June

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. The High Level Group was set up on 6 November 2006 with the brief to conduct:

"discussions on privacy and personal data protection in the context of the exchange of information for law enforcement purposes as part of a wider reflection between the EU and the U.S. on how best to prevent and fight terrorism and serious transnational crime."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"In fact the scope would cover "any criminal offence" however minor. There is no guarantee EU citizens will be informed that data and information on them has been transferred to the USA or to which agencies it has been passed or give them the right to correct it. Moreover, the agreement would apply to individual requests and automated mass transfers and allow the USA to give the data to any third state "if permitted under its domestic law".

It would be good to say that the USA must guarantee the same rights to people when personal information is transferred between EU states but this would be meaningless as the Council is about to adopt a Framework Decision which gives individuals few if any protections against misuse and abuse."

The Council of the European Union is about to adopt a: Council Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (pdf) covering the transfer of personal data and information/intelligence between EU member states. The Council has simply ignored all the criticisms of the measure from the European Parliament, the European Data Protection Supervisor, the Article 29 Working Party on data protection and civil society: See: Statewatch's: Observatory on data protection in the EU

EU-USA PNR AGREEMENT: 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 (pdf)

EU-PNR: Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) for law enforcement purposes - State of play (pdf) See Statewatch's: Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR)

EU-PNR: NOTE from: Chair of the Airports Group of the Council of Europe's Pompidou Group (pdf)

- calls for the scope of EU PNR scheme to be extended from flights in and out of the EU to cover also flights within the EU
- calls for scope to be extended from organised crime to serious crime
- calls for Customs agencies should have access to personal name registers
- calls for direct online access to airline passenger reservation systems (not "PUSH" as recommended)

NB: "the Airport Group of the Pompidou Group comprises around 110 police and customs officers working at airports in the area of combating serious crime, especially the illegal trafficking of drugs. Central offices of the competent authorities are represented as well."

See Statewatch's: Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR)

EU-AUSTRALIA: PNR AGREEMENT: Full-text: Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of European Union-sourced passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs Service (pdf)

BALUCH-USA-UK: Baluch human rights defender, a British citizen, detained and deported by USA:

"On June 23rd, Baluch human rights defender Noordin Mengal was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport in the US on his arrival from the United Arab Emirates. After being held for nearly 26 hours in the custody of the United States Department of Homeland Security, he was sent back to Dubai after being denied entry to the US. Noordin Mengal, grandson of veteran Baluch leaders Sardar Attaullah Mengal and Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, is a British citizen and a representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of Interfaith International and is also a member of the Baluchistan National Party."

For background see: Never mind the Baluch (link to Transnational Institute)

For the record: EU-USA "SWIFT" agreement (2007) - documentation

"Following press reports in June 2006, it was revealed that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") operating on the basis of powers under the TFTP has served administrative subpoenas on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication ("SWIFT")1. These subpoenas require SWIFT in the U.S. to transfer personal data held on its United States2 server to OFAC where they are used for counter terrorism purposes regarding suspected individuals or entities.... SWIFT is a Belgium-based company with offices in the United States and which operates a worldwide messaging system used to transmit, inter alia, bank transaction information. It has been estimated that SWIFT handles 80% of the worldwide traffic for electronic value transfers."

EU-ITALY: Plight of the Roma: echoes of Mussolini: "The compulsory fingerprinting of Italy's Gypsy population is the latest example of the country's increasingly repressive attitude towards minorities – and an ominous reminder of the policies of the former Fascist dictator". Peter Popham reports (Independent, link)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"In a EU of "common values" we are all responsible for what happens in Italy"

EU: Following a request for information to the Commission by Professor David Miller, University of Strathclyde, it has supplied a: List of members of expert group on violent radicalisation (24 June 2008, pdf). An earlier Commission response of 3 June 2008 (pdf)

USA: Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU School of Law (NYU IHRC): Rights groups challenge CIA for failure to release more than 7,000 documents relating to secret detention, rendition and torture program (pdf)

"The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must no longer be allowed to use classification arguments in its attempts to prevent the disclosure of illegal or embarrassing conduct in its secret detention, torture, and rendition programs, three prominent human rights groups said today. The statement came just hours after they collectively filed a motion to require the CIA to make certain information public and to provide more details about all the documents withheld."

FRENCH EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY: European Pact on immigration and asylum (January 2008, pdf)

UK: COUNTER TERRORISM BILL: The House of Commons Justice Committee today publishes the Government's response to its report on the Counter Terrorism Bill, in which the Committee expressed its concerns about the proposals relating to the coroners system which provided for "the Secretary of State to certify that a coroner's inquest may be held without a jury and to appoint a particular security cleared coroner in inquests which are expected to involve the consideration of material that should not be made public". Justice Committee report (pdf) See also: UK parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee report: Counter–Terrorism Policy and
Human Rights: Government Responses to the Committee's Twentieth and Twenty–first Reports and other correspondence
(pdf)

Hungary: Agreement Between the Government of The Republic of Hungary and the Government of The United States of America for the Exchange of Screening Information Concerning Known or Suspected Terrorists (pdf)

"A joint-agreement to share terrorist screening information between the government of the United States of America and the government of Hungary was passed recently, in exchange for movement toward a Hungarian visa waiver. The agreement, published in the National Gazette on June 20th, 2008, outlines the standards upon which information will be passed between the two governments. Terrorist screening information includes identifying information (full name, known aliases, date of birth, passport, etc.) for individuals reasonably suspect to be engaging in, or who has been related to acts of terrorism or terrorist activities.... This agreement is an step in promoting the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Hungary. Enacted on March 17, 2008, the MOU strives for Hungarian membership in the Visa Waiver Program. If a participant in the Program, there would be a visa waiver for Hungarians staying in America for 90 days or less."

Council of Europe: New book: CIA above the law? Secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees in Europe (300 pages, link to ordering page, hard-copy 23 euro, pdf 8 euro)

MASRI-UN-MACEDONIA: The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC) have advised the Macedonia government to undertake a new and thorough investigation into the abduction and ill-treatment of Mr Khaled El-Masri when held by CIA agents in secret detention.

- HRC report (pdf)
- CAT report, 21 May 2008 (pdf)
- CAT report, 20 May 2008 (pdf)

See for full background Statewatch's Observatory on CIA Rendition

EU countries obstructing investigations into CIA renditions, report says (euobserver, link) "The "most important" of the CIA's secret detention prisons, or 'black sites', in the years immediately following the 11 September attacks was situated in Szymany, some 160km north of Warsaw, according to officers with the US intelligence service. In a weekend article in the New York Times newspaper, unnamed CIA officers tell of one of the presumed dozens of sites, hitherto vehemently denied by the Polish government as having been located within the country."

UK: Report on the operation in 2007 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and of Part I if the Terrorism Act 2006 by Lord Carlile (pdf) and Government Reply to
the Report by Lord Carlile
(pdf) and Terrorist arrests, charges and conviction figures for 2007 (Source: Lord Carlile's report)

EU: FOI-ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS: Statewatch Analysis June 2008: Proposal on access to documents: Article-by-Article commentary (pdf) Analysis of the Commission's proposed changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents (1049/2001) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex.

EU: Latin America could halt EU trade talks over return directive (euobserver, link)

MALTA: Journalists Committee welcomes the decision to open migrants detention centres (pdf)

"The Journalists Committee welcomes the decision taken by the Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmel Mifsud Bonnici to open migrants detention centres to journalists. Committee chairperson Karl Schembri said this was a positive development for journalists in Malta and recalled the role of the Journalists Committee in calling for open access to detention centres... Today, the new minister has finally taken on board our appeal and open up detention centres to journalists.The Journalists Committee has for years argued that detention centres and prisons were kept closed to journalists against all sense of transparency and accountability"

UK: Review urged on RIPA surveillance powers (pdf) LGA media release 23 June 2008. The Local Government Association has today written to the leaders of every council in England calling on them to undertake an urgent review of surveillance operations carried out under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Opinion on safer Internet for children: data protection is an essential prerequisite to the safety of children online (pdf)

EU: COUNTER-TERRORISM report: Implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Terrorism and Implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan to Combat Terrorism - Addendum: Adoption of measures plus Implementation of the EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy - Priorities for further action

EU: The Council produces a regular Newsletter on the European Security and Defence Policy (link)

EU: Paper by Professor Steve Peers: Can the Treaty of Lisbon be ratified or implemented?: A legal analysis (pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Global outcry against EU immigration directive (euobserver, link)

Souhayr Belhassen, president of the International Federation for Human Rights, argued that the timing of the European Parliament's vote was particularly unfortunate as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be celebrated later this year. "By adopting this text, the European legislator lets us understand that migrants are not human beings like any other, provided with rights and to whom states owe obligations," Belhassen added. "They are dehumanised." Parliament Votes Jail for Asylum-Seekers by David Cronin

Green group in the European Parliament: Returns directive: Vote of shame mocks standards of civilisation (Press statement, link)
GUE (European United Left) group in the European Parliament: Europe no longer the cradle of human rights (link to statement)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The European Parliament has voted this morning (18 June) 367 in favour, 206 against and 109 abstentions on the amended text approving the "compromise" text with the Council.

EU: UNITED: "Fortress Europe": More than 8800 Deaths, 20 June 2007, International Refugee Day. UNITED has co-ordinated an international refugee campaign since several years, which consists of two complimentary parts: - Protesting against the restrictive asylum and migration policies, that are often referred to as "Fortress Europe": especially focusing attention on the deaths of already more than 8800 people who tried to find a safe haven in Europe and Promoting a safe environment for refugees and asylum seekers where they do not have to fear racism and intolerance.

EU OMBUDSMAN: Ombudsman: new rules on investigations will help in finding the truth (pdf)

EU-FOI: Access to documents: Commissioner Wallströms hits back at critics: ”They can’t have read the text” (Wobbing. link). Report by by Staffan Dahllöf.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The idea that Statewatch, and Steve Peers who represented us at the hearing in the European Parliament on 2 June, had not read the text is sheer nonsense. We have worked on access to EU documents for over 15 years and we know how the current definition of a "document" works in practice - and it works fine. The only institution which does not like the definition is the Commission. In response to Statewatch's complaint to the European Ombudsman, over its failure to put all its documents on its public register, the Commission President repeatedly rejected the definition of a document in the Regulation as being too wide".

EU: Commission is set to agree today two "packages", one on asylum, the other on immigration: (pdf's)

Asylum package:

- Communication: Policy plan on asylum: A integrated approach to protection across the EU
- Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document to the Policy Plan on the Common European Asylum System Impact Assessment
- Commission Staff Working Document: Annexes
- Memorandum to the Commission
- Green Paper (2.6 MB)
- Citizens Summary

Immigration package:

- Communication: On common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy: a platform for a new European approach
- Commission Staff Working Document: Accompanying document on common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy:
a platform for a new European approach: Impact Assessment
(SEC, 76 pages)
- Commission Staff Working on common principles for the further development of the Common Immigration Policy: a platform for a new European approach: Impact Assessment (SEC, 60 pages)
- Memorandum to the Commission
- Citizen Summary

EU-RETURNS DIRECTIVE: European Parliament press release on the debate, 17 June 2008 (pdf)

EU: Institute of Race Relations pan-European research project: New report says Islamophobia warps integration efforts: Integration, Islamophobia and Civil Rights in Europe (Press release, link), Download the Introduction (link, pdf), Buy the full report (link)

EU-PNR: UK House of Lords' European Union Committee: The Passenger Name Record (PNR) Framework Decision (89 pages, pdf). A very useful report which considers amongst other issues the scope of the proposed EU-PNR Framework Decision which primarily rests on tackling terrorism:.

"Most significant of all, Ms Hillier’s [Home Office Minister] letter contains no reference to terrorism, and none of the examples she lists bears any relation to terrorism.

Likewise, in oral evidence she was unable to give an example of the successful use of PNR in relation to a terrorist-related offence. She did assert that PNR “has absolutely been a tool in tackling terrorism”, and explained the problems of sharing information about this in public (Q 28). However such a statement is unpersuasive when not accompanied by even a claim that PNR has succeeded in preventing, or assisting in the prevention of, a single terrorist attack, or bringing to justice the perpetrators of such an attack.

Similarly, Mr Hustinx told us that when the US Secretary of Homeland Security was addressing the European Parliament “he was careful to annex a list of some 20 or so examples to his speech and it was all about drugs and people evading paying taxes and things like that, but there was very little in terms of precision on terrorism” "

In this context it is interesting to note that in the UK Border & Immigration Agency: e-Borders: Friends of Presidency Group meeting presentation, Brussels, 27 March 2008 (pdf) it is stated that:

"The UK does not profile terrorists using PNR. In that respect we believe we are different to other governments who do use profiling techniques..." (emphasis added)

EU: An interesting document published the day after the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: 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)

EU: Critical review instead of complacency: Amnesty International’s ten-point human rights programme for the French Presidency of the European Union, June 2008 (pdf)

EU-EP: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: As the European Parliament votes on the Returns Directive there will be a silent demonstration outside the parliament in Strasbourg on 17 June 2008. Demonstrations against the Directive will be taking place in a number of other countries including: Rome (pdf) Lisbon (pdf) Summary of demonstrations (pdf) Bulletin from No to Fortress Europe (pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"If passed this will be the 13th measure on visas, borders, immigration and asylum to be adopted by the European Parliament as a result of "first reading deals" negotiated in secret trilogue meetings with the Council.

Neither the final deal nor the penultimate draft are available to the public on the Council's register of documents. Nor was the letter from the Council to the European Parliament setting out the deal of 4 June made available to the public either until a few days ago. There was no time at all for national parliaments and civil society to read, debate and react as the deal was already set in stone. This is no way to run a democracy, especially when the issues at stake concern peoples' fundamental rights."

- the final and penultimate deals are addressed in Statewatch analysis: The Returns Directive: 9 June 2008 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

- see: Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit by Tony Bunyan

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: 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) and Compromise on return directive "totally unacceptable" : For Francis Wurtz, President of GUE/NGL, the agreement on the return directive negotiated between the Council and Parliament's rapporteur - Manfred Weber (EPP) - is totally unacceptable in both form and content" and see also: Appeal to the Members of the European Parliament (pdf)

EU: PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE REGULATION ON ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS: Speech by Professor Steve Peers on behalf of Statewatch at the hearing in the European Parliament on 2 June 2008 (pdf) who concludes:

"I would urge the European Parliament to take the opportunity to improve the Commission’s proposal significantly, as there are major problems with it."

CIA-RENDITION: Rights groups demand investigation of CIA’s Extraordinary Rendition Program: Lawsuits against Germany, US and Macedonia seek justice for Khaled El Masri (pdf)

"The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Berlin, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), both based in New York, met today in Berlin with lawyers from Germany, Macedonia and the United Kingdom to discuss the latest developments in the CIA rendition case of German citizen Khaled El Masri.

ECCHR filed today a lawsuit against the German Government at the Berlin administration court for its failure to demand the extradition of 13 CIA agents suspected of having illegally “rendered” Mr. El Masri from Macedonia to a US prison in Kabul, Afghanistan."

UNITED: Football without racism (pdf)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch analysis: The Returns Directive: 9 June 2008 (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex.

"Despite some positive changes to the text which result from the EP’s involvement in the negotiations, the agreed text of the returns Directive is still fundamentally deficient from the point of view of human rights as well as the basic principles which should underpin EU immigration and asylum law."

EU: Commission proposal on: the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) (pdf)

EU: E-PRIVACY: Commission Press release: Electronic Identity: easy access to public services across the EU (pdf)

EU-EAW: European Arrest Warrant - 2007 (pdf) Figures from 17 member states.

UK: Behind Closed Doors: A Report on the Military Influence in UK Universities: Press release (pdf) Behind Closed Doors (Full-report, pdf). "A report by UK scientists reveals the secrecy surrounding the growing influence of the military on the research agenda in British universities."

UK: Millions must be on vetting list (BBC News, link) More than one in four adults in England will have to register with child protection authorities next year, under an expanded safeguarding scheme. Anyone working or volunteering with young people will have to register. The government says 11.3 million people will be on a database, with registration costing £64 per person.

UK:E-PETITION: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop the involvement of arms company Lockheed Martin in the 2011 Census for England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, because this company's history of working in American military intelligence will undermine public confidence in the Census process (link to sign the petition, deadline 15 June 2008).

UK: 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).

Press comment: MPs must act now to set limits on snooping (Daily Telegraph, link) ID cards could help turn Britain into a surveillance society, warn MPs (Guardian, link)

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships (Guardian, link)

GERMANY: Federal Ministry for the Interior plans to amend the Federal Criminal Police Office Act; including authorisation of online computer searches and video surveillance in private homes. Press release (link) and In a Nutshell: Draft Law on Preventing International Terrorist Threats through the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKAG-E). The proposals are said to be: "restricted to cases of terrorist threats" and include:

"provisions on the surveillance of private homes and telecommunications as well as remote searches of computer hard drives." and:

"Measures concerning telecommunications interception at the source allow the surveillance of telecommunications which is conducted in encrypted form with the help of Voice over IP or other Internet tools either prior to encryption or at the recipient’s computer after decryption. This measure has become imperative given the increasing use of such forms of communication." and:

"The power of the acoustic and visual surveillance of private homes"

EU: Corporate Observatory Europe (CoE): How hired-gun lobbyists pulled the teeth out of new EU lobbyists' register (link)

UK-LONDON: June 2008 - The EU and UN ‘terrorist lists’ and the European Courts: The slow road to procedural justice (seminar 19 June 2008, pdf). First in a series of four seminars on "Terrorist lists", proscription, designation and human rights organised by Haldane, Statewatch and CAMPACC.

European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, called on the European Parliament (EP) to defend the European Union’s commitment to transparency and the citizens’ right of access to EU documents at a public hearing in the EP's LIBE Committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs), the Ombudsman said:

"The Commission's proposals would mean access to fewer, not more, documents. This raises fundamental issues of principle about the EU's commitment to openness and transparency."

Press release (pdf)
Full-text of speech (pdf)

See for full background and documentation: EU-FOI: Statewatch's: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008 - 2009

Football: EURO 08: Legal support and helpful advice for football fans: This information sheet is intended for visitors of the EURO 08 football games in Switzerland. It contains some recommendations and legal advice on how to avoid confrontations with the police and private security personnel and to exercise your rights when dealing with police in Switzerland. See: European Civil Liberties Network - Noticeboard

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) 5-6 June 2008, Brussels: Press release, Conclusions on external borders and Conclusions on migration partnerships. For full background and documentation on current Justice and Home Affairs issues see: Statewatch European Monitoring and Documentation Centre (SEMDOC)

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Statewatch supplementary analysis: The Returns Directive – the final stages? (pdf) The European Parliament and the Council have now reached agreement on a text of the proposed ‘Returns Directive’, although the Council has already changed its position on this agreement and it remains to be seen whether the plenary EP will support it. Despite some positive changes to the text which result from the EP’s involvement in the negotiations, the agreed text of the returns Directive is still fundamentally deficient from the point of view of human rights. MEPs now face a choice of adopting the agreement on the table or pushing for positive amendments with a risk that the incoming Council Presidency will try to lower standards in this area.

A new analysis by Professor Steve Peers concludes: "The fundamental problem with the deal on the returns Directive is that they should never have been forced to make such an invidious choice in the first place".


 

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