December

UK: Terrorism Bill - as amended - 20 December 2005 in Committee in the House of Lords

Germany: Refugee from Cameroon threatened with imprisonment for resisting travel restrictions imposed on asylum seekers. Synopsis: The German self-organised refugee group The Voice and the Göttinger Arbeitskreis zur Unterstützung von Asylsuchenden e.V. is asking for support in their campaign to stop the imprisonment of Cornelius Yufanyi for fighting for his right to free movement.

UK-Greece: MI6 Athens station chief named (Cryptome, link) and MI6 officer linked to abductions in Athens hunt for Tube bombers (Guardian, link) and Greece urged to investigate MI6 torture link Athens MI6 station chief linked to abduction and beating of 28 migrants from Pakistan. See also Athens News (link)

EU: Austrian Presidency draft Agendas for the three Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' Councils (see pages 22-28. pdf). Austrian and Finnish Presidencies of the Council of the European Union:Programme for 2006 (see pages 40-45, pdf) - this includes the heading "Strengthening freedom" which is all about asylum, refugees and border controls, whose "freedom" it might be asked.

EU-wide warrant over 'CIA kidnap' (BBC, link) Abu Omar was allegedly kidnapped from a Milan street An Italian court has issued Europe-wide arrest warrants for 22 suspected CIA agents accused of helping to kidnap a Muslim cleric in Milan in 2003.

Signals intelligence and human rights: the ECHELON report prepared by Duncan Campbell for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (June 2000, link)

EU Summit Conclusions, December 2005 include: Global approach to migration: Priority actions focussing on Africa and the Mediterranean (pdf)

US-EU: The US Senate voted yesterday (16 December 2005) to refuse to renew the Patriot Act, see Reuters (link) The reason was concerns over the lack of judicial control and congressional oversight - two crucial safeguards which the European Parliament agreed to remove from the EU Directive on mandatory data retention this week, see: Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

EU: "Unaccountable Europe" by Tony Bunyan (Statewatch editor) in Special issue of Index on Censorship: "Big Brother Goes Global"

EU: European Parliament to set up committee to look into CIA detention centres

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say (Cryptome, link)

EU-USA: Rendition and removing refugees raise the same issue: Censored document reveals increased transit facilities for the USA to use EU airports to move people around the world

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: "Whether these US transit flights are for "criminals", "inadmissible aliens" or for rendition the same questions arise. Do EU governments know how many times their airports have been used for "transit" by US government flights? Which airports are used? How many people have been moved in this way? How many "criminals" and how many "inadmissible aliens"? If they do then why are the facts and figures not available? And if they do not know, why not?

If EU governments do not know who is being moved and where by foreign agencies using their airports then they are grossly irresponsible. To "aid and abet" the movement of people in an inhuman or degrading way or to be tortured is a crime."

Belarus: Lukashenko signs new amendments to the Criminal Code: Members of independent human rights NGOs at risk (link). The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), expresses its deepest concern at the signature by President A. Lukashenko of amendments to the Belarusian Criminal Code, which strengthen penal responsibility concerning “acts against people and public security”.

EU: "Today we have seen another nail driven into democracy's coffin":  European Parliament, 14 December 2005: The EP today voted in favour of "deal" on mandatory data retention agreed in secret meetings between the Council (EU governments) and the "grand coalition" of the PPE (conservative group) and the PSE (socialist group). The measure was "fast-tracked" through the parliament on 1st reading. The vote was 378 votes in favour, 197 against and 30 abstentions. The GUE, Greens and UEN groups and some members from the ALDE group voted against the directive in the final vote. The rapporteur, Alexander Nuno Alvaro (ALDE, DE) withdrew his name from the report. Amendments adopted by EP (pdf) For documents and background please see: Statewatch analysis: "The European Parliament and data retention: Chronicle of a 'sell-out' foretold?" (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, Open Letter from civil society groups to the European Parliament calling on MEPs to reject Data Retention, UK-EU: Data retention and police access in the UK - a warning for Europe and for full background, see Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The European Parliament has failed on almost every count to protect fundamental rights and privacy. The two big parties in the parliament believe more in "inter-institutional loyalty" to the Council (the EU governments) than to the people who elected them.

The way this measure was passed is a democratic travesty - rushed through with deals negotiated in secret and not in open committee. When civil society and national parliaments have no chance to find out what is happening, when the proper co-decision timetable is discarded, there is little chance to intervene. Such a procedure diminishes respect for the European Parliament and lacks any legitimacy whatsoever.

Mandatory data retention will place all the communications of everyone under surveillance. In 2002 the same grand coalition steam-rolled through the Directive on privacy in telecommunications opening the door to state agencies. In December 2004 the mandatory taking of finger-prints for passports was agreed and in April 2004 an EU PNR (passenger name record) for everyone flying in and out too. The asylum procedure directive - which is a disgrace to any notion of humanity and the rule of law - was formally adopted last week. The cost of the "war on terrorism" to democratic standards is mounting as each year goes by. Today we have seen another nail driven into democracy's coffin"

EU Presidencies of the Council of the European Union: 2006-2018

Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill: Groups oppose proposed legislation: Joint statement from Justice for the Forgotten, Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre Full-text of NI (Offences) Bill (pdf) Explantory Note (pdf)

Europe: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Paris 13 December. The rapporteur and Chair of the Committee, Dick Marty, Council of Europe statement on detention centres (full-text). "Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards."

UK: Defend democratic and human rights in Russia: Justice for Prof Bill Bowring: Protest at the Russian Embassy, 13 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QX. Friday, 16 December 12.30-2pm (pdf)

EU: Opinion of the Meijers Committee on the recently adopted asylum procedure directive (pdf) This has been sent to the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) in the European Parliament, requesting them to start a 230 annulment procedure. Aslyum Procedures Directive (OJ, pdf)

UK: Armed Forces Bill (full-text) - including discipline and charges. House of Commons Research Library: Background to the Bill plus Analysis of the Bill. The Constitutional Affairs Committee has also pprodcued a report on the role of the Advocate-General

CIA rendition: MI6 and CIA 'sent student to Morocco to be tortured' - An Ethiopian claims that his confession to al-Qaeda bomb plot was signed after beatings, reports David Rose in New York, 11 December 2005 (Observer, link) Soviet air bases in Poland are labelled secret CIA sites (Guardian, link) Poland launches investigation into CIA's secret 'anti-terror' prisons (Independent on Sunday, link)

EU: Data Protection Commissioners join with civil society: Open Letter from civil society groups to the European Parliament calling on MEPs to reject mandatory data retention

Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth & Politics (link)

EU: Mandatory data retention: Latest (revised) set of Council amendments (EU doc no: 15449/05, 6.12.05, pdf) Commission Declaration to be Annexed (EU doc no: 15449/05 ADD 1, 7.12.05). The former document includes the observation that: "The Presidency concluded that, provided that the European Parliament agreed amendments to the Commission proposal in the exact form as set out in Annex I and that the Commission would amend its proposal accordingly, the Council would be in a position to adopt the proposed Directive in the form of the text thus amended." (emphasis added)

In other words the European Parliament is not to be allowed to change a "dot or comma" of the text.

The parliament will vote on 12 December at its plenary session under a "fast-track" 1st reading procedure. The "exact" amendments accepted in secret negotiations by the two largest groups in the parliament, the PPE (conservative) and PSE (socialist), will be voted through unless an amendment is passed. There is the Green/EFA group table rejection amendment (link) and another from Charlotte Cederschiold MEP (PPE) seeking to re-introduce the reimbursement of costs for the telecommunications industry (backed by 37 MEPs). Whether Mr Alvaro (ALDE, liberal group) will keep his name on a report which bears little resemblance to his draft report remains to be seen. See Statewatch analysis: "The European Parliament and data retention: Chronicle of a 'sell-out' foretold?" (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers.

UK: House of Lords - the Lords of Appeal unanimously reject the use of evidence obtained through the use of torture.Full text of Torture judgment (pdf)

European Roma Rights Centre report: Always somewhere else: Anti-Gypsyism in France, Country Report Series, No. 15 November 2005 (link)

Der Speigel article: The CIA in Europe (link)

EU: Statewatch analysis: "The European Parliament and data retention: Chronicle of a 'sell-out' foretold?" (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers. Concludes:

If the EP accepts the Council's current position without amendments, it will have 'sold out' its civil liberties principles. More data will be included than the EP had wished, and access to it will be essentially unregulated by EC law - the opposite of the EP's intentions. Data will be retained for up to double the period that the EP wanted, and indeed Member States will be unconstrained in requesting (and probably getting authorisation for) longer periods of retention... Taking the Council's version of the Directive, it is difficult to see what absolute constraints concerning data retention would be placed upon Member States by EC law at all. In principle, Member States could insist on (or at least request) the retention of any type of data for any type of security purpose for any period at all.

There would, in effect, be nothing to show from a human rights point of view regarding the core data protection issues, following the application of the co-decision process to this legislation. The European Parliament now has to decide whether it has the courage of its civil liberties convictions or not.

EU: Open Letter from civil society groups to the European Parliament calling on MEPs to reject Data Retention (link)

Adopting this Directive would cause an irreversible shift in civil liberties within the European Union. It will adversely affect consumer rights throughout Europe. And it will generate an unprecedented obstacle to the global competitiveness of European industry.

For full background, see Statewatch's Observatory on the surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

UK: First trial for demonstrating illegally near Parliament (link). The first trial resulting from the new anti-protest zone around Parliament under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 7 December). Maya Evans, 25 years-old, was arrested on 25 October 2005 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) for taking part in an unauthorised bell-ringing and name-reading ceremony in Whitehall to mark the first anniversary of last year's Lancet survey on war-related deaths in Iraq.

EU: "Terrorist" list updated 29 November 2005 - see latest news on Statewatch's Observatory on the terrorist lists

UK: Joint Human Rights Committee issues damning report on UK terrorism Bill (pdf) The Committee considers that the definition of “terrorism” needs to be changed for the purposes of many of these measures if they are to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. See also evidence submitted to the joint Committee.

EU-US: “Torture By Proxy, International and Domestic Law Applicable to Extraordinary Renditions” (report by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University, pdf) Outlines how Extraordinary Rendition violates international human rights, humanitarian, refugee and criminal law. It also identifies the responsibilities of States to not collude in the practice of Extraordinary Rendition by other States. "States are on notice that Extraordinary Renditions have been carried out in Europe," warns Professor Meg Satterthwaite, Director of CHRGJ. "Under human rights law, they must now take steps to end cooperation with these wrongful acts."

European Commission: "Recommendation" and "Code of Conduct" for non-profit organisations. In another response to the "war on terrorism" the proposal calls for the compulsory registration of all non-profit groups in the EU: European Commission proposal calls for the compulsory registration of NGOs The proposal is being considered by the Council's (25 EU governments) "Joint meeting of Financial Attaches and Counter-Terrorism Focal Points", its first thoughts are in: EU doc no: 14694/05

EU: Two reports from the UK House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union: 1) Human Rights Proofing EU Legislation (pdf) and 2) Scrutiny of Subsidiarity: Follow up Report (pdf)

EU: Viewpoint by Tony Bunyan: More openness or just a drop in the ocean? The need for Freedom of Information in the EU. See also: Brussels, 6 December: Press Seminar The European Ombudsman: 10 years, 20,000 complaints — too many? "A more open and accountable EU administration - the next steps for the Commission, the Parliament and the Ombudsman"

EU: Mandatory data retention: Council agreed position on mandatory retention of communications data (dated 2.12.05, pdf) The European Commission has accepted these changes to its draft Directive. The European Parliament has to adopt exactly the same amendments at its plenary session 12-15 December - the deadline for amendments is 7 December. Posted 3.12.05.

EU: Mandatory data retention: Latest documents and news, 2 December 2005:

1. Draft Council text of the Directive (doc 15101/05, 1.12.05)
2. Extensive list of Member State Reservations on the draft text in 15101/05 (doc 15101 ADD 1, 1.12.05)
3. Note from Presidency setting out four areas for decision of Council on its position (doc: 15220/05, 1.12.05)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This is turning into a democratic fiasco. The Council has a long list of reservations by member states and four substantive issues where it disagrees with the European Parliament. The European Parliament rapporteurs have had three secret trialoges with the Council and the Commission - now the PPE (conservative group) and the PSE (socialist group) appear to be carrying out their own negotiations with the Council with the aim of rushing through the measure before Xmas under the "fast-track" procedure (intended for non-controverisal measures).

It is quite impossible for anyone, outside of a handful of people, to follow what is going on. If national parliaments and civil society cannot track the decision-making procedure they are unable to make their views known. This is compounded by a virtual media silence leaving the people of Europe in ignorance about the decision to place under surveillance everyone's communications.

A decision taken in this fashion will utterly lack legitimacy."

EU: European Commission proposals on: 1) Priority actions for responding to the challenges of migration: First follow-up to Hampton Court (pdf) and 2) Green Paper: On the future of the European Migration Network (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 1-2 December 2005:

JHA Press release for 1 December 2005 (pdf)

"A" Point agenda (adopted without debate)
"B" Point Agenda (pdf)
Background Note (pdf)

"A" Point agenda includes: Code of Conduct : Non-Profit Sector (pdf) Documents on the main agenda include:

1. The European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism"
2. The European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy (pdf)
3.A Strategy for the External Dimension of JHA : Global Freedom, Security and Justice global strategy (pdf)

Plus three press releases (converted from documents) put out 1 December on terrorism (see also EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy above): a. Terrorism: Scoreboard b. Implementation of terrorism Action Plan c. "Radicalism" and recruitment

Also adopted as "A" Points the controversial Directive on asylum procedures (pdf) plus additional document: 14579/05 This includes the proposal to designate countries as "safe" to send people back to, see: EU divided over list of “safe countries of origin” – Statewatch calls for the list to be scrapped


01 December 2005

UK: Armed Forces Bill

 

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