28 March 2012
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Statewatch Observatory on
Surveillance in Europe (S.O.S.
The "enemy within": EU plans for the surveillance of protestors and the criminalisation of protests
A special report by Statewatch (pdf file) on the EU's plans to combat future protests at EU and international meetings in Europe shows the EU plans would:
* give control of operations to the newly-created EU Task Force of Chief Police Officers which has no legal basis for its activities
* create mechanisms for operational cooperation for which there are no legal powers
* legitimise the ongoing surveillance by police and intelligence officers (internal security services) of persons or groups likely to pose a threat to public order and security
* create national databases of troublemakers based on suspicion and supposition without any legal standards or data protection and allow the unregulated exchange of this data
* allow EU member states to pass laws to prevent people from going to protests in other countries if their names have been recorded as suspects or if they have been convicted of minor public order offences (ie: obstructing the highway)
Statewatch editor, Tony Bunyan, commented:
"The plans by EU governments to counter protests threaten the right of free movement and the right to protest. They were rushed through in secret meetings in just two weeks without any reference to national or European parliaments.
The plans will have little effect on the ground where we are likely to see more authoritarian policing of protests on the streets. But the governments have given the green light to the law enforcement agencies to put groups concerned with global issues under surveillance on the grounds that they are all potential "troublemakers".
EU governments should spend their time and resources resolving the underlying issues which are bringing the people onto the streets instead of targeting a new "enemy within" which smacks of Cold War ideology."
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