Translation of a speech given by Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo (Osservatorio Solidarieta Carta di Milano) at the session ‘Decriminalizing Solidarity: an ever more topical challenge’, Sabir Festival, Palermo, 13 October 2018.
In the summer of 2018, after concerted efforts since 2014 by the EU and its Member States to block off the eastern (Turkey to Greece) and central (Tunisia and Libya to Italy) routes across the Mediterranean used by migrants and refugees to reach Europe, there was an increase in crossings using the western route (Morocco, and sometimes Algeria, to Spain). This was accompanied by an increase in deaths at sea and, in Morocco, extensive police operations to remove black African migrants from the north of the country, based on racial profiling and flagrant breaches of human rights.
This analysis looks at key critiques of EU plans to create a pervasive EU state database covering existing and future Justice and Home Affairs databases.
In order to facilitate free movement within the EU, the introduction of some mandatory EU-wide standards for identity cards may well be justified – but the proposal to fingerprint 175 million people as part of that is irrelevant and unjustified, and should be rejected by the European Parliament and the Council when they begin discussing the Commission’s proposals on standardising national identity cards.
The rule of law means putting limits ‘from below’ and from outside upon the power of the state. In a strict conception of the democratic principle, the law cannot be a mechanism for covering up abuses of power, but a brake upon them or their primary antidote.
Ten years after the ‘Tarnac affair’ began with accusations of terrorism against a group of people from a libertarian community, the key individuals in the case, subsequently accused of sabotaging railway lines, have been cleared of all charges. The process has demonstrated a set-up designed to create an internal enemy.
This analysis is based on the charges levelled at Proactiva Open Arms and was published in the wake of the crew’s interrogation and the impounding of the Open Arms rescue boat. It was written by the steering group (direttivo) of the Osservatorio Solidarietà della Carta di Milano, which was formally constituted in January 2018. It was originally published in Italian. A prosecutor has now ordered the freeing of the Open Arms, although judicial proceedings are ongoing. Statewatch will be publishing further information on the case.
German authorities use a number of databases that collect data on political activists, even if they hadn't been sentenced or tried. Names are stored if people have had their identity checked, or if they have registered a demonstration under their name. Many are recorded under false designations. Such entries have raised concerns around them being used for further repression, including the revocation of journalists’ accreditation. Discriminatory and stigmatising labels have also been applied to people whose data is held by the police.
“the Parliament maintains that the principle of transparency and the higher requirements of democracy do not and cannot constitute in themselves an overriding public interest [for the disclosure of documents].”
In late 2017, a prison-to-be was converted into a detention centre by Spain’s interior ministry, and used to hold some 500 Algerian nationals travelling to the country by dinghy. One of them subsequently died, isolated in his cell. The majority of detainees have now been deported, and an official investigation into the death remains open, despite a preliminary verdict of suicide. The penitentiary centre, meanwhile, has now officially opened as a prison, but the episode highlights how the treatment of such situations as ‘emergencies’ – despite the fact that they have been ongoing for decades – leads to numerous and serious human rights violations.
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