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What's New on the Statewatch website: 2017
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Carries all items that have been added or updated from News Online, News Digest and Observatories.

February 2017

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

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

- Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex comments:

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

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

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

Greece: ATIMA: Press Release: Death of an administratively detained migrant (pdf, link):

"On the tragic occasion of the incident of an Algerian detainee who died at the Petrou Ralli detention center (Tavros Pre-removal Detention Center) on 5 February 2017, we would like to note that last October our organization released the report FORGOTTEN in which we presented the serious deficiencies of the system for administrative detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Greece and made specific recommendations to the competent authorities."

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

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

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

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

European Parliament Research Service: Addressing migration in the European Union (92 pages, 7 MB, pdf): Includes:

Public expectations and EU policies - The issue of migration, Reform of the Dublin system, European Union Agency for Asylum, Recast Eurodac Regulation, Reception of asylum-seekers - recast directive, Common procedure for asylum, safe countries of origin: Proposed common EU list, European Border and Coast Guard system and Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU: An overview:

"Over the past two years, the migratory pressure on the European Union's external borders has led to dealing with migration becoming its highest priority. After a peak in 2015, the number of irregular entries into the European Union dropped by more than half in the second quarter of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015, mainly as a result of the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement. However, the number of asylum applications remains high, with more than 1.2 million asylum applications made in the EU Member States in 2016. Nonetheless, the EU and its Member States are adapting to the new reality."

Greece-Turkey: NATO's Aegean patrols to continue (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Patrols by the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) in the Aegean to stem the flow of migrants into Europe will continue despite objections by Turkey, defense ministers agreed Thursday at a NATO summit in Brussels.

“The prevention of refugee flows with NATO ships will continue as long as there are prospective illegal migrants or refugees on the other side of the Aegean,” said Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos."

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

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

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

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

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

ITALY-LIBYA: Rome recruits desert mayors to stop flow of refugees from Libya (The Times, link):

"Italy has flown ten mayors from towns in southern Libya to Rome to persuade them to block tens of thousands of African migrants trying to travel to Europe.

The mayors were flown in on an unmarked aircraft for a secret summit with the interior minister, Marco Minniti. He outlined a plan to fund detention centres and boost patrols of Libya’s desert frontier, where traffickers bring sub-Saharan migrants into the country.

“The mayors overcame their tribal differences and offered their full collaboration with the deal — they even asked for its implementation to be accelerated,” an Italian government source said."

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

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

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

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

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

EU: New anti-terrorism powers passed by European Parliament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Hundreds of people reach Spain over razor wire-topped fences in Ceuta

The NGO Caminando Fronteras has said that there were "numerous injuries" during attempts starting at five o'clock this morning (17 February 2017) by hundreds of people to climb over the razor-wire topped barriers in Ceuta that seperate Spanish from Moroccan territory, with one person reportedly left unconscious after falling from the fence back onto the Moroccan side and others injured by climbing the fence or by Moroccan police attempts to prevent people from climbing. The Red Cross is apparently attending to some 400 people and the emergency services have been called to the scene. It is considered that some 500 people made it onto Spanish territory.

See: Cerca de 500 personas saltan la valla de Ceuta por la frontera del Tarajal (El Diario, link)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And see: Annex (pdf)

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

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

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

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

See Statewatch: Directive on combating terrorism (link)

EU border agency expects same number of migrants via Libya this year as last (Reuters Africa, link):

"The European Union should expect as many migrants crossing from Libya this year as last, when a record number disembarked in Italy, the head of the bloc's border agency said on Wednesday.

Some 1.6 million refugees and migrants reached the bloc by crossing the Mediterranean in 2014-2016 and the main route now leads from the shores of the lawless Libya to Italy."

Migrants head to Switzerland amid Austria border crackdown (euobserver, link):

"Switzerland is turning into a transit country for migrants heading north as EU states impose internal border checks to stem their flows, according to Frontex, the EU border and coast guard agency.

African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya are avoiding Austria and are instead entering Switzerland in the hope of reaching northern EU states, Frontex said in a report on Wednesday (15 February)."

And see: Frontex: Annual Risk Report 2017 (10 MB, pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

And: Supreme Court information note (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.2.17)

EU-UK: Justice and Home Affairs after Brexit

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

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

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

Clingendael report: EU external migration policies misaligned with reality (ECRE, link):

"On the February 1, Dutch think tank Clingendael released a report on the relationship between irregular migration and conflict and stability in Mali, Niger and Libya. The report’s main finding is that current EU policies are misaligned with the reality of trans-Saharan migration.

The report argues that European external migration policies fail to take into account the diverse socio-political dynamics of intra-African migration. EU policies focus on stemming migration flows through securitised measures as a means to stop human smuggling. "

See also: The Niger-Libya corridor: Smugglers’ perspectives (pdf)

From Hotspots to Repatriation Centres: How Italy Gets tough on Immigration Policies (Linkedin, link):

"the latest plan presented by the newly appointed Italian Minister of Interior seems to open a path towards the return to a fully operational reception system while restoring the confidence into the Schengen area. However, this strategy faces three major challenges in its implementation: redistributing migrants in every Italian region, strengthening international relations with key third countries and encouraging the externalization of border management through law-enforcement cooperation. Although the government promptly assured that the proposal to open a Repatriation Centre (hereinafter CPR) for every region is meant to simplify bureaucratic procedures and alleviate pressure on the overcrowded hotspot system, this burden-sharing mechanism among municipalities in proportion to its inhabitants has already sparked a heated debate."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hungary ‘welcomes’ German, Dutch, French, Italian refugees (New Europe, link):

"Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has jokingly welcomed West Europeans who feel persecuted by liberal agendas to seek asylum in his country.

During his annual state of the union address on February 10, the right-wing conservative politician said: “Naturally, we will take in the real refugees. The panicked German, Dutch, French and Italian politicians and journalists, Christians forced to leave their countries will find here the Europe they lost at home."

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

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

On New Year’s Eve, police ranks were bolstered in the German city of Cologne and more than one hundred North African men were rounded up and checked, in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2015 Cologne attacks.

Critics say this was nothing short of racial profiling and that people were targeted purely because of their ethnicity. German anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the European Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits any form of discrimination that is based on race or social background."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.2.17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC): Irregular Migration via the Central Mediterranean (pdf):

"Between 2011 and 2016, some 630,000 irregular migrants and refugees1 reached Italy via the Central Mediterranean. Some were successfully smuggled across, while others were rescued at sea and disembarked in Italy. More than 13,000 lost their lives attempting the crossing, and many more died on their journey through the Sahara."

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA): Guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in external
border management when working in or together with third countries
(pdf):

"This guidance on how to reduce the risk of refoulement in border management situations aims to support the EU and its Member States when implementing integrated border management measures with the assistance of third countries. It also intends to mitigate possible risks of being held accountable.

It is not comprehensive, and Member States have to comply with all applicable obligations both within as well as beyond the scope of these guidelines, including those set forth in international, European and national law."

Farmer given suspended €3,000 fine for helping migrants enter France - Cédric Herrou, an organic olive farmer who has become a local hero for providing shelter for Africans, convicted in Nice court (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer who became a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and providing them with shelter has been given a suspended €3,000 fine for aiding illegal arrivals.

Cédric Herrou’s trial in a court in Nice had become a focal point in the ongoing debate about refugees and migrants in France, and the French law against helping or sheltering them. The current Socialist government amended the law against assisting migrants, but it remains illegal to help them cross borders."

See also the campaign against the "solidarity offence": Delinquants Solidaires (link) and French farmer punished for helping migrants enter France from Italy (RFI, link)

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

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

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

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

Germany to ‘speed up deportation’ of failed asylum seekers (euactiv, link):

"Germany, which has taken in over one million asylum seekers since 2015, on Thursday (9 February) announced plans to speed up the deportation of those denied refugee status – but controversy flared over sending people back to war-torn Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel – who faces a re-election bid in September amid voter backlash over the mass influx – won agreement from leaders of Germany’s 16 state governments on a repatriation plan, which she said would “quickly” be drafted as a proposed law....

Among the planned measures is the establishment of national “deportation centres” aimed at coordinating federal and state operations. Financial incentives will also be offered for those who return voluntarily under the plan."

Hungary ready to build another fence on southern border (euractiv, link):

"Hungary is ready to build a second line of fencing on its southern border to keep out migrants if the situation worsens this year or next, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff said on Thursday (9 February).

Hungary has been building fences since the beginning of the migration crisis in 2015. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees trekked through Hungary and Austria in 2015 as they sought to reach wealthy European nations."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.2.17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Commission's text proposed an article that said:

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

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

EU: Commission threatens to sue countries that don’t take refugees (euractiv, link):

"The EU warned today (8 February) that it will consider punishing member states next month if they fail to share the burden of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans criticised the bloc for having so far admitted only 12,000 of the 160,000 Syrian and other refugees required to be relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU countries by September this year.

He said Brussels still hoped “peer pressure” would convince recalcitrant countries, but that it would consider penalties if there had been no progress by the time its next report on the issue comes out in March.

“That is the right moment to consider other options if they are necessary,” Timmermans told a press conference. “The Commission might start infraction procedures and we will certainly consider that.”"

And see: The Brief: Commission bares teeth over refugee crisis (euractiv, link):

"Today Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans threatened court action against countries that refuse to relocate refugees. The first infringement procedures, which could result in fines, may be launched as early as next month....

A good start might have been mentioning the soon-to-be-missed target in its press release, rather than all this talk of “encouraging progress”....

It could be a case of the Commission finally being willing to bite back only to find that its teeth are uselessly blunt."

Libyan authorities oppose EU migrant plans (euobserver, link):

"Local authorities in Libya's capital city Tripoli and elsewhere are mounting resistance to EU plans to stem migration flows towards Italy.

The move is likely to further complicate efforts after the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced a €200 million plan to finance migration projects geared towards Libya throughout much of north Africa.

A large bulk of the money is likely to be shuffled into border control and surveillance in the hope of containing people likely to attempt the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing in the upcoming months.

But Mostafa Al-Barooni, the mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, told this website on Wednesday (8 February) that Mogherini's proposals were unacceptable."

Balkan states to introduce more anti-migrant controls (euobserver, link):

"Over a dozen European interior ministers vowed to impose more measures to curtail migrants from using the Western Balkan routes in their efforts to seek better lives outside Greece.

Austrian-led efforts to shut down borders throughout the Western Balkans last year managed to cut the numbers of people reaching EU states further north.

But ministers on Wednesday (8 February) in Vienna said they would come up with additional plans in April as many still continue to travel through the former Yugoslav countries with help from smugglers.

"We're sending a signal to the traffickers with this conference that there will be no illegal migration to Europe," Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka told reporters."

EU strategy stems migrant flow from Niger, but at what cost? (IRIN News, link)

"The EU-funded crackdown on migration through Niger has been effective at dramatically reducing the number of people heading northwards to the North African coast, and then Europe. But what has it left behind?"

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: Commission: 9th report on relocation and resettlement

• Press release: Relocation and Resettlement: Member States need to build on encouraging results (pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "The past months have seen progress on both relocation and resettlement....

However, significantly increased commitment and delivery is still needed from other Member States, in particular those who still have not started to carry out relocations at all."

Comment: The targets for relocation within the EU were set in September 2015 and are still way off being met and only a minority of Member States are regularly taking part. Moreover the new monthly targets for relocation from Greece and Italy are not being met with refugees continue to arrive.

Ninth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 74-17, pdf)

• Annex 1: Greece (pdf)

• Annex 2: Italy (pdf)

• Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8.2.17)

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

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

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

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

EU: Thirteen European nations meet about possible migration uptick (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The interior and defense ministers of 13 European nations are meeting in Vienna on ways to prepare for a possible uptick in migrant flows once winter is over.

Convened by Austria's interior and defense ministers, Wednesday's meeting includes counterparts from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia, Kosovo and Greece."

See also: Austrian defence minister seeks new alliance to protect borders (The Local.au, link): "Austria’s Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil (SPÖ) has said he wants to forge a new military alliance and strengthen cooperation with countries along the so-called “Balkan route” to prevent migrants and refugees crossing Austria's border illegally. "

New stats on asylum homes torched in Sweden in 2016 (The Local.se, link):

" Police believe that almost 100 fires at housing centres for asylum seekers in Sweden last year were deliberate, Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports.

At least 112 blazes occurred at asylum accommodation centres, or planned accommodation centres, across Sweden in 2016, according to national police statistics. Of those, 20 fires turned out to be caused by accident or carelessness.

Police believe that 92 of the fires were started deliberately, 37 by residents in the homes. In two cases other suspects have been identified, but in 53 of the investigations the culprit is still unknown.

"We suspect that a large part of these 53 fires were started by third parties," Ola Stoltz, a senior officer within Sweden's national police organization Noa."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.17)

Thousands of Roma Forced onto Streets of France in 2016 (ERRC, link):

"More than 10,000 Roma were subjected to forced evictions by French authorities last year, with over 6 in 10 Romani families experiencing forced eviction.

The annual report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de L’Homme shows that more than half of the recorded evictions took place without a court decision and in most cases, no adequate alternative accommodation was offered to those made homeless."

See: Report (link, pdf) and Report (French, link, pdf)

‘Trump’s Muslim ban is racist and illegal. The same could be said of UK charter flights’ (The Justice Gap, link):

"It is right to be outraged at Trump’s Muslim ban. It is vital we continue to respond with outrage to any attempt to normalise it. But in the UK we must also use this political moment to reject the xenophobic moral panic in our own public discourse and to direct outrage at the violence inflicted by our own immigration policies.

Charter flights – planes privately hired by the Home Office to carry out forcible mass deportations – are one of the most invisible incarnations of this violence. Departing from undisclosed locations, the only people on board are those being deported and the private, unaccountable security enforcement personnel ‘escorting’ them. Charter flights are designed to escape inconvenient public scrutiny (such as commercial passengers witnessing use of excessive force); and activists recently organised two weeks of action protesting their use."

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

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

See also: Undercover officers linked to two NI murders (ITV News, link)

Thousands of Roma Forced onto Streets of France in 2016 (ERRC, link):

"More than 10,000 Roma were subjected to forced evictions by French authorities last year, with over 6 in 10 Romani families experiencing forced eviction.

The annual report released today by the European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de L’Homme shows that more than half of the recorded evictions took place without a court decision and in most cases, no adequate alternative accommodation was offered to those made homeless."

See: Report (link, pdf) and Report (French, link, pdf)

‘Trump’s Muslim ban is racist and illegal. The same could be said of UK charter flights’ (The Justice Gap, link):

"It is right to be outraged at Trump’s Muslim ban. It is vital we continue to respond with outrage to any attempt to normalise it. But in the UK we must also use this political moment to reject the xenophobic moral panic in our own public discourse and to direct outrage at the violence inflicted by our own immigration policies.

Charter flights – planes privately hired by the Home Office to carry out forcible mass deportations – are one of the most invisible incarnations of this violence. Departing from undisclosed locations, the only people on board are those being deported and the private, unaccountable security enforcement personnel ‘escorting’ them. Charter flights are designed to escape inconvenient public scrutiny (such as commercial passengers witnessing use of excessive force); and activists recently organised two weeks of action protesting their use."

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

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

See also: Undercover officers linked to two NI murders (ITV News, link)

The European travel document Yet another step to deport by all means (migreurop, link);

"Mid-way in the Valletta processes, and as African and European high officials are meeting in Malta on 8/9 February 2017, the European Union is crossing a step further in its attempts to limit mobility of migrants and imposes its rule on countries where most of migrants originate from through the use of the “European travel document”, a document adopted last October 2016 and almost unnoticed....

The European travel document (EUTD) marks yet another step in the EU’s strategy to externalise its migration policy for over twenty years. This travel document is issued exclusively by EU Member States and enables the deportation of a person without s/he has been identified by the “third” country h/she suspected of coming from, i.e. without the person being issued a consular travel document regardless of the person’s rights and of the principle of equality between sovereign states (guaranteed in the Vienna Convention).

Despite the strong opposition of African leaders against the European travel document as soon as November 2015, a position reasserted in early 2017 by civil society and the Malian government, the EUTD is already in use, irrespective of substantial shortcomings both in the format and in the content."

See also: Statement (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hungary submits plans to EU to detain all asylum seekers - Government spokesman says applicants would be held in ‘shelters’, and denies they would be ‘detention centres’ (Guardian, link):

"Hungary will submit proposals to the EU to protect Europe’s borders by automatically detaining any asylum seeker for the whole period of their asylum application, according to the government’s chief spokesman, Zoltán Kovács.

Kovács claimed Donald Trump’s election in the US was contributing to “a change of mood in Europe” that vindicated the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s tough position on migration, and said the recent EU summit in Malta marked a turning point in the EU’s attitude to migration in the Mediterranean.

At a briefing in London, he said anyone seeking asylum through Hungary would be kept in “shelters” for the whole period of their application, though they would be free to go back to their own country at any point."

German regions stop sending rejected asylum seekers back to Afghanistan (euractiv, link):

"More and more of Germany’s regions are halting the deportation of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan, as the situation in the conflict-torn country worsens.

Six of Germany’s 16 Bundesländer have suspended deportations of failed asylum seekers to the Middle Eastern country, according to media reports.

An investigation by the Berliner Morgenpost revealed that authorities in Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate have largely stopped sending people back to Afghanistan.

The newspaper cited a Senate of Bremen spokesperson who said that the body regards the situation in Afghanistan as unsafe. Accordingly, a total halt on repatriations is being considered at the moment."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Asylum: AIDA 2016 Update: Hungary & Serbia (AIDA, link):

"Today AIDA is launching the first of a series of updated country reports from 20 European countries. The reports provide an updated and?thorough overview of statistics, legal and policy frameworks and practices in the areas of asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention of asylum seekers and rights of recognised beneficiaries of protection.

Country reports on Serbia and Hungary arereleased today, while another 18 reports will follow during the next months. “The AIDA database offers an in-depth understanding of country-specific developments but also enables comparative research through common structure. Our reports reveal the persisting lack of coherence and common standards across Europe, from most worrying measures to best practices – for the first time extending their scope to integration questions such as residence rights, access to citizenship and family reunification,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator.

The first two reports on Serbia and Hungary are illustrative examples of some of the most problematic policies and practices across Europe. At the same time, they reveal a cross-border perspective of interlinked problems."

The reports: Hungary and Serbia (links to pdfs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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

UK: Domestic Extremism Awareness Day 2017

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Commission provides €12.5 million emergency "migration management" funding to Greece and Bulgaria

The European Commission has awarded Greece €3.9 million "to help improve reception conditions on the Greek islands" and Bulgaria €8.6 million, via the International Organisation for Migration, to "enhance the protection of unaccompanied children, carry out voluntary returns and provide reintegration support as well as assistance, information and counselling to migrants."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protests continue in Romania after government repeals corruption impunity decree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy-Libya memorandum of understanding on migration and development: English translation

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

EU: Commission: EU has concluded readmission agreements with the following third countries (pdf) covering 17 countries, including nine in Europe.

Turkey: Greece “forcefully” sent more than 3,000 refugees, migrants back (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Ankara alleges that Greece has forcefully sent more than 3,000 refugees migrants back to Turkey in the past months violating the Turkish-Greek readmission agreement and the EU Turkey Deal. According to Turkish officials, the migrants were sent back to Turkey through the Evros river (Maritsa in Bulgarian, Meric in Turkish), the natural border between the two countries in the north. Turkish news agency Dogan reports, furthermore, that the migrants were tortured by Greek police officers who also seized their personal belongings before putting them on boats and pushing them back to where they came from."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.2.17)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Operation Sophia begins training more Libyan Coast Guard and Navy officials

"On 30 January 2017 the second package of the training conducted by EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia for the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy starts in a maritime training centre in Crete (Greece). Twenty Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy trainees will receive training in areas including maritime legal aspects, Human Rights and raising gender awareness, as well as Search and Rescue operations. Package 2 is the next step from the application of basic seamanship delivered in Package 1. The second package will be delivered throughout 2017 in a variety of locations in the Mediterranean area. The trainees are senior officers at the rank of Captain or Commodore."

See: EEAS press release, 30 January 2017: Operation SOPHIA: package 2 of the Libyan Navy Coast Guard and Libyan Navy training launched today (pdf)

Background: Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (December 2016, pdf) and: Working document of the European Union External Action Service, EUNAVFOR MED Op SOPHIA - Six Monthly Report 1 January - 31 October 2016’ (Council document 14978/16, RESTRICTED, 30 November 2016, pdf)

GREECE: Death in Greek Camps (Infomobile, link):

"Five refugees dead in Greek camps since last week due to inadequate reception conditions. Several others tried to commit suicide. Does life still matter in Europe?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU flirts with hypocrisy in criticising Trump's refugee ban (EUobserver, link) by Nikolaj Nielsen:

"The EU rightly spoke out against Donald Trump's entry ban on asylum seekers from Syria. But its own track record leaves much to be desired.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday (30 January) that the EU would continue to host refugees.

"It's our identity: we celebrate when walls are brought down and bridges are built," she said in a tweet.

Her comments appeared the same day a young man from Pakistan suffocated to death in a tent at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. He was trying to keep warm. It was the third death at the camp in a week.

...the fact that the world's richest nations are unwilling to properly care for the thousands stranded in Greece and on its islands is a disgrace. The task has largely been delegated to volunteers, NGOs and international aid organisations."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy: Deaths at the Border. Control and Repression Replacing Reception (Migrantsicily, link):

"“Four survivors from a ship packed with 193 people”. “The numbers of missing are imprecise, but in the hundreds.” “Eight bodies but a massacre feared”. By now we do not speak about the dead, but those who did “not survive”, making calculations by exclusion. It is increasingly difficult to know how many people continue to lose their lives at sea. Understanding how many victims our borders have claimed is simply too shameful. Since the beginning of 2017, 240 people have already died crossing the Canal of Sicily, and we are only half way through January.

And yet the journeys of death, violence and disappearance unfold before our eyes every day, the stories of those struck down by a rationality of closure and inhumanity of countries like ours where wealth is gathered and consumed but rarely produced, and so our own economic interests have to be defended by force."

Greece: Interventions in a Crisis – Working with Refugees on Samos Island (Samos Chronicles, link): Long thoughtful piece by Chris Jones, Samos:

"Our work with refugees on Samos has been rooted in our common humanity and informed by mutual respect, solidarity and empathy. In Samos we have come to recognise that these human qualities are shaped by where you stand with the refugees. If you stand shoulder to shoulder as brothers and sisters it nearly always followed that relationships formed where people connected, despite massive differences in background and experience. Even 2015 when the average stay of the refugees on Samos was between 2 to 3 days it was astonishing to see so many friendships made between the refugees and the local activists who met them on the beaches and helped provide clothes and food. Even 2 years later many of these connections have endured....

We have come to expect nothing of value and benefit to the refugees coming from the top whether it be an NGO or governmental welfare agency. They are part of the problem and certainly not the solution, On the other hand we have seen the power and effectiveness of interventions which work with and alongside the refugees as people ‘just like ourselves’. But if it is be more compelling we must recognise that we must also shed light on these darkest of places. It is a huge challenge. But it is necessary if the barbarism of the system is to be halted."

Italy: Police instructed to target Nigerians

There's a charter plane to fill and interviews with Nigerian authorities have already been agreed

A telegram sent by Giovanni Pinto, the director of the Italian interior ministry's public security department's central directorate for immigration and border police on 26 January 2017 to all the questure [police headquarters] in Italy concerning the scheduling of a deportation flight and interviews with Nigerian authorities, explicitly instructs police services to target Nigerians. Its contents are troubling although they fall within the measures announced by the chief of police and the interior minister since December 2016, which called for new detention centres to be opened, for an intensification of activities to track down irregular migrants and to increase the number of deportations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: The Case Against Police Militarization (pdf)

EU: Malta Summit on external aspect of migration

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

EU head calls Trump a 'threat' to Europe

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

See: Open letter (pdf)

EXCLUSIVE: EU migrant policy in Africa built on incorrect Niger data (IRIN, link):

"The European Union has been touting a faulty figure for migration reduction through key transit country Niger as it looks to expand a policy of giving more development aid to African nations if they crack down on people smuggling and migrants, IRIN can exclusively reveal.

When the International Organization for Migration released figures in early December showing a dramatic drop in the numbers of migrants transiting through northern Niger to reach Europe the previous month, EU officials seized on them as evidence that its strategy of partnering with African countries to curb irregular migration was working.

On the back of EU funding specifically for the purpose, IOM has been monitoring the movements of migrants through Niger since February. Between then and the end of November 2016, the agency recorded more than 417,000 migrants transiting through northern Niger en route to Algeria and Libya, with movement peaking during the summer months...."

MALTA SUMMIT: Editorial: Disintegrating the integrated (Times of Malta, link):

"Times of Malta, The Malta Independent and MaltaToday have joined forces to call on the Maltese government to review Malta’s arbitrary system of ‘temporary humanitarian protection’ and to regularise the position of detained migrants whose looming ejection from the island appears to be guided by opportunistic politics rather than reasoned policy.

Malta has to accept a reality of ‘non-returnable’ migrants who have been subject to return procedures but who cannot be returned for legal or logistical reasons, due to no fault of their own."

EU: New detention centres part of €7 million EU migration project in Belarus

An EU-funded project in Belarus is providing €7 million to establish "a fully-fledged irregular migration management strategy," including the construction of a series of 'Migrants' Accommodation Centres' throughout a country perhaps best-known for being Europe's last remaining dictatorship.

January 2017

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

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

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

Greece: Moria, Lesvos: Alarm raised over third migrant death in six days (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The death Monday of a third migrant within a week at the Moria camp on Lesvos has increased concerns about the living conditions of thousands of people who continue to live in tents, and cast fresh doubts over a pledge by the Migration Ministry in early January to take the necessary precautions as heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures engulfed the country....

However, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said Monday....a plan to move people to hotels while the so-called hot spots received a makeover fell through after local authorities and hoteliers disagreed.

The man who died Monday in his tent was a Pakistani national, aged between 18 and 20. Authorities have ruled out foul play while doctors blamed carbon monoxide poisoning."

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

European Commission: Communication on building a European data economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive

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

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

This replaces the following objective in the current Directive:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Section 14 of the Enhancing Public Safety order reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Re-Build Refuge Europe, a new project to counteract the discourses of crisis (European Alternatives, link):

"European Alternatives leads Re-Build Refuge Europe, a project that brings together partners from the UK, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Germany, and Greece. It aims to counteract the dominant discourses of ‘crisis’ and ‘threat’ by using art, culture and innovative practices allowing European citizens and refugees to learn from each other as equals. Activities of the project include storytelling, training and workshops for participants and the digital arts. The final results of the project will be exhibited and performed during the Athens Biennale 2017 and TRANSEUROPA Festival 2017 in Madrid."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: COMMON SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos following the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Valletta (press release, pdf)

Comments on the Common European Asylum System, EU-Turkey deal, Libya, "solidarity", border security, interconnecting EU databases and information systems:

"I would like to take this opportunity to warmly thank the Maltese Presidency, and my friend and colleague Carmelo Abela, for their excellent work in organising this first informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers here in Valletta.

I am glad to see that the Maltese Presidency and the European Commission agree on the most important priorities for our work on migration, border and security for the next 6 months.

We have engaged in constructive discussions with the Ministers of interior. I'm glad that today we have reached a common understanding on many points and that our joint work is progressing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Revision of Firearms Directive nearing completion

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

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

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

EU: Hotspots and EU Agencies: Towards an integrated European administration? (EU Migration Law, link) by Lilian Tsourdi (emphasis added):

"Developments point to the emergence of an increasingly integrated administration in the field of asylum. This is neither inherently positive, nor inherently negative. However, it brings with it novel challenges of both a constitutional and practical nature. While the first concern the division of powers between the EU and national levels, the latter concern effectively upholding applicants’ fundamental and procedural rights. Broadening agencies’ powers in the Home Affairs area, and the nascent forms of joint implementation, will have to be coupled with a rethink in EU administrative law and the establishment of effective guarantees.

Cognizant of that fact, the European Parliament has proposed in its draft position on the European Union Agency on Asylum the establishment of a Fundamental Rights Officer; a Fundamental Rights Strategy; an individual complaints mechanism; and a robust role for the agency’s Consultative Forum in that setting. These proposals recognise the increasingly operational role this agency has to play, and reflect similar developments regarding the EU Border and Coast Guard. They form necessary, but still insufficient, measures that this evolving implementation set-up calls for. The dedicated workshop in the Odysseus Network Annual Policy Conference on the 10th February 2016 will present a forum to critically assess and further debate on these developments."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The others are determined to carry on the fight."

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

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

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

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

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

FRANCE: PARIS, 28-29 January 2017: Migrant Constituent Assembly (Le Peuple Qui Manque, link):

"We will meet on the 28th and the 29th to collectively write a Migrant Constitution.

The Migrant Constituent Assembly is a negative community that cannot, by its definition, constitute itself as a Nation.

It is the assembly of a people which is missing. Emanating from this paradox statement, a « migrant constituent », what could be a constitution of a political subject that migrates.

An assembly which would be ordered by the community of the disappeared, of migrant and lost lives, on the Mediterranean sea - today the most lethal route of the 21st century-; yesterday being human trafficking in the Black Atlantic and the Middle Passage. An Assembly where the sea would be its missing soil and its language would be the translation itself as whispered to us by Camille de Toledo and Barbara Cassin. "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26.1.17)

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

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

“Let him die”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Draft Order (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bulgaria’s EU justice monitoring report goes unnoticed (euractiv, link):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response by the USA (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 2011 the UK had about 1.85 million CCTV cameras.

EU looks to limit migration from Libya (euractiv, link):

"After blocking the main migrant route from the Middle East, the EU will this week seek ways to check a feared spring surge from Libya and North Africa across the Mediterranean.

The European Union lacks a reliable partner in chaotic Libya, the launchpad for almost all migrant crossings over the central Mediterranean, while some African governments along the trail north have been reluctant to cooperate, EU sources and experts said."

And see: No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission (euobserver, link)

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

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

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

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

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

She could barely hide her frustration with national votes that forced the EU to make convoluted derogations to keep people happy... Under the “tricky” deal, Denmark would first be listed as a third-state in relations with Europol, on the same level as China, Norway, Canada and other countries.

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

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

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

See: Guidelines (pdf)

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

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

See full-text of: Letter (link)

EU-Afghanistan: Why the European Union Shouldn’t Deport Afghans - Putting Lives at Risk in Kabul (HRW, link):

"Germany and other EU member states should stop deporting rejected Afghan asylum seekers until it is clear how the Afghan government copes with Pakistan’s mass forced return of refugees. They should not detain Afghans but instead grant them the most favorable status possible under national law.

Returning desperate Afghan asylums seekers to conflict and crisis is not just inhumane, it will add to the instability that drove them to flee in the first place."

See also: Second collective deportation of rejected asylum seekers from Germany arrives in Afghanistan (DW, link): "A group of rejected Afghan asylum seekers deported from Germany has landed in Kabul following protests Monday night at Frankfurt Airport. More than 100 people gathered to demonstrate against the forced repatriations."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The head of Britain's electronic surveillance agency GCHQ has resigned.

Robert Hannigan, who has held the post of GCHQ director since 2014, said he was stepping down for family reasons.

He said he was proud of his work but that 20 years in public service roles had "demanded a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family"."

Furthermore: "Sources have told BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera that the resignation was not the result of any concerns over policy in the UK or in the US."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via: University of Oxford: Border Criminologies (link)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: Missing migrant children: new campaign urges ministers to take action

"Last year, a record number of refugees and migrants came to Europe. They came from situations of extreme poverty, violence, war, abuse. Once in Europe, they were gathered in overpopulated camps and reception centers across the continent, living conditions are often horrible.

And while the media shows us images of refugees and migrants, we gradually stopped noticing the most vulnerable among them. The group that politicians hardly mention and who are literally only a footnote in the European Agenda on Migration… the children. So, with a simple Facebook campaign we ask people to ‘Mention the Unmentioned’.

By commenting on facebook posts of portraits of refugee and migrant children, people can mention their minister and put pressure on them to finally face children like Gulwali, Ali and Layal. Find your minister here."

See: ‘Mention The Unmentioned’ urges ministers to take action for refugee children (link)

GREECE: How One Man Made Greece a More Welcoming Place for Refugees (Open Society Foundations, link):

A short film from the Open Society Foundations on Vasilis Tsartsanis' efforts to help refugees in Greece: "A group of people walking through the fields caught Vasilis Tsartsanis’s eye as he passed the railroad that connects Greece to the rest of the Balkans. It was a warm September day in 2014, outside the small, usually quiet town of Idomeni. He stopped to watch. Another group passed by. Then a third group, who told him about a crossing that, one year later, would come to exemplify Europe’s refugee emergency.

Tsartsanis didn’t have to think long about what he should do. He ran and got some food, water, and clothes for the migrants. Long before international organizations and donors turned their attention to Idomeni, Tsartsanis and other locals were there offering their help.

Tsartsanis didn’t stop at handing out emergency supplies. He started writing to politicians and authorities, advocating on behalf of the refugees whose stories he knew better than most. He was soon invited to address the European Parliament. He talked to major media outlets.

He didn’t have a large organization behind him or a dedicated advocacy team—perhaps that was his strength. He was a local who was helping people in his area. He enjoyed the trust of his community. Tsartsanis now regularly organizes missions for members of parliament and EU governments to Greece’s camps and has been active in efforts to relocate refugees to other countries."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SERBIA: Migrants face freezing temperatures as they struggle to get to the EU (Vice, link):

"BELGRADE, Serbia — In the gloom of an abandoned warehouse, a weary-looking Pakistani man named Hayat Ali shivers in a blanket, comforting a sick friend lying at his side. Meters away, children as young as nine crowd around an open fire, their faces and clothes filthy. Outside, the ground is blanketed with snow. The temperature has dropped as low as 3ºF in recent days.

This scene is not playing out on the fringes of a disaster or war zone, but in the heart of a European capital. Since 2015, when the migration crisis began to hit, camps like this have sprung up across the continent from Greece to France, crowded with desperate migrants enduring wretched conditions in their quest to reach a better life in Europe."

EU: Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.1.17)

Italy: New CIEs and the repatriation of foreigners: ASGI statement on the Chief of Police's circular (pdf):

"ASGI is disconcerted and expresses deep concern for the circular issued by the interior ministry on 30.12.2016 concerning activities to repatriate irregular foreigners and the programme to reopen CIEs (Centres for identification and expulsion), apart from the Government’s desire to strike new bilateral readmission agreements and to reform the norms on the right to asylum in a restrictive direction."

The text of the chief of police’s circular of 30 December 2016 (10/01/2017): "Activity to track down irregular foreign citizens in the national territory for the purpose of repatriation."

Are You Syrious (18.1.17, link)

EU member states want to send refugees back to Greece but not relocate them from there

"While EU member states want to start sending back refugees to Greece under the Dublin agreement by March, they are slow to accept relocation and family reunion requests."

Dublin deportations yes, promised relocations no

"In 2016 the Greek Asylum Service registered 51,091 applications for international protection. Additionally there are approximately 15,000 applications for full registration which will be completed in 2017. “Relocation remains the big challenge. As of 27 December, the Asylum Service had registered 21,431 applications from individuals who were eligible to participate in the program, while it had received 13,634 pledges from other EU Member-States,” the Asylum Service reports.

There are 9000 individuals who are ready for relocation but no host country has been found yet. While the acceptance of the request should only take up to ten working days in reality it needs up to six months. “While Greece has sent to other Member-States 13,345 requests, 10,712 of these have been accepted and only 7,000 individuals have departed from Greece. There are serious delays even after the acceptance of outgoing requests for relocation.” The Asylum Service is blaming the other EU member states for not setting up sufficient reception places and then requesting the postponement of the transfer.

On the other hand these EU member states want to go back to the Dublin agreement in March and send back refugees to Greece to run through the asylum process there. Indeed the asylum process can, and in most cases assumably will, include an application for relocation. Already in 2016 Greece’s Dublin Unit received 4,415 requests to return protection seekers but only three were sent back to Greece."

See: Ministry of Migration Policy: The work of the Asylum Service in 2016 (pdf) and: Statistical Data of the Greek Asylum Service (1.1.2016-31.12.2016) (pdf)

EU: Migration: How to stop the rising tide of death in Mediterranean (MSF, link):

"By Jens Pagotto, Head of Médecins Sans Frontières mission in Libya and its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean.

The number of people who have died trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean has reached an all-time high and is becoming comparable to what Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is used to seeing in war zones. The UN Migration Agency (IOM) recorded at least 5,079 deaths last year.

The actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher. We have no idea how many dinghies overloaded with terrified passengers set sail from Libya in the direction of Italy each day and how many of them sink without trace before they reach busy shipping lanes in the Mediterranean or call for help. Under international maritime law, all vessels in the area, whether commercial ships, military warships or rescue boats operated by charities such as MSF must provide assistance and take the rescued to a place of safety. "

EU: "The winter of our shame", Strasbourg, 18 January 2017. Barbara Spinelli MEP (GUE/NGL) intervened during the plenary session of the European Parliament regarding the declarations by the Council and the Commission on emergency assistance for refugees and migrants who are facing adverse climatic conditions in European refugee camps:

"I ask myself how many asylum seekers will have to die due to the cold, in this winter of our shame.

I ask the Commission to listen to Amnesty and the refugees' Community Leaders in Moria. For migrants on the islands to be moved to the mainland, in places other than camps without electricity nor water. The EU-Turkey agreement does not envisage that the returns should be from the islands, as Erdogan wants. In these conditions, refugees should not be sent back to Italy and Greece on the basis of the Dublin system.

Finally, let's tell ourselves that this is not a crisis of refugees. It is the collapse of our asylum policies, those of relocation, family reunification, and respect for the right to life. Dear Commissioner Stylianides, such a cold winter was not unpredictable. Alongside the refugees of Moria, I ask for an end to the deportations of the most vulnerable people to Turkey, and for all the procedural guarantees to which the applicants have a right to be guaranteed.""

See also: European Parliament:
Refugees: MEPs demand emergency winter aid and transfers to other EU countries (Press release, pdf):

"EU and national authorities should provide emergency aid to help migrants and refugees to cope with freezing temperatures and snow in several parts of Europe, MEPs urged on Wednesday. They also called on EU governments to keep their promises to transfer thousands of asylum-seekers, particularly from Greece, to other countries.

Several speakers called the plight of refugees in the Greek islands, but also in other countries like Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, “unacceptable” and some asked how many people have to die of cold before the EU reacts. Many MEPs underlined that only 6% of the 160,000 asylum-seekers who should have been relocated from Greece and Italy have so far been moved.""

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fivefold increase in number of EU citizens held in UK detention centres since Tories took power (Independent, link):

"Some detained for losing their ID card or holding a birthday party in a park - prompting claims the Government is seeking to deter others from moving to Britain.

The sharp rise has led to concerns the Government is trying to “spread anxiety” among people from EU countries living in the UK, in an effort to deter others from moving to Britain.

In 2015, the last full year for which Home Office data is available, 3,699 EU citizens were detained under immigration powers – 11.4 per cent of all detainees – while in 2009 just 768 were detained, 2.7 per cent of the total."

See: National Statistics - Detention: December (link)

The big freeze – Paris. Police destroying tents and taking blankets from people sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures (EXODUS, link):

"The police had taken all of the bedding (provided by us and other aid groups) from a slightly sheltered sleeping area and put it out in rain…

Please give what you can so that we can purchase waterproof Bivvy bags and keep up with the French authorities’ destruction – www.gofundme.com/prgsdonate

As the temperatures plummet at – 7 at night, the situation is getting very tough in Paris where many thousands refugees and other migrants are stranded. Several hundreds are sleeping in the streets, and the plan for the extreme cold does not seem to be working. No place to go during the day either, for most! They are out in the cold all day. The situation at the official camp getting chaotic, people who have been in the queue all night hoping to get registered start pushing when refused access because the number has been reached (50 new people per day only), and are repressed by police."

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

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

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

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

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

European migration control in Libya (andrej-hunko.de, link):

"The Libyan navy and the coastguard under its authority are being groomed as gatekeepers of Fortress Europe. Even a migration partnership is under discussion.

Since the forcible regime change in 2011, the European Union has been supporting what it calls reform of the security sector in Libya. Its policy is based on the Berlusconi motto of ‘more oil, less migrants’. The new Libyan Government of National Accord scarcely exercises any control outside Tripoli."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Press release (pdf)

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

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

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

Swedish minister 'shocked' by xenophobia towards Swedes in UK (Guardian, link):

"Ann Linde says future of 100,000 Swedish people in Britain must be resolved in first part of Brexit negotiations.

The Swedish government wants the issue of the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British people settled elsewhere in Europe to be resolved urgently and removed from the Brexit negotiating table as quickly as possible. Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, said she was shocked by the uncertainty and xenophobia experienced by Swedes in the UK since the referendum.

She said the future of an estimated 100,000 Swedish people in Britain and 30,000 British people in Sweden, had to be urgently dealt with. She said: “This is one of the very most important issues and we have to solve it in a very constructive way in the first part of the negotiations.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK-USA-LIBYA: Press releases and court judgment: Supreme Court rules MI6-CIA rendition case against government can go ahead

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

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

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

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

See: Letter (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU: European Parliament studies: gender equality, obstacles to EU citizens' free movement in Poland

Three studies conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service: on gender equality policies in Spain; on the use of EU funds for gender equality Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the UK between 2014-16, and on obstacles in Poland to EU citizens' and their families exercising their rights to free movement and residence.

EU: European Parliament briefing: Review of dual-use export controls (pdf)

"Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. The regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure."

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems (SIPRI, link) by Dr Vincent Boulanin

"Since 2013 the governance of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been discussed under the framework of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The discussion is still at an early stage, with most states parties still in the process of understanding the issues at stake—beginning with the fundamental questions of what constitutes ‘autonomy’ and to what extent it is a matter of concern in the context of weapon systems and the use of force. A number of states parties have stressed that future discussions could usefully benefit from further investigation into the conceptual and technical foundations of the meaning of ‘autonomy’.

This working paper is an attempt to respond to that demand. It aims to clarify some basic understandings about autonomy: what it is, how it applies to weapon systems, how it works, how it is created and what the key technological enablers are. It is based on a substantial review of the literature as well as a background series of interviews with experts from various expert communities."

TURKEY: 2016 border security measures included 330 km of walls (Hurriyet Daily News, link):

"Turkey last year erected 330 kilometers (205 miles) of walls along its borders with Syria and Iraq to fight illegal crossings, the Turkish military said on Jan. 14.

According to a Turkish General Staff press statement on border incidents in 2016, Turkey also put up 191 kilometers (119 miles) of reinforced fences along those borders to boost physical security.

The statement said that nearly 425,000 people from 74 different countries trying to illegally cross Turkey’s borders were captured in 2016, adding that over 390,000 of them were from war-torn Syria."

FRANCE: Migration: collective manifesto marks start of new campaign against the "solidarity offence" as government maintains border controls until July

Over 100 trade unions and local and national associations across France have signed a new manifesto that calls for an end to the "solidarity offence" and denounces the trials of "activists who are only helping people in very precarious situations, victims of dangerous, violent and even inhuman decisions," such as the farmer Cédric Herrou, who was recently tried for aiding illegal arrivals after helping people cross the border from Italy to France.

EU: Refugee crisis: More than 100 asylum seekers drown as boat sinks in the Mediterranean Sea (The Independent, link):

"More than 100 refugees have drowned after a boat sank in rough conditions in the Mediterranean Sea as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The Italian Navy was searching for survivors from the vessel, which was believed to be carrying up to 110 people.

Only four survivors were pulled from the water, with at least eight bodies found so far.

Flavio Di Giacomo, from the International Organisation for Migration, told The Independent around 106 people were thought to have died and described the conditions at sea as "extremely bad"."

EU: Why the world fears refugees (narrated by Zygmunt Bauman) (Al Jazeera on YouTube, link):

"Zygmunt Bauman, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, says many Europeans' fear of refugees boils down to the idea of the “precariat” - people whose lives are marked by precariousness, anxiety and fear."

EU: For the record: comments by experts following the April 2016 adoption of the Directive for data protection in the police and criminal justice sectors

"The Directive does offer a substantial improvement for data protection as for the first time it establishes a common data protection standard for the police and justice sectors. It however remains a minimum harmonization text and it only contains loose provisions with regard to the new threats posed by intelligence-led policing. It thus remains to be seen how the Directive will be implemented in practice and which room of manoeuver will be let to data protection authorities and civil society to play their roles as watchdogs."

See: The Directive for data protection in the police and justice sectors: towards better data protection? (KU Leuven, link)

SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta

A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

Thousands rally in Spain for ETA prisoner amnesty (The Local, link):

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bilbao in northern Spain on Saturday, calling for amnesty for prisoners of the Eta Basque separatist group.

Protesters in the Basque country, who hold this demonstration every January, held up placards of a finger pointing to the sky as they denounced the prison conditions endured by Basque separatists.

Almost all members of Eta, a group that gave up armed resistence to Spain in 2011, have been jailed but the movement has refused to disband.

They have been calling for an amnesty for their incarcerated members so they can be reunited with their families.

Basque newspaper Gara estimated the number of people in the Bilbao streets on a rainy day as 78,000, while police declined to give a crowd estimate."

AFRICA: Available evidence contradicts assumptions about African migrations

An important article by Marie-Laurence Flahaux and Hein de Haas:

"Africa is often seen as a continent of mass migration and displacement caused by poverty, violent conflict and environmental stress. Yet such perceptions are based on stereotypes rather than theoretically informed empirical research. Drawing on the migration and visa databases from the Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG project) and the Global Bilateral Migration Database (GBMD), this paper explores the evolution and drivers of migration within, towards and from Africa in the post-colonial period. Contradicting common ideas of Africa as a ‘continent on the move’, the analysis shows that intra-African migration intensities have gone down. This may be related to state formation and the related imposition of barriers towards free movement in the wake of decolonisation as well as the concomitant rise of nationalism and inter-state tensions. While African migration remains overwhelmingly intra-continental, since the late 1980s there has been an acceleration and spatial diversification (beyond colonial patterns) of emigration out of Africa to Europe, North America, the Gulf and Asia. This diversification of African emigration seems partly driven by the introduction of visa and other immigration restrictions by European states. Contradicting conventional interpretations of African migration being essentially driven by poverty, violence and underdevelopment, increasing migration out of Africa seems rather to be driven by processes of development and social transformation which have increased Africans’ capabilities and aspirations to migrate, a trend which is likely to continue in the future." (emphasis added)

See: African migration: trends, patterns, drivers (pdf)

UK: 'Specific' terror evidence not necessary for RAF drone strikes (The Guardian, link):

"“Specific” advance evidence of a terror plot threatening UK interests is not legally necessary before launching pre-emptive drone strikes against suspects overseas, according to the the attorney general.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Jeremy Wright QC denied that the threshold for self-defence was being “watered down” but said not knowing the target, type or time of a terrorist attack should not prevent military action."

Wright has said that he is adopting the series of tests set out in: Principles relevant to the scope of a state's right of self-defence against an imminent or actual armed attack by nonstate actors (pdf) by Daniel Bethlehem.

EU: Malta Presidency of the Council: opinion piece by Maltese interior minister

"It is evident that this presidency is seen as a window of opportunity to reach common, tangible goals in the field of migration. The fact that Malta, given its geographical position in the Mediterranean Sea, has been at the forefront of the migration crisis for so many years, makes us a credible, honest broker in this area.

Achieving progress in discussions on such matters between 28 Member States, all with their own different histories, cultures, realities and political agendas, is quite a tall order. Still, I am optimistic that, if we really want to, we can reach a consensus on a common, effective and equitable way forward. We owe it to our citizens: the very future of the EU depends on the decisions, as Member States, we will take in the coming few months.

We have a very specific priority: to arrive at an agreement on a comprehensive approach to migration. During these six months, my ministry is tasked with carrying forward work on the seven migration and asylum-related proposals that are on the table."

See: Realistic optimists at the helm (Times of Malta, link)

And: 2017 Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union Priorities (pdf)

EU: European Parliament briefing: Control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (pdf):

"In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, in November 2015 the European Commission presented a package of measures aiming to tighten control on the acquisition and possession of firearms in the European Union, improve traceability of legally held firearms and enhance cooperation between Member States, as well as ensure that deactivated firearms are rendered inoperable.

The proposal to amend the current 'Firearms Directive' (Directive 91/477/EEC) was part of this package. It aims to ban some semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, as well as to include some previously excluded actors (collectors and brokers) and blankfiring weapons within the scope of the Directive. Stakeholders commented particularly on the proposed ban on some semi-automatic firearms and the obligation for collectors to deactivate firearms.

After several rounds of trilogue negotiations, the Council and Parliament reached agreement on the proposal in December. The text is now to be submitted for a vote in plenary at first reading."

Note: a plenary reading and vote is currently scheduled for 1 March 2017 (European Parliament, link).

SERBIA: These Refugees Are Suffering Through Freezing Conditions In Serbia (BuzzFeed, link):

"Thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are enduring “appalling” conditions in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and have been left camped in temperatures that have dropped well below freezing, aid groups have said.

Serbia is currently hosting an estimated 7,200 refugees, according to the UNHCR. Although the majority are being sheltered in government-run camps, aid workers estimate that around 2,000 are still on the streets or sheltering in an abandoned warehouse behind the main bus station in Belgrade."

Statewatch Analysis: Eighth report on relocation and resettlement: Commission welcomes increase in relocations and ignores harmful systematic effects (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico:

In the eighth report on relocation and resettlement published on 8 December 2016, the Commission continued to welcome developments which are degrading Europe to ensure that the “emergency” its policies and the dysfunctional Schengen/Dublin system have predictably caused persists, particularly in frontline Mediterranean states (Greece and Italy).

Over a year after the start of implementation of the EU Agenda on Migration, the EU Action Plan on Migration and in particular the roll-out of the hotspot approach in Italy and Greece, mounting evidence shows that far from assisting frontline states, they are being punished for shortcomings in implementing a dysfunctional model designed to penalise them.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.1.17)

EU-MALI: Two returnees sent back to France as Mali rejects EU laissez-passer document

On 29 December 2016, the Malian government produced a statement announcing its refusal to recognise the validity of the EU laissez-passer document used to return two of its citizens, who were sent back to France following their arrival in Bamako on 28 December 2016. The Malian authorities also invited air carriers to refrain from transporting its citizens on the basis of recognition of the validity of such documents, noting that they will be made to fly them back to Europe.

EU: Opinion: Then it will no longer be my Europe: Europe would not be what it is today had it not taken in millions of refugees in the past (DW, link) by Krsto Lazarevic (27) was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina and fled to Germany with his family as a child. Today he lives in Berlin:

"For years we have watched as one of the greatest refugee catastrophes since the end of the Second World War has built up in Syria, just a few hundred kilometers from Europe's external border. And we have acted as if it only affected adjacent neighbor states. When - 26 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall - a crack opened in the European fortress, fences were quickly erected: in the heart of Europe and even between EU member states. That was the first step towards getting rid of Europe....

And now Europe is in danger of falling apart because member states with 510 million citizens cannot come to an agreement on how to deal with 2 million refugees? Even though there are more than 65 million refugees in the world? If we allow that to happen, then much of what was achieved after the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall will be lost. Then it will no longer be my Europe."

SCOTLAND: Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance: Scottish Inquiry – Reputation Before Justice (COPS, link):

"The announcement of the terms of reference for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s review into undercover policing manages to go beyond being meaningless, insulting those demanding answers for historical abuses by spycops, explains Dónal O’Driscoll."

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

UK: School governors forced to declare nationality to Government (inews.co.uk, link):

"Ministers have been accused of turning schools into “Border Control” after it emerged governors are being forced to declare their nationality to a Government register set up in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” scandal.

Concerns have been raised as to how the information about governors’ nationalities will be used, given the register was created in response to allegations that schools in Birmingham were being taken over by hardline Muslim groups. It has led to fears that the details are being collected as part of a crackdown on illegal migrants and the Government’s efforts to step up its national security measures. ‘

"Shameful’ :The policy affects the estimated 300,000 unpaid volunteers who make up England’s school governing bodies. Civil liberty campaigners have branded the move as “shameful”."

Italy: Large-scale expansion of detention centres for tougher migration control (ECRE, link):

"Following Italy’s change of government, a Circular outlining a stricter policy on migration control by the Head of the Italian Police was distributed to police authorities across Italy. One of the measures was large-scale use of detention to control irregular migration and promote returns to third countries.

The Circular echoes the latest position of the Ministry of Interior, which has committed to an expansion of detention centres (CIE) with reference to a target of one CIE in every Italian region. At the end of 2015, 7 CIE were operational across the country according to the Roadmap on Relocation."

GREECE: Lesvos: Moria: Refugees, migrants reluctant to get on ship board or move to hotels (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Refugees and migrants at the hot spot of Moria seem reluctant to be provisionally hosted on bord of the Greek Navy ship deployed for his purpose or to move to hotels leased by the UN Refugees Agency UNHCR.

So far, only 61 migrants, all males, have accepted the offer and went on board of “Lesvos”, the Greek Navy ship deployed to host refugees and migrants from the hot spot of Moria....

There are currently 400 beds available for refugees and migrants families in hotel and rooms to rent facilities leased by the UNHCR. Only just over 200 people have moved in from Moria. alone yesterday 15 of them.

Refugees and immigrants are reluctant also to move to the ‘shelters’ when they realize that they are a couple of kilometers away from the hot spot. They fear there could be delays in their asylum procedure. 25 people reportedly returned to Moria on Thursday when they realized the leased facilities were 10 km away."

HUNGARY: Alien police detention must be reinstated (Prime Ministers' Office, link)

"The Government has decided to reinstate alien police detention, János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the press conference...

The Minister referred to the increased threat of terrorism and security risks as the reason for the measure, and in his evaluation, the pressure of migration weighing upon Hungary may increase in 2017. The Government asked the Interior Minister to make the necessary preparations for reinstating alien police custody urgently."

USA: Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele's frustration as FBI sat on Donald Trump Russia file for months (Independent, link):

"Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.

However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.1.17) including: EU migration control in the Sahel, Germany to return refugees to Greece from March; questions over push-backs in Spain and Serbia; Malta PM wants EU-Turkey-style deal with other states.

Interpol: Red Alert! How states have used Interpol alerts to persecute exiled dissidents and refugees across international borders (Al Jazeera, link):

"Interpol is the world's largest policing organisation connecting 190 member countries in the battle against international crime.

But as representatives of the global law enforcement agency met at their General Assembly towards the end of 2016, they faced questions over a crucial crime fighting tool.

In 2015, Interpol issued more than 11,000 "Red Notices" on behalf of member countries. These alerts inform countries that an individual is wanted for serious offences. It's then up to authorities in different countries to decide what action to take.

But human rights groups have suggested that some countries have used Interpol wanted notices to target political dissidents and opponents across borders, often with devastating consequences.

People and Power sent Sarah Spiller and Callum Macrae to investigate."

And see: People and Power: New documentary shows the impact of abusive INTERPOL alerts (Fair Trials, link):

"A new documentary has been broadcast, showing the devastating impact that INTERPOL Red Notices can have when used on the wrong people."

EU-TURKEY: Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Commission Reports on Progress in Fifth Steering Committee (European Commission press release, pdf):

"Today, the Steering Committee of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey met in Brussels for the fifth time gathering the European Commission, EU Member State representatives, and representatives of Turkey. Chairing the Committee, the European Commission reported on progress made to date including the signature of contracts worth over €200 million for the construction and equipping of school buildings for refugee children and their host communities, as well as on the increasing humanitarian support to the refugees through the Emergency Social Safety Net."

EU: Data retention and the law: Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson et al: Continuity and Radical Change (European Law Blog, link):

"The CJEU delivered its judgment in Tele2 Sverige AB and Watson on 21 December 2016. The Court had been asked by a Swedish and British court respectively to consider the scope and effect of its previous judgment in Digital Rights Ireland (discussed here). The judgment reflects continuity in so far as it follows in the line of this, and earlier judgments taking a strong stance on data protection and privacy. Yet, the degree of protection it offers these rights over competing interests, notably security, is radical. In particular, the Court unequivocally states that legislation providing for general and indiscriminate data retention is incompatible with the E-Privacy Directive, as read in light of the relevant EU Charter rights. While the judgment was delivered in the context of the E-Privacy Directive, the Court’s reasoning could equally apply to other EU secondary legislation or programmes interpreted in light of the Charter. This judgment will be a game-changer for state surveillance in Europe and while it offered an early Christmas gift to privacy campaigners, it is likely to receive a very mixed reaction from EU Member States as such. While national data retention legislation has been annulled across multiple Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany and Romania), this annulment has been based on an assessment of the proportionality of the relevant measures rather than on a finding that blanket retention is per se unlawful."

Background: Court of Justice of the EU

Watson/Tele2 Sverige AB case: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

Digital Rights Ireland case on the Data Retention Directive: The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid (Press release, pdf) and Judgment (pdf)

IRELAND: New asylum application process comes into effect (The Irish Times, link):

"New procedures to speed up applications for asylum, which have just come into effect in Ireland, should significantly cut the length of time asylum-seekers spend in direct provision centres.

The move means Ireland will join other European Union member states in having a streamlined process for assessing asylum applications.

Until now asylum-seekers had to navigate a multilayered process that often led to long stays in direct provision awaiting decisions.

Under the new “single procedure” system, asylum-seekers will make one application, which they may appeal once."

And: Ireland – New International Protection Act commenced: A single procedure and restricted family reunification (ECRE, link):

"Secondly, Ireland has changed family reunification rights. Before, there were two categories: an automatic right to reunion with children and spouses, once identity was established and a discretionary category for other family members such as elderly parents or siblings where dependency on the person in Ireland could be established. This discretionary category has now been abolished. In addition, the right now only exists for 12 months following from a declaration of refugee status or subsidiary protection."

SPAIN: Coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs demand clarification of potential push backs of over thousand people at Spanish-Moroccan border (ECRE, link):

"A coalition of 85 Spanish NGOs, including ECRE Member CEAR, wrote an open letter to Juan Ignacio Zoido, Spanish Minister of the Interior this week. In the letter the coalition demands clarification over the potential push backs of over 1000 people at the Spanish-Moroccan land border Ceuta in the beginning of this year and the orders given to the Spanish Border Guards.

Following media reports, an estimated 1,100 people tried to climb over the border fence between the Spanish enclave Ceuta and Morocco at 4am at New Year’s Day. From the total amount of people only two persons entered Spanish territory, being severely injured and treated in the hospital. The remaining people were returned to Morocco."

And see: Spain: Collective expulsions at the Moroccan border (EuroMed Rights, link):

"Copenhagen, 13/01/17 – EuroMed Rights deplores and condemns the attitude of the Spanish authorities who refused entry to the individuals attempting to enter in Ceuta from Morocco on the night of 31 December without conducting a prior examination of their situation. The migrants were systematically turned away and were not given access to individualized asylum-seeker procedures."

EU-AFRICA: Report demonstrates priority given by EU to migration control in the Sahel

The work of the EU and its Member States to try to limit the "unprecedented numbers of irregular migrants coming through the Sahel to the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea in order to travel to Europe" are outlined in a recent joint report by the European Commission and the European External Action Service on the implementation of the EU's Sahel Regional Action Plan (RAP) between April 2015 and August 2016.

See: Annual Report on the Sahel Regional Action Plan (pdf)

30 Syrian refugees returned to Turkey from Greece (BT.com, link):

"Almost 30 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum in Greece rejected have been returned to Turkey.

Greek officials said the 17 men, four women and six children were flown from the island of Lesbos to Adana on Thursday.

Under a deal struck last March between the European Union and Turkey, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey are returned unless they can prove they merit asylum in Greece.

More than 800 people have now been returned under the agreement, while about 23,000 new arrivals have reached the Greek islands."

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages (The Guardian, link):

"A security backdoor that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.

Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol.

Privacy campaigners said the vulnerability is a “huge threat to freedom of speech” and warned it can be used by government agencies to snoop on users who believe their messages to be secure. WhatsApp has made privacy and security a primary selling point, and has become a go to communications tool of activists, dissidents and diplomats."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Court: Access to totalitarian archives data not to worsen (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The accessibility of archival sources from the totalitarian era will not worsen, but researchers must take into account the protection of delicate personal data if they publish them, the Czech Constitutional Court (US) ruled on Wednesday.

The US has turned down a proposal opposing the exception granted to historians thanks to which they have easy access to the documents from the Nazi (1939-1945) and Communist regimes (1948-1989).

For this, they do not need the consent of the living people whose sensitive personal data appear in the documents.

In some cases, the researchers need the consent by the living protagonists of past events with the subsequent publication of the documents."

Serbia needs to investigate asylum seekers push backs (Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa, link):

"On Sunday 18th of December, the very day in which the World Migrants Days is observed, the Serbian organization InfoPark , a refugee support centre active in downtown Belgrade reported an attempted illegal push back of a Syrian family at the border with Bulgaria. The case involved a group of 7 migrants, among which a 2-years old child.

The group was riding on a regular bus heading to Bosilegrad - a small town in Southern Serbia - where, as recommended them by the authorities in Belgrade, they would have registered in one of the refugee camps to spend there their time before being able to cross to Hungary. Indeed, the family was regularly registered in the country, as confirmed by the documents in their possession, proving their expression of interest to seek asylum in Serbia.

But they never made it to their final destination: in the proximity of Vladicin Han, a southern town not far from the border with Bulgaria, they were forced to get off the bus. As reported by the InfoPark staff, the family was evicted from the bus by a mixed unity of police and military personnel, part of mixed patrols operate since July, when the government decided to set up joint patrols operating on the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia. Their documents were confiscated, and then they were driven with another vehicle somewhere closer to the Bulgarian border, before being abandoned there, in the middle of the night, with a temperature of minus 11 degrees."

EU: Malta PM wants Turkey-style migrant deals with other Med countries (EurActiv, link):

"Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said on Thursday (12 January) that he will push to replicate the deal struck with Turkey last year to defuse the refugee time bomb in Northern Africa.

“There is an appetite now at EU level, including Chancellor Merkel, to replicate the Turkey deal in the central Mediterranean. Not in the sense of the same agreement on paper, but rather on breaking the business model of human traffickers,” said Muscat.

(...)

“We all know that we cannot place Turkey and Libya on the same level. Turkey has a very solid government and bodies, maybe too solid, but it’s a state. Libya is on the brink of becoming a failed state,” Muscat said.

The accord could be a basis on which to build a full-fledged EU-Libya agreement. “There should be a political signal from the EU that it is ready to engage with Libya,” the Maltese premier insisted." (emphasis added)

EU-AFRICA: Is Europe’s coke habit funding terrorism? (African Herald Express, link):

"Europe’s cocaine may have a far more sinister journey than most users like to imagine.

The rising European cocaine market has led to South American traffickers using West Africa as a direct transit line into the region. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, $2 billion of Europe’s cocaine is passing through West Africa. Nigeria is seen as the path of least resistance into Europe due to high levels of corruption, low-governance, and the regions extreme wealth inequality.

Boko Haram is said to be one of the main beneficiary parties of the cocaine trafficking in the region. The African Union’s new police cooperation body against transnational crime, the African Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), claim trafficking is one of the main sources of revenue for the group and helps fund the violent terrorist attacks on civilians."

UK: Counter-terrorism money being spent on redacting evidence to inquiry on undercover policing (The Independent, link):

"Counter-terrorism money is being used to redact police evidence to an inquiry into undercover policing tactics, it has been revealed.

Nearly £750,000 from the counter-terrorism budget has been earmarked for an IT system to assess and redact material which might be sent to the Pitchford Undercover Policing Inquiry, according to papers obtained from a Freedom of Information request and seen by the website PoliceOracle.com.

The inquiry, chaired by senior judge Sir Christopher Pitchford, was set up after it emerged that undercover officers including Mark Kennedy, of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), had slept with activists while infiltrating protest movements."

And see: on further questions raised by the reports in The Independent and Police Oracle: Counter-terrorism money to sort out police chaotic record keeping (Undercover Research Group, link)

Hungary plans automatic detention of asylum seekers (EUobserver, link):

"Hungary is planning automatic detention of all asylum seekers until their asylum procedure is completed due to an increased terrorist threat, a senior minister said Thursday. They would not be allowed to leave transit zones designated for migrants. Under EU law, detention is only for exceptional cases. Last year, a gay Iranian refugee won a case against Hungary at the European court in Strasbourg for being incarcerated for 58 days."

Slovenia Aliens Act Proposal Worries Croatia (Balkan Insight, link):

"The Slovenian government backed an amendment to the existing Aliens Act on Thursday, introducing stricter procedures towards asylum seekers and refugees for a special six-month period – with a possible extension for another six months.

It is likely to be backed by the country's parliament in which the plan enjoys cross-party support.

Although the procedure would not apply to persons whose life is in danger if they are returned to their native countries, or unaccompanied minors, the provisions will empower police officers to refuse entry to most asylum seekers on the border.

Zajovic said Slovenia was trying to imitate recent moves by Hungary, which were unfortunately now being copied by the majority of countries on the "Balkan route", including Croatia, "where we have witnessed a lot of cases in which Croatian police deported refugees to Serbia without proper procedure”."

See: Amnesty International: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (link)

HUNGARY: Hungarian camerawoman avoids jail after being filmed tripping up and kicking refugees (The Independent, link):

"A Hungarian camerawoman who was filmed kicking and tripping up refugees as they ran from police has escaped jail for breaching the peace.

Petra László was handed three years on probation for the incident in September 2015 at Szeged District Court.

Footage showed her tripping up a refugee as he an through a field carrying his young son, as well as kicking a small girl as hundreds of asylum seekers broke through police lines near the Hungarian border to make their way towards Budapest."

Cellebrite Sold Phone Hacking Tech to Repressive Regimes, Data Suggests (Motherboard, link):

"Cellebrite's hacking kit is one of the most popular forensics tools on the market, capable of circumventing passcodes and extracting a wealth of data from seized cellphones. US law enforcement agencies have invested heavily in the tech, but Cellebrite may have also sold its wares to authoritarian regimes with abysmal human rights records, such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, according to a large cache of data obtained by Motherboard.

The revelations raise questions around Cellebrite's choice of customers, whether it vets them, and what policies, if any, are in place to stop Cellebrite's technology from being used against journalists or activists."

N.S.A. Gets More Latitude to Share Intercepted Communications (New York Times, link):

"In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people."

See: Procedures for the availability or dissemination of raw signals intelligence information obtained by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333 (raw SIGINT availability procedures) (pdf)

USA-RUSSIA-UK: The Trump revelations: trumped-up?

Donald Trump dossier: intelligence sources vouch for author's credibility (The Guardian, link):

"His denials – at least some of them – were emphatic, even by the standards that Donald Trump has come to be judged by. The dossier, he said, was a confection of lies; he compared it to Nazi propaganda; it was fake news spread by sick people.

At his press briefing on Wednesday, the president-elect dared the world’s media to scrutinise the 35 pages of claims, before throwing down a challenge – where’s the proof? Nobody had any. Case closed.

But in the rush to trample all over the dossier and its contents, one key question remained. Why had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?

And the answer to that lies in the credibility of its apparent author, the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him. In all these respects, the 53-year-old is in credit."

And: Trump 'compromising' claims: How and why did we get here? (BBC News, link):

"Donald Trump has described as "fake news" allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC's Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light."

GERMANY: Wikileaks publishes classified documents from inside German NSA inquiry commission (Electrospaces, link):

"On December 1, Wikileaks published 90 gigabytes of classified documents from the German parliamentary commission that investigates NSA spying and the cooperation between NSA and the German foreign intelligence service BND. The documents include 125 files from BND, 33 from the security service BfV and 72 from the information security agency BSI.

It should be noted though that all documents are from the lowest classification level and lots of them are just formal letters, copies of press reports and duplications within e-mail threads. Nonetheless, the files also provide interesting new details, for example about the German classification system, BND's internal structure, the way they handled the Snowden-revelations and the use of XKEYSCORE."

The post is being regularly updated as new information is found in the documents published by Wikileaks (link).

Germany to return refugees to Greece starting in March (Al Jazeera, link):

"Germany has decided to start returning newly arrived asylum seekers to Greece starting in mid-March, according to an interior ministry spokesperson, effectively reversing a five-year suspension of such transfers owing to the poor conditions there.

(...)

A German interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency that Germany would reinstate the Dublin rule in two months' time and return newly-arrived asylum seekers to their first EU port of call.

"In line with the recommendation from the European Commission, Germany believes that such transfers will be possible from March 15," said the spokesman, Tobias Plate."

See: COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 8.12.2016 addressed to the Member States on the resumption of transfers to Greece under Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (pdf)

Tribute to John Berger 1926 – 2017 (IRR News, link) by Jeny Bourne:

"John Berger, writer, art critic and poet has died. John Berger, anti-imperialist, socialist man and peasant has died.

It is perhaps inevitable that the establishment should claim John Berger for their own, as the famous critic who provided the BBC and them with ‘Ways of Seeing’ in 1972 – and that despite his Marxism. It was and still is a milestone in interpreting art and ‘the gaze’. But he did not live his life in compartments or by accepting borders –geographical or disciplinary. For many of us who now mark his passing, his greatness lies in his practice as a committed and true intellectual and internationalist...."

United Nations Special Rapporteur: On the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: Civil Society Guide: A handbook for using the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf) And:

Checklist Implementation: A step-by-step checklist for monitoring implementation of the practical recommendations on the management of assemblies report by United Nations Special Rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Christof Heyns (pdf):

"We are pleased to announce the launch of Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai's latest report, the "10 Principles Civil Society Guide", which is designed to help civil society advance the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of assemblies domestically.....

The Guide provides suggestions, tools and inspiration to CSOs as they consider how they might push for the implementation of the practical recommendations in their own context. It is divided into four parts: Section 1 gives background on the practical recommendations report. Section 2 focuses on how CSOs can determine authorities’ compliance with the practical recommendations. Section 3 discusses methods for gathering the evidence necessary for monitoring compliance and building advocacy arguments. Lastly, Section 4 provides real-life examples of research and advocacy tactics which have been used to advance rights in the context of protests."

FRANCE- UK: ‘Terror’ charges against environmental activists dropped as undercover police involvement comes to light (The Canary, link):

"‘Terrorism’ charges have been dropped against environmental activists spied on by a British undercover police officer. The activists lived in the village community of Tarnac, France. And the undercover police officer – dubbed a ‘spycop’ – was Mark Kennedy, who worked for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

The court dismissed [French] the appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the SNCF (French railways). It ruled [translation] that: "There are insufficient charges to show that the offences were committed by any individual or group whose purpose was to disturb public order, to intimidate, or to cause terror."

The Canary can reveal that, in January 2016, a UK source provided the defendants with crucial evidence implicating Kennedy and his police supervisors in the case.

Who were the ‘Tarnac 9’?

The Tarnac 9 were four men and five women, aged 22 to 34, who were environmental activists. French authorities were investigating them, and subsequently arrested them after a series of dawn raids in November 2008."

SCOTLAND: Police Inspectorate to probe undercover operations by 'rogue' units and sex spy officers (The Herald, link):

"A review of undercover policing in Scotland will examine the covert operations involving rogue former officers who had sexual relationships with the women they were spying on.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) will confirm this morning that its probe will include the activities of two notorious London-based units since 2000, which covers the G8 summit in Gleneagles nearly twelve years ago.....

Scottish Government Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed HMICS to carry out a separate review of undercover policing in Scotland and the watchdog’s terms of reference will be published today.

Stage one will be an “initial scoping” exercise that will gather the views of “key stakeholders”. The second part will examine the operational delivery of undercover policing since the establishment of Police Scotland in 2013. "

See: Strategic Review of Undercover Policing in Scotland - Terms of Reference (pdf)

US military tests swarm of mini-drones launched from jets (BBC News, link):

"The US military has launched 103 miniature swarming drones from a fighter jet during a test in California. Three F/A-18 Super Hornets were used to release the Perdix drones last October. The drones, which have a wingspan of 12in (30cm), operate autonomously and share a distributed brain. A military analyst said the devices, able to dodge air defence systems, were likely to be used for surveillance."

And see: A 100-Drone Swarm, Dropped from Jets, Plans Its Own Moves - Once launched, the swarm can decide for itself how best to execute a mission.(technologyreview.com, link)

Austria wants to discriminate against EU workers (euobserver, link):

"EU citizens should be barred from taking jobs if a qualified Austrian has applied to the same position, says Austria's centre-left chancellor.

Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday (11 January) accused east European nations of "exporting their joblessness to Austria" and wants local employers to prioritise Austrians unless no other candidate is available."

USA: The Trump revelations

John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link)

And in case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

See also: Ex-British intelligence officer 'behind Trump Russia dossier' named (BBC News, link) and Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, 'terrified for his safety' and went to ground before name released (Telegraph, link) 

and BBC claims a second source backs up Trump dossier (The Week, link) and also: BBC correspondent: Ex-British intelligence officer ‘not the only source’ for Russia’s Trump dossier (RAW Story, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.1.17)

Greek Navy Battleship to Host Refugees From Lesvos (Greek Reporter, link):

"Greek Navy battleship “Lesvos” is to sail to Lesvos island on Tuesday night to host refugees and migrants from the overflowing camps that are suffering from the heavy snowfall.

The ship is to arrive on Lesvos on Wednesday and will accommodate about 500 of the 1,000 refugees who currently live in tents in the Moria camp. The warship will dock in the port of Mytilene.

In the past five days, 1,000 refugees and migrants of the Moria camp are living under harsh conditions in tents covered with snow."

New paper: "Boundaries of Law: Exploring Transparency, Accountability, and Oversight of Government Surveillance Regimes" (pdf) has been published by: Douwe Korff, Ben Wagner, Julia Powles, Renata Avila and Ulf Buermeyer:

"Bottom-line conclusion: "The discrepancy between continuing government surveillance practices and the relevant international human rights and rule of law standards is breath-taking.

The resulting concentration of secret power in the hands of intelligence agencies may prove deeply corrosive to democracy, commerce, and the rule of law. However, in most of the countries studied, citizens and their elected representatives still have the ability to call the State to order and establish appropriate checks and balances on its surveillance powers.

Guided by the Necessary and Proportionate Principles, this report proposes a set of standards for minimum transparency, accountability and oversight of government surveillance practices." (p. 11)"

USA: The Trump revelations: John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI - Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump - ‘Unverified and potentially unverifiable’ reports published by BuzzFeed (Guardian, link):

"Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents’ contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government....

CNN reported on Tuesday that the FBI was still investigating the credibility of the documents but added that the intelligence chiefs had included a summary of the material in a secret briefing on Russian interference in the election delivered last week to Barack Obama and Donald Trump."

And is case you missed it: The Trump allegations file (pdf, link)

European Parliament: New Rules of Procedure (pdf) Now in force.

The Refugee Crisis Is Humanity’s Crisis (New York Times, link): Brad Evans and Zygmunt Bauman:

"This is the third in a series of dialogues with philosophers and critical theorists on the question of violence. This conversation is with Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, Britain. His latest book, “Strangers at Our Door” is published with Polity Press."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.1.17)

European Commission: Privacy and telecommunications package

Digital Single Market – Stronger privacy rules for electronic communications (Press release, pdf)

Proposal for a: Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) (COM-10-17, pdf)

Proposal affecting EU Institutions: Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC (COM-8-17, pdf)

Communication: Exchanging and Protecting Personal Data in a Globalised World (COM-7-17, pdf)

Q & A (pdf): Includes:

"Processing of communications content and metadata is conditioned to consent.

Privacy is guaranteed for content of communication as well as metadata – for example who was called, the timing, location and duration of the call, as well as websites visited. Metadata linked to electronic communications have a high privacy component and need to be deleted or made anonymous if users did not give their consent, unless the data is needed for billing purposes."

Note: Proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation would repeal the current ePrivacy Directive.

A New Era of Mass Surveillance is Emerging Across Europe (Just Security, link):

"Conclusion

Across Europe, from Poland to Austria, from Italy to Sweden, parliaments have been adopting expansive domestic and foreign surveillance legislation in recent months and years. This wave of legislation, pushed by populist agendas and public outrage in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on European soil, is a flagrant disregard to decades of jurisprudence by the ECtHR and more recent jurisprudence by CJEU, and it puts in danger privacy protections across the continent. The leaders of Germany, France and the UK are setting a dangerous precedent which echoes within the European Community and far beyond it: Mass surveillance by governments has become the new normal.

To show how much has changed, it’s worth remembering the speech German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave to the German Parliament, just three years ago, in January 2014, when she warned Western governments against promoting surveillance policies that collect everything that is “technically possible.” She noted that these foreign mass surveillance programs not only “sow distrust,” but send the wrong signal to “billions of people living in undemocratic States.” The end result, she concluded, “is not more security but less.”

Greece: Snow leaves refugees and government exposed (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Government officials were trying Monday to find an emergency solution that would allow them to temporarily move some 1,000 refugees out of the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos to protect them from the snow and freezing weather.

Authorities met Monday with representatives of the local hoteliers’ association but were unable to reach an agreement as the union held an emergency general assembly three months ago, when members decided that hotel rooms should not be made available for refugees.

“We understand that there is an emergency but for the decision to be reversed there needs to be another [union] general assembly,” the president of the Lesvos Hoteliers’ Association, Pericles Antoniou, told Kathimerini."

Greece: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"05/ 01/ 2017: The government has successfully completed the procedure of overwintering in camps and refugee centers around the country and there are no more refugees or migrants living in the cold, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas told journalists on Thursday. “There are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering,” ....

Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis. "

EU Commission: “untenable” situation in Greece’s refugee camps (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said the commission “is aware that the situation is currently untenable, but we also have to be clear” that conditions in reception centers are the responsibility of Greek authorities."

EU plans first laws on robotics (euractiv, link):

"A European Parliament committee will look Thursday (12 January) at a draft resolution relating to the regulation of robotics. The text could become the basis for the first European legislation on automation and robots. ...

The report in question is not a legislative initiative, rather it is a set of recommendations to be sent to the European Commission, asking the executive to draw up a legal framework for the civilian use of robots. If the text gets approval then the first European-wide law on robotics could be just over the horizon."

See also: European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.1.17): refugees at risk of freezing to death; French police accused of stealing migrants' blankets; Germany threatens to cut development aid; and more.

UK: Letter to the government on review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO)

Letter from the Public Law Project to the Lord Chancellor Re: Proposed review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (link to pdf):

"We are writing further to your statement in Parliament earlier this month that you would shortly be announcing the timeline for the review of LASPO which the Government is committed to undertaking by April 2018. PLP welcomes the Government’s intention to conduct a review into the LASPO legal aid reforms which have had far reaching implications for access to justice in England and Wales."

And see: Legal aid cuts are a major human rights issue (OpenDemocracy, link):

"The recent sharp cuts to civil legal aid have hurt not only those people already in the most pain, but the integrity of the justice system itself. That’s the grim conclusion of Amnesty’s year long research into the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) on access to justice in the UK."

UK: Free Movement and Deportation: Nonjudicial Restrictions on the Right to Work are Lawful (United Kingdom Immigration Law Blog, link):

"Like countless other European citizens, the Lithuanian claimant, Lauzikas, came to the UK to work the construction industry. He entered the UK in 2012. However, in June 2014, a row with his former wife’s current partner led him to first threaten and then shoot the man with a BB gun. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm and in January 2015 he received 14 months’ imprisonment. Serving seven months on remand entitled him to immediate release and he received notification of his liability to be deported and detained... In February 2015, a decision was made to make a deportation order... An appeal was lodged against the deportation decision and removal directions were cancelled after parallel judicial review proceedings were issued. Lauzikas remained in the country but was nevertheless detained until the tribunal granted him bail.

The present judicial review application was mounted on the basis that an employment restriction imposed on Lauzikas constituted an unjustified and disproportionate interference with his right of free movement as an EU worker, and that the interference was also impermissible under domestic law because the home office had no power to impose restrictions where an individual was bailed to appear before the tribunal. Thirlwall J held that the right to work is a “qualified right” which is “an aspect of the freedom of movement.” Explaining that no authority existed on the central EU law point in this case, her Ladyship refused the application because the effect of suspending removal was to merely allow him to stay in the UK in order press his legal rights. Moreover, during that time he was provided accommodation and modest financial support. So no breach of his rights occurred for him to pursue remedies against the executive."

Judgment: Jonas Lauzikas v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2016] EWHC 3215 (Admin)) (pdf)

UK: Campaign for a free press: Section 40 jeopardises press freedom (Index, link):

"Index on Censorship has for the past four decades published the work of censored writers and artists. Now we face the possibility of censorship thanks to a UK government law that means — as a publisher that refuses to sign up to a regulator approved by a state-created body — we could end up paying both sides in a legal dispute even if we ultimately win the case. The law, Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, as it stands is a danger to a free press."

See: #FreeThePress (link):

"#FreeThePress
Say NO to section 40 and Leveson Part 2.
Press freedom, the lifeblood of democracy, is under attack.

But you can do something about it."

And: What is Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? (Index, link)

Greek asylum claims spike due to backlogs (EUobserver, link):

"Greek asylum applications registered a massive jump late last year, but experts pin it mainly to a backlog.

The Greek Asylum Service noted a 593 percent increase of asylum applications in November alone, or around 7,600 claims, compared to 2015's monthly average of 1,100.

The spike appears to be broadly linked to a large-scale pre-registration programme launched over the summer and a doubling of staff at the Greek Asylum Service."

EU: Cybersecurity: report on the implementation of the Network and Information Security Directive

A brief report from the Commission to national delegations in the Council's 'Horizontal Working Party on Cyber Issues', issued in early December 2016, outlines the situation regarding implementation of the EU's Network and Information Security Directive.

FRANCE: Macron: German response to refugee crisis ‘saved Europe’s dignity’ (EurActiv, link):

"The Europhile candidate for the French presidency has congratulated Germany for saving Europe’s collective dignity by opening its arms to refugees...

In an editorial published on Monday (2 January) in Le Monde, Emmanuel Macron said he believes German society, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, “saved” the “collective dignity” of the European people by taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“Chancellor Merkel and German society as a whole lived up to our shared values; they saved our collective dignity by taking in refugees in distress, housing and educating them,” the former minister for economy said."

EU: Refugees living in snow and sub-zero temperatures at risk of death

"Humanitarian agencies have warned that without adequate housing refugees in Greece may die as the country continues to be gripped by freezing winter weather.

Parts of the country have seen more than a metre (three feet) of snow and temperatures as low as - 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, and communication lines and roads are out of action on several islands.

In Moria, a large camp on the island of Lesvos, around 15,000 people are still living in overcrowded conditions in thin summer tents."

GREECE: REFUGEES: NGOs' life-saving efforts acknowledged but those unregistered by March will be banned

The Greek minister for migration policy, Yiannis Mouzalas, said on Thursday (5 January 2017) that NGOs operating in refugee camps will be barred if they do not register with the government by March. See: Refugees are no longer living in the cold, says migration minister (ANA-MPA, link):

"Asked about the NGOs who are operating in various camps, he said that those that do not register with the ministry by March will not be allowed to work in the camps. He also admitted that without the NGOs the government would not have made it through the first phase of the refugee crisis."

SCOTLAND: RENDITION: Cops slammed over Scottish airports CIA torture flights probe as campaigners demand update (Daily Record, link):

"Police Scotland have been condemned for “incredible” delays in their probe into the use of Scots airports for CIA torture flights.

More than three years into their investigation, they have refused to reveal what progress has been made.

Campaigners say there is an urgent need to know what part Scotland played in rendition – where US prisoners were sent to be tortured overseas in the wake of 9/11 – ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency.

It is feared Trump, who has advocated “a lot worse than waterboarding”, may reinstate rendition in the US war on terror."

IRELAND: Irish Refugee Council welcome announcement of refugees coming to Ballaghaderreen but express concern at lack of prior engagement with community (Irish Refugee Council, link):

"Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council said: “It is heartening to see the overwhelmingly positive reception from people in Ballaghaderreen to this announcement. Many comments have recognised that people have fled persecution and a brutal war in Syria. Coming to Ballaghaderreen is another step in a long journey to safety that has included undertaking a dangerous voyage to Europe and living in very difficult conditions in Greece. This journey does not end once people arrive to Ireland so ensuring that they are welcomed and supported through this transition is essential.”

“However, a consistent theme in comments from people living in the community has been the lack of notice or consultation that was given. It is crucial that in circumstances such as these local communities are properly informed so that questions can be answered, a welcome prepared and services organised. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have happened in this case.”"

French police 'stealing blankets from migrants', charity warns (The Independent, link):

"Police in Paris have been accused of putting migrants’ lives in danger by stealing their blankets in the heart of winter.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also warned of “systematic police violence” targeted at the hundreds of migrants forced to sleep rough on the streets of Paris due to overcrowding in the capital's only reception centre.

MSF accused police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queue for a place in the shelter in the northern Parisian neighbourhood of La Chapelle."

TURKEY: Erdogan renews promise to grant Syrian, Iraqi refugees Turkish citizenship (Rudaw, link):

"The most qualified among three million Syrian and Iraqi refugees who are currently in Turkey can receive Turkish citizenship and that the interior ministry is in the midst of a vetting process, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on state television on Friday.

“Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks have been carried out,” the AFP news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.”

Erdogan made similar comments last July which some opposition parties said was a ploy to increase the leader’s voting base and to permanently influence the demographic makeup in Turkey’s southeastern provinces, which are Kurdish-majority.

“Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let’s give them the chance to work as citizens, like the children of this nation,” Erdogan said."

Germany threatens to cut development aid to countries that refuse rejected asylum seekers (Deutsche Welle, link):

"German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere believe that countries that cannot accept rejected asylum seekers may not receive development aid, according to recent interviews.

In an interview with news magazine "Der Spiegel," Gabriel said, "those who do not cooperate sufficiently cannot hope to benefit from our development aid."

During an interview on German broadcaster ARD, de Maiziere agreed, saying he "fully supports this idea.""

EU: European Migrant Smuggling Centre: Arrests and house searches against a people smuggler ring in Germany (Europol press release, link):

"On 5 January 2017, the German Federal Police conducted several house searches in Berlin and executed two arrest warrants in Mönchengladbach and in Germany’s capital city. At the same time, Italian authorities arrested a suspect in Bolzano (Italy). The arrested individuals are suspected of being part of a criminal network involved in smuggling and trafficking of irregular migrants.

This criminal syndicate, composed mainly of Lebanese nationals, facilitated the transport of Syrian nationals via Hungary and Austria to Germany. They are suspected of having smuggled 29 persons in 12 different smuggling incidents since June 2016. Each migrant had to pay between EUR 500 -1 000 to the network. In some of the cases, the perpetrators transported the migrants under dangerous circumstances, overloading cars with migrants."

UK: London: Schools Against Borders for Children campaign conference, 14 January

"Parents, teachers, everyone: join the Against Borders for Children campaign in the New Year for our first ever public meeting!

*Find out how we’ve managed to make it this far and what we’ve achieved;
*Learn more about the campaign in the context of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants and disappearing data privacy rights;
*Help us imagine what conversations about race and migration in the classroom might look like in the future; and
*Find out how you can be involved with upcoming actions!

The keynote will be given by Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT."

See: Join us at our first conference – Saturday 14th January 2017 (Schools ABC, link)

UK: Blurring the line between slavery & migration: Operation Magnify goes public with 97 workers arrested (Right to Remain, link):

"Trafficked to the UK as a slave, you live an invisible life. Not only are you subjected to slavery by the traffickers, as an undocumented migrant you have very limited rights to healthcare, housing or any social support. If you are being exploited, beaten or abused and you go to the police, you face being arrested, imprisoned and deported back to a home country you risked all this just to escape. And what happens to the perpetrators, who traffic human beings as slaves? They will be “warned that they could face fines.” So, not much."

EU: NGOs demand Commission deny Oettinger human resources portfolio (EurActiv, link):

"A group of NGOs has called on the European Parliament to oppose the proposal by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to put Günther Oettinger in charge of supervising human resources for the EU executive.

Ten organisations, including Transparency International EU, state that they believe that Oettinger is unsuitable for the Commission portfolio.

“Commissioner Oettinger has made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks on several occasions in the past, most recently at a speech he gave in an official capacity in Hamburg on 26 October,” the NGOs state.

Oettinger, who has been embroiled in numerous scandals, was nominated by Juncker to take over the portfolios of Budget and Human Resources from his Bulgarian colleague Kristalina Georgieva, who left for a position at the World Bank, which began on 1 January."

See: Joint letter from ten NGOs (pdf): ILGA-Europe, European Women's Lobby, Transparency International EU, European Network Against Racism, Corporate Europe Observatory, IPPF European Network, Oxfam Interational, Volonteurope, Stitching ERGO Network, Lobbycontrol.

EU: European Parliament: Anti-euro Italian opposition party to join ALDE? (VoteWatch Europe, link):

"On Sunday morning, Beppe Grillo, the leader of the main Italian opposition party, the 5 Star Movement, made a shock announcement, indicating that he intends to join the European liberal family, ALDE. If that were to happen, the 5 Star Movement would become the dominating force in the ALDE group in the European Parliament, currently headed by the staunch federalist Guy Verhofstadt. This would have far reaching implications on the EU’s policy in the coming years. "

UK-EU: Brexit and data protection: Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit (Amberhawk, link):

"Happy New Year (and welcome back to the daily grind).

This blog adds two further reasons why I think a post-Brexit UK is very unlikely to offer an adequate level of protection in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

One reason relates to recent comments made by Prime Minister Mrs May about human rights. The other relates to the non-compliance of the national security agencies with their existing data protection obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-8.1.17)

Greece: Moria: Thousands of Refugees live in tents covered by snow (Keep Talking Greece, link):

"Literally buried in the snow were the tents providing shelter to several thousands of refugees and migrants in the camp of Moria. The snow weather stroke the island of Lesvos and neighboring islands of Chios and had the thousands living in tents desperately seeking protection and warmth.

Many of the Moria residents saw snow for the first time in their lives. It might have been a pleasant experience if it wasn’t for having to live in the snow.

The tents of UN High Commissioner could not protect them from the extremely low temperature."

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data” (link):

"With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens."

USA: Trump mentioned Wikileaks 164 times in last month of election, now claims it didn’t impact one voter (Think Progress, link):

"President-elect Trump says that information published by Wikileaks, which the U.S. intelligence community says was hacked by Russia, had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.” This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign."

And see: Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (pdf)

UK: Deportation Charter Flights: Collective Expulsion in 2017 (Corporate Watch, link):

"In 2013, Corporate Watch published a research report titled “Collective Expulsion: the case against mass deportation charter flights”. Three years later, not much has changed. The UK continues to make political deportation deals with governments of its former colonies and war zones. Almost 2,000 people a year are still loaded onto secretive night flights from Stansted airport, handcuffed by private security “escorts”, in one of the most brutal facets of the detention and deportation regime.

This factsheet updates recent facts and figures, but doesn't supplant the more in-depth analysis in the 2013 report. It also adds a new section containing short summary profiles of some of the main companies involved in the charter flight business: security guards Tascor (a subsidiary of Capita), plane charter company Titan Airways, and travel bookers Carlson Wagonlit."

See: Report (pdf, link) and a brief overview in the Statewatch database.

Police Scotland ordered to improve after probe into covert work (The Ferret, link):

"Unpublished reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner show that Police Scotland has been ordered to make improvements to the way it undertakes covert activity.

The Ferret has obtained two recent Police Scotland inspection reports from the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner (OSC). The OSC provides independent oversight of public bodies that have powers to conduct covert surveillance and place staff undercover as “human intelligence sources,” through the RIPA and RIPSA laws.

Although the reports are heavily redacted in places, they nevertheless reveal several previously undisclosed failings at the national police force.

The Ferret is publishing extracts from the reports today along with renewed calls from politicians and campaign groups for further independent investigations into police surveillance."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.1.17)

CoE: Human Rights Commissioner: Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child (link):

"Commissioner Muižnieks reaffirmed that immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published on 19 December 2016.

In his letter, he warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children. Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner expressed the view that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child."

A template for protecting human rights during the ‘refugee crisis’? Immigration detention and the expulsion of migrants in a recent ECtHR Grand Chamber ruling (EU Law Analysis, link):

"On the 15th of December 2016 the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber handed down its judgment in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, which partially reversed the Chamber ruling issued on the 1st of September 2015. The case is about immigration detention at the Italian borders (including the island of Lampedusa) and the expulsion of aliens from Italy to Tunisia. Whilst the events took place in 2011, during that peculiar time which was in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring, the issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the principle outlined by the judgments appears relevant to the current refugee crisis and its management by the European Union Institutions and Member States."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

Austrian defence minister eyes plan to overhaul EU migrant policy (euractiv, link):

"Austria’s defence minister has drafted a plan that would revamp the European Union’s migrant policy by establishing a ceiling for migration and only permitting applications for asylum from outside the EU....

Doskozil’s plan also calls for the creation of asylum centres in countries such as Niger, Jordan and Uzbekistan, potentially using existing facilities of the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Migrants who were denied asylum or those who entered the EU illegally but could not be returned to their home countries would be transferred to “protective zones” that were linked to asylum centres, the newspaper said."

Slovenia closing doors to refugees (News That Moves, link):

"Slovenia may allow police to seal the borders to migrants and refugees in case of a new migration crisis affecting the country. The Slovenian government approved on the 5th of January amendments to the law regarding foreigners that will permit police forces to deny entry in Slovenia to migrants and refugees, without considering their asylum claims."

See also: Slovenia: Proposals to strip refugees and asylum-seekers of their rights must be rejected (AI, link)

European Parliament Study: European Civil Law rules in robotics (pdf):

"The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee commissioned this study to evaluate and analyse, from a legal and ethical perspective, a number of future European civil law rules in robotics."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.1.17)

EU: Viewpoint: More externalisation of migration control by Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (senior researcher, Barcelona Centre of International Affairs, CIDOB)

We pay but others do it. This first and foremost has been the response of the European Union to the so-called "refugee crisis". Under the title of the European Agenda on Migration, in May 2015 the European Commission proposed a series of measures to stop what it called "the human misery created by those who exploit migrants." This document established as a priority cooperation with third countries to jointly address the causes of emigration. In practice, this cooperation has been limited to promoting the readmission of irregular migrants, border control and the reception of asylum-seekers and refugees in third countries. The EU's agreements with Turkey (March 2016) and more recently with Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia (June 2016) represent the implementation of this approach.

Also available in pdf format.

UK: From Orgreave to Rotherham – the trials and tribulations of South Yorkshire Police (The Conversation, link):

"Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s decision to rule out a public inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” is once again back in the spotlight after being publicly condemned by North East Derbyshire Council. The Labour-run council is now calling on Rudd to “think again” about her decision not to order a full probe into the notorious miners’ strike clash between South Yorkshire Police and striking pitmen.....

And in 2016, the conduct of South Yorkshire police was once again called into question at the conclusion of a trial of ten Asian men accused of violent disorder.....

The Rotherham 12 case triggered a national campaign in support of the arrested men. This was backed by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign whose members attended the trial to show support. Both groups have drawn parallels between the Rotherham 12 case and the treatment of the miners at Orgreave."

Governments playing irresponsible charades on counter terrorism (sophieintveld.eu, link):

"It has become boringly predictable: after each terrorist attack, in a knee-jerk reflex one minister after the other urgently and loudly demand more collection of personal data. Last year French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was on a crusade for the mass collection of flight passenger data (PNR), this week Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon uses the Berlin terrorist attacks to push for a scheme that had been on his wish list for some time: the collection of all travel data of passengers on international bus and train trips.

Before that, it was bank account data, mass surveillance of the internet and telecommunication, biometric data, or any other personal data you can think of. Each time "fighting terrorism" is the justification for more mass surveillance. Anyone who dares to ask critical questions about necessity, proportionality, fundamental rights or indeed effectiveness of those schemes, is lambasted for hampering the fight against terrorism."

See also: Belgium prepares to present passenger data plans to rest of EU (euractiv, link): "In response to a number of terror attacks, Belgium wants greater control over who travels on its trains, buses and boats and will present its plans at the next meeting of EU interior ministers at the end of January. EurActiv’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports."

IP addresses as personal data - the CJEU's judgment in C-582/14 Breyer (EU Law Analysis, link):

"In the Breyer case the CJEU was asked by the German Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) if dynamic IP addresses are personal data within the meaning of the EU Data Protection Directive and to what extent they can be stored and processed to ensure the general operability of websites. Mr Breyer, the applicant in this case, is a German politician and privacy activist. He visited various websites of the German federal institutions. The information about the IP addresses of the visitors (or more precisely of the owners of the devices from which the websites were visited) as well as the information about the name of the accessed web page or file, the terms entered in the search fields, the time of access and the quantity of data transferred is stored in the log files after the visit. "

In 2017 | Immigration will reveal the crisis of human rights inside our societies (Malta Today, link)

"!Immigration has become a litmus test of our societies’ capacity to treat people with dignity. The grim reality is that we enter a 2017 imbued with a solidarity and human rights crisis which will make the quest for social and global justice more demanding, but also more pertinent."

French farmer on trial for helping migrants across Italian border - Cédric Herrou, who was previously arrested for aiding eight Eritreans, faces up to five years in jail and €30,000 fine if convicted (Guardian, link):

"A French farmer, who has become a local hero for helping African migrants cross the border from Italy and giving them shelter, has gone on trial for aiding illegal arrivals. Cédric Herrou is one of three people to appear before courts in southern France for assisting people fleeing to Europe.

The 37-year-old activist, accused of “helping undocumented foreigners enter, move about and reside” in France, faces up to five years in prison and a €30,000 (£25,500) fine if convicted.... He has been unapologetic about helping people travelling through Europe via the often perilous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

“If we have to break the law to help people, let’s do it!” he told supporters outside the Nice court on Wednesday, where a crowd of about 300 people gathered."

Helping those who helped Snowden: appeal for refugee families in Hong Kong

"A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers."

See: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden (The Globe And Mail, link)

The story that revealed the families that helped: Edward Snowden’s Guardian Angels (Handelsblatt, link) and the fundraising project: Canadians Help Snowden’s Guardian Angels (FundRazr, link)

German state of Brandenburg may not deport far-right victims (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The German state of Brandenburg will not deport asylum seekers if they have been victimized by right-wing violence.

Local media reported on Tuesday that Brandenburg's Interior Ministry had asked local authorities to use the leeway available to them to make sure foreigners whose asylum applications had been rejected, but who had been victims of right-wing attacks, could stay in the country.

With the decree issued on December 21, the Interior Ministry implemented a resolution Brandenburg's parliament had passed in April. The directive posits that victims of crimes and witnesses to crimes of a certain severity should be allowed to stay in Germany. This includes crimes such as attempted murder, assault, arson and bomb attacks, but also kidnapping, theft, blackmail, public riots and sexual offenses.

Asylum seekers who have committed a crime or share responsibility for a violent incident are exempt from the new rule."

GERMANY: Cologne police screen hundreds of North African men (Al Jazeera, link):

"Police in the German city of Cologne say they screened hundreds of men "seemingly of African descent" on New Year's Eve as part of a precautionary measure in reaction to last year's allegations of robberies and sexual assaults.

By early Sunday, police had received reports of two women being sexually assaulted in Cologne. One suspect was arrested.

Cologne's police said in a tweet on Saturday, the men were stopped at two main train stations in the city so that officers could question them and check their identities. "

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition (The Guardian, link):

"The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face."

BELGIUM: A (Slightly) Common Front Aims to Save the Rule of Law in Belgium (Liberties.eu, link):

"A group of signatories* including civil liberties organizations, lawyers and judges sent a letter to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers so they can urgently take action following the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum decision not to accept to deliver a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family."

UK: Leaked government document names ‘vetted’ organisations in receipt of £1.2 million in PREVENT funding (CAGE, link):

"A Home Office document titled ‘Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue’ leaked by Public Interest Investigations highlights in full organisations and projects vetted and funded by the government to deliver the controversial PREVENT strategy nationally."

See: an overview of the document: Prevent Strategy - Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue (Powerbase, link) and the document: Home Office: Office for Security and Counter Terrorism: Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue: Prevent Strategy (link to pdf)

Background: UK 'grassroots' anti-extremism campaign produced by Home Office (Middle East Eye, link)

MEDITERRANEAN: Members of a Spanish NGO rescued 112 refugees who were traveling on an overcrowded rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea (AJ+ on Twitter, link). The NGO in question is Proactiva Open Arms (link).

GERMANY: Interior ministry "wish list": strengthen central government security, policing and deportation powers

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has announced a series of proposals that revolve around giving the German federal government more power over security agencies, cyber attacks, policing and deportations; permitting the deployment of the military internally; expanding the scope of the proposed EU Entry/Exit System and loosening the the EU definition of "safe third countries".

Bulgaria Opens Investigation into Munitions Found in Syria (OCCRP, link):

"Prosecutors in Bulgaria have opened an investigation after munitions produced in the Balkan country were reportedly found in Syria.

The district prosecutor in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa launched its probe in December, local media reported last week, after the reported discovery of stocks including high-caliber ammunitions and grenades in areas of eastern Aleppo recently captured from rebels."

ITALY: Riot after death in detention centre near Venice

"A revolt by migrants in a centre near Venice ended Tuesday but a political row erupted about the reception of migrants in Italy. The revolt at the centre at Cona near Venice ended after migrants protested overnight by holing up in some containers, setting fires and barricading 25 volunteers, after the sudden death of a young Ivorian woman, Sandrine Bakayoko. The migrants said the emergency services were slow in responding, a charge the services rejected.

The young Ivorian woman proved to have died of a thrombosis, the autopsy said Tuesday. Venice prosecutor Lucia D'Alessandro said "the cause of the young woman's death has been established. It was a bilateral pulmonary thrombo-embolism". Violence or contagious disease have been "totally" ruled out, she said."

See: Italy: revolt in migrant centre near Venice ends (ANSA Med, link) and: Transfer of Cona migrants begins (ANSA, link): "The transfer of migrants from a reception centre near Venice that was at the centre of a revolt on Monday night got under way on Wednesday with the arrival of two coaches to take them to similar facilities in the neighbouring Emilia Romagna region."

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars (The Intercept, link):

"Africa has seen the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops of any region of the globe over the past decade, according to newly released numbers.

In 2006, just 1% of commandos sent overseas were deployed in the U.S. Africa Command area of operations. In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa, according to data supplied to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command. That total ranks second only to the Greater Middle East where the U.S. is waging war against enemies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen."

UK: 2016: A Year Of Black Lives Matter In Britain (The Debrief, link):

"For better or worse, Brexit has forced people in the United Kingdom to discuss race like never before. But Brexit has also been a catalyst for not just talk, but action. 2016 might have been the year of Brexit, but it was also the year of Black Lives Matter finally coming to the U.K."

UK: Slavery trafficking victims crippled by fear in UK (Al Jazeera, link):

"The British government estimates that there are around 13,000 people in modern-day slavery in the UK in 2014. And it's on the rise: Police and other authorities identified 3,266 people last year thought to have been the victims of modern-day slavery, up from 946 in 2011, 46 percent of whom were identified as male, and many had mental health issues.

At the safe house, victims are given a 45-day minimum reflection and recovery period, which is often extended to over 90 days, to help them consider their next step. During this time, they are offered financial, legal, medical support and counselling, as well as help finding a job and accommodation.

While many people manage to move on successfully and turn their lives around during the period, mental illness in others puts them at a severe disadvantage, often leading them to destitution and a risk of re-trafficking."

UK: Human rights are under threat – just when we need them most (The Guardian, link):

"There is one almighty fight coming, and it’ll be about human rights in the UK. Those who want to protect our national and international commitment to human rights need to mobilise in defence of those rights now.

An unwillingness on the part of the UK government to withdraw from the European convention on human rights has, up until now, been the major protection of the human rights settlement in the UK – we cannot sign up to a human rights regime internationally and yet deliver a lesser level of domestic protection. That would put the UK in breach of its international obligations.

Crucially, that unwillingness to withdraw has now gone. In consequence the UK settlement is seriously at risk, and the adherence of the world to human rights is in danger of being reduced by the UK signalling a massive reduction in its international commitment to human rights."

Austrian housing project keeps refugees’ hopes alive (UNHCR, link):

"Is she religious? Does she have a philosophy? She shakes her head. It is simple humanity that has motivated her over a long career of caring for the less fortunate. “If someone comes, needing help, I do not tell them to go and see the Pope first.”

Frau Bock, who never married, lives modestly to the point of being ascetic. She has never had a holiday; indeed she doesn’t even have a passport. She thinks fashion is a waste of time and her only luxury is to go to the hairdressers."

Syrian refugees in Greece despair over Aleppo (Deutsche Welle, link):

"The majority of Syrians in northern Greece initially arrived in the country before the EU-Turkey deal which was signed last March. All of them fled because of the conflict in their homeland. All of them have strong opinions on the civil war that has been destroying Syria for almost six years now. Few of them are willing to express their views publicly. They are either tired of talking to the media or they have families and relatives back home whose lives may be put at risk."

NETHERLANDS: A perspective on the new Dutch intelligence law (Electrospaces.net, link):

"Since the Snowden-revelations, several countries adopted new laws governing their (signals) intelligence agencies, but instead of restricting the collection capabilities, they rather expand them. Previously we examined the new laws that have recently been implemented in France. This time we will take a look at the Netherlands, where a new law for its two secret services is now being discussed by the parliament.

The situation in the Netherlands is different in at least two major aspects from many other countries. First, there is no institutional separation between domestic security and foreign intelligence as the two secret services combine both tasks. Second, the current law restricts bulk or untargeted collection to wireless communications only, so cable access is only allowed for targeted and individualized interception."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3.1.17): including refugee solidarity activists on bail; Malian consulate in Paris occupied; Dublin returns from France to Norway to Afghanistan; conditions on Greek islands "infuriating"; and more.

UK: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology: briefing on nuclear security

"In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them."

See: POSTNOTE: Nuclear Security (pdf)

Smart electricity meters can be dangerously insecure, warns expert (The Guardian, link):

"Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100m installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure”, a security expert has said.

The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra.

“Reclaim your home,” Rubin told a conference of hackers and security experts, “or someone else will.”"

UK: Cornwall refugee group raises thousands to help resettle Syrian families (The Guardian, link):

"A refugee support group in a small Cornwall town hopes to welcome two Syrian families after raising thousands of pounds.

Bude Welcomes Refugees, a 30-person group based in the north Cornwall seaside resort, wants to be one of the earliest adopters of the community sponsorship scheme to resettle refugee families.

The initiative enables community organisations, including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK. "

UK: The bigger picture about refugees

This article provides official statistical data on asyulm claims in the UK up to June 2016, resettlement to the UK (prinicpally through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme), unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and refugee camps in Europe. It was originally published in the newsletter of Bristol Refugee Rights and is republished here with permission.

GREECE: Refugee solidarity activists arrested in Greece freed on bail

Two activists who were last week arrested in Greece and charged with facilitating illegal immigration were released from preventive detention on Friday 30 December and will have to pay €2,000 within 12 days to obtain permission to leave Greece until their trial takes place.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Interior Ministry wants to enable public to use legally held weapons against terrorists (Prague Daily Monitor, link):

"The Czech Interior Ministry plans a constitutional law to strengthen the right to use legally possessed arms to provide security and enable their owners to defend themselves against terrorists during attacks similar to those by lorries in Nice and Berlin last year.

The ministry would like to push through the draft amendment, which it has submitted to parliament, by the October general election.

The ministry points out that the possibilities of state bodies to quickly and efficiently prevent casualties and other damage are limited during such attacks. This is why it wants to enable the owners of legally possessed firearms to intervene against terrorists."

And: Czechs prolonging anti-terrorist measures till Friday (link): "The tightened security measures taken over the December Berlin terrorist attack will be in force at least until Friday [6 January], Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists yesterday."

FRANCE: Malian consulate in Paris occupied due to "corruption" and EU-Mali agreement

RFI reported on 31 December 2016 that an occupation of the Malian consulate in Paris undertaken by the migrant collective 'Clean Hands' had been continuing for a week, after the group entered the building on 23 December.

One of the occupiers, Samba, told RFI that there were no consular staff remaining in the building, and that: "We have changed the reception into a refreshment bar," and that people were using the space to eat and drink.

The collective has denounced the "corruption" within the consulate and problems and delays with obtaining documents and information.

Migrants protest after reported attacks in Zagreb (EurActiv, link):

"Around 50 migrants staged a protest in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday (2 January) claiming they have suffered attacks by unknown assailants, state-run HRT television reported.

The protesters gathered in front of an asylum seekers centre where they are housed, carrying banners saying “Refugees are not criminals” and “We came for peace.”

The migrants claimed that several of them were attacked in the city at the weekend, and accused the police of failing to respond to their reports of violence."

FRANCE: DUBLIN REGULATION: Dublin to Norway, flight to Kabul (Passeurs d'Hospitalités, link):

"There are many ways to come to Europe. One of them, by Russia, to Norway, crossing the border between the two countries, up in the north.

People seeking asylum in Norway and receiving a negative response often continue their migration to other countries. But if they apply for asylum in Norway, they risk being sent back there, as having their finger prints there will make the country responsible for their asylum application under the Dublin III European regulation.

This puts them in a potential chain reaction of expulsions. In fact, in November, Roman had been sent back to Norway and from there to Afghanistan, without even having time to file an appeal once arrived in Norway. In mid-December 2016, a joint Swedish-Norwegian flight had resulted in the removal of 22 people, including 9 from Norway to Kabul under the agreement between the European Union and Afghanistan.

Hashim is now facing the same risk."

Global executions in 2016 (Reprieve, link):

"Countries with close links to the UK and EU continued to occupy the ranks of the world’s most prolific executioners in 2016, research by international human rights group Reprieve has found.

In Saudi Arabia, over 150 people were executed for the second year running... In Pakistan, the authorities continued to execute scores of prisoners from the country’s 8,000-strong death row. A total of 419 prisoners have been hanged since a moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December 2014.... In Iran, the government continued to hang hundreds of prisoners, nearly half of whom who were arrested for alleged drug offences... China continues to keep the number of executions a closely-guarded secret, but is widely believed to remain the world leader, with the death toll estimated in the thousands."

The war on cash has already been lost (Money Week, link):

"To its growing army of critics, cash is a pointless relic. It is costly and inefficient, both to manufacture, process and protect. Even worse, it mainly exists to facilitate crime, to finance the black economy, and to help people avoid tax. On top of that, it prevents central banks from driving interest rates significantly below zero, and so traps the economy in a recession. The sooner we get rid of it, the better.

The trouble is, ordinary people don’t seem to see it that way. They like cash more than ever. A new study of 18,000 people in seven countries in the International Journal of Central Banking found that cash was still overwhelmingly the dominant method of payment.

(...)

Finally – and admittedly this is conjecture – people sense that purely electronic money hands too much power to governments and regulators, and hang onto cash because they value its relative freedom. Cash is not just relatively secure compared with the alternatives, it is also very hard to trace. Not many of us are money launderers or drug dealers.

But lots of people might well have a sense that a world where there was no cash, and every payment was made by card or on the phone, would also be one where everywhere they went and everything they did was logged and recorded. They don’t feel comfortable with that – and rightly so. People like cash – it just won’t be possible to get rid of it."

GREECE: Conditions for Refugees on Islands are ‘Regrettable and Infuriating’, Says MSF Head in Greece (Greek Reporter, link):

"Living conditions for refugees on Greece’s islands is “regrettable and infuriating”, the head of the MSF (Doctors without Borders) mission in Greece, Clément Perrin, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Friday.

Perrin said families with newborn babies or small children are still living in tents even as temperatures have dropped to five above Celsius during the night. According to MSF data, in Samos there are 329 tents available for 100 people – 120 of which are outside the hotspot – without heating and access to hot water. In Moria camp, Lesvos, apart from the prefabricated housing units which house families, the rest of the refugees live in tents without heating and hot water is only available in the morning, which causes large queues.

“Greek authorities promised months ago they would improve living conditions on the islands, but very little has been done,” Perrin said. “Very little has been done for the most vulnerable refugees, while they were supposed to have been transferred to the mainland several weeks ago.”"

UK: Former MI6 chief warns against introducing electronic voting (Politics Home, link):

"The former head of MI6 has warned that introducing electronic voting could leave British elections open to the risk of cyber attack.

Sir John Sawers said a traditional pencil and paper ballot was "much more secure" than using phones or computers to cast a vote.

But the Commission on Direct Democracy, spearheaded by Commons Speaker John Bercow, has called for electronic voting to be available in time for the next general election in 2020."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.1.17) including Lost at sea: The search for missing refugees, New Italian government seeks migration crackdown and Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta.


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