December

UK: Private firm may track all email and calls: 'Hellhouse' of personal data will be created, warns former DPP (Guardian, link):

"It would be a complete readout of every citizen's life in the most intimate and demeaning detail. No government of any colour is to be trusted with such a roadmap to our souls." Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions

Italy-Tunisia: Allowing someone to live or letting them die: Italy contravenes European Court of Human Rights instructions by deporting Tunisian
by Gabriella Petti:

"Six days have passed since Mourad Trabelsi's expulsion, yet we know nothing about his fate once he arrived in Tunisia. His relatives have looked for him in prisons without any results, and his lawyer has not received any news. The Italian government has probably co-operated with the umpteenth disappearance of an individual involved in trials for international terrorism.* According to lawyers, many of those expelled, when they return to their countries of origin, have been arrested, subjected to torture and and have sometimes disappeared. In this case, we are dealing with someone who was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment that he has just served in an Italian prison, with a further twenty years to serve in a Tunisian jail, following a sentence issued in absentia in his country of origin."

EU: FRONTEX: Frontex General Report 2007 (63 pages, pdf)

UK: Minister apologises for police insect injuries: Coaker admits error over policing of climate protest - Inquiry launched into handling of demonstration (Guardian, link)

Spain: CEAR expresses concern over asylum law reform (Statewatch)

UK: Jacqui calls Vodafone man to run massive snoop database (Register, link):

"Exclusive A senior Vodafone network architecture specialist has been appointed by Jacqui Smith to draw up proposals for a multibillion pound central silo of communications data, amid a Whitehall row about the future of the project, The Register has learned.

The Home Office team responsible for the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) have been told to make the case for the expansion of state surveillance it would involve again, according to insiders."

EU: Czech Data Protection President: Democracy is flourishing, but not individual freedom (pdf):

"On the threshold of the 21st century we are witnesses to a reinforcing of democracy, but it seems that the freedom of the individual has become less important. As though collective problems such as global climate change or the defence against terrorism have been prioritised to the detriment of personal freedom. Measures are now being implemented regardless of the risks, difficulties and costs they can present for the individual, restricting his or her freedom, such as the right to privacy."
Igor Nemec. President of the Czech Office for Personal Data Protection.

UK: Information Commissioner's response to Home Affairs Select Committee report: A Surveillance Society?: Information Commissioner’s Response to the
Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2007–08
(pdf). Background: A Surveillance Society?: The Government reply to the report from the Home affairs Committee (pdf). See: Government stands by data sharing: The Home Office has said that joining up existing government systems reduces the need for big new databases (link) Background: Report on the "Surveillance society" by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee: Report: Vol 1 (1.5 MB, pdf) Evidence Vol 2 (1.6 MB, pdf).

UK: What terror jury was not told: "They tore my nails out. Then I was interrogated by MI5" (Guardian, link) • Britons found guilty of al-Qaida membership
• Convicted man alleged torture by Pakistani agents

EU: Justice and Home Affairs "Agenda": Statewatch analysis: The EU’s JHA agenda for 2009 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

ECJ: Huber v Germany: The processing and storage of those data relating to Union citizens for statistical purposes or with a view to fighting crime is contrary to Community law (Press release, pdf) and Judgment - full-text (Judgment, pdf)

"as regards the question of the use of the data contained in the register for the purposes of fighting crime, the Court holds, in particular, that that objective involves the prosecution of crimes and offences committed, irrespective of the nationality of their perpetrators. The register at issue does not contain personal data relating to nationals of the Member State concerned. Consequently, use for the purposes of fighting crime is contrary to the principle of non-discrimination and hence contrary to Community law." (emphasis in original)

EU-FRONTEX: Pro Asyl: Appeal to the European Parliament ”Stop the death trap at the European Borders!“ More than 1500 documented cases of deaths at the doors of Europe over the last 12 months illustrate a serious human rights record (Press release, pdf) and Petition to the European Parliament:
Year by year thousands die at Europe´s borders. Stop the deathtrap at the EU borders!
(Petition, pdf)

UK: Those Kingsnorth police injuries in full: six insect bites and a toothache (Guardian, link)
• Kent force admits no officers hurt by protests
• £5.9m police operation 'colossal waste of money'

EU: Ombudsman criticises age discrimination by the Commission Special report (pdf):

"The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has criticised the European Commission's discrimination against freelance interpreters who are older than 65. This follows a complaint from an interpreter who stopped receiving job offers after he turned 65, although he wanted to continue working.

The Ombudsman made a proposal for a friendly solution in which he asked the Commission to abandon this discriminatory policy. He also suggested that the Commission compensate the complainant. The Commission rejected his proposals. The Ombudsman has now sent a special report to the European Parliament (EP) asking it to support his position.

Mr Diamandouros said: "The European Parliament has abolished its discriminatory policies after my intervention. It is therefore even more regrettable that the Commission still discriminates against persons on grounds of age."

How a child dies in Venice: 11-year-old Afghan boy dies to avoid controls by the border police

"He was fifteen years old. No, he was twelve. Maybe, in reality, he was only eleven. As the day progressed, his age changed several times, turning increasingly younger. In any case, he was a boy. He was found dead in Via Orlanda in Mestre, Venice, run over by the lorry under which he had hidden to escape the checks by the border police. Why, one would wonder, does an Afghan minor, a figure that is well protected by international conventions, by the ECHR, and even by the Bossi-Fini law [on immigration], risk his life in such a way in order to avoid being intercepted by the border police?"

USA-TORTURE: Senate Armed Services Committee Inquiry into the treatment of detainees in US Custody (pdf)

EU-EP: Conservatives and Socialists block search for rendition truth - Ludford (Press release, pdf):

"The Socialist (PSE) and Conservative (EPP) groups, which together have a majority in the European Parliament, have allied to deny a request made by the Liberal, Green and the Communist groups for a debate on Guantanamo and the CIA extraordinary rendition programme in next week's European Parliamentary plenary session in Strasbourg."

Deadline: 31 December 2008: THE ALTERNATIVE CONSULTATION ON EU JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS POLICY

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the future priorities in the field of Justice and Home Affairs policy. The European Civil Liberties Network has produced an alternative questionnaire to provoke a more wide ranging debate about EU policy and practice.

Please take a few moments to complete the survey and have your say on EU justice and home affairs policy: Complete survey

For more information about the ECLN survey, see: the ECLN survey

The Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) repeals a provision of the Data Retention in the Internet Regulation

EU-EP: Report on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union 2004-2008: Committee on Civil Liberties: Rapporteur: Giusto Catania (As adopted by the LIBE Committee, pdf)

Renditions/Italy: Interpretation of "state secret" leads to suspension of Abu Omar trial

GREECE: The police shooting and death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos: Athens riots spin totally out of control Athens riots spin totally out of control (kathimerini, link):

"Epaminondas Korkoneas, the 37-year-old police officer who is alleged to have shot the teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos is a special guard, a force that was created in 1999 but fully inducted into the police only this year.

Special guards were intended to take on more menial tasks, such as guarding buildings, so that regular police officers would be able to take up other duties.

Speaking to Kathimerini, the legal counsel of the Attica Police Officers’ Union, Vaios Skambardonis, said that police officers are advised that they should only use their revolvers if human life is in danger.

However, footage of Saturday’s shooting, captured by a witness on her mobile phone does not appear to show Korkoneas and his colleague coming under any kind of threat.

The blurred, dark images appear to show the police officer standing at some distance from the 15-year-old and other youths.

There appear to be no signs of the police officers coming under any kind of attack.

Korkoneas has been charged with murder and illegal use of a weapon while his colleague has been charged as an accomplice."

See also: Riot-hit Athens to bury teenager (BBC News, link); Greece, Thessaloniki: Communique from the Ocupied School of Theatre (Indymedia, link) and Indymedia - Greece (English, link)

EU/Africa/Indian Ocean: Fortress Europe blog details 41 deaths in November 2008

UK: Police Officer Amerdeep Johal 'used police files to find blackmail targets' (Times, link)

EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE): Compromise report on fingerprinting children (pdf). The LIBE Committee will today consider this report which "provisionally" sets the age limit for the taking of fingerprints from children as 12 years old - Member States which have already adopted national laws for a lower age are allowed to carry on - for these states a lower age limit is set at 6 years old. The Commission is to prepare a report:

"based on a large scale and in-depth study carried out by an independent authority and supervised by the Commission, which shall examine the reliability and
technical feasibility, including through an evaluation of the accuracy of the systems in operation, of using the fingerprints of children under the age of 14 for identification and verification purposes, including a comparison of the false rejection rates occurring in each Member State and - based on the results of that study - an analysis of the need for common rules regarding the matching process."

An interesting Joint Statement is attached as regards: "unreliable "breeder documents"":

"The passport in itself is only one link of a security chain starting from the presentation of the breeder documents, to the enrolment of biometric data and ending with the matching at the border check points. This chain will only be as secure as its weakest link.

The European Parliament and the Council note that there is a great diversity of situations and procedures in the Member States regarding which "breeder documents" should be produced in order to request the issuing of a passport and that normally these documents have less security features than the passport in itself, and are more likely to be subjected to forgery and counterfeiting.

The Council shall therefore prepare a questionnaire for the Member States in order to be able to compare the procedures and which documents are required in each Member State in order to issue a passport or travel document."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"It is to be welcomed that the European Parliament has insisted on a "provisional" limit of 12 years old for the taking of fingerprints from children. However, the taking of childrens' fingerprints is not just a "technical" question it is a moral and political one. Children do not have the right of "informed consent" and their fingerprints will be kept for the rest of their lives.

The Joint Statement on "unreliable "breeder documents" which recognises they "are more likely to be subjected to forgery and counterfeiting" begs major questions. To put in place a binding Regulation before ascertaining what the situation is in every member state, setting common security and privacy standards and providing sufficient time for these standards to be implemented is quite simply irresponsible."

Europe's big brothers - As we celebrate the human rights legacy of the last 60 years, the right to a private life is threatened more than ever (Guardian, link) by Thomas Hammarberg (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights) and Ben Hayes (Statewatch) The Shape of Things to Come - the EU Future Group and Thomas Hammerberg: Protecting the right to privacy in the fight against terrorism (pdf)

UK: Sussex students arrested under anti-terror laws - A new interactive online map reveals the nature of police activity in Brighton during an anti-war march

Statewatch: Observatory on the Regulation on access to EU documents: 2008-2009 (Updated)

CoE: Excellent report from the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammerberg: Protecting the right to privacy in the fight against terrorism (pdf). From Press release: "Counter-terrorism measures must not trample on the right to privacy" says Commissioner Hammarberg

Strasbourg, 4 December 2008 - "Freedom has been compromised in the fight against terrorism after 11 September. Government decisions have undermined
human rights principles with flawed arguments about improved security" says the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, on the eve of the publication of his issue paper on "Protecting the right to privacy in the fight against terrorism."

"Not only terrorism, but also our reaction to it pose a long-term, engrained threat to human rights. The time has come to review steps taken to collect, store, analyse, share and use personal data" said Commissioner Hammarberg. "Data protection is crucial to the upholding of fundamental democratic values: A surveillance society risks infringing this basic right."

"In the war on terror, the notion of privacy has been altered" he continued. "General surveillance raises serious democratic problems which are not answered by the repeated assertion that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This puts the onus in the wrong place: It should be for States to justify the interferences they seek to make on privacy rights."

EU: European Network Against Racism: Executive summary: racism in europe enar shadow report 2007 (pdf)

Renditions/Spain: Damning evidence surfaces of Aznar government collusion in Guantánamo flights

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The Council of Ministers of the European Union must not adopt the outrageous directive! Joint press statement by Anafé, APDHA, Arci, ATMF, La Cimade, Gisti, IPAM, LDH-Belgique, Migreurop and Statewatch against the formal approval of the Returns Directive on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights:

In English
In French (original)
In Spanish
In Italian

ECJ-COUNCIL: The Court annuls, for the third time, a Council Decision freezing the funds of the People's Mojahdin Organisation of Iran (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of judgment (pdf)

"The Council has violated the rights of defence of the PMOI by not communicating to it the new information which, according to the Council, justified maintaining it on the European list of terrorist organisations; by refusing to communicate to the Court certain information about the case, the Council has equally infringed the fundamental right of the PMOI to effective judicial protection."

ECHR-UK: Major victory in the European Court of Human Rights: European Court of Human Rights unanimously finds that the UK practice of keeping indefinitely the fingerprints and DNA of people not convicted of an offence is a violation of Article 8 of the ECHR Convention: Marper case press release (pdf) and Full-text of Marper judgment (pdf). The Court findings are expressed in damning terms of UK law and practices:

"The Court noted that England, Wales and Northern Ireland appeared to be the only jurisdictions within the Council of Europe to allow the indefinite retention of fingerprint and DNA material of any person of any age suspected of any recordable offence."

"The Court was struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power of retention in England and Wales. In particular, the data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence with which the individual was originally suspected or of the age of the suspected offender; the retention was not time-limited;"

"In conclusion, the Court found that the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the powers of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offences, as applied in the case of the present applicants, failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests, and that the respondent State had overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard. Accordingly, the retention in question constituted a disproportionate interference with the applicants’ right to respect for private life and could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Editor, comments:

"The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Marper case roundly condemns UK law and practice in taking and keeping indefinitely fingerprints and DNA from everyone arrested but not charged and of those arrested and charged but found to be innocence in court which is why the UK has the largest DNA database in the world.

The judgment will also have profound implications for EU plans to allow automated access to fingerprints and DNA by agencies across Europe under a recent Council Decision on cross-border cooperation (incorporated under the Prum Treaty).- especially for the transfer of UK biometric data to other EU countries.

As the Court notes at the moment the UK is the only place which allows the indefinite retention of fingerprint and DNA material of any person of any age suspected of any recordable offence - in most EU states this biometric data is only kept if a person is convicted for a specific serious offence. However, discussions in EU fora hint at removing legal "obstacles" to the collection and storage of DNA and fingerprints in order to "harmonise" policies based on the UK model."

UK Background: ECHR: Marper v UK case concerning the retention of fingerprints and DNA: Summary of the case (pdf) and Detailed expert submission on DNA and fingerprints (pdf), Comments posed by the ECHR in the case of S. and Marper (APPLICATION 30562/04 & 30566/04) and which relate to the application of data protection law to the retention of DNA personal data by Chris Pounder (pdf) and Historical background article by Statewatch: Law enforcement and DNA technology: the irresistable march? UK database to be expanded, EU member states to begin exchanging DNA “profiles" (pdf)

EU background: Council of the European Union: DNA compiling of the answers (EU doc no: 9445/1/06 Rev 1) and the incorporation of the Prum Treaty into the EU: COUNCIL DECISION on the implementation of Decision 2008/…/JHA on the stepping up of cross border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (pdf) and Statewatch article: Searching for Needles in an ever expanding haystack: Cross-border DNA data exchange in the wake of the Prum Treaty with EU country-by-country DNA figures (pdf). And context : Statewatch's: The Shape of Things to Come (pdf)

UK: The Big Brother state – by stealth: Thousands of unaccountable civil servants given access to our most intimate personal information (Independent, link)

UK: Police and immigration given powers to demand to see identification: Police and immigration officers will be able to stop Britons and demand they prove their identity under proposed sweeping new powers (Daily Telegraph, link) and Full-text: Draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill (pdf): See Clause 26.

EU: Commission proposals:

- Council Regulation listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (COM 716, pdf)

- Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (COM 815, pdf)

- Regulation concerning the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of Regulation (EC) No […/…] [establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person] (825/3, pdf)

- Regulation establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (COM 829, pdf)

EU-HEALTH RECORDS: Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (pdf). The EDPS expresses:

"concerns about the fact that current Community healthcare-related initiatives are not always well co-ordinated with privacy and security considerations - especially with regard to the use of new information and communication technologies, thus hampering the adoption of a universal data protection approach towards healthcare. This is also evident in the current proposal where, although references to data protection can be found, these are mainly of a general nature and fail to specifically address the data protection dimension of cross-border healthcare."

European Parliament-CIA: Question to the Commission by the ALDE group (Liberal) (pdf)

Council of Europe: Council of Europe Adopts Second-rate Treaty on Access to Information: Civil Society Groups express disappointment, call for strong monitoring body (pdf)

UK: De Menezes family walk out of inquest as coroner rules he was not unlawfully killed (Guardian, link)

EU: BODY SCANNERS: Commission launches short consultation: deadline 19 December: The impact of the use of body scanners in the field of aviation security on human rights, privacy, personal dignity, health and data protection (press release, link) and and Questionnaire (Word file)

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Press release: EDPS sees adoption of Data Protection Framework for police and judicial cooperation only as a first step (pdf): "the EDPS repeatedly called for significant improvements of the proposal to ensure high standards in the level of protection offered and warned against a dilution of data protection standards."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The process of adopting this Framework Decision was a democratic fiasco with law enforcement officials deciding on issues of privacy and peoples' rights and coming down on the side of the state every time..

While the views of the European Parliament, the EDPS, national Data Protection Commissioners and civil society were virtually ignored the demands of the USA to retain unregulated bilateral access to personal data exchanges was endorsed."

See Statewatch Observatory on: Data protection in the EU

UK: 10,000 TASERS for UK police (Home Office, pdf)

EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE: Judgment: Press Release: The Court explains the scope of the speciality rule which states that a person surrendered under a European Arrest Warrant for the purpose of prosecution for a criminal offence may be prosecuted only for that offence (pdf)

HUNGARY: The Hungarian Constitutional Court declares several rules of the act regulating the criminal registry (hereinafter: CRA) unconstitutional - the Court nullified rules on the scope of the registry, on data transfer from the registry and on rules of dactyloscopic and photo registry

SPAIN: ACCESS TO INFORMATION: Report claims right of access to information is not fully recognised

Racism in policing: the experience of Moroccan car enthusiasts' club members on their trip to Spain


16 December 2008

EU: Fingerprinting children

 

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