July

ITALY: Deployment of armed forces to guarantee security in cities

UK: UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (pdf) Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Press release: UN urges greater protection for women’s rights in Northern Ireland (pdf) NIHRC Submission: Shadow Report on the Sixth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (pdf)

UK: Statement from The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade in response to Law Lords' judgments in BAE-Saudi appeal by The Corner House and Campaign Against Arms Trade (link) Full-text of Lords judgment (pdf)

UK: Human Genetics Commission report: A Citizens’ Inquiry into the Forensic Use of DNA and the National DNA Database (1 MB, pdf) Summary of report (pdf). See: DNA records 'criminalise people' (BBC News, link) "Thousands of DNA samples from innocent people are now retained. DNA profiles of those not convicted of a crime should be removed from the database in England and Wales, a government-funded inquiry has said."

COE-ITALY: Memorandum: full-text (38 pages, pdf) Press release: Italy: “Immigration policy must be based on human rights principles and not only on perceived security concerns”, says Commissioner Hammarberg presenting a special report (pdf)

"Mr Hammarberg criticised the decision to criminalise migrants’ entry and irregular stay. He sees this as a worrying departure from established international law principles. “These measures may make it more difficult for refugees to ask for asylum and is likely to result in a further social stigmatisation and marginalisation of all migrants - including Roma. Commissioner Hammarberg also noted with grave concern that Italy had forcibly returned migrants to certain countries with proven records of torture."

 EU-USA: United States Plans New Travel Procedures for 27 Countries (US EU Mission, link) Known as ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorisation). An application to travel to the USA has to be made and authorisation given prior to boarding a plane or boat.

This will apply to the EU countries currently included in the Visa Waiver Programme who are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the following are being considered for inclusion at a later date include Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Malta - all of whom have signed MOUs with the USA.

The ESTA form asks about health, any criminal record including those "involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance" (whether spent or not under EU law), whether you are seeking "entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities" and whether you have ever been involved in espionage, sabotage or terrorism.

The European Commission has yet to decide whether ESTA constitutes a breach of the visa waiver programme (see below). See also: US to screen foreign air passengers (euobserver, link)

 UK: Annual Report: Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2007 (pdf). As usual a bland repetition of the legal position and little more.

Greece: "Humanitarian crisis" at Greek migrant camp - MSF (Reuters, link)

EU: VISA WAIVER RECIPROCITY: Commission: Fourth Report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity.. the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders (COM 486, pdf) Press release: "No tangible progress has been made regarding the USA" (pdf) Threat to impose visa conditions on US diplomats threatened.

Ireland strongly opposed to Lisbon revote (euobserver, link) and Poll reveals Irish animosity towards referendum rerun (euractiv, link)

UK: Report from the parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee: UN Convention Against Torture: Discrepancies in Evidence Given to the Committee About the Use of Prohibited Interrogation Techniques in Iraq (pdf). MPs 'misled' over interrogation (BBC News, link) "MPs and peers have said they may have been misled over UK troops' use of banned interrogation methods in Iraq. Not all troops had known "conditioning" techniques such as hooding and sleep deprivation were banned, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said."

ITALY: "State emergency" extended from three regions to whole country: According to a press release from the Italian Council of Ministers meeting of today (25 July 2008), the government has declared the "state of emergency" for the whole of Italy in relation to the persistent and extraordinary influx of non-EU citizens, as proposed by the Interior Minister Maroni, with the aim of strengthening the activities of fighting and management of the phenomena. The "state of emergency" is thus enlarged from 3 regions to all Italian territory. A decree will probably be issued by the government together with orders, as for the "nomads' emergency". See full background below.

EU-ECJ: Grand Chamber judgment: Judgment overturning Akrich and making it absolutely clear that third country national family members can enter without any requirement of prior lawful residence in another MS: Full-text of judgment (pdf) See: Court gives backing to foreign spouses of EU citizens (euobserver, link)

Profit and power: the privatisation of asylum control (Corporatewatch, link)

UK-IRELAND: Since 1925, 83 years ago, there has been a Common Travel Area between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. The UK Home Office is proposing to introduce border controls and biometric checks: Home office consultation (pdf) Partial Impact Assessment (pdf) Proposals for controls on UK and Ireland travel (Irish Times, link)

EU-PNR: EU endorses idea of collecting air passenger data (euobserver, link). EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers say they have "reached an agreement on the principle of the European PNR". In fact, they have abandoned discussions on the Commission's proposal for an EU-PNR scheme and are going to start again drawing up their own proposal because a number of EU governments want to go much further. With the UK in the lead a number of member states want:

- the system to cover not just flights in and out of the EU but also flights between EU countries plus all flights within each country;
- the system to cover not just all flights but all sea and land travel as well;
-  the data and information gathered to be used not just for entry-exit but also for any law enforcement purpose.

See: Note from the Austrian delegation: EU doc no: 11724/08 Council Presidency Note: EU do no: 11281/08 and Council Presidency Note: 11772/09 plus penultimate draft of the proposal during discussions in the Council's Multidisciplinary group on organised crime: EU doc no: 7656/08 Rev 2

EU: JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Brussels, 24-25 JULY 2008: Press release for 24 July 2008 (pdf). Background Note (pdf) "A" Points agenda (pdf) "B" Points agenda (pdf)

ITALY: SECURITY PACKAGE & DOCUMENTATION: On 23 July the Italian Senate approved the law transforming the security package decree into law: Link to full-text. The main measures adopted - having an impact on EU and non-EU citizens - are similar to those already contained in the decrees:

- Aggravating circumstance of being irregular on Italian soil: being a clandestine/illegal immigrant becomes an aggravating circumstance: penalties are 1/3 higher for illegal immigrants who commit a crime; this is valid for EU citizens and non-EU citizens (which amounts to a discrimination on the basis of nationality among EU citizens);

- Easier Expulsions: judges can order expulsions in a wider series of circumstances; foreigners, including EU citizens, can be expelled if they have no revenue or have been caught committing a crime. Expulsion, also of EU citizens, can be ordered for crimes punished with 2 years detention (before it was 10 years). Those who violate the repatriation order, including EU citizens, can be punished with a custodial sentence of between 1 and 4 years (violation of the free movement directive);

- "Centri di permanenza temporanea" (Cpt - Centers for temporary permanence) and "centri di permanenza temporanea e assistenza" (Cpta - Centers for temporary permanence and assistance) are renamed and becorme "centri di identificazione ed espulsione" (Cie - Centers for identification and expulsion). Those who admit false identity risk a penalty of between 3 and 6 years;

- Prison for those who provide housing to clandestines: anybody renting or anyway providing housing to foreigners who are not regularly on the Italian soil can bee punished with a custodial sentence of between 6 months and 3 years. The house or apartment can also be seized;

- Mayors and Prefects will have more powers in terms of public order, while local and State police will collaborate more. The Mayor will indicate those who are in an irregular situation on Italian soil to be expelled (the application of the free movement directive is left to local authorities, making it difficult to check compliance)

- Ministry of Interiors: Cabinet of the Minister: Guide lines for the implementation of the ordinances of the President of the Council of Ministers 30/05/2008,N.3676, 3677 and 3678, regarding settlements of nomad communities in the Regions Campania, Lazio and Lombardy

- Ministero dell Interno: GABINETTO DEL MINISTRO LINEE GUIDA PER L'ATTUAZIONE DELLE ORDINANZE DEL PRESIDENTE DEL CONSIGLIO DEI MINISTRI DEL 30 MAGGIO 2008, NN. 3676, 3677 E 3678, CONCERNENTI INSEDIAMENTI DI COMUNITÀ NOMADI NELLE REGIONI CAMPANIA, LAZIO E LOMBARDIA

- SECURITY A LA ITALIANA: Fingerprinting, Extreme Violence and Harassment of Roma in Italy - by European Roma Rights Centre, Open Society Institute, Romani Criss, Roma Civic Alliance in Romania and Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions

- Situation of Roma in Italy and Report of the visits and meetings of Marco Cappato and Viktoria (ALDE MEPs) in Rome, 17-18 July 2008

- Red Cross document

- European Parliament Resolution: Census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy: European Parliament resolution of 10 July 2008 on the census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy

- Letter from Jonathan Faull, Director General DG Justice, Freedon and Security, to Italian government Permanent Representative in Brussels: Letter full-text (pdf)

- Italy to jail clandestine migrants (euobserver, link)

EU-LATIN AMERICA: THE "OUTRAGEOUS" RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Letter to EU governments and parliamentarians (Six languages, pdf) Signed by people from: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, USA, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela:

"It seems that a convenient amnesia prevents Europe from remembering what Europe would be like without cheap labor from abroad, and without the services that the entire world has provided her with. Europe would not be Europe without the massacre of indigenous peoples in the Americas and without the enslavement of the sons and daughters of Africa, to mention only a few forgotten examples.

Europe should apologise to the world, or at the very least give thanks for what the world has given her, instead of legalising the hunting down and punishment of hard
working people who have come to Europe, fleeing the hunger and the wars that the masters of the world have sent them."

EU: TERRORIST FINANCING: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Revised Strategy on Terrorist Financing (pdf)

EU: VISA WAIVER RECIPROCITY: Commission press release: "No tangible progress has been made regarding the USA" (pdf) Threat to impose visa conditions on US diplomats threatened.

EU: JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Brussels, 24-25 JULY 2008: Background Note (pdf) "A" Points agenda (pdf) "B" Points agenda (pdf)

Italy to jail clandestine migrants (euobserver, link)

UK-UN REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS LEVELS VERY STRONG CRITICISMS AT UK GOVERNMENT: Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee (pdf). Including:

On deporting people to countries where there is evidence of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment:

"The State party should ensure that all individuals, including persons suspected of terrorism, are not returned to another country if there are substantial reasons for fearing that they would be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The State party should further recognise that the more systematic the practice of torture or cruel , inhuman or degrading treatment, the less likely it will be that a real risk of such treatment can be avoided by diplomatic assurances, however stringent any agreed follow-up procedure may be. The State party should exercise the utmost care in the use of such assurances and adopt clear and transparent procedures allowing review by adequate judicial mechanisms before individuals are deported, as well as effective means to monitor the fate of the affected individuals."

On rendition:

"The Committee notes with concern that the State party has allowed the use of the British Indian Ocean Territory as a transit point on at least two occasions for rendition flights of persons to countries where they risk being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.(arts. 2, 7 and 14).

The State party should investigate allegations related to transit through its territory of rendition flights and establish an inspection system to ensure that its airports are not used for such purposes."

On the use of plastics bullets/projectiles:

"The State party should closely monitor the use of Attenuating Energy Projectiles (AEPs) by police and army forces and consider banning such use if it is established that AEPs can cause serious injuries."

EU: JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Brussels, 24-25 JULY 2008: Background Note (pdf)

UK: SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY: 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).

EU-USA: Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the European Parliament: Full-text of ACLU letter (pdf)

"The negotiations underway between U.S. security agencies and their European counterparts over the transatlantic transfer of personal data are just the latest efforts to overcome a looming problem...The European Union, having enacted strong legislation to protect the privacy of its citizens, cannot be asked to render that legislation meaningless by allowing its citizens’ data to be shared with a country that is, in privacy terms, all but lawless.

If Europe agrees to data-sharing with the United States under the current U.S. open records law, then European citizens will have far fewer protections for their data in the United States than U.S. citizens will have in Europe. U.S. privacy laws are weak; they offer little protection to citizens and virtually none to non-citizens."

Background: EU-USA: How America is snooping on YOU ... and may soon be snooping a whole lot more (link to Mail on Sunday) and EU-US: Final Report by EU-US High Level Contact Group on information sharing and privacy and personal data protection (pdf) This report was presented at the EU-US Summit on 12 June 2008.

CROATIA: Every day the Croatian Government is removing tourists, mostly Asians and Africans, from the train between Budapest and Venice - people with visas for their destination - people who are not warned they will be passing through Croatia until it's too late - They are left on the border in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere - while travellers from Western countries are allowed to continue their journey unhindered.

EU-ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS: Council capitulates and agree to give Mr Turco a document containing the Opinion of the Legal Service: New reply to the confirmatory application made by Mr Maurizio TURCO (1/02) following the judgment of the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) in Joined Cases C-39/05 P and C-52/05 P (pdf)

Background: MAJOR VICTORY FOR ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS: COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE JUDGMENT ON ACCESS TO LEGAL OPINIONS - TURCO CASE:

"THE COURT AUTHORISES, IN PRINCIPLE, ACCESS TO LEGAL ADVICE GIVEN TO THE COUNCIL ON LEGISLATIVE QUESTIONS

The transparency of the legislative process and the strengthening of the democratic rights of European citizens are capable of constituting an overriding public interest which justifies the disclosure of legal advice.... The Court takes the view that disclosure of documents containing the advice of an institution’s legal service on legal questions arising when legislative initiatives are being debated increases transparency and strengthens the democratic right of European citizens to scrutinise the information which has formed the basis of a legislative act." (Court press release) and:

"As regards, first, the fear expressed by the Council that disclosure of an opinion of its legal service relating to a legislative proposal could lead to doubts as to the lawfulness of the legislative act concerned, it is precisely openness in this regard that contributes to conferring greater legitimacy on the institutions in the eyes of European citizens and increasing their confidence in them by allowing divergences between various points of view to be openly debated. It is in fact rather a lack of information and debate which is capable of giving rise to doubts in the minds of citizens, not only as regards the lawfulness of an isolated act, but also as regards the legitimacy of the decision-making process as a whole." (Judgment)

The Court's judgment means that the Council (and the Commission) can no longer claim blanket refusals for the opinions of their Legal Services on legislative matters. The Court's judgment is also interesting because it reasserted the principle of an "overriding public interest" in allowing disclosure.

Currently the Opinions of the Council's Legal Service on legislative matters carries the following warning:

"This document contains legal advice protected under Article 4(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, and not released by the Council of the European Union to the public. The Council reserves all its rights in law as regards any unauthorised publication." [BOLD emphasis in original]

- Press release
- Court judgment - full-text
- Turco press statement

UK: New Criminal Information Quango sighted - Ex-mandarin hides plans for world domination behind criticism of Police (Register, link). Report: Review of Criminal Information” (ROCI) (156 pages, pdf) and see: Technology and Policing: Implications for Fairness and Legitimacy, by Peter Neyroud and Emma Disley (Policing, link)

ITALY: The bloody battle of Genoa (Guardian feature by Nick Davies, link)

Multimillion pound security project shelved by ministers (Guardian, link) SCOPE project.

EU: Council Presidencies JHA Programme: French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies: Draft Programme of the trio of Presidencies in JHA (pdf)

EU: Legislative Update: The "state of play" on the following measures:

- Report on European Parliament plenary session: Common Consular Instructions on visas for diplomatic and consular posts in relation to the introduction of biometrics including provisions on the organisation of the reception and processing of visa applications See also: The European Parliament plenary session has backed a report by Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE) calling for the fingerprinting of children to only be allowed for those 12 year old and over - the Council of the European Union (the governments) want it to be just six years old and over. The report was supported by 455 MEPs and opposed by 64, mainly from the conservative PPE group. There were 41 abstentions. Full-text of Resolution (pdf).

- EUROJUST: Draft Council Decision on the strengthening of Eurojust amending Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002, as amended by Council Decision 2003/659/JHA setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime (67 pages)

- EMPLOYER SANCTIONS: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals and EU doc no: 11000/08 plus EU doc no: 11727/08

- EJN: Draft Council Decision on the European Judicial Network

- EU-USA PNR: Agreement between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Declarations made in accordance with Article 24(5) TEU - State of Play

EU: EXIT-ENTRY SYSTEM: Briefing Paper for the European Parliament: Proposed new EU border control systems (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

USA: RENDITION-TORTURE-US ASSURANCES: Report from the UK House of Commons foreign Affairs Committee: Human Rights Annual Report 2007 (pdf). It includes the following Conclusions:

"We conclude that, given the clear differences in definition, the UK can no longer rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, and we recommend that the Government does not rely on such assurances in the future."

"We conclude that it is extremely important that the veracity of allegations that the Government has “outsourced” interrogation techniques involving the torture of British nationals by Pakistani author authorities should be ities investigated."

"We conclude that the Government has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that flights that enter UK airspace or land at UK airports are not pa part of the “rendition rt circuit”, even if they do not have a detainee on board during the time they are in UK territory. We recommend that the Government should immediately raise questions about such flights with the US authorities in order to ascertain the full scale of the rendition problem, and inform the Committee of the replies it rece receives in its response ives to this Report."

G8: G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting, Tokyo, 11-13 June, 2008: Concluding Declaration Conclusions including Counter-Terrorism (pdf) and G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Declaration on Capacity Building Assistance (pdf)

EU: Electronic Identity Management (eIDM): Commission press release: Electronic Identity: easy access to public services across the EU (pdf) A Roadmap for a pan-European eIDM Framework by 2010 (pdf) and Factsheet (pdf)

"For eGovernment and eBusiness to function to their full potential, people need a secure, convenient and effective way of identifying themselves – replacing signatures and stamps used on paper – when using electronic communication. To make this a reality, EU Member States are investing tens of billions of euros in interoperable Electronic Identity Management (eIDM)."

EU: HAGUE PROGRAMME: Report on implementation of the Hague Programme (pdf) Brussels, 2.7.2008, COM(2008) 373 final, (SEC(2008) 2048}
{SEC(2008) 2049} plus useful SEC documents giving details of implementation and compliance (or non-compliance) at national and institutional levels: SEC (2008) 2048: Commission Stafff Working Document: Annex to the Communication: Report on the implementation of The Hague programme for 2007: Follow-up of the implementation of legal instruments in the fields of justice, freedom and security at national level: 2007 Implementation Scoreboard - Table 2 (pdf) and SEC(2008) 2049: Commission Staff Working Document: Annex to the Communication: General overview of instruments and deadlines provided for in the Hague Programme and Action Plan in the fields of justice, freedom and security for 2007 (Institutional Scoreboard): Report on the implementation of The Hague programme for 2007 (Institutional Scoreboard – Table 1 (pdf)

EP: Useful country reports from European Parliament delegations from the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) looking at "reception of asylum seekers and irregular migrants": Cyprus (pdf), Denmark (pdf) and Poland (pdf)

EU: CRIMINAL RECORDS: Council Decision on the exchange of information extracted from criminal records – Manual of Procedure (103 pages, pdf) Interesting summary country by country of the information stored and that required for requests from criminal records from another member state.

EU-JHA-PASSERELLE: Statewatch Analysis: Changing the institutional framework for EU Justice and Home Affairs law without the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex.

IRELAND-LISBON TREATY: Ireland will have to vote again on Lisbon, says Sarkozy (Irish Times, link).

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"An unspoken timetable has already been decided in Brussels. In October EU governments will agree on a Declaration to be attached to the Treaty, then it will declared that Ireland will vote again in March next year - and 1st April 2009 has already been pencilled in for the formal adoption of the Treaty."

ITALY: Frattini pide un banco de datos europeo con huellas y ADN de niños de etnia gitana (link)

"EFE ROME.- Frattini asks for a European database containing the fingerprints and DNA of Roma children

'If Europe does not adopt this solution, we will adopt it anyway' 'The first way to protect a minor is to give him an identity and a document'. The Italian foreign affairs minister, Franco Frattini, believes that a European database containing the fingerprints and DNA of all the children of the Roma ethnic group(*) living in nomad camps is necessary as, without an identity, they have no rights, nor can they be protected.

The former European justice commissioner pointed out in an interview with Italian newspaper 'Il Messaggero', that "the first way to protect a minor is to give them an identity and a document", know who s/he is, because without this "a Roma child has no right to health or school".

Moreover, "without an identity, it is impossible to rescue these little innocent souls from the hands of paedophiles and child traffickers". Frattini considered that "a European database with the names, fingerprints, DNA indicators of all these children" is necessary "to make their lives safer". The minister indicated that "if Europe does not adopt this solution, that of fingerprints, of DNA, which strikes me as being the only possible one, we will adopt it anyway", although he explained that they will always respect European norms.

The Italian government has embarked upon a process to create a census of the people living in underprivileged neighbourhoods and settlements, that includes the taking of fingerprints, including those of minors."

* Statewatch translation Note: " gitano ", the term used in the Spanish original, would translate as " gypsy " or " zingaro ", the problem being that both in the UK and Italy the term is derogatory, while in Spain a lot of work has been carried out to give it back its positive connotations, largely to do with culture, performing arts and dark beauty... the same has not happened, at least not to the same extent, in Italy and the UK. " Roma " is what tends to be used, but it is inadequate, as there are different ethnic groups (Rom and Sinti in Italy, Calò in Spain, travellers in the UK.

LIBYA-EU: Libya urges EU to revise illegal immigration rules (Reuters, link)

"Libya called on the European Union to revise new rules against illegal immigration on Monday, saying it would urge African Union members to take action if the EU stuck by measures that treated African migrants as criminals.

EU ministers have backed French proposals for a European pact to stem illegal immigration and attract highly skilled job-seekers, weeks after the EU decided illegal immigrants could be detained for up to 18 months and face a 5-year re-entry ban.

"Africa will not accept any law based on repression and in dealing with African migrants, including children and disabled people, as criminals," Libya's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Libyan news agency Jana...... "

ITALY: Memorandum: Request for expedited engagement of follow-up procedure and/or Urgent Action/Early Warning Procedure concerning Italy ICERD Compliance (pdf) Petitioning Organisations: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Associazione Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (“ASGI”), The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), the National Roma Centrum (NRC), Cultural Center “O Del Amenca”, Policy Center for Roma and Minorities (“PCRM”), Roma Center for Social Intervention and Studies (“Romani CRISS”), Roma Women Association in Romania (RWAR):

"The CERD Committee reviewed Italy’s compliance with the ICERD Convention in February 2008, and duly issued Concluding Observations:

Threats to non-citizen Roma have been severely heightened following the election in April 2008 and the formation on 8 May 2008 of a new right-wing national government including extremist xenophobic and racist elements, as well as success in local elections by the extreme right in a number of municipalities, including the capital Rome. This, combined with years of anti-Roma propaganda by the Italian media, which has unceasingly portrayed Roma primarily as vagrants and criminals, has resulted in exceptional levels of discrimination throughout Italy, as well as other issues implicating emergency aspects of the Convention."

UK: Outsourcing abuse: The use and misuse of state-sanctioned force during the detention and removal of asylum seekers A report by Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (pdf)

ITALY: Rape threats, beatings and racist chants: 15 Italians jailed for abuse of G8 Genoa protesters: Verdict likely to embarrass Berlusconi government (Guardian, link)

"Fifteen Italian police officers and doctors were last night sentenced to jail terms of up to five years after being found guilty of abusing protesters detained during riots at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa."

See Statewatch coverage on Genoa and the trials on: Observatory on reactions to protests in the EU

USA: US Terrorism Watch List Tops 1 Million (link)

MALTA-FOI: Citizens and NGOs convened for Freedom of Information forum (link)

EU-VISAS-FINGERPRINTING CHILDREN: The European Parliament plenary session has backed a report by Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE) calling for the fingerprinting of children to only be allowed for those 12 year old and over - the Council of the European Union (the governments) want it to be just six years old and over. The report was supported by 455 MEPs and opposed by 64, mainly from the conservative PPE group. There were 41 abstentions. Full-text of Resolution (pdf). The Green/EFA rapporteur said:

"Speaking on behalf of the Greens/EFA political group, Ms Tatjana ZDANOKA (Greens/EFA - LV):

• stated that her political group cannot accept any use of biometrics in the EU until its necessity is proven beyond reasonable doubt. The introduction of biometrics has crucial implications for data security and for fundamental rights. Therefore the Greens/EFA political group cannot vote in favour of the report at all." and:

Speaking on behalf of the GUE/NGL political group, Ms Sylvia Yvonne KAUFMANN (GUE/NGL - DE):

• noted that the introduction of biometrics in visa is not acceptable, in particular regarding small children. She asked for an intensive study to verify the implication of such an approach."

UK: Data Sharing Review report (pdf) Annexes (pdf) Submissions (link). Comment: Voters' data 'should not be sold' (BBC News, link)

EU Transparency Proposal Criticised by Sweden (link)

UK: Government threatens 11 countries that unless they change their policies on deportations or removals of their nationals and cooperate on crime and terrorism then their citizens visiting the UK will have to get visas: Home Office Press release: Results Of Britains First Global Visa Review (pdf) Statement by Home Secretary on Visa Waiver Test (pdf) These are: are: Bolivia; Botswana; Brazil; Lesotho; Malaysia; Mauritius; Namibia; South Africa; Swaziland; Trinidad and Tobago; and Venezuela. These countries have a combined population of over 300 million – nearly five per cent of the world’s population.

"The criteria for the test included looking at passport security and integrity; the degree of co-operation over deportation or removal of a country’s nationals from the UK; levels of illegal working in the UK and other immigration abuse; levels of crime and terrorism risk posed to the UK; and the extent to which a country’s authorities were addressing these threats."

The "criteria" are a mix of establishing who is wanting to visit and much broader cooperation on policies such as crime and terrorism. It should be noted that Brazil, Malaysia and Venezuela are the European Commission's "white list" of countries not requiring visas.

ITALY: Census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy: European Parliament resolution of 10 July 2008 on the census of the Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy (pdf). This Resolution was passed by 336 votes to 220 with 77 abstentions. It was backed by MEPS from the PSE (Socialist group), ALDE (Liberal group), Greens, GUE (United Left) and opposed by the PPE (Conservative group) and UEN (rightwing Europe of Nations group).

- Letter from Jonathan Faull, Director General DG Justice, Freedon and Security, to Italian government Permanent Representative in Brussels: Letter full-text (pdf)
- ALDE Press release: Roma in Italy: Extraordinary measures are unjustified. EPP deft to appeals from civil society (pdf)

EU: CONCORD Press release: European NGOs condemn putting aid at the service of immigration control (pdf):

"While European and G8 countries are failing to deliver on their international aid commitments, European Development NGOs are deeply concerned about linking immigration control and development cooperation."

EU: Fortress Europe blog details 185 deaths in June. The Fortress Europe blog which tracks the deaths of migrants, details 185 deaths in June alone, 173 of which have taken place in the Channel of Sicily, where arrivals have risen three-fold, with other deaths also reported in the Canary Islands, Venice harbour, Turkey, where a Somali man was shot during a demonstration in a detention centre, and Israel, where three refugees were shot by police along the border with Egypt, including a seven-year-old Sudanese girl. The bulk of the deaths refer to a shipwreck in the high sea off the Libyan coast at Zuwarah on 7 June 2008, in which one survivor was rescued, 40 dead bodies were recovered and at least 100 people disappeared.

For full details, see: http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/2006/01/giugno-2008.html (original, in Italian)
http://fortresseurope.blogspot.com/2006/01/june-2008.html (English version)

EU:The French Council Presidency is hosting: European Police Chiefs Task Force (EPCTF) Expanded Troika Meeting in Paris on 11 July. What is interesting is that in this Council document: European Council (19 and 20 June 2008): Progress report from the Presidency to the European Council - Preparatory work in view of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) it says that the new structures under the Lisbon Treaty meant:

"It was accepted that there would no longer be a need for a formal role for the Police Chiefs Task Force."

Background: Statewatch analysis: The EU's Police Chief Task Force - a tale of self-regulation and self-definition by a body with no legal or constitutional basis, by Tony Bunyan

UK: Biometric Assurance Group (BAG): Biometrics Assurance Group Annual Report 2007 (pdf) A government expert group has warned of a 'large impact' on the National Identity Scheme from those who cannot use fingerprinting, such as many elderly people. The Biometrics Assurance Group (BAG), in its annual report for 2007, recommends more funding for the handling of people who cannot provide usable biometrics. The report describes the more than 4m people over the age of 75 in Britain as "a group for which it is hard to obtain good quality fingerprints"

"Enrolling people with challenging biometrics: Having reviewed the composition of the test group, which is composed of those with potentially challenging characteristics, BAG suggested that the group should be expanded to include individuals with the following characteristics: being elderly, mute, non-English speaking, blind or visually impaired."

Report fingers prints as ID scheme's point of failure (Register, link)

USA: Passport record system open to abuse, IG finds (link)

"A State Department passport record system that holds personal data on more than 120 million Americans is wide open to abuse and unable to prevent or detect unauthorized access"

Privacy issue will dictate data debate (Computing, link):

"What might the government learn about each of us were it to piece together fragments of our lives scattered across disparate departmental databases? The fundamental principle of data protection legislation is that personal data should only be used for the purpose for which it was originally recorded. Excessive cross-matching would be a clear and controversial infringement ­ but you can be sure the government will look for more situations where it can claim that the benefits outweigh the risks."

UK: Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System – 2006/7 (pdf). The figures show that black people are still more than 7 times more likely to be stop and searched by the police as white people and that Asian people are more than twice as likely to be stop and searched.

Police stop and search figures up (BBC News, link):

"The figures showed 955,000 people were stopped and searched in 2006/7 alone, an increase of 9% and the highest figure since 1998/9.... There was also a large rise in the number of people stopped by the police and asked to account for themselves - up by a third to 1.87m in 2006/7."

Law and order: Police stop nearly 2m for questioning in year (Guardian, link)

EU: Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Cannes: European Pact on immigration and asylum and Presidency Note: Asylum procedures

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"EU Ministers are saying there is no "Fortress Europe", yet anyone with eyes to see knows that there is and that the final building blocks are being put into place.

The EU is denying sanctuary to people fleeing from poverty and persecution while at the same time actively recruiting skilled labour from the Third World in order to maintain its own standard of living - because it has an ageing population.- and thus perpetuate its exploitation of scarce global resources. It is a position devoid of any humanity or morality."

- EU won over to France's hard line on immigration and asylum (euobserver, link)
- 42 days? Try 18 months: This European targeting of illegal immigrants is hypocritical, draconian and undiplomatic by Evo Morales, President of the Republic of Bolivia (Guardian, link)
- Mercosur anger at EU migrant laws (BBC News, link)
- Latin American leaders condemn 'racist' EU law (euobserver, link)
- Central American states reject EU Returns Directive: Full-text of statement (pdf)
- and see below

EU/Africa/South America: Alliance against EU Returns Directive

On 12 June 2008 in Brasilia, a week before the European Parliament voted in favour of the returns directive, the 1st Meeting of High Level Officials of African and South American Countries, involving representatives from 44 countries, the Council of the African Union and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), with a view to preparing the 2nd African-South American Presidential Summit to be held in Venezuela in November 2008, issued a press release condemning the directive. The representatives expressed "concern" over "legislations recently approved or proposed by some countries or regional organisations concerning migration, that contravene commitments adopted in the framework of human rights conventions and the rights of migrants set out in the UN's relevant legal instruments".

The countries represented were: Angola, Algeria, Argentina, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Ivory Coast, Libya, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Full text of the press release (from the no-fortress Europe website, in Spanish)

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Resolution on: Census of Roma on the basis of ethnicity in Italy (pdf) signed by MEPs from the PSE (Socialist group), ALDE (Liberal group), Green Gorup, GUE (United Left):

"Urges the Italian authorities to refrain from proceeding to the collection of fingerprints of Roma, including minors, as this would clearly constitute an act of discrimination based on race and ethnic origin forbidden by the art. 14th of the European Convention of human rights and furthermore an act of discrimination between EU citizens of Roma origin or nomads and those who are not and who are not required to undergo such procedures"

EU/Central America: Central American states reject EU Returns Directive. Full-text of statement (pdf)

In Guatemala City on 30 June 2008, PARLACEN (Central American parliament, the regional body representing the governments of central America and the Dominican Republic) issued a declaration to "forcefully reject" the "returns directive" recently approved by the European Parliament as a measure that "undermines migrants human and labour rights". While PARLACEN exhorts its member states to accept their role as countries of origin and to take action to guarantee their citizens' human right to both freedom of movement and to remain in their own countries, it notes that the returns directive "contains articles that criminalise and penalise the migrant population". The declaration describes the measure as "criminalising, discriminatory and xenophobic, which undermines human and labour rights, especially those of boys, girls, adolescents and the norms of civilised co-existence between peoples, and that violates the historical progress made by humanity".

It goes on to challenge the emphasis on security in these measures, the references to people as "illegals", the vision of humans in merely economic terms; reaffirms the right to free movement for humans, calls on regional associations from Latin America and the Caribbean to form a united front against the directive in negotiations with the EU and on the parliaments of EU countries not to adopt the directive.

Spain/Colombia: Information exchange puts Colombian asylum seekers at risk

CEAR, the Spanish Commission for Assistance to Refugees, warns in its June 2008 legal bulletin that the cross-checking of information on Colombian asylum applicants' documents by the Asylum and Refuge Office with Colombian authorities during asylum proceedings contravenes data protection legislation and the nature of the asylum process, undermining the safety of asylum seekers from this country. Problems that are highlighted include the infiltration of Colombian institutions by members of paramilitary groups and the contravening of guarantees of confidentiality that applicants receive when they first apply for asylum.

EU-USA: How America is snooping on YOU ... and may soon be snooping a whole lot more (link to Mail on Sunday)

UK-ECHR: Government must review Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (link to Liberty press release) Full-text: Case of Liberty and others v UK
(Application no. 58243/00)
(pdf)

"In a significant judgement today, the European Court of Human Rights found that UK surveillance laws had lacked the necessary clarity and accountability to prevent abuses of power when used to intercept cross-border communications."

ITALY: Petition: "No to ethnic profiling of Romani people" (link) This petition is launched by "La voix des Rroms" (France) and "EveryOne Group" (Italy). For German version and for Spanish

ITALY: Renate Weber, MEP: The European Commission must take the Italian Government to the European Court of Justice” (Press statement, pdf).

"The recent statements of Italy’s Minister of Interior, Roberto Maroni, regarding a plan to fingerprint the Rroma ethnic population from the Italian Peninsula, represents a new violation of the fundamental human rights and a new defiance from a high-rank Italian official against the European Union and the values it was build upon, as well as against the European legislation."

EU RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Mercosur anger at EU migrant laws (BBC News, link) Latin American leaders condemn 'racist' EU law (euobserver, link)

STATEWATCH: The following Observatories have been updated:

- Observatory on data protection in the EU
- FOI in the EU: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008-2009
- Statewatch analyses post 11 September 2001

EU: European Data Protection Supervisor: Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (Press release plus Opinion, pdf)

EU-ECRE: European Council on Refugees and Exiles: Memorandum to the French Presidency: Seizing the opportunity to create a meaningful Common European Asylum System (pdf)

EU: Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States: Part I – Legal Analysis by Olivier De Schutter (164 pages, pdf)


 

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