December

EU: Documentation - update: Visas, trafficking and policing football matches

- Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (as at 20 December 2006)

- Action Plan on trafficking in human beings (December 2006)

- Revised policing-football handbook adopted (OJ) (full-text, pdf) Defines: "A person, known or not, who can be regarded as posing a possible risk to public order or anti social behaviour, whether planned or spontaneous, at or in connection with a football event" Point 4.7 ask for information on fans' "Reactions to decisions of the referee" and 6.8 asks for information on fans: "Political way of thinking"

Portugal: CIA renditions: Authorities accused of not cooperating with EP committee as details surface of more Guántanamo flights

EU: German Council Presidency:

- Council meetings timetable
- Provisional agendas for Council of ministers meetings - Justice and Home Affairs, pages 24-30
- Programme on Police and Judicial Co-operation

Greece: Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee (CPT): Report on Greece (pdf) The CPT has recommended various measures to stamp out ill-treatment by law enforcement officials; they include investigating allegations of ill-treatment thoroughly and, where appropriate, imposing disciplinary and/or criminal sanctions on the officers concerned... and the establishment of an independent police inspectorate. The conditions in the detention facilities for illegal migrants in Athens, in the Evros region and on the islands of Chios and Mytilini were of particular concern to the Committee. Most of the facilities visited were in a poor state of repair, unhygienic and lacking in basic amenities. The CPT noted that prisons in Greece remain overcrowded and offer only an impoverished regime for prisoners.

- Appendices to the Greece report on prisons and detention centres
- Press release on Greece report
- Government response to the report

EU: Driving licence Directive agreed: Full-text (pdf) with following: Amendments (pdf). This will introduce a uniform credit-card-like licence valid for only 10 years. A number of countries issue licences for life - Germany, Austria, France, Belgium and, until recently, the UK where licences for most holders are still valid up to the age of 70 years old. Now the UK only issues 10 year card licences because: "Your photocard driving licence is valid for a maximum of 10 years, to ensure that your photograph is kept up to date with your true likeness."

Two other significant changes will allow member states to require medical checks from the age of 50 years old and the introduction of a microchip containing additional data is "optional". The danger is that as new technology becomes cheaply available the microchip will become the norm and the data held on it extended.

UK: Government caves in on NHS patient database: Patients to be allowed to request that their personal medical records are not put on national database: Minister admits U-turn on NHS database amid privacy fears and How patients' protests forced a rethink on NHS computer records (Guardian, links). See: Campaign: The Big Opt Out (link)

EU-CIA Inquiry: Furious exchange of letters between Mr Solana (Council of the European Union) and the European Parliament's Inquiry chair (French) and Statewatch translation (English, pdf)

EU: Update (the first for several years) concerning Member States' application of the EC's visa list Regulation (pdf)

EU: European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia report on: Muslims in the EU: Discrimination and Islamophobia

EU: Commission Recommendation establishing a common "Practical Handbook for Border Guards (Schengen Handbook)" to be used by Member States' competent authorities when carrying out the border control of persons (COM 5186/2006, 81 pages)

UK: The police National DNA Database - Now is the time to have your say (from Genewatch, pdf)

EU: Council Presidency admits that the Council of the European Union (25 governments) and the European Commission have known about the US's "Automated Targeting System" (ATS) profiling all visitors since "September 2005": Full-text of EU Presidency statement to the European Parliament.The ATS issues computer-generated risk-scores in related to terrorism and crime on everyone going in and out of the USA for at least four years - this can result in refusal to allow travel, questioning, searches and surveillance

The ATS came to public attention in the USA when the Homeland Security Department posted a Notice on the Federal Register in November 2006 - showing that "targeting" extended beyond cargo to people. US General Accountability Office report on cargo The Federal Notice shows that Passenger Name Record (PNR) data on travellers from the EU is included in the ATS together with data from public and private sources. Moreover it states that ATS data can be shared with a multitude of federal, state and local agencies and foreign governments. The Homeland Security Department also issues a: Privacy Impact Assessment for the Automated Targeting System on 22 November 2006.

US privacy and civil liberties groups in the USA says that the ATS is illegal. Travellers are not allowed to see their records nor can they "contest the contents": Comments of 30 organisations and 16 experts

See also: Statewatch's Observatory on the exchange of data on passengers (PNR) with USA

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The EU Presidency statement that the Council and Commission have know about the ATS for over a year is quite extraordinary. During this period they renegotiated the EU-USA PNR agreement claiming it was on the same terms as that agreed in 2004 when they clearly knew it was not. The Council and the Commission knew about it but did nothing until the existence of the ATS was made public and now they have asked for "clarification". What is required is the suspension of the PNR agreement until the situation is clarified".

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor Opinion on: Common Consular Instructions (pdf) The EDPS underlines that it is a political decision rather than a purely technical one to determine from which age fingerprints shall be collected. This should not be based entirely on arguments of feasibility. Especially the mandatory fingerprinting of all children aged 6+ raises also ethical questions. The EDPS moreover recalls that all biometric identification systems are inherently imperfect and that the system therefore must provide for adequate fallback solutions. See: Statewatch coverage: EU:Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on: Spain taking fingerprints and facial images from children at birth; Czech Republic taking fingerprints from 5 and facial images from birth; Latvia and France in favour of fingerprints from 6 and facial images from birth. EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: Council Presidency proposed in June 2006 that there should be the compulsory fingerprinting of children from the age of 12 year old.

UK: Court victory for Fairford protesters. The House of Lords Appeal Court ruled that the police were were wrong to detain two coachloads of 120 people on their way to protest at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in March 2003. Their lawyer told the Law Lords that people had the right to demonstrate peacefully on matter of great public interest. Law Lords judgment (full-text, pdf) Statement from Fairford Coach Action campaign (pdf) Statement from Bindmans (pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments: "This is a very important ruling. The police have taken upon themselves the power to stop demonstrators assembling on a number of occasions and have got away with it. It is not for the police to decide who can protest and who cannot, their job is to uphold the law when it is breached and not to pre-emptively curtail a basic right in a democratic society".

EU-ECJ: The Court of First Instance has found against the Council of the European Union on the inclusion of OMPI on the EU's list of groups subject to the freezing of funds: Court judgment (pdf) Council "Factsheet" (pdf)

EU: The “principle of availability” Statewatch analysis by Tony Bunyan. The free market in access to data/intelligence will rely on “self-regulation” by the law enforcement agencies and make accountability almost meaningless.

EU: Draft Council Resolution on "information exchange on the expulsion of radical preachers inciting violence and racial hatred" (EU doc no: 15664/06). While the title of the Council document speaks of "radical preachers" the text in clause 1 refers to an "expelled third country national(s)" who are to be denied re-entry by all EU states. This covers people expelled: "on the grounds of behaviour linked to terrorist activities or constituting acts of explicit and deliberate provocation of discrimination, hatred or violence" against specific groups - clearly this is intended to exclude permanently those expelled against whom criminal charges could not be brought.

New Statewatch publication: Border Wars and Asylum Crimes by Frances Webber. When the Statewatch pamphlet "Crimes of Arrival" by the same author was written, in 1995, the title was a metaphor for the way the British government, in common with other European governments, treated migrants and especially, asylum seekers. Now, a decade on, that title describes a literal truth: Order publication (£10, 36 pages, A4)

"The exclusionary imperatives of reduction of numbers arriving and an increase in those removed are driving European asylum policy steadily to a penal model. This had its beginnings in the early 1980s, and in 1992, the Ad Hoc Committee formulating EU asylum policy pre-Maastricht stated its view that intercontinental movement to seek asylum was 'unlawful'. Now, the whole panoply of criminal powers, including the regular use of the criminal law, segregation from society, mass detention, fingerprinting and electronic tagging, is brought to bear on asylum claimants. Immigration police have all the powers and none of the accountability of 'normal' police. Private sector guards on minimum wages are recruited to keep asylum claimants in order and to deport them, and may use 'reasonable force' in doing so.

There is a frightening continuity between the treatment of asylum claimants and that of terrorist suspects. In the name of the defence of our way of life and our enlightenment values from attack by terrorists or by poor migrants, that way of life is being destroyed by creeping authoritarianism, and those values - amongst which the most important is the universality of human rights - betrayed."

The War on Freedom and Democracy, edited by Tony Bunyan. Published in 2006 by Spokesman books. Order publication (Paperback, £10.99). These essays were prepared for the launch of the European Civil Liberties Network in October 2005. The passage of time since then had served to emphasise the relevance of the issues raised and the analyses provided. Contributors: Tony Bunyan, Heiner Busch, Deirdre Curtin, Liz Fekete, Balthasar Glatti, Ben Hayes, Paddy Hillyard, Gus Hosein, Gergana Jouleva, Alexander Kashumov, Virginia Mantouvalou, Thomas Mathiesen, Steve Peers, Max Rowlands, Phil Scraton, A. Sivanandan, Lorenzo Trucco and Aidan White. Order Publication

Friends of Statewatch launched - support our work A message from our chair, Gareth Peirce:

"In routinely placing complex policies and increased state powers in the public domain, Statewatch performs a function that no other organisation fulfils. One is driven to wonder what it could have accomplished, and could accomplish in the future, were it to have even a tiny percentage of the resources enjoyed by other organisations.

It is clear that Statewatch's only and continuing priority is to remain faithful to its raison d'etré, namely to be principled, proactive and honest. In this age of heightened and increasingly repressive consolidation of state powers, there is no alternative than to have in place an experienced organisation which regards its duty to monitor and to give voice, constantly, to what it observes."

EU: Commission Green Paper on: Diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries COM (2006) 712

EU: Commission Communication on: Reinforcing the management of the European Union's Southern Maritime Borders COM(2006) 733 final

EU: Council Presidency report on: Report on the review of The Hague Programme

EU: Commission Communication on: The Global Approach to Migration one year on: Towards a comprehensive European migration policy COM(2006) 735

Council of Europe: Report of the Group of Wise Persons to the Committee of Ministers on the long-term effectiveness of the ECHR control mechanism

Scotland-Special Branch: Tayside Special Branch Community Contact Unit - a Briefing from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities See: Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (link)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 4-5 December 2006: Press release (pdf)

Background Note (pdf) "A" Point agenda (adopted without discussion) plus:

- Council draft proposal on the Fundamental Human Rights Agency (29 November), Draft proposal (10 November with member state positions) and see: European Voice (link)
- Draft conclusions on the Hague programme
- Visa list amendments

EU: Three EU Council Presidencies programme: 18-month programme on asylum, immigration, visa and border policy

EU: Biometric EU ID cards by the back door: The Justice and Home Affairs Council on 4-5 December is to adopt - without debate - a Resolution on "security standards" for national identity cards across the EU: Draft Resolution: EU doc no: 15356/06 The EU does not have the legal power to impose "security standards" and biometrics on national ID cards. However, this "non-binding" Resolution opens the way (enables) for biometrics to be taken (with the same standards as already agreed for EU passports, that is, fingerprints) and be added to ID cards (together with other "optional" biometrics) where the ID cards are used for "travel purposes", which they are throughout the Schengen area. As this is a so-called "non-binding" ("soft law") measure national and European parliaments (let alone civil society) have no say.

See also: previous report: EU: Biometrics and national ID cards back on the table: despite admitting that "there is no legal basis in the Treaty governing these issues" the EU is still pushing for harmonisation on this highly contentious issue.

EU-CIA-RENDITION - European Parliament Inquiry: Draft report of the year-long inquiry (pdf)

This is backed by two substantive working documents from the European Parliament committee of inquiry: On extraordinary rendition (Working documents no 7, including details of cases considered) and On the companies linked to the CIA, aircraft used by the CIA and the European countries in which CIA aircraft have made stopovers (Working document no 8, 64 pages) See for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on CIA rendition


 

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