May

GRIP Report: 1998-2008, a mixed anniversary for the European Code of Conduct on arms exports: First regional agreement on control of arms exports, the European Code of Conduct on arms exports is celebrating its 10th anniversary on June 8, 2008. Useful but imperfect, the Code should continue its evolution and correct its weaknesses in order to achieve its primary objective: to prevent any arms exports from Europe that could harm the peace and undermine security and sustainable development in the countries of import. Ten years after its adoption, the record is mixed and the European Union is still reluctant to transform the Code into a legally binding Common Position. Read or download : http://www.grip.org/bdg/pdf/g0918.pdf

HUNGARY: Constitutional complaint filed by HCLU against Hungarian telecom data retention regulations (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) (pdf)

EU: E-PRIVACY DIRECTIVE: Council: Progress report (29 May 2008, 79 pages, pdf) and Council Compromise Proposal for Amending Directive 2000/58/EC (Privacy Directive) (pdf),  Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on proposed changes to privacy in electronic communications directive (pdf) and Article 29 Working Party on data protection: Opinion on the review of the Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications (e-Privacy Directive) (pdf)

EU-UK: UK Border & Immigration Agency: e-Borders: Friends of Presidency Group meeting, Brussels, 27 March 2008 (pdf) This presentation took place as discussions are underway on a proposal to set up an EU-PNR scheme (see story below). It describes the UK timetable for checking all airline passengers against watchlists to "identify known persons of interest" and that it will eventually cover "all routes in/out on all modes of transport" (air, sea and land). See also: UK: Code of practice of practice on the management of information shared by the Border and Immigration Agency, Revenue and Customs and the Police (March 2008, pdf); Draft Regulatory Impact Assessment: Police and Justice Bill: Data Capture (pdf) and Police and Justice Act 2006 extends data gathering to passengers travelling inside the UK (pdf)

EU-PNR: Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) for law enforcement purposes (EU doc no: 7656/2/08, pdf) and later Discussion of the Council's position on EU-PNR (EU doc no: 9514/08). The Council is driving a "coach and horses" through the original proposal including increasing its scope beyond terrorism and organised crime. Although "Passenger Information Units" (PIUs) who will vet passengers are to some extent limited in their use of data national "competent authorities", to whom all the data can be passed, are to be allowed to further process the data if they come across "other offences" (ie: any crime, see Article 4.5).

European Data Protection Supervisor: EDPS expresses serious concerns about EU PNR proposal (Press release and Opinion, pdf). See also: PNR (passenger name record) scheme proposed to place under surveillance all travel in and out of the EU which includes the original Commission proposal and Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR)

UK: Arrests at Nottingham University and: Stop the Deportation of Hicham Yezza (link)

"Hicham's arrest took place on Wednesday 14th May. Rizwaan Sabir, an MA Politics research student was also arrested. Both were released without charge six days later. It has subsequently become clear that these arrests, which related to so-called "radical materials" involved an Al Qaeda manual downloaded by Sabir from an official US Government website, as part of his dissertation research into political Islam, and emailed to Yezza for printing.

Hicham was re-arrested on immigration grounds. Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation regarding these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, the Home Office informed his solicitor that he was being removed on Sunday 1st June and Hicham was moved to an immigration detention centre. He now faces imminent deportation to Algeria without due process."

Research into Islamic terrorism led to police response (Times Higher Education, link) and Statement from staff and students (pdf): "Nottingham University Students and Staff Express Serious Concerns about Recent Use of Terrorism Act on Campus and Demand Academic Freedom"

UK: Communications Data Bill (pdf) Announcement of government plans to retain internet usage in forthcoming Bill (in addition to powers already adopted to retain communications data for phone-calls, faxes and mobile calls). Revealed - Government plans to tap phone and internet use (Computer Weekly, link) See also: ‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails (Times, link). For background: Statewatch Observatory: The surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: The full-text of the latest Council draft of the Returns Directive, EU doc no: 8812/08

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Mandatory expulsion and entry ban decisions in Returns Directive violate general principles of Community law (pdf)

Today, the Netherlands based Meijers Committee (Standing Commitee of Experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law) published a comment on the draft Returns Directive. On 23 April 2008, a compromise was reached between the Council and the European Parliament on the text of the Returns Directive (2005-0167 (COD), COM(2005) 391). In the meantime some aspects of the text have been changed. Still, the text, in its present form, violates important principles of Community law. Such is in particular the case where the draft directive contains binding Community legislation compelling Member States to take mandatory expulsion measures or mandatory entry ban measures in certain categories of cases. The Standing Committee is of the opinion that the draft Directive must not be accepted by the European Parliament.

Italy: A.S.G.I. Associazione per gli studi giuridici sull’immigrazione: Press Release: From Centres for temporary stay and assistance to Centres for identification and expulsion: the story of a separate health service (pdf)

"Precisely as the new executive passes the “Security package”, someone dies of insecurity. It happened in Turin in the brand new CPT that cost as much as 11,160,184 Euros (source, “La Stampa” 26/5/08 page 56) and which, from now on, will be called an Identification and expulsion centre, as envisaged in the law decree that is due to be issued soon."

Spain/Basque Country: European Democratic Lawyers association criticises trial against prisoner support and human rights organisations

Institute of Race Relations: European Race Bulletin no. 63 - mobilising against "foreign criminals" by Liz Fekete. The Spring 2008 issue of the Institute of Race Relations' European Race Bulletin examines the emergence across Europe of a new mobilisation against 'foreign criminals': Download a copy of the issue (link, pdf)

EU: PRUM IMPLEMENTING DECISION: The near finished Decision which will allow the exchange of fingerprints, DNA and vehicle data between Member States: Draft Council Decision on the implementation of Decision on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (pdf) Detailed 91 page annex (pdf) and Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (January 2008, pdf)

EU-SIS II: Commission Staff Working Document: Annex to the Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the development of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) Progress Report July – December 2007 (SEC 552, 2008, pdf)

UK-USA 2011 UK CENSUS CONCERNS: The House of Commons Treasury Committee has expressed strong concerns that if the 2011 UK census is run by a US company that the data could be accessed by USA security and law enforcement agencies: House of Commons Treasury Committee: Counting the population:

"We remain concerned that the personal information gathered through the 2011 Census could be subject to the United States Patriot Act and therefore we ask the
Government to take clear legal advice and advice from the US State Department and to publish it in response to this Report." (see pages 34-35)

Background: Was the seizure of Indymedia's servers in London unlawful or did the UK government collude? and

In November 2007 Raytheon Systems Ltd of the UK headed a consortium which won a £650 million Home Office contract to track, profile and check against "watch-lists" everyone entering and leaving the UK - see Trusted Borders (pdf) The parent company Raytheon USA, has 73,000 employees world-wide and describes itself as:"a technology leader specialising in defence, homeland security, and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning more than 80 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; command, control, communications and intelligence systems." See: We must not tolerate this putsch against our freedoms by Henry Porter (Observer, link)

Italy: Frattini among the winners of Italy's 2008 Big Brother Awards

Greece, Crete: Surveillance and democracy: International Workshop (Programme and abstracts, link)

Italy: Italy: ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione) and ENAR (European Network Against Racism) issue press releases on violence against Roma and: Italy's crackdown on Roma criticised across Europe (euobserver, link)

UK: Augustine's deportation to Nigeria: On 27 March, Augustine, a Biafran independence activist was deported to Nigeria, where his brother has been killed and his wife and children are missing.

EU: REGULATION ON ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS: EU transparency proposal criticised by Sweden (euobserver, link) and Swedish Journalist's Association considers draft EU-law 'disgraceful' (Wobbing, link) Full news and documentation is on: Statewatch's: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008 - 2009

Morocco/EU: Moroccan navy accused of sinking dinghy, causing 29 to die: On the night of 28 April 2008, a chase in the high sea off the coast of Al Hoceima ended when a Moroccan navy officer slashed a dinghy's pneumatic body, resulting in 29 would-be sub-Saharan migrants (including four women and four children) drowning, according to survivors.

UK: ‘Big Brother’ database for phones and e-mails (Times, links)

- Beware: Big Brother has got you fingered
- Living off the grid – how to escape the spies all around us
- New database increases power of surveillance over citizens

EU-FOI: Statewatch has created an: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008 - 2009 which will track and place on record all the news, analyses and documentation concerning proposed changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents.

EU: Article 29 Working Party on data protection: Opinion on the review of the Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic
communications (ePrivacy Directive)
(pdf)

UK: A source for concern (Guardian, link) This week's court case involving police demands for a journalist's notes is seen as the latest example of a threat to media freedom. Duncan Campbell examines what impact it could have on terrorism coverage

EU: UPDATE: Commission proposals to amend Regulation on access to EU documents: Proposed changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents - COM (2008) 229 final (pdf) with Explanatory Memorandum and annotated text. The text previously put online was the version circulated for the Commission meeting on 30 April - the version that emerged and was adopted contained a number of changes, including a different definition of a "document". Comments on the definition of a "document" in the Commission proposal: Back to the age of the "dinosaurs"? by Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, who comments:

"The Commission does not like the current definition of a document so it is proposing to change it to severely limit its scope. The current definition of a document must be left unchanged.

Nor does the Commission like the current Article 11 obliging it to list "without delay" all documents on its public register - which since 2002 it has failed to do - so the new definition of a "document" would allow it to carry on only listing a fraction of the documents it produces and receives. Article 11 must not be changed and must be implemented by the Commission.

At a stroke the the new era of openness and transparency promised in the Amsterdam Treaty would be dealt a fatal blow and we will be back in the age of the "dinosaurs". "

Note on "dinosaurs": The forces for secrecy in the EU - were referred to by Mr Söderman, then the European Ombudsman, at a Conference in Brussels on 26 April 1999 as the "dinosaurs" - who under the cloak of implementing the Amsterdam Treaty wanted to turn the clock back so that the institutions could control what documents are released.

Portugal: Report on torture suffered by Leonor Cipriano

SOS Prisões and ACED produced a report that they sent to high-ranking Portuguese authorities with competencies in this field concerning the allegations of torture suffered in September 2004 by Leonor Cipriano at the hands of the judicial police in their offices in Faro.

Netherlands: Human Rights Watch report: The Netherlands: Discrimination in the Name of Integration: Migrants’ Rights under the Integration Abroad Act (pdf)

EU: VISA ENTRY CHECKS TO BE SUSPENDED IF THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE: Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of […] amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the use of the Visa Information System (VIS) under the Schengen Borders Code (EU doc no: 8674/08, pdf). The creation of the Visa Information System (VIS) is a major new system being put in place by the EU. It covers all visitors to the EU who have to apply for a visa in their country of origin, be fingerprinted and then security checked before a visa is issued. All the details, including fingerprints are held on the central VIS database so that on entry to and exit from the EU identity checks can be carried out. However, this new proposal from the Council Presidency says that if there are too many people to be checked and "all resources have been exhausted" then only random checks will be carried out.

"By way of derogation, where traffic of such intensity arises that the waiting time at the border crossing point becomes excessive and all resources have been
exhausted as regards staff, facilities and organisation and where, on the basis of an assessment of the risk related to internal security and illegal immigration, it is established that the consultation in the Visa Information System need not be systematic, such consultation may be carried out on a random basis for as long as these conditions are met."

EU RETURNS DIRECTIVE: AI & ECRE: Press release (pdf) See also: FIDH:Proposal for a “returns” Directive: The FIDH calls for the suspension of the text’s adoption until it conforms to Member States international human rights obligations (pdf) and GUE group in the European Parliament: Press release (link, pdf) Statewatch Supplementary Analysis: The EU's Returns Directive by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex who concludes: "The EP and the Council have to decide whether their endlessly-repeated support for the principles of fairness, human rights and human dignity is a genuine commitment, or simply empty rhetoric." "Against the outrageous Directive!", full-text of speech given by Yasha Maccanico (Statewatch) at the hearing with NGOs organised by the GUE group, European Parliament, Strasbourg on 12 December 2007 (pdf) plus Fortress Europe (link) and Migreurop (link)

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen (Guardian, link)

BULGARIA: EU MANDATORY DATA RETENTION DIRECTIVE: We have to abolish Regulation ¹ 40, which gives the Ministry of Interior the right to retain data for every Internet-user (2.5MB, pdf) and Bulgaria: Against Internet “Bugging” (link to Global Voices). For background see: Statewatch's Observatory on The surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

EU Ombudsman launches EU-wide consultation on access to databases: Press release, Letter, Statement, and the Original Complaint (all pdf)

"The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has launched a consultation process within the European Network of Ombudsmen on access to information contained in databases. This follows a complaint from a Danish journalist about the refusal of the European Commission to disclose data on beneficiaries of EU agricultural subsidies. The Commission justified its refusal on grounds of confidentiality. Furthermore, it argued that the EU's rules on access to documents apply to databases only if the data can be easily retrieved.

The Ombudsman was not convinced by this approach. He therefore contacted his colleagues in the Member States to find out about "best practices" at the national level aiming to ensure maximum public access to databases. This consultation is particularly important given that this issue at stake forms part of the current debate on the reform of the EU's rules on access to documents."

UK-TREATIES-UAE: Extradition Treaty: between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates on Extradition (pdf) Treaty between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (pdf)

EU-RETURNS DIRECTIVE: FIDH:Proposal for a “returns” Directive: The FIDH calls for the suspension of the text’s adoption until it conforms to Member States international human rights obligations (pdf) and GUE group in the European Parliament: Press release (link, pdf)

Italy: Beppe Grillo posts list of convicted MPs and senators: Former comedian turned political activist Beppe Grillo, who has engaged in a campaign to prohibit politicians who have received firm judicial sentences from taking up their seats in the Italian parliament and Senate, has posted a list of 17 politicians who will be present in the new legislative chambers. Interestingly, it includes Renato Farina, the journalist of right-wing daily newspaper Libero, who negotiated a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to working for the secret services (journalists are forbidden from doing so), and was allegedly involved in the cover-up into the Abu Omar kidnapping and rendition to Egypt in 2003. Source: http://www.beppegrillo.it, May 2008.The list: www.beppegrillo.it/documenti/parlamento_pulito_2008.pdf

UK Government loses appeal against de-proscription of PMOI - how long before the EU backs down? The Court of Appeal has refused to overturn a ruling that it must end the "perverse" listing of an Iranian opposition group as a banned terrorist group, ruling that there were "no valid grounds" to contend that the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission made legal errors when it ordered the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) to be removed from the 'blacklist' (AP, 7.5.08). In December 2006, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the PMOI should be removed for from the EU terrorist list, partly on the grounds that the reasons for its inclusion were "unclear". But the EU has steadfastly refused to remove them from the list, a position that now appears wholly untenable. See: See Statewatch Observatory on "Terrorist" lists: monitoring proscription, designation and asset-freezing

EU-AUSTRIA: To introduce Schengen border controls on entry for European football championship: Full-text of EU doc no: 9068/08, pdf) See also: Expulsion from Belgium and Schengen bans for anti-war protesters - SIS used to curb dissent; Schengen framework used to curb free movement and Football fans taken off records

UK: Damning verdict on police complaints watchdog (press release) and Court judgment: full-text

USA: Congressional Research Service report: Data Mining and Homeland Security: An Overview

EU-ECJ: The Court's judgment today annuls the "safe third country" and "safe country of origin" provisions of the procedures directive - and also states that the co-decision procedure now fully applies to asylum law. The case was brought by the European Parliament: Case C-133/06 - full-text of judgment (pdf).

See for background: Statewatch's analysis and coverage: EU divided over list of “safe countries of origin” – Statewatch calls for the list to be scrapped (pdf) and EU divided over list of "safe countries of origin" - the list should be scrapped - secret documents reveal a shallow process without any sense of morality or humanity

UK: Police seek to axe anti-arms trade movie (link to SchNews) and Watching You in Big Brother Britain (thanks to SchNews): Car of peace protesters "flagged" on Police National Computer led to them being stopped and questioned under the Terrorism Act.

UK: The UK has the most CCTV cameras in the world: CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police (Guardian, link)

EU: FOI IN THE EU: Revised and Updated: Statewatch analysis of the proposed changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents
by Tony Bunyan with additional comments from Steve Peers, May 2008.

Full background and documentation since 1993 is on the Statewatch Observatory: FOI in the EU

EU: FOI IN THE EU: Should there be a Freedom of Information Act for the EU? (European Citizens Action Service,pdf) Brussels criticised on access to documents law (euobserver, link) The European Commission proposes to improve public access to documents of the EU institutions (Commission press release, pdf)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Mr Barroso says "the access to document rules are working well. These changes seek to improve the access to documents for European citizens". While Commissioner Wallstrom says "Access to documents is an essential tool for democracy and now we want to improve it".

The rules on access are not working well and these changes will takes us several steps backwards. For example, the Commission does not agree with the definition of a "document" in the Regulation, so it wants to change it. The Commission's public register of documents is a joke so now it wants to change the rules. There would be a longer list of exceptions to refuse access, including mandatory exceptions where applications do not even have to be considered. And would leave in place the rule which allows the institutions to deny access to documents on measures about to be adopted in Brussels - a practice that would never be tolerated at national level.

The Amsterdam Treaty was agreed 11 years ago (1997) and was meant to herald a new era of openness and transparency – we only got half of the loaf and have been waiting for the other half, now the Commission wants to takes away some of this.”

See: Statewatch analysis of the proposals
Full background and documentation since 1993 is on the Statewatch Observatory: FOI in the EU and see also:

- Viewpoint by Tony Bunyan: More openness or just a drop in the ocean? The need for Freedom of Information in the EU
- The right to know or the right to try and find out? The need for an EU freedom of information law, by Ben Hayes
- "Unaccountable Europe" by Tony Bunyan

ITALY-GENOA 2001: Rete del Sud Ribelle activists acquitted of "subversive association" charges


 

Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error