Part 3 of a series /// The proposal on security of EU information, as introduced, would create a legal framework for classified information with a number of gaps and loopholes that would prevent the European Parliament and the Court of Justice from exercising their roles as set out in the EU treaties. Changes are required to fix these problems.
Part 2 of a series /// The Commission's proposal on security of EU information threatens to fatally undermine the rules on access to documents, which are essential for transparency, openness and public participation in democratic-decision making. The European Parliament and the Council need to take action to fix the proposal on security of information. At the same time, there are clear steps they could take to improve the access to documents rules, ensuring that legislative deliberations are as open and transparent as required by the treaties.
Part 1 of a series /// EU institutions are currently discussing a proposal for a new law "on information security in the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union." While the objective itself may be legitimate, the proposal as it stands seeks to extend to other EU institutions and agencies the secrecy and opacity that has for so long characterised the work of the Council. It undermines existing legislation on public access to official documents and would fatally undermine the treaty obligation for the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the EU "to conduct their work as openly as possible." At the same time, the proposal fails to ensure the interinstitutional and interagecy cooperation necessary to ensure an effective administration.
For the last few years, British and European officials have been seeking ways to regain the ability to instantly share police data across borders – an ability that was lost after the UK left the EU at the end of 2020. The plan currently under development is to build a new data-sharing architecture encompassing the UK, the EU and other “international partners,” but substantive details of it are being kept under lock and key. The implications go beyond privacy and data protection, and raise questions about the potential uses of a new system to crack down on the right to protest, as well as the right to seek asylum.
A talk given by Statewatch researcher Yasha Maccanico at the TransBorder Camp in Nantes, July 2022.
The European Commission's proposal for a new environmental crime Directive will significantly strengthen law enforcement powers. As well as introducing a range of new criminal offences at EU level, the proposed Directive encourages the use of intrusive policing tactics against suspected environmental crime offenders. Member states, however, aim to water down the Commission’s proposal to reduce the obligations on national authorities, and are concerned about what they see as an attempt to ‘overharmonise’ national criminal laws.
Are you an EU member state looking to divert attention from the human rights abuses you are committing at your border? By following this simple guide, you can ensure that not only will the European Commission, the “Guardian of the Treaties”, turn a blind eye to those abuses, but that you will receive a healthy cash injection at the same time!
A book about the political use of judicial proceedings to curtail a virtuous example of solidarity at work in reception practices in a small southern town in Calabria, Riace, led by its former mayor, Mimmo (Domenico) Lucano. Hearings of the appeal trial in Reggio Calabria are underway, after the first trial in Locri (whose sentence is commented on in these two extracts) found several defendants guilty, imposing lengthy prison terms (over 13 years for Lucano, over 80 years in total for 18 defendants) and financial penalties. The contributions to this book focus on the trial, the sentence, the appeal and the reality of the experience of Riace, including trial monitoring reports by Giovanna Procacci.
The Commission’s initiative for a ‘Security-related information sharing system between frontline officers in the EU and key partner countries’ is a further development along the path of problematic border externalisation, and a trend of increasing use of large-scale processing of the personal data of non-EU citizens for combined criminal law and immigration control purposes, that civil society has been speaking out against for years.
The Dutch police continue to disregard the rule of law to criminalise the pacifist activist Frank van der Linde. In recent years, his personal data has been sent to Europol, he has been labelled a terrorist, and police have suggested he be referred to a psychiatric facility. Far from an isolated case, van der Linde’s story shows just how far police in Europe will go to criminalise the right to protest and stifle political dissent.
It is well-documented that the externalisation of migration and border policies by the EU and other western states has led to appalling violations of human rights. While this is by far the most important issue resulting from border externalisation, there are also many other negative effects - including attacks on the right to access and impart information.
Since the early 1990s thousands of "unaccompanied and separated children" have arrived on Spanish territory. The authorities have frequently violated their rights. Policy changes and other events have led to migration patterns shifting over the years. A debate is needed over the facilities and care provided for child migrants, who at the moment are often housed in large facilities that do not meet their needs or uphold their rights.
The ongoing debate on pushbacks and rights violations at external EU borders neglects an important aspect: the EU and its states betray their claimed goal to promote human rights, the rule of law and civil society development worldwide by helping authoritarian regimes oppress their citizens, and also to stop them from leaving.
Since the Amsterdam Treaty of 1999, various crises have served as a pretext for expanding EU security structures and the powers of repressive authorities. Politically motivated human rights abuses remain the order of the day and have been exacerbated by the recent “migration crisis” at the EU's eastern borders.
On 20 January, we filed a submission to the European Commission's public consultation for its Rule of Law Report 2023, which will cover developments in 2022. Our submission highlights a number of topics - in particular regarding rule of law issues at EU level, surveillance, access to an effective remedy and the criminalisation of the press - that have not received sufficient attention in previous iterations of the report.
Data covering 16 years of Frontex’s deportation operations shows the expanding role of the agency. We have produced a series of data visualisations to show the number of people deported in Frontex-coordinated operations, the member states involved, the destination states, and the costs.
We made a brief submission to the European Commission's call for evidence to inform the evaluation of the 2019 Frontex Regulation. The evaluation is due to be carried out between December 2022 and October 2023 by an external consultant. Our submission highlights issues concerning fundamental rights, transparency and accountability.
On 24 June dozens of people died after attempting to cross the heavily-fortified border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla. A report by the Nador branch of the Association Marocain des Droits Humains (AMDH), summarised and built upon here, examines the build-up to and immediate aftermath of the deadly incident. The report documents multiple human rights violations and also reveals a significant shift: from EU authorities undertaking pushbacks and leaving people to their fate in situations in which they may come to harm, to EU authorities undertaking pushbacks with the explicit knowledge that they would be beaten and treated in an inhumane and degrading manner by their non-EU ‘partners’.
Tony, a police officer deployed multiple times in Frontex operations in Spain and Greece, slips on the word “interrogate”. He immediately corrects himself: “We are not allowed to say interrogate”. We both know that the term interrogation fits perfectly well.
On 28 November 2021, Wissem Ben Abdellatif, a 26-year-old Tunisian man, died in a hospital in Rome after suffering a heart attack. He had been transferred to the hospital from the Ponte Galeria detention centre, where he was being held whilst awaiting deportation. A new report dedicated to his memory examines the experiences of Tunisian citizens deported from Italy. Based on over 50 in-depth interviews with deportees, it concludes that Tunisians are regularly denied their rights after arriving in Italian territory (for example, to legal advice, information, or adequate living conditions), and that the situation is propelled by a security-minded approach to migration that has been implemented across the EU and its member states for at least two decades.
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