EU: 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). The Commission proposal is being considered by the Transport Committee in the European Parliament. Letter from Paolo Costa (Chair of the European Parliament's Transport Committee) to the Commission (pdf) raises questions on the continuing liquids ban - has the Commission carried out the promised review? And on the introduction of "body scanners".
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"The Commission's proposal that "body scanners", which strip people naked, are to be part of a new aviation security package is not explained or justified at all. It would appear that this is yet another case of "if it is technologically possible it should be used" without any consideration of proportionality, privacy and civil liberties.
The screening methods proposed include metal detection, explosive trace equipment and bottled liquid scanners, what else will be revealed by body scanning? And if there is another need then it should be targeted with a specific technology without subjecting people including women, old people and children to such a shameful and undignified experience"
See: Press coverage (1 October) and see EU to introduce 'virtual strip searches' at airports by 2010 - Digital body scanners which leave little to the imagination will be used by airport security on passengers travelling across the European Union within two years (Daily Telegraph, link)
See: ACLU Backgrounder on Body Scanners and “Virtual Strip Searches”
See: US newspapers and information on implementation:
UK: Investigation into claims of abuse on asylum-seekers (Independent, link) See: 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)
EU: Juristras has released its project home-page JURISTRAS (link) comparatively explores processes of human rights litigation in the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the effects of its judgments on national laws, judicial attitudes and policy making. Among the countries under study are: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Rumania, Turkey, and United Kingdom.
Austria in crisis as far right win 29% of vote - Strache seen as further to right than mentor Haider (Guardian, link)
EU: FOI in the EU: When is a “document” not a “document”? (pdf) Analysis by Tony Bunyan.
The European Commission has put forward a number of changes to the Regulation on access to EU documents adopted in 2001. Controversially it proposes to change the definition of a "document" which in turn affect which would or would not be listed on its public register of documents. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the European Ombudsman has just ruled that the Commission must abide by the existing definition of a "document" in the Regulation and that it must list all the documents it holds on its public register?
EU: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - State of Play:
- The "Blue Card" proposal for so-called "legal migration": EU doc no: 13163/08 (pdf)
- The "Blue Card" proposal: EU doc no: 13009/08 (pdf)
- Employer sanctions: Working Party on Migration and Expulsion: EU doc no: 12634/08 (pdf)
- Employer sanctions: Working Party on Migration and Expulsion: EU doc no: 11366/08 (pdf)
EU: The European Commission has launched a consultation on: "Freedom, Security and Justice: What will be the future?", consultation on priorities for the next five years (2010-2014)": Consultation (link). First, the texts of the Tampere programme (1999-2004) and the Hague programme (2005-2009) are provided but there is no reference to the Future Report: Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an open world (pdf) report from the Council - this has been sent to the Commission who will draft a proposal for the next 5 years, the "Stockholm" programme (2010-2014) and the final content will be decided and adopted by the Council (the 27 EU governments). See also critique of this report: The Shape of Things to Come
Indeed in the Briefing Note (from the French Council Presidency to JHA Ministers) for the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 July it says the:
"Commission reaffirmed that it [Future Group report] is an excellent contribution and that they will be a source of inspiration during the development of the post The Hague.programme" (EU doc no: 12418/08)
Second, some of the questions in the consultation are really pretty basic, eg: "Do you think that the EU should step coordination to curb illegal immigration into the EU? and "Do you think the EU should do more to help Member States seize and confiscate profits from criminal activities in order to ensure that crime does not pay?" and "Should the EU do more in the fight against corruption?" Full text of consultation (pdf).
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"It would be very naive to expect the responses to the consultation to have much influence on what the Commission proposes because many of the questions are far too general. In addition, not to tell people what the Council - who will make the final decision - has already sent to the Commission in its "Future Group" report means that many questions which should be asked are not."
See also Statewatch's Observatory: "The Shape of Things to Come" - the EU Future group
UK: First sight of the ID cards that will soon be compulsory (Independent, link) "The Government was accused yesterday of cynically targeting immigrants to boost support for its controversial £4.7bn compulsory identity cards scheme as the Home Office unveiled the documents it plans will eventually be held by every adult in Britain." and Editorial: An assault on our freedom (link)
EU-USA: Exchange of letters show that the USA wants an agreement with the EU signed in December 2008 on the US ESTA (Electronic System of Travel Authorisation) system while the US side fails to answer derailed questions on privacy and protection. EU Commissioner Barrot wrote to Michael Chertoff, Head of US Homeland Security on 8 September 2008: Full-text of letter to Chertoff (pdf). This says that the EU wrote to the US on 4 August but that the reply of 29 August "fails to answer any of the specific questions we asked". The reply from Chertoff, on 15 September 2008: Full text of Chertoff reply (pdf) says that while they are "committed" to privacy:
"the data we gather under US law from those seeking to enter the United States is not subject to negotiation."
The Chertoff response then refers to the EU-US "High Level Contact Group" on data protection and exchange as providing the solution and the matter should be resolved "in time for our signing an agreement when you come to Washington in December".
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"This is typical of the EU-US relationship. The US lays down the law and expects the EU to comply and if it does not then - as on visas - the US simply negotiates behind its back with individual Member States. The idea that the High Level Contact Group report could provide privacy and data protection to EU citizens is simply nonsense as the ACLU has observed."
Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the European Parliament: Full-text of ACLU letter (pdf)
EU-US: Final Report by EU-US High Level Contact Group on information sharing and privacy and personal data protection (pdf)
Background: 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)
EU: European Parliament: Combatting terrorism/Protection of personal data: MEPs underline freedom of expression (Press release) Resolution on the Council Framework Decision amending Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (pdf) and Resolution on the draft Council Framework Decision on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (pdf). See:EU makes headway on anti-terror law (euractiv, link).
By a massive majority, with 600 MEPs in favour and only 21 against plus 39 abstentions the parliament voted to replace "public provocation" by "public incitement in the proposal to amend the definition of "terrorism" as this had a clear legal meaning. They also voted overwhelmingly, 556 in favour to 90 against and 19 abstentions, to reiterate - for the third time - substantial amendments to the proposed Framework Decision on the transfer of personal data in police and judicial matters.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"The European Parliament are to be congratulated on the clear stand they have taken on the definition of terrorism and data protection.
Unfortunately they are only being "consulted" and the Council [EU governments] can simply ignore their views and those of national parliaments, data protection authorities and civil society. These two measures, like hundreds of others adopted since 1993, will form part of EU law yet they will lack true democratic input and hence any legitimacy."
USA: New airport screening 'could read minds' (Daily Telegraph, link) "US security officials could soon be screening potential terror suspects with a new type of technology capable of detecting "hostile intent"."
EU: MIGREUROP: No to the deportation agreements (link) Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants :Migreurop network, AME (Mali), Group 484 (Serbia), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland), MRAP (France), AMDH (Morocco), SOMIM (Portugal), Statewatch (UK) plus: No to expulsion agreements: “Campaign Kit” (pdf)
Access to detention camps (link) Presentation at the World Social Forum on Migrations, Madrid, 11-14 Sept 2008 with the following participants: Migreurop Network, Kisa (Cyprus), Legal Clinic (Bulgaria), HCA/RLAP (Turkey), Andalusia Acoge (Spain), APDHA (Spain), Cimade (France), SOLIM (Portugal), Fasti (France), Halina Niec Human Rights Association (Poland) plus: Detention centres: Campaign for the right of access: Campaign Kit (pdf)
ITALY-EU: Italy risks legal battle over expulsion of EU citizens (euobserver, link) "The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi risks a legal battle with the European Commission over the rules on the automatic expulsion of EU citizens, a part of the so-called security package introduced by Rome earlier this year.
EU commissioner Jacques Barrot, in charge of home affairs and justice, stated on Tuesday (23 September) that the controversial piece of law "poses problems of compatibility with community law". Roma people protesting against fingerprinting, which is part of the new Italian security package. If it is not changed shortly, he warned, the commission "would launch infringement proceedings as provided for by the [EU] treaty".
See also: Italy sends troops into Camorra's heartland after mafia killings of migrants (Guardian, link)
SWEDEN: Ahmed Agiza "rendered" by US agents from Sweden - although still in prison in Egypt - to get compensation. Ahmed Agiza, one of the two Egyptians who was "rendered" from Bromma airport by US agents, with the assistance by the Swedish secret service (security police) to Egypt, and there tortured and sentenced to 25 years (later changed to 15 years) prison, is to get approximately 330,000 euro in damages from the Swedish state. He is still in prison, and had demanded 35.000.000 Swedish crowns (about 4.000.000 euro) in damages, but now the Chancellor of Justice has come to an agreement with his lawyer to accept 330.000 euro.
The decision to allow the rendition was taken by Anna Lindh (at the time Minister for Foreign Affairs, later assassinated) and Thomas Bodstram (Minister of Justice) and led to Sweden being criticised by the UN Committee against torture (pdf). The head of the Security Service (SS) at the time, Klaes Bergenstrand (who was involved in the Leander case, where he together with Hans Corell produced statements that later forced the Government to give a public apology and Leander appr 45.000 € in tax free damages) died a couple of years ago. Background:
1. Sweden: Expulsions carried out by US agents, men tortured in Egypt
2. Full-transcript of "The broken promise", TV4, Monday 17 May 2004: Transcript (pdf)
3. Ambassador's report: Report (in Swedish, 1.32 MB) which includes the following: TV4:s translation of Embassy report 1, classified part on Page 2: 23 January 2002
EU: ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS REGULATION: Outcome of Proceedings: Procedure to be followed for the review of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 (pdf) The Swedish delegation wrote to all the Permanent Representations asking that the proposal be examined by an ad hoc working party set up specifically for that purpose. It pointed out that "as constituted at present the Working Party on Information had neither the expertise nor the time necessary for the examination of the proposal". Moreover:
"as a general rule it was not appropriate for the same authority both to chair the body responsible for the preparation of a legal act (the Council General Secretariat in the present case) and to implement that act (the Council). "
This was an attempt to shift the lead role in setting the agenda and conducting negotiations from the Council's permanent General Secretariat to the Council Presidency (ie: a member state government). Though the Antici Group did not agree to set up an ad hoc working party it did take overall control away from the Council General Secretariat - decisions on contacts and consultations would be agreed jointly by the Council Presidency and the Chair of the Working Party on Information and that negotiations with the European Parliament would be conducted by the Chair of COREPER (the Head of the permanent Brussels-based representation of the member state holding the Council Presidency).
Note: The Antici Group (named after its Italian founder) is made up of assistants to the Permanent Representatives and a Commission representative, a member of the Secretary-General's Private Office and a member of the Council Legal Service. The Group is responsible for deciding on the organisation of Coreper II proceedings. The meeting, which usually takes place on the afternoon before Coreper, is chaired by the Presidency 'Antici'.
Freedom of Information: Updated, final version: Overview of all 86 FOIA Countries (pdf) by Roger Vleugels
Amnesty International: Security and Human Rights: Counter-Terrorism and the UN (link, pdf): "counter-terrorism laws, policies and practices have eroded human rights protections as governments claim the security of some can only be achieved by violating the rights of others."
UK-COE: Commissioner Hammarberg releases human rights report on asylum-seekers and immigrants (pdf) Full-text of Memorandum (pdf) See: Asylum rules 'risk human rights' (BBC link) "Yarl's Wood detention centre was visited by the commissioner this year. Changes to Britain's asylum and immigration controls could breach human rights, a European watchdog has warned"
Danes face jail for 'terrorism' T-shirts (euobserver, link)
EU: FINGER-PRINTING CHILDREN: Civil Liberties Committee votes for finger-printing children from the age of 12 and above for EU passports (EP press release) and Press release from Sarah Ludford MEP (ALDE): MEPs reject fingerprinting of 6 year olds (pdf). This decision puts the European Parliament on a collision course with the Council (27 governments) who want the age to be six years old and above (some governments want it lower still) - the measure is subject to co-decision. Six years old was accepted by the Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur but rejected by the Committee. If accepted by the EP plenary session this would put the age of finger-printing children the same for EU passports and for EU visas.
Background: The fingerprinting of children for inclusion on the Eurodac database (asylum applicants) is set at 14 years old. Statewatch first raised this issue to public attention in July 2006: EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: when Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented: "All the discussions by EU governments in the Council about the age at which children should be subject to compulsory fingerprinting are based on the technological possibilities - not on the moral and political questions of whether it is right or desirable" and EU: Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on
EU-ECRIS: 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: This is no way to fight terror: A postgraduate student researching al-Qaida, I was locked up alone for six days, then released without charge or apology by Rizwaan Sabir (Guardian, link)
EU: Brussels urged to take 'closer look' at NGOs (euactiv, link) Commission Vice President Siim Kallas told a public hearing on the issue in the European Parliament that: "Less than 20% of the 334 bodies included in the register so far are NGOs. "It puzzles me that some NGOs have not yet registered, and even ones funded by the Commission have not disclosed their funding sources," Kallas said." Proposed rules for lobbyists (pdf) The proposed "Rules" include an obligation to:
"ensure that, to the best of their knowledge, information which they provide is unbiased, complete, up-to-date and not misleading"
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"What does "unbiased" mean? Is a Commission press release "biased" because it presents its point of view? Or is any point of view that disagrees with it biased?"
EU-ECJ: Mandatory data retention challenge: European civil liberties groups lodge objection to the EU's Data Retention Directive with the European Court of Justice: (Full-text of submission to the ECJ, pdf) saying that the Directive breaches a fundamental right to privacy in the European Convention on Human Rights. 43 civil liberties groups from across the EU including Statewatch have submitted an intervention supporting Ireland's case to have the Directive repealed.
Short Cuts by Daniel Soar on security agencies spying on mobile phones (London Review of Books, link) and Exclusive: Widespread cell phone location snooping by NSA? (link)
Scientific American: Internet Eavesdropping: A Brave New World of Wiretapping (link) As telephone conversations have moved to the Internet, so have those who want to listen in. But the technology needed to do so would entail a dangerous expansion of the government's surveillance powers
Scientific American: How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People (link) A privacy activist argues that the devices pose new security risks to those who carry them, often unwittingly
Scientific American: How Loss of Privacy May Mean Loss of Security (link) Many issues posing as questions of privacy can turn out to be matters of security, health policy, insurance or self-presentation. It is useful to clarify those issues before focusing on privacy itself
EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM, Malmo, Sweden: War on terrorism and human rights (link). The US-led “war on terror” has seen a devastating attack on international law and the framework of human rights around the world. This seminar will focus on the role of European governments in the practices of enforced disappearance and secret detention and how this ‘war’ has contributed to the erosion of the human rights of targeted communities. Amnesty, Statewatch, WILPF.
IRELAND: C of I priest says racism 'sanctioned' by the State (link)
UK-Council of Europe: Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (pdf). Note: The UK has not ratified the Convention.
EU: FUTURE GROUP REPORT: An interesting postscript on the Council's (EU governments) Freedom, Security, Privacy - European Home Affairs in an open world (pdf) report is that the Council Presidency (France) sent this report to COREPER (high-level committee of Brussels-based representatives of all EU member states) and the Council (Ministers) in a document dated 9 July 2008 - it was discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 24-25 July. However, it was not "archived" (made publicly available) on the Council's public register of documents until 11 September 2008 - two months later and the same day that Statewatch released its report on the Future Group's report on European Home Affairs: The Shape of Things to Come Statewatch had put this document on its website: Future Report: Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an open world (pdf) on 7 August 2008.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"The Council's report on the future direction of EU justice and home affairs policies raises fundamental questions on privacy, civil liberties and the kind of society we want to live in. Statewatch's analysis on "The Shape of Things to Come", was published on 11 September, by which time over 10,000 copies of the EU Future Group's report had been downloaded from our website. The very same day the Council made the report available to the public - but if Statewatch had not published "The Shape of Things to Come" when would the Council have made it public?"
EU opens migration centre in Mali: "Outpost watchtower of Fortress Europe" (link) "Next October 6th, the European Union (EU) will open a Centre for Migration in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Refugee organizations strongly criticise this “Centre d’Information et de Gestion de Migrations” (Cigem) even before it has become fully operational. They call it an “outpost watchtower of Fortress Europe”. "
German Institute for Human Rights: Human Rights at the EU’s common external maritime border: Recommendations to the EU legislature (pdf)
"A usual summer in the Mediterranean: thousands of deaths and cases of refoulement. Thousands of migrants – some only looking for a better life in Europe, some in need of international protection – leave the North and West African coasts."
EU: SPECIAL STATEWATCH REPORT: The Shape of Things to Come by Tony Bunyan
The EU is currently developing a new five year strategy for justice and home affairs and security policy for 2009-2014. The proposals set out by the shadowy "Future Group" set up by the Council of the European Union include a range of highly controversial measures including new technologies of surveillance, enhanced cooperation with the United States and harnessing the "digital tsunami". In the words of the EU Council presidency:
"Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts."
Seven years on from 11 September 2001 and the launch of the "war on terorism" this major new report The Shape of Things to come (60 pages) examines the proposals of the Future Group and their effect on civil liberties. It shows how European governments and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone – on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived “threats”.
The Statewatch report calls for a “meaningful and wide-ranging debate” before it is “too late” for privacy and civil liberties.
The report also contains four Case Studies:
1) the "digital tsunami" and the surveillance state; 2) The "convergence principle"; 3) Privacy and data protection; 4) EU-US area of cooperation.
ITALY: European Commission Standpoint Fails to Address Discriminatory Nature of Fingerprinting in Italy: two leading human rights groups asked the European Commission (press release), Full-text of letter (pdf) Background (link)
"In a letter to European Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) expressed concern that the EC was endorsing Italy's plan to forcibly fingerprint all Roma living in the country. The groups noted that such fingerprinting would be a form of discrimination because it targets people based solely on their ethnicity."
FRANCE: French cabinet row over 'Big Sister' database (Daily Telegraph, link) "An embarrassing row has erupted within the French cabinet over a controversial "Big Sister" database in which the intelligence services will store details on millions of citizens, including their health, social life or sexual orientation" and French revolt over Edvige: Nicolas Sarkozy's Big Brother spy computer (Times, link)
ITALY: Italian minister pays homage to fascist troops (Guardian, link) "Italy's defence minister yesterday paid tribute to fascist soldiers who fought in Italy alongside German troops during the second world war, inflaming a row prompted on Sunday when Rome's mayor refused to condemn fascism as evil."
EU: French Council Presidency: Latest draft: European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (3 September, 2008, pdf)
UK: Our obsession with crime is crushing our freedoms by Henry Porter (Observer, link)
EU-FOI: European Ombudsman Open Letter to Commissioner Wallstrom (European Voice) on access to EU documents:
"You defend the Commission’s new definition of “document” by explaining that documents drawn up by the institutions are documents as soon as they have been sent to their recipients or otherwise registered. But in fact, the Commission’s proposal does not say “sent to their recipients”, but “formally transmitted to one or more recipients” (my emphasis)."
See for full background and documentation: EU-FOI: Statewatch's: Observatory on access to EU documents: 2008 - 2009
UK: Pressure to deport foreign national prisoners by Frances Webber (IRR, link) As the drive to deport foreign criminals goes on, Frances Webber, a leading human rights lawyer, reports on new legislation affecting foreign national prisoners and their families.
In a judgment with far-reaching implications the European Court of Justice has [3 September 2008] annulled the Council Regulation freezing the assets of Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a resident of Saudi Arabia, and the Al Barakaat International Foundation of Sweden, part of the 'Hawala' banking system used by the Somali Diaspora to transfer funds internationally.
Background: Observatory on "Terrorist" Lists: monitoring, proscription, designation and asset-freezing
Switzerland: Parliament approves use of Tasers in deportations In March, the Swiss parliament approved the use by police of Taser stun guns when forcibly deporting foreigners from the country.
European Parliament: Commission proposal for a Directive on: Universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (pdf) Draft report from the EP Internal Market Committee (pdf) Opinion of the Civil Liberties Committee (pdf) Comments by the European Data Protection Supervisor (pdf).
The European Data Protection Supervisor raise the question of whether Internet Protocol addresses ("IP") are personal data as the Data Protection Directive and the Privacy Directive apply whenever personal data are processed:
"If IP addresses are not deemed personal data, they can be collected and further processed without the need to fulfil any legal obligation arising from the two above mentioned Directives. For example, such an outcome would enable a search engine to store for an indefinite period, IP addresses assigned to accounts from which, for example, materials related to specific health conditions (eg: AIDS) have been searched."
EU: Red Cross-EU Office: European Commission Policy Plan on Asylum: Opinion of the National Red Cross Societies of the Member States of the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (pdf)
"Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead on 22nd July 2005 at Stockwell tube station by Metropolitan Police officers. Despite two official IPCC investigations
and a guilty jury verdict at the Health and Safety trial at the Old Bailey no officer has ever been held to account for their actions. On 22nd September 2008, the inquest into his death will finally take place. The inquest will be the first opportunity the Menezes family have had to ask their questions and confront the police officers involved in the operation in a public court."
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