October

EU-PNR: Latest Council document: General discussion of matters relating to the analysis and transmission of PNR data and data-protection (pdf) and PNR: Opinion of the Fundamental Rights Agency (pdf)

UK: Joint Human Rights Committee: Parliamentary Committee criticises government's "unacceptable delay" in removing breaches of human rights standards by UK: Full-report (112 pages, pdf) In this year's report the Committee again considers a number of issues including corporal punishment of children; investigations into cases involving the use of lethal force and the total ban on prisoners' voting. Chair of the Committee Andrew Dismore MP said;

"This report highlights some of the cases where a breach of individual rights has been identified, yet the Government has failed to respond with decisive action to prevent repeat violations arising. Providing an effective, speedy and transparent response to the decisions of the courts must be part of the Government's commitment to bring rights home."

ID CARDS: Northern Ireland HUman Rights Commission: More than just a card: Intrusion, exclusion and suspect communities: implications in Northern Ireland of the British National Identity Scheme (pdf) and Ethnic Profiling, ID Cards and European Experience (pdf) See also: The Irish dimension to the case against ID cards (IRR News, link)

EU: PROPOSED ENTRY-EXIT SYSTEM: National responses to questionnaire: Presidency project for a system of electronic recording of entry and exit dates of third-country nationals in the Schengen area (68 pages, pdf), Belgium response (pdf) and Portugal response (pdf)

EU: Police Cooperation - Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg): Police cooperation within the Benelux (EU doc no: 14509/08, pdf)

EU: Undercover police: Latest: Overview of replies to questionnaire on undercover officers (EU doc no: 5001-Rev 4-08, pdf)

EU: "Friends of VIS" set-up: Draft Council Conclusions on a group of "Friends of the VIS" (pdf)

UK-EU: All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition: Report (pdf)

EU: DATA RETENTION: Press release by Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (German Working Group on Data Retention), 29 October 2008:

"Resistance against watering down of traffic data protection

In a letter to EU Commissioner Viviane Reding published today, 11 German organisations are criticising a European Parliament move that would allow telcommunications providers to collect traffic data for "security purposes".

The civil liberties, journalists, lawyers and consumer protection organisations are warning in the letter that the European Parliament's vote on the telecom package of 24 September contains a "blank cheque" for the collection of more traffic data than is currently being collected even under the directive on data retention, without setting a time limit. The series of data abuses and incidents that have occurred in Germany, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary in recent years demonstrates that only erased data is safe data, the letter continues. The EU Council (where the telecom package will be debated on 27 November) is asked to reject the proposal.

A background paper published today by the German Working Group on Data Retention points out that the European Parliament move is the result of lobbying by the US-based Business Software Alliance (BSA). The BSA recently sent a hitherto unpublished paper to EU member states, pushing for even more extensive data collection powers and for exempting Internet usage data from data protection law."

The letter sent by 11 organisations (in German):
The Working Group's background paper on the issue (in English)
The Business Software Alliance's lobbying paper (in English)

UK: Bigger databases increase risks, says watchdog (Guardian, link)

"The proliferation of ever larger centralised databases is increasing the risk of people's personal data being lost or abused, the government's official privacy watchdog claims today. The warning from the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, comes as he discloses that reported data losses have soared in the past year."

EU: ACCESS TO EU DOCUMENTS - FINLAND: Commission proposals would "constitute a backward step": Ministry of Justice, Finland, Press Release (pdf)

"If adopted in the proposed form, the proposal, however, would be more restrictive than the current rules on access to documents. The Commission proposes to exclude some document categories totally from the scope of implementation of the Regulation. The Commission also proposes that documents be accessible to the public only if they are registered and meet certain technical requirements....

The Government finds that the regulation on access to documents has worked well on the whole and that there is no reason to change its fundamental principles. The Commission proposal would, if adopted as such, constitute a step backwards."

and Opinion of the Grand Committee in the Finnish Parliament (pdf)

"The Grand Committee emphasises that if approved, the Commission's proposal would lead to a major reversal of the Union's transparency and the public's access to documents. The proposal is thus in contradiction to goals that have been repeatedly affirmed by the European Council.

The Grand Committee considers it worrying and reproachable that the Commission has advanced in support of its proposal justifications that must be considered untrue and misleading. Such conduct is liable to weaken the Commission's public credibility."

If looks could kill: Security experts reckon the latest technology can detect hostile intentions before something bad happens. Unless it is perfect, though, that may be bad in itself (Economist, link)

SPAIN: Report to the Human Rights Committee, October 2008 (pdf). Its Conclusions include:

"Torture and ill-treatment are an on-going reality in the Spanish state prisons, police stations, minors’ centres or alien centres, as well as in the streets and public spaces. This violence is a Spanish state exclusive responsibility. The more than 5.000 complaints compiled during the last 7 years show us the size of this problem."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 24 October 2008: Press release (English, pdf)

UK: Police will use new device to take fingerprints in street (Guardian, link)

EU-AFRICA: European Commission: One year after Lisbon: The Africa-EU partnership at work (COM 617, pdf) and One year after Lisbon: The Africa-EU Partnership at work: Commission contributions to the implementation of the EU-Africa Action Plan (2008-2010) (SEC 2603, pdf)

EU: Exchange of criminal information and "intelligence": Draft Guidelines on the implementation of the "Swedish Framework Decision" (105 pages, pdf). This is a "partially accessible" document with the names of officials removed:

"The aim of this publication is to provide guidelines for the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union."

EU: Statewatch analysis: Proposals for greater openness, transparency and democracy in the EU (pdf) by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex.

"The European Union’s titanic treaties keep hitting the icebergs of public opinion. Despite some undoubted improvements in ensuring openness and transparency in
the EU since 1991, there is still a widespread and justified perception that:

- the EU’s activities are too secretive and convoluted,
- the EU does not listen enough to the general public or organised civil society; and
- there is too little control of the activities of the EU by the public, and in particular there is insufficient control of EU actions by directly elected parliaments....

The steps toward further openness, transparency and democracy in the European Union outlined in this analysis could largely be taken separately from any initiative relating to ratification of the Treaty 0f Lisbon."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Luxembourg, 24 October 2008: Press release (French, pdf); Background Note (pdf)  "B" Points agenda (pdf). "A" Points agenda (pdf) The agenda includes discussion on the following two documents:

- Draft Council conclusions on setting up national alert platforms and a European alert platform for reporting offences noted on the Internet (EU doc no: 14071/08, pdf). Council "Conclusions" are enabling measures (known as "soft law"). A European alert "platform" is to be set up to deal with cybercrime with:

"the aim is to promote common practices with regard to the tracing, acquisition, compilation and storage of data, search and seizure of computer data".

The question though is: What is cybercrime? Up to now this has only covered terrorism and child pornography. But there is talk now of extending what the EU calls "cyber patrols" to other crimes, as yet undefined.

- Police cooperation within the Salzburg Forum - an example for successful Regional Cooperation - Joint Presentation of the Salzburg Forum on EU level (EU doc no: 14304/08, pdf). Report of a group, "the Salzburg Forum", that you might never have heard of:

"The Salzburg Forum which was founded in 2001 constitutes a platform for regional cooperation in the field of internal security between Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Croatia takes part in the Salzburg Forum as an observer."

UK: Why are fear and distrust spiralling in twenty-first century Britain? Joseph Rowntree Foundation (pdf)

EU: Body Scanners at airports: MEPs say that fundamental rights are under threat (EP Press release, pdf)

EU: Social Movements Against the Global Security Architecture (pdf) A Critique of the Militarisation of Social Conflict and the Securitisation of Everyday Life: Assessment of the Strategy Papers of the 'Future Group' (on the future of EU Home Affairs policies) and the 'new strategic directions' of NATO, put forward in the publication, 'Towards a Grand Strategy in an Uncertain World' - Proposal for a campaign against the new EU policies to be ratified under the Swedish Presidency of the EU in 2009. This analysis uses Statewatch's: The Shape of Things to Come (pdf)

Not the Way Forward: The UK’s Dangerous Reliance on Diplomatic Assurances (Human Rights Watch, link)

UK: Farnborough Airport: 'terrorist' plane spotters (Indymedia, link)

USA: The TSA and DHS released their final rule for the so-called Secure Flight program to require each would-be airline passenger, even on domestic flights within the USA, to get individualised per-person, per-flight prior permission from the TSA before they would be "allowed" to board a plane: See: The Practical Nomad (link)

EU: Kopernicus – what’s in it for Joe public? by Philip Hunt, October 2008.

"The GMES forum in Lille on the 16-17 September 2008 was a perfect example of why so many EU institutional efforts fail to get a good press. The event marked the launch of Kopernicus, the new EU umbrella for a host of different earth surveillance services from satellites and ground sensors. Yet the occasion singularly failed to impress."

What is Kopernikus? "Kopernikus is a European initiative, formerly called Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES), which uses satellites and other sensors on the ground, floating in the water or flying through the air to monitor our natural environment as well as keeping an eye on the security of every citizen."

UK: Identity minister moots ID cards on driving licences (The Register, link) "Speaking at the Biometrics Conference 2008, Home Office minister Meg Hillier said there was 'nothing to stop' drivers' licences or other documents from being designated to work as ID cards.... Under the Identity Card Act 2006, the Home Secretary can "designate documents" that will require anybody applying for them to be placed on the National Identity Register (NIR), the backbone of the ID card scheme." Hillier's presentation to the Biometrics Conference 2008: "showed ID cards also playing a part in accessing public services from 2015, with the minister showing a slide referencing maternity allowance, tax returns, TV licences and incapacity benefit."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This idea supports the contention, not just in the UK but across the EU, that it is only a matter of time before there is one state-issued card. This would include biometrics (eg: finger-prints) and cover passports, ID cards, driving licences, health records and so-called e-government (ie: going to the doctor, getting out a library book etc). When this data is combined with other information held by the state (eg: tax, employment, criminal record, travel history, phone-calls, internet usage etc) the surveillance of everyday life of everyone living in the EU is going to be all pervasive."

Background: The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) including the "Internet of Things", the "digital tsunami" and surveillance by public security agencies.

EU: European Criminal Record Information System: ECRIS latest draft proposal (EU doc no: 12858/08, pdf) ECRIS is intended to create: "efficient mechanism of exchange of information extracted from criminal records."

Among the offences listed are:

- Insult of the State, Nation or State symbols
- Insult or resistance to a representative of public authority
- Public order offences, breach of the public peace
- Revealing a secret or breaching an obligation of secrecy
- Unintentional damage or destruction of property
- Unauthorised entry or residence
- Other unintentional offences
- Prohibition from entry to a mass event
- Placement under electronic surveillance
- Withdrawal of a hunting / fishing license
- Prohibition to play certain games/sports
- Prohibition from national territory

This proposal replaces an earlier draft: EU doc no: 12007/08 (pdf)

Background: European Data Protection Supervisor: European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) (Press release and Opinion, pdf). Commission proposal for ECRIS (pdf) and Outcome of first discussions in the Council's Multidisciplinary Group on Organised Crime (pdf) - yet another instance where law enforcement agents and officials will be deciding on the transfer of personal data.

UK: Our rights are priceless in the relentless struggle against terrorism says Sir Ken Macdonald (Crown Prosecution Service, link). See also: Sir Ken Macdonald: "The response to terror should not include surrender" (Independent, link)

Interpol wants facial recognition database to catch suspects (Guardian, link)

The creeping database state: UK: Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones (Times, link) and EU: Draft Council conclusions on the use of closed-circuit television surveillance in combating terrorism

The latter includes enabling: "police and security services to benefit from a full national or regional mapping of CCTV installations, which could help them to carry out their missions." and "Advantage should be taken of the possibilities offered by developments in technology."

This is a reference to the next generation of CCTV cameras which collect and store digital images which can be searched for facial matches, See The Shape of Things to Come of "Internet of Things", the "digital tsunami" and surveillance by public security agencies.

THE "WAR ON TERRORISM": Free agent: Former MI5 chief and spy novelist Stella Rimington speaks her mind - on Iraq, the 'huge overreaction' to 9/11, and why the secret service is much more liberal than we think (Guardian, link) and Response to 9/11 was 'huge overreaction' - ex-MI5 chief (link)

OECD Group demands rapid UK action to enact adequate anti-bribery laws (Press release, link) and Full-text of OECD report on UK (link, pdf). See also: Britain's failure to tackle corruption damned amid new claims against BAE (Guardian, link)

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Annual report on access to documents, 2007 (pdf). The low number of visitors to the Commission's public register of its documents - only 39,013 over the full year, 3,251 per month - tells us that it is not seen as a useful source of documentation. Many, many documents are not listed and of those that are many do not give access to the text of the document. And this leads in turn to:

"The constant increase in the number of initial applications since the Regulation was adopted was again observed in 2007, when 4196 initial applications were registered by departments, 355 more than in 2006."

The Commission's failure to list all the documents its receives or produces is the subject of a Statewatch complaint to the European Ombudsman.

EU: RETURNS DIRECTIVE: Migreurop statement on the first effects of the returns directive: Three months on from the return directive's approval by the European Parliament, Migreurop notes how its implementation of an approach involving the systematic detention of migrants is being followed by Member States approving measures that follow the same rationale, namely the detention and criminalisation of migrants. Highlighting developments in France and Italy, the European network reaffirms its commitment to struggle against human rights abuses in detention centres through its campaign to guarantee a right of access to detention sites:

Detention of foreigners : the first effects of the "return" directive (English)
Détention d'étrangers : les premiers contrecoups de la directive retour (French, original)
Detenzione degli stranieri : i primi effetti della direttiva Rimpatri (Italian)
Detención de extranjeros : los primeros efectos de la Directiva " retorno" (Spanish)

Basque Parliament resolution strongly condemns the Returns Directive: In its plenary session on 10 October 2008, the Basque Parliament approved a resolution that strongly condemns the Returns Directive, described as "a serious violation of fundamental human rights", for "penalising and criminalising" people who merely seek to enter Europe to work and improve their living conditions. It encourages Basque institutions, political groups and society to devise ways of opposing and minimising the impact of its implementation to stop the "limiting of fundamental human rights", and the creation of a category of human beings "who are even more vulnerable, and who may be subjected to all manners of abuses due to their being considered irregular". It also calls on European Union member states to reconsider the Directive's contents, drawing a comparison with the time when "many of us, men and women... were forced to emigrate... as a consequence of the civil war and dictatorship, or for economic reasons". Original (in Euskera - Basque - and Spanish) (pdf, pp. 5-8). Unofficial Statewatch translation Thanks to Mugak/SOS Arrazakeria for drawing our attention to this document.

EU: European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (full-text, EU doc no: 13440/08, pdf) The European Pact on Immigration and Asylum is still not officially online on the Council's public register of documents as we write, even after its adoption by the EU Summit (15-16 October 2008). No draft has ever been online, even after it was agreed by the last Justice and Home Affairs Council - five versions are listed but their text is not publicly accessible.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"After all the media speculation as to what is and is not in the Pact it is a disgrace that its text was not made publicly available at any stage. It was not officially available before the JHA Council agreed it, when parliaments and civil society might have wished to express a view. It was not available after it was agreed by the JHA Council, nor now when it has been adopted by European Summit. This is no way to instil trust in democracy at the EU level."

An unofficial version was made available by Statewatch in July:
Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Cannes: European Pact on immigration and asylum

EU-PNR scheme being re-written by the Council: EU-PNR system to cover all flights in and out of the EU and to cover everyone, EU citizens and visitors - in addition any EU state that wants to (like the UK) can extend this to cover flights within the EU as well. Processed PNR data to be checked against: "national, international and European files"

EU-DETENTION CENTRES/CAMPS: Migreurop have updated their map of Europe: Detention centres/camps (link)

ECJ-MANDATORY DATA RETENTION: Advocate General in the European Court of Justice considered that the EU directive on data retention was enacted on the correct legal basis in a case brought by Ireland: Press release (pdf) and Full-text of Opinion (pdf). The Advocate General says that "Article 95 EC must be intended
to improve the conditions for the establishment and functioning of the internal market" and is therefore the correct legal basis. Then in bizarre reasoning states that:

"As regards Ireland’s argument that the sole or main purpose of the directive is the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, the Advocate General accepts that there is no doubt that the rationale of the obligation to retain data lies in the fact that it facilitates that objective. Nevertheless, he considers that the mere fact that the directive refers to such an objective is not sufficient for a finding that it is an act falling within the area covered by police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters."

See Statewatch Observatory The surveillance of telecommunications in the EU

USA: High level report condemns data-mining: Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment (link) and Executive Summary (pdf). See also: ACLU press release: ACLU Hails DHS-Funded Report Condemning Data Mining (link)

UK: Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Statewatch and Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC). A seminar series on: “Terrorist lists”, Proscription, Designation and Human Rights: Fourth Seminar: Tuesday 21st October National security, proscription and foreign policy ‘War on terror’, new world order? Seminar leaflet (pdf)

UK: Storm over Big Brother database (Independent, link) "Early plans to create a giant "Big Brother" database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog."

EU-EP-COMMISSION: "Body scanners": Civil Liberties Committee unanimously calls on the Commission to appear before the parliament to explain itself:

"European Parliament to debate on airport body scanners: On initiative of the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats for Europe, today the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties unanimously decided to ask the Commission to come before the Parliament and refer on a proposal to allow European airports to introduce body scanners at security check points.

"The introduction of systems to scan the naked body of an airplane passenger poses a serious challenge to individual privacy and fundamental liberties. This is a decision that cannot be dealt with merely at a technical level. The European Parliament must have a say on this decision," said Marco Cappato MEP (Radicals/ALDE), author of the oral question on the matter which will be debated in plenary by the European Parliament." (ALDE press release)

Question to the Commission (pdf)

See story below: The lead Transport Committee in the European Parliament decided not to act.

PORTUGAL-CIA FLIGHTS: Jornal de Notícias, Portugal, 9.10.08. Secret CIA flights: Along with other European countries, Portugal granted fly-over rights in the past for CIA planes carrying presumed Islamic terrorists. Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Amado explained yesterday that if Portugal's government has not made a statement on the matter, it was to avoid prejudicing EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who was Portuguese prime minister at the time. Jornal de Notícias critices this position: "Luís Amado is entirely right, Barroso should be spared inconvenience. He is an important man in the EU, and we are always proud when one of our emigrants is successful. ... As citizens, however, we have the right to know whether our government was aware at least of this one flight between Guantánamo and Cairo with a stop-over at the Portuguese military base [on the Azores Islands]. ... We have the right to know if the government authorised these flights or not, and if so under what conditions." See also: REPRIEVE submission to Portuguese Inquiry into rendition, 2 April 2008 (pdf)

EU-EP-COMMISSION: Body scanners: The European Parliament's Transport Committee is not going to use its powers to oppose the Commission's plans to introduce new airport security measures including body scanners (which strip people naked) because Commission Vice-president Tajani has told the Committee that the Commission intention is to allow the use of body scanners only as an additional option for the screening of passengers, not an obligation.

The measure was proposed in the Commission proposal for a Regulation on aviation security: full-text (pdf). As it is being considered as a "technical measure" falling within the powers of the Commission the European Parliament has either to accept or reject the whole proposal - which the Transport Committee is choosing not to do. The Commission's view is set out in a letter from Vice-President Tajani in a letter to Mr Costa, Chair of the Transport Committee: Tagani letter (pdf)

The Commission's position is a bit different from that taken in its: Third Report on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No. 2320/2002 establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation security (COM 582 dated 29 September 2008, pdf) which says:

"A number of trials have been progressed during 2007, involving the use of body scanners (millimetre wave and backscatter) and dogs. At the end of the trial period, the Commission will decide whether the new method should be included in EU legislation. It is highly likely that this will soon be the case for body scanning equipment, which is expected to considerably facilitate passenger flow through screening points as well as raising standards." (emphasis added)

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The notion that the Commission's proposal for introducing "body scanners", which strip people naked, is OK because their use is only "optional" is irresponsible - all EU states could decide to exercise this option.

In an EU of "common values" and standards a proposal which would subject people including women, old people and children to such a shameful and undignified experience and that offends against proportionality, privacy and civil liberties should not be sanctioned anywhere."

USA: IT DOESN'T ADD UP (Schnes, link) In Maryland, USA, paranoid police have been getting all hot under the collar about a dark and sinister group called “Algebra.” This group was approached by someone from “Homeland Security” who asked what the group’s message and agenda was. The Al-gebra Project, however, has no links to Al-Qaeda. It is actually just a group trying to improve young people’s maths skills.

EU: Fingerprinting children for EU passports: The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee voted in favour of fingerprinting children from the age of 12 for passports, the same age as agreed for visas. The plenary session of the EP now has to vote on the issue: Letter from Sarah Ludford MEP to the rapporteur (pdf), BIODEV II: Children Fingerprinting Intermediary report to the European Commission (pdf) Biometrics of Juveniles (Sagem, pdf) and UK test figures (pdf). Background: Civil Liberties Committee votes for finger-printing children from the age of 12 and above for EU passports (EP press release) and Google Search for Statewatch coverage

UK: Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee: Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights (Thirteenth Report): Counter- Terrorism Bill (pdf)

EU: European Commission Communication: Strengthening the global approach to migration increasing coordination, coherence and synergies (pdf) and Report on: The application of Directive 2003/86/EC on the right of family reunification(pdf)

UK border facial scan tests hit by errors and breakdowns (Register, link) "A trial of automated border control using facial scanners is already in trouble, according to UK Border Agency (UKBA) sources quoted by the Daily Telegraph. The scanners at Manchester airport, said one source, are breaking down on almost a daily basis, and the automatic booths are unable to detect 'tailgating', where two people go through on one passport."

UK: The all-seeing state is about to end privacy as we know it - Plans for a vast central database of our emails, phone calls and texts will see everyone monitored as a potential suspect (Guardian, link).

The number of accesses to communications data held by service providers:

1 January 2005 - 31 March 2006: 439,054 giving an adjusted annual figure of :    351,243
1 April - 31 December 2006: 253,557, giving an adjusted annual figure of:            338,076
1 January - 31 December 2007: full 12 month figure:                                                 519,260

The great majority of requests are by law enforcement agencies who have automated access to the data.

In addition, surveillance warrants ("telephone-tapping") issued by the Home Secretary have risen from 1,712 when the Labour government came to power in 1997 to 7,970 in 2007 - the highest figure on record.

See: Statewatch's Observatory: Telephone tapping (and mail-opening figures) 1937-2007

See also: There’s no hiding place as spy HQ plans to see all (Sunday Times, link) and 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)

For context see: critique in: The Shape of Things to Come of "Internet of Things", the "digital tsunami" and surveillance by public security agencies.

Institute of Race Relations (IRR): CATCHING HISTORY ON THE WING On 1 November 2008 the Institute of Race Relations shall be celebrating fifty years of its existence with a conference on anti-racism - past and future. The event will provide the chance both to celebrate IRR's achievements and have serious debates on the anti-racist struggles ahead with Lord Ouseley, Colin Prescod, A. Sivanandan, David Edgar, Victoria Brittain, Salma Yaqoob, Ruqayyah Collector, Arun Kundnani and Liz Fekete, among others. Catching History on the Wing on Saturday 1 November 2008, 1-6pm at Mander Hall, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD.

The full agenda can be viewed here: http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf/CatchingHistoryOnTheWing.doc Tickets cost £10 waged, and can be ordered online at: http://www.irr.org.uk/2008/november/ha000001.html, by phone with a credit card or by sending us a cheque in the post. A limited number of free tickets are available for the unwaged, but must be booked in advance.

Also to mark our 50th birthday, a collection of writings by A. Sivanandan, entitled Catching History on the Wing, is being published by Pluto Press. Advance copies can be purchased from the IRR now at a special price of £12, for a limited time only. For more information and to order your copy, go to http://www.irr.org.uk/2008/september/ha000014.html

European Parliament: Draft Committee reports on: On problem of profiling, notably on the basis of ethnicity and race, in counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration, customs and border control (Sarah Ludford MEP, pdf) and The Annual Reports of the European Parliament, Commission and Council on public access to documents (Marco Cappato MEP, pdf)

Proposals you might have missed:

NATO: Albania and Croatia to join NATO (pdf)
UK & IOM: UK government proposal to grant full international status to the IOM (International Organisation on Migration, pdf) including "immunity from jurisdiction and execution" and "immunity from personal arrest and detention". The IOM in the UK (links) works with the Home Office to "return" people to third world countries and says that: "Since 1999 IOM UK has assisted more than 27,000 people to return to some 130 countries."

EU: The Internet of Things - French Council Presidency Conference Nice, 6-7 October (link) Allegedly a conference bringing together "stakeholders", while the speakers are pre-dominantly from multinationals. European Commission: Early Challenges regarding the “Internet of Things” (September 2008, pdf) Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor: RFID (pdf) Opinion of the Article 29 Working Party on personal data (WP 136, pdf)

Background: See critique in: The Shape of Things to Come of "Internet of Things", the "digital tsunami" and surveillance by public security agencies.

European Commission press release: Security research for a safer world (pdf) and The Third European Security Research Conference (SRC’08) held in Paris on 29 and 30 September 2008. Organised under the French Presidency of the European Union, this event will bring together more than 1,200 representatives from the worlds of research, industry and European institutions. List of speakers and full-text of some presentations (link) and European Security Research and Innoviation Forum intermediate report (pdf)

Background: Statewatch Report: Arming Big Brother: new research reveals the true costs of Europe's security-industrial complex by Ben Hayes (pdf). The EU is preparing to spend hundreds of million on new research into surveillance and control technologies, a report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Statewatch.

Council of Europe: Convention on access to documents: European Parliamentarians call on Council of Europe To Redraft Substandard Convention on Access to Official Documents (Press release, pdf):

"Strasbourg, 6 October 2008: The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Friday (3 October 2008) adopted unanimously a resolution expressing concern that the world’s first treaty intended to guarantee public access to information had significant flaws. In a rare step, PACE called for the Convention on Access to Official Documents to be redrafted."

EU-EP: "Body scanners" proposal: Draft question to the European Commission for the European Parliament plenary session (ALDE group, pdf) It is proposed by Marco Cappato and co-signed by Ignasi Guardans, Jeanine Hennid-Plasschaert, Renate Weber, Ona Juckneviciene, Sarah Ludford, Alexander Alvaro and Sophie in't Veld:

"Although such a measure has a fundamental impact on fundamental human rights, such as the right to privacy, to data protection and to personal dignity, it is being examined in the framework of the comitology procedure, as if it was a merely technical measure related to civil aviation. The European Data Protection Supervisor has not been consulted on the matter, nor the Fundamental Rights Agency, while the Commission did not accompany the proposal with an impact analysis on fundamental human rights."

European Commission proposes "Virtual strip searches" with "body scanners" able to strip people naked at airports to be introduced by April 2010: Commission proposal for a Regulation on aviation security: full-text (pdf). See below for press coverage.

EU: Damning report from Court of Auditors on EU agencies including FRONTEX (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States, pdf) Even the Council's draft Conclusions recognise the problems: EU doc no 13528/08 (pdf) and notes:

"WITH CONCERN the general findings of the Court that the audited decentralised agencies do not plan their activities adequately nor, for most of them, have at their disposal sound tools for monitoring their activities, and that the reporting of the activities and the evaluation of the results need to be improved; CALLS on the agencies concerned to remedy to this situation."

Spain: SOS Racismo on creation of "Brigade for the Expulsion of Foreign Offenders" A day after the announcement on 25 September 2008 by the Secretary of State for Security, Antonio Camacho, that a special police brigade (Brigada de Expulsiones de Delincuentes Extranjeros, Bedex) would be set up to pursue foreign nationals involved in crimes that cause social alarm, such as membership of organised criminal gangs, terrorism or gender-based violence, SOS Racismo issued a statement describing the measure as a further step towards "legal apartheid".
"A new police brigade that increases legal apartheid" [English, Statewatch translation]
"Una nueva brigada policial que aumenta el apartheid jurídico" [original, in Spanish]

Italy: Ghanaian student beaten up by local traffic police in Parma. Emmanuel, a 22-year-old Ghanaian student, was beaten up by the vigili urbani (local traffic police) in Parma, after he was picked up on suspicion of drug dealing on 29 September 2008.

This is one of the latest in a long list of attacks that have taken place over the last few weeks, which, alongside the Berlusconi government's policies on immigration and security, have resulted in a national demonstration against racism being organised that will take place in Rome tomorrow, on 4 October 2008.

"Emmanuel - beaten up and insulted in Parma by the municipal police". (link, progetto Melting Pot Europa)
Contro tutti i razzismi, national demonstration blog

UN human rights chief spotlights plight of millions of detainees worldwide: Press conference by new Commissioner Navanethem Pillay (UN link). In another report Immigrants among millions unlawfully detained: rights chief (Reuters, link) the Commissioner singles out the EU for criticism of excessively long periods of detention of migrants::

"We have a number of concerns with increasingly restrictive and often punitive approaches to migration in many developed countries of which the EU's recent return directive is one example," she told a news conference.

"The great majority of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are not criminals and therefore should not be confined in detention centres like criminals," Pillay said.

Under the EU plan agreed last May, illegal immigrants to the 27-member bloc can be detained for up to 18 months before being sent home, and also face a five-year re-entry ban.

Referring to that maximum detention period, Pillay said: "This appears excessive, especially if obstacles to removal are beyond the immigrant's control, for example if their home country fails to provide the necessary documentation." "

EU/Africa: Fortress Europe blog details 191 deaths in September and 619 in the third quarter of 2008

The Fortress Europe blog which tracks the deaths of migrants during their migration journey, has published its figures for September 2008, noting that there were 191 deaths, with incidents entailing the most fatalities taking place in Egypt (83), in the Channel of Sicily (35), in Sudan (21), in Spain (15) and in Greek minefields in the Evros region near Turkey (4). The death count in August was the worst in the whole of 2008, with 270 deaths, a majority of which occurred between Libya and Italy (179), with deaths also occurring in Algeria (14), Spain (45), Greece (1), Egypt (1) and Iran (30). In July, there were at least 158 deaths, including 13 infants and two pregnant women, of which 48 occurred in the Channel of Sicily, the same number in Spain, and 38 disappeared on the route between Algeria and Sardinia.
For the break-downs, monthly reports and more, see: Fortress Europe (link)

EU-AFRICA: Counter EU-Africa Summit - Citizens' Summit on Migration, Paris 17-18 October 2008: Call for a Citizen Summit on migration (English, link), Sommet Citoyen sur les Migrations (link) and Dossier for the Press (pdf). Over 250 NGOs are supporting the Citizens' Summit including Statewatch.

COE-UK: Council of Europe report criticises 42-day detention - Plan could breach human rights legislation - Separate report criticises conditions for detainees (Guardian, link) Report to the UK Government on the visit to the UK carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 2 to 6 December 2007
(pdf) and UK government response (pdf) plus CoE: Parliamentary Assembly report: Proposed 42-day pre-charge detention in the United Kingdom (CoE, link)


 

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