April

EU-SIS: Three-quarters of a million "illegal aliens" banned from Schengen area

- 778,886 people registered on Schengen Information System as aliens to be refused entry;
- massive discrepancy in number of records created by Schengen member states;
- Italy and Germany top criminalisation league, together creating 77 per cent of the total number of records;
- are new rules narrowing the scope of Article 96 needed?

Italy/Poland/EU: European Arrest Warrant: Italy has implemented the EAW and is the final EU member state to so. The Italian implementing legislation (link, in Italian) was adopted by parliament on 12 April 2005 and expected to enter into force on 30 April 2005. The Polish Constitutional Court has declared the provisions on the surrender of "own nationals" are incompatible with the Polish Constitution, which will be amended to allow the extradition of Polish citizens from Poland: Judgment of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal on EAW (pdf).

UK: Government bows to pressure and publishes Iraq war legal advice: Full-text of the Attorney General's advice on the legality of the Iraq war, dated 7 March 2003 (pdf). Ten days later the Attorney General infamously changed his advice in a one page written answer to parliament stating that the war was legal, see written answer dated 17 March 2003 (link, BBC).

EU: EP Rapporteur calls for rejection of proposed EU Framework Decision on data retention (pdf). In his draft opinion on the proposal, Alexander Nuno Alvaro MEP, the "rapporteur" appointed by the European Parliament's LIBE Committee (civil liberties), sets out three strong objections: (i) the measures have an inadequate legal basis; (ii) "the measures are neither appropriate nor necessary"; (iii) the proposal is incompatible with the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If adopted by the LIBE Committee, the report will then be subject to an EP plenary vote.

See also previous Statewatch report: Data Retention proposal partly illegal, say Council and Commission lawyers The practical impact of the two Legal Services' opinions is that the proposed Framework Decision will have to be amended to take out all provisions relating to the obligations of telecom service providers - which will have to be covered by a separate parallel proposal.

USA: Rethink on RFID chips in US passports? (link). Wired.com reports that the US State department is the way contactless RFID computer chips will be used to store personal data in passports following widespread criticism from computer security professionals and civil libertarians. The same technology is to be used in EU passports. The question that remains is why use a contactless chip at all if there is a risk that data will be read surrepticiously? See also ACLU FOI request for results of US government testing of RFID chips in passports (link).

Statewatch special report: UK: Stop & search: Ethnic injustice continues unabated (pdf). Last month Hazel Blears, a home office minister, made the extraordinary statement that the new anti-terrorism legislation would be disproportionately used against the Muslim community. Statewatch analyses the latest stop-and-search figures which show that the Asian community has felt the the largest increase in the use of these powers and that black people are still much more likely to be stopped and searched - almost seven times more likely than white people.

This article was published at the end of March in Statewatch bulletin (vol 15 no 1): see contents and subscriptions.

"No-one is illegal" - international conference (programme, pdf), Manchester, UK, 25 June 2005.

Statewatch submission to European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) hearing on the Fundamental Rights Agency on 25-26 April 2005. See also: Programme (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 14 April, Luxembourg: Press release (English, pdf) Press Release (French, pdf)

UK: Amnesty International urges judiciary not to partake in inquiry sham (link) Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquries Bill and the murder of Pat Finucane (link)

20 April, 2005: Global coalition launch report and international surveillance campaign: London - Statewatch, with partner organisations the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Focus on the Global South, Friends Committee (US) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (Canada) today publishes an in-depth report on "The emergence of a global infrastructure for registration and surveillance".

With the support of around 100 civil liberties groups and NGOs from across the world, the report is backed by the launch of the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance (ICAMS), calling on all national governments and intergovernmental organisations to turn away from anti-terrorism efforts that are oriented around mass surveillance:

1. Press release (pdf)
2. Executive Summary (English, pdf) French (link)
3. Full report (pdf)
4. Declaration (English, pdf) French (link) Spanish (link) Dutch (link)
5. List supporting organisations
6. Endorse the Declaration - sign-up (link)

Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch, said: "We are very pleased to be joining with so many civil liberties groups from around the world to oppose the introduction of mass surveillance on a global basis. There is a real danger that in trying to watch everyone you are actually watching no-one"

Press conferences - The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (Canada), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Friends' Committee on National Legislation (USA), Focus on the Global South (Bangkok) and Statewatch are launching an "International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance - the emergence of a global infrastructure for mass registration and surveillance". A 70 page report will be released at press conferences in Ottawa, Canada (pdf) and Manila, Philippines on Wednesday 20 April 2005 and put out simultaneously by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Statewatch. For more information on the European launch please contact office@statewatch.org

US: Report on airline passenger screening from the US Congressional Research Service on highlights the different approaches being taken by the USA and the EU.

Council of Europe: Progress report on the application of the principles of Convention 108 to the collection and processing of biometric data (2005)

EU: Report from the UK House of Lords' European Union Committee on: Strengthening national parliamentary scrutiny of the EU - the Constitution’s subsidiarity early warning mechanism (pdf)

EU-Italy: The European Parliament adopts resolution condemning the mass expulsion of migrants from Lampedusa and the "lowest common denominator approach" to asylum

EU: The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) is holding a public seminar on Monday, 25 April (3 pm to 6.30 pm) and Tuesday, 26 April 2005, (9 am to 12.30 pm) on "Promoting EU Fundamental Rights Policy: from words to deeds or how to make rights a reality?" At the centre of the discussion will be the proposal to create a Fundamental rights Agency: Draft programme (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 14 April, Luxembourg: Press Release (pdf) Main agenda, "B Points" (pdf). "A Points" Agenda (pdf) Background Note (French, pdf)

UK: Inquiries Act 2005 and the Inquries Bill and the murder of Pat Finucane (link)

A report from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) finds that there is a lack of adequate data on the level of racist attacks in 15 member states which hides masking the scale of the problem: Racist violence going unreported and unchecked (pdf)

Statewatch announces an International project to stop “Policy Laundering” - EU liberties being undermined by the influence of secretive International fora (press release, pdf) Statewatch, which monitors civil liberties in the EU, with its partners – the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the human rights group Privacy International - today announced the formation of a new international “Policy Laundering Project” to monitor and counter the increasing policymaking influence on civil liberties issues through international organizations such as G8. The project is being launched on Wednesday, 13 April, at the annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Seattle, Washington, USA: “In more and more areas we are seeing security and law enforcement agencies pushing measures through international fora which undermine and endanger civil liberties and privacy which are then introduced through the national political process,” said Tony Bunyan Director of Statewatch. “This is the strategy we call policy laundering. The security and law enforcement
agencies have “gone global” and so must the protection of civil liberties.”

EU: Twenty NGOs have written to the Justice and Home Council (meeting on 14 April) calling on the EU to defer cooperation with Libya until it has signed up to international conventions guaranteeing human rights and calls on the European Commission to make public the conclusions of its reports from diplomatic missions to Libya. EU about to negotiate with Libya on immigration matters, press release (pdf) Press release in French (link)

Talk by Edward Hasbrouck on "Travel ID and the Travel Panopticon" during today's workshop (13 April), "Keeping an Eye of the Panopticon: Vanishing Anonymity" at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2005 conference in Seattle, USA.

European Court of Justice (ECJ): For the first time since the Regulation on access to EU documents came into force in December 2001 an applicant has won a case in the ECJ against the Commission. The Court found that the Commission failed to examine and give reasons for each of the documents refused and failed to assess whether partial access could be given. This decision will help other applicants for documents as it is the Commission's habit to simply refuse documents requested by citing a general exception to access without giving reasons of how this applies to each document: ECJ Press release (pdf)

UK: The government is to use the Royal Prerogative (powers exercised by government on behalf of the Queen) to set up 70 new passport "processing centres" throughout the country to introduce compulsory finger-printing for new passports from "late in 2006". It had been thought that as the Identity Card Bill - which contained powers to take finger-prints for passports - fell in parliament with the announcement of the General Election that any move would have to wait for the re-introduction of the Bill, Guardian (link). In a related move the UK government is lodging a case in the European Court of Justice because it was excluded from taking part in the decision to introduce biometric passports throughout the EU - the other 23 governments argue that the UK (and Ireland) is not taking part in the immigration provisions of the Schengen agreement and therefore it cannot expect to be involved: UK court case document (pdf)

Spain: Highest ever number of dinghy deaths in 2004 - report by the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía

Sweden: Update: Parliamentary Ombudsman issues report criticising the role of the Security Police ( (SÄPO) in allowing inhuman treatment and the removal of two men to Egypt

Italy: The ECHR asks for information on Lampedusa deportations

EU: Data Retention proposal partly illegal, say Council and Commission lawyers

The deportation machine: Europe, asylum and human rights by Liz Fekete (Institute of Race Relations, link). Citing over 200 detailed case studies, the report shows how opportunist political campaigning puts the lives of asylum seekers at risk.

UK: Intelligence and Security Committee, Annual Report 2004–2005 (pdf). It includes lots of "***" and the conclusion that: "We are concerned at the amount of intelligence on Iraqi WMD that has now had to be withdrawn by the SIS." And the revealing observation the only Cabinet Committee with an overview of the Agencies and the rest of the intelligence community, the Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services (CSI), has only met once (in December 2003) in the past nine years. It appears that the government leaves intelligence and security work to the agencies and exercises no oversight.

UK: A new special forces regiment has been formed to conduct covert surveillance operations Guardian (link) A new special forces regiment has been formed to conduct covert surveillance operations, mainly in pursuit of international terrorists, the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, announced. The Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the SRR, is the first special forces unit to be created since the end of the second world war and will be based in Hereford, home of the SAS.

Italy: G8-Genoa trials of twenty-eight police officers begins: Amnesty International (link) Indymedia (link). See also: Statewatch's Observatory on EU plans to counter protests

France: Amnesty International report: The search for justice (report, link). "The effective impunity of law enforcement officers in cases of shootings, deaths in custody or torture and ill-treatment." The French government ministers, judges and senior police officers are allowing members of the police force to use excessive and sometimes lethal force against suspects of Arab and African origin without fear of serious repercussions, Amnesty International says in its report.

UK: Home Affairs Select Committee report on: Terrorism and Community Relations (pdf)

UK: Report from the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights: Review of International Human Rights Instruments (pdf)

US says deadline for "biometric" passports cannot be extended

UK: Report on ID Cards from the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee (pdf)

UK: Special Advocates system must be changed says a report from the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee (pdf) and it call for changes to the appeal system on "control orders" under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. At present and under the new Act "special advocates" - security cleared lawyers - are not allowed to communicate with the defendant or their lawyers - the Committee says they should be able to. The evidence to the Committee is in Volume 2 (pdf)


 

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