorcised European leaders in recent years, but it could also derail the EU’s main political agreement with the continent.

Eighteen months of talks on a new agreement to replace the 2000 Cotonou accord with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will begin in the coming weeks, with EU and African leaders far apart on how to tackle migration policy."

UNHCR: Desparate Journeys January – August 2018: Refugees and migrants arriving in Europe and at Europe's borders (pdf):

"The risk of death at sea for people crossing the Mediterranean continues to increase as the EU and member states attempt to stamp out refugee flows from Libya."

And see: Enough! Please No More Reports Telling us the Bleeding Obvious! (Samos Chronicles, link)

GREECE: Enough! Please No More Reports Telling us the Bleeding Obvious! (Samos Chronicles, link):

"This week another damning report from UNHCR on the atrocious conditions and treatment of refugees on the Greek islands. A few days earlier another about Lesvos. My computer is full of reports about refugees in Greece and on Samos. There seems no end to the flow.

We have some simple questions to ask of all those organisations and individuals who write and research these reports."

UK: Arms industry spends millions to promote brands in schools - Defence groups sponsor lessons that promote building and sale of military hardware (Observer, link):

"Arms manufacturers are spending millions of pounds a year promoting their brands in Britain’s schools, the Observer has learned.

The companies, which between them have sold tens of billions of pounds of weapons to overseas governments, including those with poor human rights records, sponsor a series of school events at which their brands are prominently on display. (...)

“When these companies are promoting themselves to children they are not talking about the deadly impact their weapons are having,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade. “Many of these companies have profited from war and fuelled atrocities around the world."

SPAIN: Research on the situation at the Spanish southern border: Spanish Southern Border: Human Rights Violations by Private Companies (link):

"The militarization of European Union's migration policies, responds to a global securitization process that began after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. This process has resulted in an increase of military and defense spending, both at EU level and at member states level. Private actors working in the sector of defense and security have played a leading role in the creation and design of those policies."


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