March

EU: Report on biometrics dodges the real issues - "puts economics and profit above liberties and privacy"

Statewatch Timetable: March 2004 EU Anti-Terrorist Declaration [Updated 31 March 2005]

USA: General Accountability Office (GAO) report on the "Secure Flights" programme finds that that TSA is running well behind schedule and has accomplished only one of the ten issues considered critical to the development of the programme. The GAO report says that "It is uncertain how well Secure Flight will perform or whether it will be ready for operational deployment by August 2005". The "Secure Flight" programme checks passenger name records (PNR) against terrorist "watch-lists".

EU asks US to extend deadline for "biometric" passports

Conference - Louvain: "The future of free movement of persons in the EU" Analysis of the Directive 2004/38 of 29April 2004 on the right of citizens to move and reside freely Analyse de la directive 2004/38 du 29Avril 2004 (pdf)

UK: Home Office statement on UK "biometric" passports - only digitised normal passport photos by end of 2005. Interviews and taking of fingerprints not to start until "late 2006" and then only for first-time applicants, mainly young people reaching the age of 18 (but not for renewals, lost or stolen passports)

EU: Report from the European Union Committee of the UK's House of Lords on: The Hague Programme: a five
year agenda for EU justice and home affairs
(pdf)

Italy: Regional elections, false signatures and the mass violation of data protection as right wing conflict spirals out of control

Does the EU need a “Fundamental Rights Agency”? Viewpoint: Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, looks at the proposal and wonders if it will be just another “figleaf” for inaction.

UK: "Operations in the UK: The Defence contribution to resilience" (link to large 3MB pdf). This 266 page document sets out the military's internal role for terrorism, natural disasters and strikes/public order. It is now based on the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (link) and the Emergency Powers Act 1964

EU: Report of the panel of experts on space and security (pdf): "As Europe moves into a new era of responsibility concerning space activities, it is clear that security is a central issue for policy makers. This report reinforces the importance of space in achieving long-term European objectives in this critical area."

The desert front - EU refugee camps in North Africa? by Helmut Dietrich. This article first appeared in the German journal Konkret (issue 12/2004) and traces the implementation of the creation of migrant and refugee prisons, so called off-shore centres, in northern Africa, as part of the EU's globalisation of migration control.

Statewatch special report - updated 26 March: The exceptional and draconian become the norm - G8 and EU counter-terrorism plans (pdf): "Special investigative" techniques * "intelligence information" in court * new "preparatory" terrorist offences.

Italy expels boat-people, the EU turns a blind eye (25.3.05)

Evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union (sub-committee F): EU counter-terrorism measures (November 2004) (25.3.05)

Spain: New Foreigners' Law Regulation

UK: New report finds significant flaws with Identity Card scheme (LSE, link) A new report from the London School of Economics released on 21 March has found that the UK Government's ID Card Bill is 'too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lack a foundation of public trust and confidence'.

Italy: Provisional immigration quota for 2005 fixed

UK: Control order flaws exposed: First interview with ex-detainee reveals a regime that leaves him in despair : Ex-detainee exposes flaws in terror control orders (Guardian, link)

UK: The Inquiries Bill: The Wrong Answer. A Joint Statement by:Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch, The Committee on the Administration of Justice, Human Rights First, The Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, INQUEST, JUSTICE, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, The Law Society of England and Wales, Pat Finucane Centre, Scottish Human Rights Centre

Belgium: European Journalists Welcome "Landmark Victory" in Belgium for Protection of Sources (link)

Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: Calls for more action to stop racist attacks

'One huge US jail': Afghanistan is the hub of a global network of detention centres, the frontline in America's 'war on terror', where arrest can be random and allegations of torture commonplace. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark investigate on the ground and talk to former prisoners (Guardian, link)

UK: Inquiries Bill: Full-text of the Inquiries Bill (as at 1.3.05, pdf) Explanatory Notes (link) UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Inquiries Bill (link) "The Committee raises concerns about the capacity of the Bill to provide a framework for inquiries necessary to comply with the right to life, under Article 2 ECHR, where a death occurs in state custody or agents of the state are implicated in a death." The Inquiries Bill and the murder of Pat Finucane – Analysis and Commentaries: Pat Finucane centre analysis (link) British Irish Rights Watch Briefing (pdf)

EU issues updated lists of "terrorist organisations and persons" (updated 17.3.05)

EU: The Commission has finally made its proposal on the mutual recognition of prior convictions in another Member State. It applies not just to sentencing, but also to the trial process (so presumably affecting the use of prior convictions as evidence against the accused): Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on taking account of convictions in the Member States of the European Union in the course of new criminal proceedings COM(2005)91 final

London - Conference: "Suspect communities - the real "war on terror" in Europe", 21 May 2005 (leaflet, pdf)

London - Conference: "How much freedom security and justice? Developments in EU Asylum and Immigration Law, Friday 13th May & Saturday 14th May 2005. Key speakers include: Tony Bunyan Statewatch, Professor Elspeth Guild University of Nijmegen & Kingsley Napley Solicitors, Andrew Nicol QC Doughty Street Chambers, Professor Steve Peers University of Essex. Conference leaflet (pdf)

EU-US: New EU-US row over all types of lighters being banned from planes - EU reject US demand as "unacceptable", the searching of all passengers would "paralyse airport operations in Europe"

EU: Europol report on: Terrorist activity in the European Union: Situation and trends report (TE-SAT) October 2003 - 17th October 2004 (pdf) This "non-confidential" report from Europol largely reflects the perspectives of police forces and criminal investigation departments at national level. Spain devotes more space to ETA than to international terrorism and France and Germany on Kurdish groups. Three and a bit pages, from six countries, are devoted to "leftwing extremism" and one paragraph, from Sweden, to "rightwing extemism". Meanwhile the report from the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator sets out the: Fight against terrorism: Programme and priorities for 2005 (pdf).

Council of Europe: draft Convention on terrorism, updated 7 March 2005 (pdf) Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights (pdf) For background on: "preparatory offences" see: Statewatch special report: The exceptional and draconian become the norm - G8 and EU counter-terrorism plans (pdf)

Report on "data-mining" by the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, USA (pdf)

UK: Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 as enacted on 11 March introducing "control orders" for terrorist "suspects" - full-text (pdf). After an epic parliamentary battle between the House of Commons and the House of Lords this became law. The opposition to the Bill had called for a "sunset clause" (ie: that the Act fell in one year) and the government said they would only accept an "annual renewal" (whereby parliament traditionally "nods" though renewal without any chance to amend an Act). The government changed its mind and announced that a new Counter Terrorism Bill would be introduced in the autumn introducing "preparatory offences" for terrorist "suspects" and that this would allow the new PTA 2005 to be amended. See on "control orders" A stampede against injustice, article by lawyer Gareth Peirce on control orders and their effect on liberties and rights, and on "preparatory offences" and G8/EU counter-terrorism plans: Statewatch special report: The exceptional and draconian become the norm - G8 and EU counter-terrorism plans (pdf)

Iraq: Global public health experts say failure to count Iraqi casualties is irresponsible - statement (pdf) UK and US governments must monitor Iraq casualties (British Medical Journal, link) Counting the dead in Iraq (BMJ, link)

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor says exchange of criminal records proposal is not proportionate - will the Commission heed the Opinion?

UK: Intelligence and Security Committee: The Handling of Detainees by UK Intelligence Personnel in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq (pdf)

Ireland: Retention of traffic and location data. The Irish government yesterday passed amendments to the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2002 which will give the Garda (Police) Commissioner the power to issue a 'data retention request' to fixed and mobile operators in Ireland requiring the retention of traffic and location data for 3 years: The debate (link) See Privacy International coverage (link)

International Helsinki Federation: Report on "Intolerance and Discrimination Against Muslims in the EU - Developments Since September 11" (link)

EU: After Madrid: the EU’s response to terrorism: Report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union

UK: The Prevention of Terrorism Bill as amended by the House of Lords on 7 March 2005. The Bill seeks to introduce "control orders" on those "suspected" of terrorist-related activity. The House of Lords voted to amend the Bill so that all control orders have to be decided by a judge (and not the Home Secretary) by 249 votes to 119, a majority of 130. They also voted to make control orders dependent on the "balance of probabilities" rather than reasonable suspicion - though this is still a much lower standard than the normal beyond reasonable doubt. As amended it still includes a new offence of "encouragement" or intention to "encourage" specific acts or terrorism in general and will still mean the defendant will not know the evidence against them (see analysis below).

Statewatch special report: The exceptional and draconian become the norm - G8 and EU counter-terrorism plans (pdf)

- "special investigative" techniques
- "intelligence information" in court
- new "preparatory"offences

"In a democracy when the rights and freedoms of the few are curtailed so too are the rights and freedoms of us all"
(Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor)

A stampede against injustice, article by lawyer Gareth Peirce (Guardian, link)

Civil society Declaration from 3rd Information Commissioners Conference in Cancun, Mexico (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 24 February 2005: Press release (French, pdf) Press release (English, pdf)

UK: ID Cards Bill in trouble. Due to the short parliamentary timetable before the impending General Election and the fact that the government is in trouble over the Prevnetion of Terrorism Bill it is being suggested that the ID Card Bill may be ditched (and brought back again after the election in May), see No2ID (link)

EU: Article 29 Data Protection Working Party Seventh report on the situation regarding the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and privacy in the European Union and in third countries covering the years 2002 and 2003. Extensive country report (large pdf file 5.5 MB)

UK: The Prevention of Terrorism Bill: Report from the parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee including oral evidence hearing (4 March, pdf). Among its conclusions is: "In our view the unprecedented scope of the powers contained in the Bill, and the potentially drastic interference with Convention rights which they contemplate, warrant a greater degree of judicial control than access to an ex post supervisory jurisdiction." (ex parte, that is, without notice to the individual who is to be made the subject of the order). Report of the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights: Prevention of Terrorism Bill - preliminary report (pdf) Prevention of Terrorism Bill - full-text as it left the House of Commons, 28.2.05 (pdf) The Amendents tabled in the House of Lords (link)

UK: Identity Card Bill: Report from the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (pdf) Identity Card Bill - full-text as at 21 February 2005 (pdf)

UK: The Prevention of Terrorism Bill has moved - in just over a week - to the House of Lords. The Amendments tabled in the House of Lords (link) - the government amendments under each Clause are proposed by government Minister, Baroness Scotland. Prevention of Terrorism Bill - full-text as it left the House of Commons, 28.2.05 (pdf)

Interview with de Vries, the EU's Counter Terrorism Coordinator (link)

UK: Detainee 'abuse' uncovered by undercover BBC reporter at Oakington Detention Centre - programme on BBC1 today 2 March. Briefing from Campaign to Stop Arbitrary Detentions at Yarl's Wood (SADY) (pdf)

Morocco/Spain: Update: Appeal highlights the human rights implications of the transfer of responsibility for immigration controls to third countries - The situation in Beniunesh is critical

France: Proposal to introduce electronic ID card (pdf)

Dutch National Sigint Organisation building plans (Bits of Freedom, Netherlands, link)


01 March 2005

UK: Identity Card Bill

 

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