EU: Council of the European Union: Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council on 14 September 2015 (pdf): There is no mention of the need to provide humanitarian aid and civil protection:
"After a presentation of migration flows by the European agencies Frontex and EASO (European Asylum Support Office), the meeting should discuss the programming of future work, in particular the return policy, international cooperation, and investigation and measures to prevent trafficking of migrants." [emphasis added]
Greece, Lesvos: The writing was on the wall:
A compilation of key articles and documents setting out the history of the migrant crisis in Lesvos, Greece which is not new - it dates from at least 2002. They show the development of reception centres, detention centres and "open camps" and the deadly role of the Greek Coastguards (which continues this summer). and include:
- Migration and state crimes: A critical criminological approach and case study of Greece (pdf) by Stratos Georgoulas (University of the Aegean). Examines the history of the Pagani detention centre and see p101 on the activities of the Coast Guard. - Map "Pagani" in the middle of nowhere (link) and "Images" (link)
Migreurop report 2013: Lesvos/ Greece the new European cage for migrants (link)
- Pro Asyl and Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants: »The truth may be bitter, but it must be told«: The practices of the Greek coast guard (2007, pdf): "We were able to glean the following patterns of serious human rights violations committed by the Greek coast guard from our interviews with refugees from a wide variety of countries of origin in and outside the detention centres in Chios, Samos and Lesbos."
- Statewatch coverage: Statewatch visit to the Pikpa Centre for asylum-seekers in Mytilene (April 2013) and GREECE: FRONTEX activities on Mytilene, Greece: Attempt to take over "open" PIPKA migrant centre, "closed" detention centre set up - FRONTEX claim that families were not expelled from their rooms refuted (September 2013) and Welcome to the European Union Visit to Moria First Reception Centre , Moria, nr. Mytilini, Lesvos, Greece 11th May 2014 (pdf). Also Search for "Lesvos" in the Statewatch database.
EU: Council of the European Union: Data Protection Regulation and Directive on LEAs personal data exchange:
- New DP Regulation: RIGHTS OF THE DATA SUBJECT: Chapter III, preparation of trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 11802-15, 102 pages, pdf): Council's negotiating position. Multicolumn document giving the Commission proposal and the positions of the European Parliament and the Council plus "Compromise" position.
- New DP Regulation: Comments from the UK delegation on Chapters II, III and IV (LIMITE doc no: 11428-15, pdf) including: "It is essential that the processing of sensitive data can take place where strictly necessary for the purposes outlined in Article 1(1) of the Directive" and "The ability for law enforcement agencies to “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (NCND) in response to access requests by the data subject is an important operational requirement that needs to be safeguarded" and "The ability for law enforcement agencies to “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (NCND) in response to access requests by the data subject is an important operational requirement that needs to be safeguarded."
- Directive on LEAs exchange of personal data: Chapters V, VI and VII (LIMITE doc no; 11251-15, pdf) Chapter V covers the : TRANSFER OF PERSONAL DATA TO THIRD COUNTRIES OR INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS. Includes 40 Member State positions.
- Directive on LEAs exchange of personal data: Chapters IX and X (LIMITE doc no: 11252-15, pdf): With 16 Member State positions. "In view of the Friends of Presidency meeting on 9 September 2015 delegations will find attached Chapters IX and X of the above Directive, as aligned to the text of the General Data Protection Regulation as agreed in the General Approach reached on 15 June 2015." and "DE, ES, HU, IT, NL, LV, PT, SI, UK scrutiny reservation on the whole text."
- Directive on LEAs exchange of personal data: Chapters II, III and IV: On page 6 of document ST 10964/15 INIT recital 13 should read as follows (LIMITE doc no: 10964-COR-1-15, pdf): "Under the Regulation XXX personal data in official documents held by a public authority or a public body or a private body for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest may be disclosed by the authority or body in accordance with Union law or Member State law to which the public authority or body is subject in order to reconcile public access to official documents with the right to the protection of personal data."
EU: MED-CRISIS (31.8.15)
Dutch plan tougher asylum policy as migrants flock to Europe (Reuters, link): "Failed asylum seekers would be limited to "a few weeks'" shelter after being turned down, if they do not agree to return home. They would then either be deported or sent away to fend for themselves. From November, the centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, which competes for votes with the popular, anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders, wants to close 30 regional "bed, bath and bread" shelters where asylum seekers have been able till now to get help on the basis of need. Under the plan, six national centres applying the stricter guidelines would provide only to people who agree to leave."
Train with migrants allowed into Austria after lengthy border checks (Rueters, link) with video
HUNGARY: Crunch time as migrant crisis worsens (Budapoest Times, link)
'Why did you annoy them?' Coastguard officials acquitted of torture convictions - Moroccan says he was subjected to waterboarding in 2007 (enetenglish.gr, link)
Germans unite against xenophobia (euractiv, link): "After the recent spate of violence against asylum seekers, a wave of solidarity with refugees has swept through Germany. In many cities around the country, people have taken part in demonstrations and protests against hate speech."
The Migrants Files (link): including "Counting the Dead": "Over 30,000 refugees and migrants have died attempting to reach /stay in Europe since 2000 - and that was 18 mths ago" and "The Migrants’ Files is a project by data journalism agencies Journalism++ SAS, Journalism++ Stockholm and Dataninja; media outlets Neue Zürcher Zeitung, El Confidencial, Sydsvenskan and Radiobubble as well as freelance journalists Alice Kohli, Jean-Marc Manach and Jacopo Ottaviani. The project is partially financed by Journalismfund.eu."
France: Hungary refugee fence not even fit for animals (aljazeera.com, link):"Paris slams Hungary, gateway to EU from Eastern Europe, for erecting 175km fence to stop refugees as new talks called."
GREECE: Frontex requests more information on Symi incident (Frontex, link): "On early Saturday afternoon, a Latvian patrol vessel deployed in operation Poseidon Sea detected a yacht with more than 90 migrants aboard in Symi Island’s Marathounta Bay. None of the officers from the Latvian vessel involved in the incident used any weapons."
Greek coast guard picks up nearly 2,500 migrants in 3 days (ekathimerini.com, link): "The coast guard said Monday it had rescued 2,492 people in 70 operations off the eastern islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi, Kos and Symi from Friday morning until Monday morning." and Ferry carrying 2,500 refugees and migrants docks at Piraeus (link): "A ferry carrying about 2,500 migrants and refugees who had arrived on Samos and Lesvos from the nearby Turkish coast docked early Monday in Greece's main port of Piraeus near Athens.The Eleftherios Venizelos left Samos Sunday with 988 migrants and picked up 1,512 from Lesvos. On Sunday the Cypriot-flagged Tera Jet catamaran arrived in Piraeus carrying 1,745 migrants from Lesvos. Authorities said about 11,000 migrants and refugees are currently on the island."
AUSTRIA: Dubious headlline: Migrant roundup intercepts 200 suspected refugees (The Local.at, link): " Huge traffic jams stretching back 50 kilometres (30 miles) built up along the Austro-Hungarian border on Monday as Austrian police stepped up security checks in the hunt for people smugglers. The measure was put in place on Sunday, three days after an abandoned lorry containing 71 dead migrants, four of them children, was discovered on a motorway near the Hungarian border. Since the operation began at 1830 GMT, more than 200 migrants have been picked up, and another five people have detained on suspicion of smuggling, officials said." and Austria steps up police checks for refugees (link)
DENMARK: Hundreds support vandalized asylum centre (The Local.dk, link): "As many as 2,000 people turned out on Sunday to create a human 'joy ring' around an eastern Jutland asylum centre that was vandalized earlier in the week." and Man jailed for Danish asylum centre arson (link): East Jutland Police said on Friday that a 26-year-old local man has been arrested and will be held on remand for allegedly setting fire to an asylum centre minibus and vandalizing its garage with a swastika and a message telling the centre that this was its “first warning”."
France to build new camp for 1,500 migrants (The Local.fr,link): "France is to build a new humanitarian camp in Calais for 1,500 migrants with construction to begin in 2016, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced on Monday. The EU will stump up the money for the new camp."
GERMANY: 'No limit to refugees Germany can take in' (The Local.de, link)
Zeman: Refugees should be promptly returned, not accommodated (Prague Daily Monitor, link). Most immigrants are in Czech Republic illegally, and as they violated law, they should be promptly returned, not placed into various accommodation facilities, President Milos Zeman said in an interview for Radio Frekvence 1 yesterday. Zeman said there were three risks concerning Muslim immigrants. First, it is the creation of socially excluded zones, ghettos, as these people would not be able to assimilate due to their cultural differences, he said. He said there is the risk of spreading infectious diseases, though he would not overestimate it. The third risk are sleeper cells sent by Islamic State that would develop into terrorist organisations, Zeman said."
Eastern Germany 'more susceptible' to 'xenophobic radicalization' (DW, link): "Recent violent protests against a refugees' shelter have sparked a debate about right-wing extremism in Germany. A prominent politician from the west of the country has said the problem is worse in the east." and "We are all Germany" - celebrities support refugees How can you promote tolerance and diversity in Germany? DW talked to celebrities at the German government's annual open house weekend. (link)
Eritrean translators 'intimidating refugees' in Germany (DW, link): "Eritrean translators are deliberately mistranslating the testimonies of refugees during their hearings, according to dissidents' groups in Germany. Some are even intimidating them into hiding human rights abuses."
Refugees are human. This simple fact seems to have been forgotten (Guardian, link): "It is horrific that people are drowning and suffocating to reach safety. These stories should be a reminder that migrants are not just statistics"
Fabius calls Eastern Europe's reluctance to receive migrants ‘scandalous’ (euractiv, link):"French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday said it was "scandalous" some Eastern European countries were refusing to accept more migrants and said Hungary's construction of a barrier to stop new arrivals "did not respect Europe's common values" -- drawing an angry response from Budapest."
The missing women of the Mediterranean refugee crisis (Women Under Siege, link): Dirty white gates fronted the detention center on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a tiny speck between Sicily and Tunisia, where 71 women were being held. Beyond the bars, I could just make out laundry hanging from the building in which they were housed—maybe 100 yards away—a yellow scarf, a hot-pink piece of cloth. Sometimes I could even see the women walking in or out of the house, some with hijabs, others with brightly patterned African skirts. But beyond that, the women were invisible, locked illegally for weeks inside a “first reception” center meant for 300 but now housing 771 refugees and migrants from all over sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East."
The battle over the words used to describe migrants (BBC News, link)
Storming the castle: Calais, or the failure of the EU’s migration policies (CER, link)
European Commission looks at possible reforms and future of the Dublin rules. (New Europe, link)
EU:Med-CRISIS: (Sunday) Migration crisis: Germany, France and Britain demand urgent EU meeting - Call for action comes as UK home secretary Theresa May says only Europeans with a job lined up should be allowed to come to Britain (Guardian, link)
"Germany, France and Britain have issued a joint call for an urgent meeting of EU ministers to find concrete measures to cope with the escalating migration crisis. A statement from the home affairs ministers of the three countries said they had “asked the Luxembourg presidency to organise a special meeting of justice and interior ministers within the next two weeks, so as to find concrete steps” to deal with the situation. The three “underlined the necessity to take immediate action to deal with the challenge from the migrant influx”.
The French, British and German statement specifically called for reception centres to be set up urgently in Italy and Greece to register new arrivals, and for a common EU list of “safe countries of origin” to be established." [emphasis added] and
Paris, Berlin, London call for urgent meeting on EU refugee policy (DW, link) "The EU needs immediate action to deal with the influx of immigrants, the interior ministers of Germany, France and Britain have said in a statement. The three countries urged new "hot spots" for registration of refugees." [emphasis added]
EU: UK House of Commons Library: Briefing Paper: Migration pressures in Europe: (22 pages, pdf): Good summary:
"While there are some involuntary migrants, subject to people trafficking rather than smuggling, this is the exception...."
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is warning that the world is in the midst of a forced migration crisis, and it expects the situation to get worse still. European leaders are struggling to agree on how to respond to the challenges posed by large movements of irregular migrants across their borders.
Huge numbers of people are dying trying to cross the Mediterranean to Southern Europe from Libya. Lawlessness in Libya means that there is little authority to control the flow; some of the militias controlling the country are profiting from the trade. The recipient countries in the EU are struggling to deal with the large numbers reaching their destination, and securing agreement within the EU on a coordinated response to the challenges posed by the migration flows is proving difficult." [emphasis added]
EU: West Balkans Summit in Vienna: Final Declaration by the Chair of the Vienna Western Balkans Summit 27 August 2015 (pdf): "the participating States take note with appreciation of the various ongoing efforts undertaken by European Union institutions and agencies as well as individual EU Member States and regional fora such as the Forum Salzburg, which aim at stepping up the Western Balkan countries’ capacities in the areas of border management, in particular the fight against trafficking in human beings, and asylum through strengthened cooperation and additional support."
RAIL SECURITY: Commissioners Avramopoulos and Bulc at the Paris meeting on cross-border cooperation against terrorism and for rail security (pdf) Contains little detail of the measures to be taken and a lot reasserting previous initiatives.
New Zealand: Submission of the Anti-Bases Campaign to the Intelligence and Security Review 12 August 2015 (pdf):
"Oversight has failed and is ineffectual at best and a useful cover-up at worst. Official secrecy means the failures and the mistakes of the agencies are buried in secret archives. The present review must incorporate David Lange’s comments of 1996, that “… it is an outrage that I and other Ministers were told so little, and this raises the question of to whom those concerned (in the agencies) saw themselves ultimately responsible.” There is no evidence that anything has changed in the last twenty years, and considerable evidence that democratic control has actually weakened."
EU: MED-CRISIS: La photo poignante qui symbolise la tragédie des migrants (mais qui n'est pas de Banksy) (SLATE, link) [Photo poignantly symbolizes the tragedy of migrants (but not Banksy)]
EU: MED-CRISIS: (28-30-8-15)
GREECE: EU to help gov’t register and relocate refugees (ekathimerini.com): Comment from "European Asykum Support Office": "EASO Executive Director Robert Visser stressed that Greece also had to do more to ensure that the refugees are properly registered. “Member states are required to know the identity of everyone who enters their territory,” he said. “Greece is no exception.”
ShelterBox Helps In Greek Crisis (piratefm.co.uk, link): "A Cornish charity is warning that the crisis is worsening on a Greek island. A second team from UK charity ShelterBox has arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos... Disaster relief charity ShelterBox is providing 100 large UN-style tents to ease the pressure, with 40 planned for construction at Kara Tepe camp in the coming days. But more assistance is needed, on Lesbos and elsewhere."
Nato ready to help EU navies on sea migrants, if asked (euobserver, link)
Solidarity in German stadiums (link)
Hungary completes anti-refugee fence on Serbian border (DW, link): "Hungary has erected a razor-wire barrier along its border to Serbia that is designed to keep out refugees and migrants, the defense ministry says. The move has drawn international criticism."
Let them board the trains! (MIGZOL Hungary, link): "Thursday, 27th August, 20-50 people were found dead in a lorry that was parked in Austria, near the Hungarian border. It is highly likely that these people were not allowed to board the trains to Austria after diligent ethnic profiling by the Hungarian police. The profiling, of course, focuses on who looks like a “migrant”, or a “refugee”."
GREECE: We're raising £1,000 to give food, water & shelter to refugees in Lesvos because everyone should be entitled to basic human rights (link) "I’m Natasha. I’ve worked for refugee organisations in the UK and overseas for the past 9 years. I’m now living in Greece and am heartbroken to see that refugees who have escaped war arrive in Europe and do not even have their basic human rights met."
Europe's migration paralysis (New Europe, link): "As European populations age and shrink, the continent urgently needs immigration. Yet many in Europe strongly oppose immigration, because it also means social change... For many centuries, Europe was a continent plagued by wars, famines, and poverty. Millions of Europeans were driven to emigrate by economic and social deprivation. They sailed across the Atlantic to North and South America, and to places as far away as Australia, to escape misery and seek a better life for themselves and their children. All of them were, in the parlance of the current immigration and refugee debate, “economic migrants.” During the twentieth century, racial persecution, political oppression, and the ravages of two world wars became the predominant causes of flight.""
Islamic State smuggling terrorists among the migrants? Unlikely, say experts (euractive, link): "The risk that groups like Islamic State could smuggle militants into Europe under cover of a huge wave of migrants is much smaller than some politicians suggest, according to security specialists with close ties to governments and intelligence agencies."
Shame on Europe (Save the Children, link): "Children are dying on our doorstep. It’s sickening to see the deaths of so many refugees trying to find safety in Europe. Enough is enough. Pledge your support for those fleeing war and persecution now."
Pope Francis 'deeply concerned for migrant plight' - 'Open your hearts to poor families' pontiff tweets (ANSA, link)
Czech NGO sends aid to refugees in Serbia, Macedonia (Prague Post, link): "People in Need, a Czech humanitarian organization, will send 1.7 million Kc for immediate aid to refugees in Macedonia and Serbia, the organization’s spokesman Petr Stefan told CTK today."
AUSTRIA: Truck death toll 71 including 4 children (The Local.at, link): "The death toll in Thursday's horrific migrant tragedy in Austria is now understood to be 71 people, including eight women and four children."
Migrant children rescued from Austria minivan 'recovering' (BBC News, link): "Three children are recovering in hospital in Austria after being rescued from a minivan containing 26 migrants. Police said the severely dehydrated children would not have lasted much longer in the cramped vehicle. The minivan was stopped in Braunau district on Friday and the Romanian driver was arrested after a chase."
Greece edges closer to EU migration funds (ekathimerini.com, link): "The Government Gazette on Friday published a decision – signed by former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos and alternate minister for immigration policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou – establishing an agency to manage EU asylum, reception and integration programs.Launching the agency has been a condition for the release of 470 million euros over a five-year period until 2020. The bureau, which will be headquartered on Vouliagmenis Avenue, south of central Athens, is expected to be fully operational by September 15."
GERMANY: Three arrested in Germany over arson attack on refugee home (DW, link): "Three people have been arrested after an arson attack on a refugee shelter in the German state of Lower Saxony. A woman and her three children were lucky to escape with their lives." and Cake and politicians at 'Refugees Welcome' party in Heidenau. The party took place in Heidenau after all, despite a police ban that was lifted following a political outcry"
GERMANY: Mass pro-refugee rally held in Dresden (The Local.de, link): "Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to welcome refugees, an AFP journalist at the scene said, following a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region."
EU free movement put into question at Vienna summit (euobserver, link): "EU politicians are threatening to dismantle the bloc’s free-movement rights amid calls to revamp asylum rules, due to the surge in the number of people seeking refuge in Europe. On Thursday (27 August), the bodies of up to 50 people, who had suffocated, were found in the back of a refrigerated food truck on the outskirts of Vienna. News of the tragedy came the same day EU and Western Balkan leaders and ministers met in the Austrian capital for a summit on migration issues."
Libyans protest against smugglers after up to 200 drown off coast - Residents of one of Libya’s most notorious people-smuggling hubs take to the streets after bodies found by Libyan coastguard (Guardian, link)
UK deports 52 Syrian refugees (Sunday Times, link): "The Home Office said 52 Syrian nationals were forcibly removed in the year ending in June, but claimed none was sent back to Syria. They were returned instead to other “safe” countries through which they had travelled before arriving in the UK."
Greece, Lesvos: The writing was on the wall: Migreurop report 2013: Lesvos/ Greece the new European cage for migrants (link) and Greece's infrastructure struggles to cope with mixed migration flow (UNHCR, 2009, link) and UNHCR alarmed by detention of unaccompanied children in Lesvos, Greece (2009, link) and UNHCR delegation visits detention centre on Greek island, urges closure (2009, link): "PAGANI DETENTION CENTRE, Greece, October 23 (UNHCR) – A UNHCR delegation has called for a crowded migrant detention centre on the Greek island of Lesvos to be closed after visiting the facility with a senior government officia." See: Map "Pagani" (link) and "Images" (link)
News Digest (28-31-8-15)
UK: Clinton secrets hacked by spy in bag EXCLUSIVE: Shocking new twist to the mystery five years on (SUN, link): "THE MI6 spy found dead in a holdall had illegally hacked into secret data on Bill Clinton, The Sun on Sunday can reveal"
USA: FISC BR 15-99 NSA Metadata Collection Extended (pdf)
NGO: German firms mired in worst Greek corruption scandals since WWII (euractiv, link): "Siemens, Daimler, and Rheinmetall have been mired in cases of alleged corruption in Greece, the country that Berlin has repeatedly admonished for the parlous state of its economy. No date has been set yet for 19 former executives of German engineering group Siemens to appear in Greek court, but it is expected to be one of the biggest financial trials of the decade in Greece."
Portuguese Judges Blocks Bill That Allows Government Spying (hngn, link): "The Constitutional Court judges of Portugal have decided to block a legislation that would have allowed the government to access individuals' private data to fight against terrorism and organized crime"
EU's planned data protection legislation raises questions about the nature of privacy (Parliament magazine, link): "Colin Mackay asks whether the EU's new legislation on data privacy, the general data protection regulation, will still be relevant by the time of its introduction."
Editorial | Of militarisation and violence: borders and bordering (WRI, link): "Every day people try to cross into the minority world of the Global North. Wherever they are and attempt to cross, they are victims of surveillance, they are being analysed, digitised, and rendered “border offenders”.2 In the Arizona desert, the Mediterranean Sea, or the urban areas of Cape Town they become the “illegal immigrant” who has to be “resisted”, “deterred” and eventually troops will have to be deployed."
Justice in Europe (Fair Trials, link): "Across Europe, basic rights are being violated every day in police stations, court rooms and prisons. This is destroying the lives of innocent people, causing miscarriages of justice and undermining public faith in criminal justice systems."
France train attack: Europe 'to tighten rail security' (BBC News, link): "European ministers have agreed tighter controls at railway stations, the French interior minister has announced.Bernard Cazeneuve said there would be increased identity and baggage controls at stations and more police patrols on board international trains."
USA: Court: We Can’t Rule on NSA Bulk Data Collection Because We Don’t Know Whose Data Was Collected (The Intercept, link)
New Zealand: Former spy paid to infiltrate Greenpeace and unions *The National, link)
UK: Public Inquiry – Core Participant Status (COPS, link): "The public inquiry into undercover policing, chaired by Lord Pitchford, is being prepared. Some people who are particularly involved can be granted the status of ‘core participant’. This means that they are likely to have greater access to documents and that the costs of their legal representation may be covered."
West Point professor calls on US military to target legal critics of war on terror - US military academy official William Bradford argues that attacks on scholars’ home offices and media outlets – along with Islamic holy sites – are legitimate (Guardian, link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: AFRICANS TO BE ON "SAFE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN" LIST?
The European Commissioner says list of "safe countries of origin" likely to include African countries, which means people cannot claim asylum and will be returned. This despite reports that migrants arriving in Greece have come from, for example, Eritrea and Somalia:
"On the idea of a safe list, Timmermans was confident of convincing Balkan countries to accept the return of their citizens, but said that it would be “much more difficult” with African countries." (politico, link) and as to putting countries on a "save country of origin" list
"A list of ‘safe countries’ to which their citizens can be fast-tracked home following rejected asylum applications is being drawn up by the European Commission. The step is being taken in order to deal with the migrant crisis currently threatening to overwhelm government authorities in several EU countries.
[First Vice-President] Timmermans explained that for countries to be added to the list the EU will “need agreement” from those countries, adding “with those in the Balkans it is not difficult, but with African countries it is.” (plus link to video interview: breitbart.com, link)
EU: When solidarity fails (IRR, link); In observations made at a side-meeting of the 87th session of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the IRR’s director warned that Europe’s mishandling of the refugee crisis is fuelling racism:
"hough there has been a huge drive by ordinary European citizens to welcome refugees, to take a stand for human dignity, another trend is undermining it. The truth is that we face the possibility of a perfect storm unless those in power take cognisance of their positive duty to combat racism, rather than fuel it."
EU: MED-CRISIS: European Parliament: Migration: MEPs call for more EU solidarity on visit to reception centres in Sicily (Press release, pdf):
"Countries such as Italy and Greece dealing with an influx of asylum seekers should receive more support from other member states, MEPs said on a delegation visit to the Italian island of Sicily from 22 to 24 July. “Italy spends over €1 billion every year just to take care of those who make it across the Mediterranean. Italy’s borders are the EU's borders and a better management of the migratory flows is our common responsibility,” said French ALDE member Jean Arthuis, co-chair of the delegation."
And see: EP: Report: On the proposal for a Council decision establishing provisional measures in the area of international protection for the benefit of Italy and Greece (pdf) Ska Keller MEP (Rapporteur)
EU: MED-CRISIS: (27.8.15)
Treat refugees humanely, work together, says UNHCR, as thousands continue heading into the Western Balkans from Greece (UNHCR, link)
Viewpoint: Treat refugees as a development issue (BBC News, link): "Europe is facing a mass influx of refugees from outside the region for the first time in its history, as people flee persecution and conflict in countries such as Syria and Iraq. And its politicians are struggling to find a coherent response.... Only a tiny proportion of the world's 20 million refugees come to Europe: 95% are in the countries that neighbour conflict and crisis, mainly in developing regions. About 3.5 million Syrians are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. More than 500,000 Somalis are in Kenya. More than two million Afghans are in Pakistan and Iran."
Refugees face death threats at Italian hotel (The Local.it, link): "Italian police are investigating claims that dozens of immigrants have received death threats in a xenophobic letter sent to the hotel which is hosting them in Lombardy's Valtellina valley."
Migrant crisis: Grim find of bodies in Austria lorry (BBC News, link): "At least 20 migrants have been found dead in a lorry abandoned in a motorway lay-by near the eastern border with Hungary, the Austrian authorities say. The number of dead could be as high as 50, police say. Their bodies had started to decompose." and Migrant tragedy leaves dozens dead in Austria (The Local.at, link)
European Commission: Funding to main migration-related activities in the Western Balkans and Turkey (pdf):
Migrants crisis: Austria and Balkans call for EU answer (BBC News, link): "Serbia and Macedonia have told a summit in Vienna the EU must come up with an action plan to respond to the influx of migrants into Europe."
Hungary scrambles to confront migrant influx, Merkel heckled (Reuters, link): "The chief commissioner of Hungarian police, Karoly Papp, said police were readying six special border patrol units of an initial 2,106 officers, equipped with helicopters, horses and dogs, to be sent in depending on the situation on the Serbian border. "
More than 50 migrants found dead on boats near Libya coast (euractiv, link): "Rescuers saved about 3,000 migrants, but found more than 50 dead on boats near the coast of Libya yesterday (26 August), the Italian coast guard said."
Migration hijacks EU-Balkan summit in Vienna (euobserver, link)
Desperate migrants find holes in Hungary's razor-wire fence strategy - Viktor Orbán’s populist government hoped to deter new arrivals, but instead, his country is the new focal point of Europe’s migration crisis (Guardian, link)
GREECE: Refugee life at makeshift detention centre in Lesbos - shadow economy has sprung up in a refugee detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos.(BBC News, link-video): There are thousands of people living in the facility, and now makeshift shops have opened up inside the camp. And see: Report: Kara Tepe, transit camp for refugees, Lesvos (Greece) Outline development proposals (pdf)
GREECE: Minister chides mayors calling for migration action (ekathimerini.com)
German employers 'should hire more refugees' (DW, link): "The Federal Employment Agency has urged German businesses to hire more refugees and harness their potential. Their ability to speak several languages is among the qualities it says would be an asset to firms."
GERMANY: Rostock riots revealed 'the dark side of humanity' (DW, link): "Heidenau, Solingen, Rostock-Lichtenhagen: Germany has a long history of attacks on asylum seekers. One former Rostock city official has spent his career thinking of ways to combat xenophobia."
Syrians cross Norway's Arctic border on bicyles (The Local.no,link) "More than 100 Syrian refugees have crossed the Arctic border from Norway to Russia on bicycles, exploiting a loophole in the country's border regulations."
Norway gives €5m to Greece for refugees (The Local.no, link): "Norway has given Greece €5m in emergency funding to help it provide for a sudden influx of refugees at a time when it is facing its own protracted economic crisis."
AUSTRIA: Kurz threatens tighter border controls (The Local.at, link): "Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has threatened to introduce stricter border controls in Austria if a European solution cannot be found for the asylum crisis."
EU: DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: Chair of the Conference of the Data Protection Commissioners of the Federation and of the States [Lande]: The General Data Protection Regulation requires substantial improvement in crucial points! (pdf)
"it is of outmost importance that in comparison with the existing legal status, the General Data Protection Regulation guarantees an improved, at least, however, a standard of the protection of fundamental rights which is equivalent to the current one.....
Data transfers to authorities and courts in third countries require stronger control! In the wake of the recent data protection scandals, better protection of the European citizens’ personal data vis-à-vis third-country institutions is urgently required."
GERMANY-NSA: A Dubious Deal with the NSA (Zeit Online, link): "Internal documents show that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, received the coveted software program XKeyscore from the NSA – and promised data from Germany in return." and XKeyscore - the document: Document pertaining to the agreement between the NSA and Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV (link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: GREECE & ITALY: Commission close to disbursing 30 mln euros to Greece as refugee aid (Athens News Agency, link):
"The European Commission is very close to disbursing financial aid totaling 30 million euros to Greece to help the country deal with the refugee and migrant influx of recent months, Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the European Commission, said on Tuesday.... The spokeswoman also noted that the European Commission has identified two “hotspots” of migration one in Sicily and one in Piraeus. In the coming days, visiting staff from Europol, Frontex and the European Support Office (EASO) are expected to travel to these two towns to help authorities’ fast track actions which record, fingerprint and authenticate incoming migrants.
Asylum seekers will immediately go through an asylum procedure with support groups from EASO helping in the processing of asylum cases as fast as possible, she added. " [emphasis added]
Note: All the boats from the Greek islands bring migrants to Pireaus, the designated "hotspot".
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In Greece for at least six months this year what has been needed is humanitarian aid and the EU has been conspicuously absent and, until very recently, so to have been the international agencies. Help for those arriving has been dependent on NGOs, local and visiting volunteers. Now when 30 million euros of "aid" does arrive it is to be used for creating "hotspots", Europol and Frontex, fingerprinting and the "immediate processing of asylum cases as fast as possible."
Human rights groups face global crackdown 'not seen in a generation' - Laws affecting funding, requiring registration and prohibiting protest are among controls that are making it difficult for NGOs and other campaign groups (Guardian, link):
"Human rights organisations and campaign groups are facing their biggest crackdown in a generation as a wave of countries pass restrictive laws and curtail activity. Almost half the world’s states have implemented controls that affect tens of thousands of organisations across the globe.
Over the past three years, more than 60 countries have passed or drafted laws that curtail the activity of non-governmental and civil society organisations. Ninety-six countries have taken steps to inhibit NGOs from operating at full capacity, in what the Carnegie Endowment calls a “viral-like spread of new laws” under which international aid groups and their local partners are vilified, harassed, closed down and sometimes expelled....
James Savage, of Amnesty International, says: “This global wave of restrictions has a rapidity and breadth to its spread we’ve not seen before, that arguably represents a seismic shift and closing down of human rights space not seen in a generation. “There are new pieces of legislation almost every week – on foreign funding, restrictions in registration or association, anti-protest laws, gagging laws. And, unquestionably, this is going to intensify in the coming two to three years. You can visibly watch the space shrinking.”"
EU: MED-CRISIS: (26.8.15)
UNHCR: Greater support in countries of first asylum needed to stem refugee outflows (link): "According to recent figures, the 4,089,023 Syrian refugees in host countries neighbouring Syria includes 1,113,941 in Lebanon, 629,245 in Jordan, 250,408 in Iraq, 132,375 in Egypt, and 1,938,999 in Turkey where registration is carried out by Turkish authorities. In addition, some 24,000 Syrian refugees are registered in other countries in North Africa."
Italy hits back at Merkel in migrants row (The Local.it, link): "Italy's Foreign Minister has scathingly dismissed criticism from France and Germany over its handling of the tens of thousands of migrants arriving on its southern shores. "Italy is doing what it has to do ... and even much more by saving thousands of lives and by taking in refugees," Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in an interview published in Wednesday's Corriere della Sera, describing his country as a "a positive model on the international stage." and see: Italy saves lives even if it costs votes says Renzi (ANSA, link): "Commenting on the migrant emergency in the Mediterranean, where Italy is in the front line along with Greece, the premier said: "First we'll save human lives even at the cost of losing votes. "It's a question of civilisation." "
Czech finance minister: NATO should be engaged in guarding EU against migrants (FOX News, link): "The Czech Republic's finance minister has called for NATO to get involved in helping protect the European Union's external border against the influx of migrants. Andrej Babis says "we have to defend the Schengen (borderless) zone. We have to engage NATO." Talking on Czech public television on Tuesday, Babis called the migrants, most of whom are fleeing bloody conflicts, "the biggest threat to Europe."" and Czech Republic advocates use of army to protect borders (euobserver, link): "The EU could better protect itself from migrants if it had a common army, Czech president Milos Zeman said Tuesday (25 August), while the Czech finance minister, Andrej Babis, called for the closure of the Schengen area's external borders and for Nato help."
Hours of Waiting in No Man's Land as Greek-Macedonian Borders Open (demotix.com, link): "As the Greek-Macedonian borders have re-opened, refugees are allowed in. Yet hundreds have to wait for hours in the Greek side till the moment they are allowed to cross. The Macedonian military and Greek organisations co-ordinate the flow."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Charles University opens doors to asylum seekers (Radio Praha, link): "“Charles University is aware of the humanitarian tragedy of immigrants seeking asylum in European countries. And in this situation, where a number of political forces are trying to misuse the situation, Charles University wants to show some positive action to help people in need. We are trying to help by what we are best in, which is education.” "
WATCH THE MED: Alarm Phone in contact with 6 vessels in distress in the Central Med, 4400 people rescued in total in one day (link)
Germany suspends Dublin agreement for Syrian refugees (euractiv, link): No returns to state of first entry to EU: "Germany has ceased applying the rules of the Dublin system to Syrian refugees. All deportations to other EU countries have been halted."
Balkan states snub Greece in talks on immigation (ekathimerini.com): "Greece has been left out of an unfolding campaign by Balkan countries to forge a coordinated response to a torrent of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, Kathimerini understands.... Thinly disguised criticism of Athens came from FYROM Foreign Minister Mitko Cavkov, too, who noted it was “absurd that the problem is caused by an EU member-state.” Cavkov said that interior ministers from FYROM, Austria, Hungary and Serbia will soon meet in Skopje to decide further action."
Macedonia to face thousands of EU-bound migrants (euobserver, link): "Up to 3,000 migrants are expected to cross into Macedonia on a daily basis throughout the next several months, as the European Commission eyes court action against over a dozen member states for violating asylum rules..... Hungary, along with 17 other member states is on the European Commission’s hit-list for committing various violations against EU asylum laws.[link].. The Common European Asylum System is composed of the Dublin regulation, the asylum procedures directive, the reception conditions directive, the qualification directive, and the long-term residence directive. Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden are all under scrutiny."
Everyday People Put Solidarity Into Action Helping Refugees in Greece (Global Voices, link): "Almost 1,000 lives reach Greek shores every day, of which 60% are from Syria, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The Eastern and North Aegean Islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Chios and Lesbos have become temporary shelter for thousands arriving in dinghies from the sea..... Nevertheless, the deus ex machina in this case is not the government, but local residents and activists from near and far who are gathering food, medicine, clothes, toys and other equipment for the refugees."
Europe's migrant crisis will not slow and EU nations must share duties, says UN (Guardian, link): "The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said all EU member states should share the burden of Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the second world war, with an “equitable redistribution” of families seeking asylum.":and UN predicts 3,000 refugees a day will pass through Balkans - Refugee agency says Europe can handle numbers if correct measures taken (Irish Times, link)
GERMANY: Nauen refugee shelter fire 'an attack on everyone' (DW, link): "It may have joined the list of German towns to witness violence aimed at refugees. This time, though, the suspected arson of a sports hall is being felt as an attack on the whole community."
Dispatches: Volunteer Lifeline for Asylum Seekers in Hungary (HRW, link): "Tuesday, 8:07 p.m. at the Nyugati train station in Budapest, the latest train arrives from the Hungarian border town of Szeged carrying migrants and asylum seekers who came via Serbia. Volunteers from the nongovernmental group Migration Aid are standing by to greet them and offer food, clothing, and advice.... it’s shameful that Hungary and other European governments have failed to ensure proper reception conditions for people fleeing war and persecution, as European Union rules require. In Hungary, the government has instead spent millions building an anti-migrant fence."
News Digest (26.8.15)
Europe faces up to flight safety threat posed by drones (euractiv, link): "No-drone zones, software to block flights into sensitive areas and registration rules are among proposals from European regulators and aviation experts to ensure growing numbers of drones don't case dangerous run-ins with passenger aircraft."
GREECE: Golden Dawn MP, cell leader released from custody (ekathimerini.com, link): "Golden Dawn deputy Nikos Kouzilos has been released from custody where he had been awaiting trial on a number of criminal charges along with dozens of other MPs and members of the neofascist party. However, the council of appeals court judges banned Kouzilos from leaving the Attica region, while ordering him to report to his local police station twice a month."
Mass protest against TTIP and CETA to take place in Berlin (euractiv, link): "More than 30 organisations are teaming up for a major demonstration against TTIP and CETA, with concerns ranging from the end of cultural diversity in Europe to devastating effects the deals could have in developing countries. EurActiv Germany reports. Over 50,000 demonstrators are expected to gather in front of Berlin’s central train station on 10 October to protest the EU’s planned free trade agreements with the United States and Canada, TTIP and CETA. Special public transit lines and hundreds of buses are planned to meet the extra demand."
AUSTRIA: Austrian found guilty of Nazi Facebook post (The Local.at, link): "A 28-year-old Austrian man who called for Jews to be gassed in a Facebook post was sentenced to eight months in prison on Tuesday by Wels Provincial Court."
DENMARK: Danish Home Guard to rearm after terror attack (The Local.dk, link): "Six months after some 4,300 volunteer members of the Danish Home Guard were told to disassemble their rifles in the aftermath of the Copenhagen terror attacks, members will once again be allowed to keep functioning weapons at home."
GERMANY: MPs plan new close watch on spies (The Local.de, link): "MPs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are planning to put Germany's security services on a much tighter leash in the future following a wave of scandals, media reported on Wednesday." and see: Prosecutors launch case against CIA double agent (The Local.de, link)
NSA-JAPAN: Obama Expresses Regret to Japan's Abe for Spying Charges (New York Times, link): "Japanese officials faced questioning from the media and in parliament after WikiLeaks posted online what appeared to be five U.S. National Security Agency reports on Japanese positions on international trade and climate change. They date from 2007 to 2009. WikiLeaks also posted what it says was an NSA list of 35 Japanese targets for telephone intercepts." See: "WikiLeaks published "Target Tokyo" 35 Top Secret NSA targets in Japan including the Japanese cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, together with intercepts relating to US-Japan relations, trade negotiations and sensitive climate change strategy"
Czech intelligence powers widened (Prague Post, link): "The powers of Czech intelligence services will be widened as they will be allowed to breach the tax secret and to ask for information from telecommunications operators under the legislation signed into law by President Miloš Zeman, spokesman Jirí Ovcácek said today. The limitations on the data protected by the bank secret will be cancelled, too."
EU: MED-CRISIS: First step in coercive response to migrants crisis: Italy, Greece must act now on migrants says Merkel 'Set up registration centres by year's end' (ANSA, link):
" Italy and Greece must act as soon as possible to open migrant registration centres, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday. "We have established with the heads of government that there should be registration centres in the countries particularly hit by the first arrivals, like Greece and Italy," she said after a summit with French President Francois Hollande. "This must happen quickly, by the end of the year, we cannot accept delays," she said."
and Italy and Greece must act now on migrants: Merkel (The Local.it, link): "Italy and Greece – two countries which have borne the brunt of the migrant crisis - must set up registration centres to help identify asylum-seekers and illegal migrants as soon as possible, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday... Merkel stressed that the centres must be set up at the first ports of call to be administered and staffed by the EU as a whole by the end of the year. "We cannot tolerate a delay," she said."
This will almost certainly involve: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)
EU: MED-CRISIS (25.8.15)
LESVOS/Mytilene: A Good Samaritan in Greece: Papa Stratis needs oxygen pumped to his lungs but that's not stopping him from joining the ranks of Greeks helping refugees arriving in Europe (UNHCR Tracks, link): "Papa Stratis, along with other local volunteers in the village of Kalloni, has been helping refugees since 2007 through the NGO ‘Agkalia‘. In all these years he reckons that he has helped some ten thousand people, including a few locals fallen on hard times. But never before has he seen so many refugees looking for help.... “Every day between one and two hundred people come to Kalloni,” the 57-year old Orthodox priest says. “The local people tell them to come to us for help. We give them food, water, milk for the babies, shoes, clothes. They can stay here too: we have blankets, mattresses on the floor.”... With local authorities overwhelmed by the 64,000 refugee arrivals to Greece since the beginning of the year, local activists like Papa Stratis and the network of volunteers “Village All Together”, are often taking on the sole responsibility of caring for the refugees on the Greek islands. “We have no external funding,” he explains with a smile. “We depend completely on the generosity of the local people.”"
ITALY: Asylum-seekers protest over living conditions (The Local.it, link)
GREECE: One dead, six missing after refugee boat capsizes off Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link) and and see: 2 Refugee Boats Capsize Off Greece, Turkey; 5 Dead (INYT, link)
GERMANY-EU: A ten-point plan for a European refugee policy response (diplo.de, link) and 10 Point Plan (pdf)
GERMANY: Fire destroys another refugee home in Germany (DW, link): "A refugee home has caught fire in Germany, raising concerns over anti-migrant attacks. Meanwhile Chancellor Merkel faces tough questions during her visit to a problematic immigrant neighborhood in the country's west."
AUSTRIA: Austria draws on army in migrant crisis (The Local.at, link): "The Austrian army is to deploy more than 500 troops to help overstretched authorities deal with the large number of migrants arriving from Hungary and Italy, the defence minister said on Tuesday."
GREECE: Efforts continue to locate migrants from capsized boat (ekathimerini.com, link): "Greek coast guard patrols and volunteer fishermen on Tuesday were continuing the search for a group of migrants believed missing after their boat capsized off the coast of the island of Lesvos on Monday, killing two of the passengers on board.... Reports on Monday suggested that there were four or five passengers still missing from the rubber dinghy that capsized in choppy waters between the coast of Turkey and the eastern Aegean island.... The Greek government has come under fire from its European Union partners and international organizations for failing to speed up the process of registering incoming migrants and identifying those with legitimate asylum claims."
Migrant crisis: “Let’s not pretend Europe’s response is working” – UN rights expert warns (UNHR, link): "United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, today called on the European Union to establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy* which makes mobility its central asset. “It is the only way in which the EU can reclaim its border, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants,” he said. “Let’s not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay,” Mr. Crépeau stressed. “Building fences, using tear gas and other forms of violence against migrants and asylum seekers, detention, withholding access to basics such as shelter, food or water and using threatening language or hateful speech will not stop migrants from coming or trying to come to Europe.” "
Search and Rescue in Central Mediterranean Sea (migreurop, link): "Report of an observation mission in Sicily carried out, between the 1st of February and the 8th of June 2015, by Sabine Llewellyn, volunteering for the network Migreurop within the NGO ARCI to support the activities of Watch the Med, in the frame of the programmes of Echanges et Partenariats." and see: Report (pdf) and Report - French (link)
Greece: Mytilene (Lesvos): Chaos and squalid conditions face record number of refugees on Lesvos (AI, link): "Overloaded, under-resourced authorities are failing to cope with the dramatic increase in the number of people arriving on the island (33,000 since 1 August) and must rely on local volunteers, NGO activists, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and tourists to step into the massive breach. The vast majority are fleeing conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria - 90% of those arriving in 2015 according to UNHCR."
GREECE: Help Refugees Arriving in Mytilene, Greece This list is for: Eric & Philippa Kempson: Dispatch to: Eric Kempson, Eftalou (Amazon, link): "All donations go directly to refugees arriving on the north coast of Mytilene. If you have other ideas (specific medical stuff, baby gear, toys, etc), feel free to add them to your shipment! People have access to food through other means, but other supplies for camping, long walks, general sun exposure all appreciated."
Destination Europe: Migrant Stories (WSJ, link)
Europe's migrant surge: How to cope with record numbers? (France 24, link): "Europe's record wave of would-be asylum seekers and migrants continues unabated and the scramble is on to cope with the crisis" with Marie Martin, Migration and Asylum Officer, Euromed Rights and Nic Conner, Senior Research Fellow, The Bow Group.
The European Union’s migrant ‘emergency’ is entirely of its own making (Guardian, link): "We could treat asylum and labour mobility as questions of justice or opportunity, as some European states did in the postwar era....The emergency is not inevitable: we could treat asylum and labour mobility as questions of justice or opportunity, as some European states did in the postwar era. The choice is political. We can keep militarising the borders or bank on mobility. We can opt for ferries, visas and aeroplane tickets instead of sinking rubber boats, squalid detention centres and makeshift camps."
Hungary’s migrant fence is simply a pointless PR exercise (Guardian, link): "Short-term measures like walls and fences in Europe won’t solve a migration crisis of this size. People who have risked so much will just find another way."
UNHCR assists refugees at Greece-FYR Macedonia border, where calm is returning (link): "The UN refugee agency has been helping refugees and migrants amid chaotic scenes in the past few days at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as thousands of people tried to cross into FYR Macedonia. The situation was noticeably calmer and more orderly on Sunday, when almost 2,000 people crossed into FYR Macedonia, and Monday. The majority told UNHCR staff that they had fled the war in Syria, passed through Turkey and crossed by boat to Greece. Among them were many young families with small children."
The vital difference between human trafficking and migrant smuggling (Open Democracy, link): "Human smuggling is a crime in as much as it constitutes an illegal border crossing. But it is not innately a crime against people or an abridgement of their human rights. This can never be said of human trafficking."
Germany and France want unified asylum response (euobserver, link): "France and Germany are pushing for a more unified asylum system, as Berlin opens its doors to Syrians. Hollande said in a statement that “a unified system for the right to asylum” is needed." and: Influx grows as Germany, France eye unified response (ekathimerini.com): "According to police estimates, between 8,500 and 9,000 refugees on the island of Lesvos were Monday awaiting transfer to the Greek mainland. A ferry charted by the Greek government – the Eleftherios Venizelos – was expected to pick up another 2,500 Syrians from the island at 2.30 this morning and bring them to Athens. “The foreigners that leave the island every day are replaced by the same number of people arriving from the Turkish coast,” Lesvos Mayor Spyros Galinos told Kathimerini."
Germany challenges EU to agree on refugee plan (The Local.se, link): ""Never before have so many people fled political persecution and war as today, many of whom seek refuge here with us in Europe," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel wrote in an opinion piece, identify a 10 point plan for a European refugee policy response."
UK: Asylum seekers fight deportation to Afghanistan - Lawyers challenge Home Office’s proposed charter flight, thought to be departing Stansted on Tuesday, following court victory for Afghans last week (Guardian, link): "Lord Justice Clarke rejected home secretary Theresa May’s application to overturn the order on the basis that a significant number of people due to board the flight could be affected by an ongoing case about the dangers of forcibly returning failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan."
Denmark considers citizenship rule changes (The Local.dk, link): "The Danish government is considering changes to the nation’s citizenship laws that may make it harder to get citizenship in the future and pull the rug out from under 1,950 foreigners who have already satisfied the current requirements.
Germany suspends Dublin III transfers for Syrians (freemovement.org.uk, link): "Germany has taken the extremely welcome step of suspending the transfer of Syrian asylum seekers under the Dublin III Regulation. As long ago as November 2013 UNHCR called for countries not to return Syrian nationals to their first point of entry in the EU. As the war has worsened and more people have fled, the situation has continued to deteriorate both for the people fleeing and in the countries on the periphery of Europe, such as the Balkan states and Greece and Italy, that are struggling to provide adequate reception conditions."
EU: Overstayers: Government reply to questions in the Bundestag at point 16 gives Statewatch as the "public" source::
"With regard to the information from other Member States of the EU is in particular the evaluation regularly published Products made by FRONTEX, which also illicit Include stay. Furthermore, Latvia has under its Presidency in the first half 2015, an EU-Polizeioperation called "Amber Light" initiated, focusing on the theme over-stayer moved. The results are also available to the public
(http://www.statewatch.org/news/2015/jul/eu-council-lithuania- presidency-Amberlight-final-report.pdf)" [emphasis added]
And see: AMBERLIGHT: Joint Police Operation detects 1,344 "overstayers" but only 10 using forged documents
News Digest (25.8.15)
UK: Firms using illegal migrant labour face 48-hour closures - New powers to revoke trading licences also included in bill aimed at creating ‘hostile environment’ for unauthorised workers (Guardian, link)
NORWAY: Oslo police slammed for Roma discrimination (The Local.no, link): "The police in Oslo are often racist and discriminate against Roma and African homeless people, a damning new report from Norway's National Institute for Human Rights has found."
EU to review rail security after foiled Thalys attack (euractiv, link): "The European Union will review railway security on high-speed international lines after last week's foiled attack in France. But officials warned on Monday (24 August) against overreaction."
Germany: Halt on Dublin procedures for Syrians (AIDA, link):
"The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has issued internal instructions suspending the Dublin procedure in respect of Syrian nationals. According to the instructions, dated 21 August 2015, Dublin procedures that have already been initiated in relation to Syrians are to be cancelled, in order for Germany to become the Member State responsible for processing their claims."
EU: PUTTING IN PLACE A RETURNS POLICY: Juncker: "In September, the Commission will thus submit a common list of safe countries of origin to the Member States." New Europe inteview, link) and see: Press release of Justice and Home Affairs Council on 20 July 2015 (pdf):
"STRONGLY RECOMMENDS therefore that, without delay, Member States assess which third countries could be designated at national level as safe countries of origin."
And see: No need for new EU summit on immigration, says Juncker (ekathimerini.com, link): "European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker dismissed calls for a new EU summit on immigration, saying member states should stop dragging their heels and implement existing agreements on the matter..... Juncker added that the European Union should draw up a uniform list of "safe countries" to which migrants could be returned." [Comment: All the evidence is that most migrants are coming from Syria and Afghanistan together with Eritrea, Somalia]
EU: MED-CRISIS (24.8.15)
Welcome to EU - Greece (link)
Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean 'migrants', but we should (Migrants Rights Network, link): "By rejecting the term and using ‘refugee’ instead as a means of arousing the empathy and compassion we should be feeling towards these people, Al Jazeera gives credence to the illiberal voices telling us that migrants are not worthy of our compassion."
UK-EU: The Observer view on Britain’s shameful response to refugees (link)
and see: German ministers call for joint EU policy to cope with refugee crisis (DW, link): "Two leading Social Democrat members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet have called for an EU-wide asylum policy as a way of coping with an unprecedented influx of refugees. "
Swedish tolerance questioned as attacks on migrants rise (euractiv, link):"A series of attacks on beggars and Roma has highlighted a dark side to a country considered a bastion of tolerance, but where the far right has been gaining support by claiming society is under threat from immigrants.... Since most come from Romania and Bulgaria, they are free to travel to Sweden as EU citizens, but their presence has fuelled claims by the Sweden Democrats the country is a soft-touch for migrants and is being swamped."
New one-day peak for Italy migrant rescues (The Local, it, link): "Italy's coastguard picked up another 300 migrants from stricken boats in the Mediterranean on Sunday, a day after overseeing the rescue of 4,400 people in one 24-hour period with help from British, Irish and Norwegian ships."
GERMANY: Gabriel visits Saxony after weekend of violence (The Local.de, link): "Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is to visit the Saxon town of Heidenau on Monday after far right demonstrators clashed with police outside a refugee home in the town over the weekend."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Number of lone underage refugees rising in Czech Republic (Prgaue Daily Monitor, link): "The Czech Education Ministry must deal with a rising number of lone underage refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan aged from 15 to 18 years, who fled their countries alone or lost contact with their families during their long journey, daily Pravo writes Saturday.Under Czech law, people under 18 are considered underage and such refugees cannot be sent to detention facilities for adults."
Hollande to meet Merkel on migration, Ukraine (euobserver, link): "French president Francois Hollande is travelling to Berlin on Monday (24 August) to discuss the growing migrant crisis with German chancellor Angela Merkel. The visit, originally planned to cover the Ukraine conflict, comes as thousands of people - many of them fleeing the war in Syria - keep trying to enter the European Union."
Macedonian army allows migrants to cross border - Migrants head towards EU border in southern Hungary after being penned for days in Macedonia (Guardian, link): "“There is a human catastrophe here, and all the EU, the European countries, are to be blamed for this,” said German politician Annette Groth while on a visit to the “neutral” zone between Greece and Macedonia. “The refugees are not leaving their homes for fun.”"
HUNGARY: Volunteers step in as Hungary tries to shut out illegal migrants - ‘Strange and random’ happenings await the recent arrivals in an ill-prepared Europe (Irish Times, link)
IRELAND: Criminalising asylum-seeking in Ireland: the case of Walli Ullah Safi (opendemocracy,link): "The harsh institutional approach to asylum seeking in Ireland is indicative of a mentality that places a severe and punitive burden of proof upon the asylum seeker."
UK Home Office Humanity Crimes Against Africans and Asians – part 1 (Detained Vocies, Stories from inside UK Immigration Detention, link): An account of immigration detainees in UK: "We hope that something will come out of detainee’s plight and maybe a legal challenge from those who wants to see justice being practiced by the UK Home Office. Detention must have time limit and out of country appeal for asylum seekers must be abolished, asylum seekers should not be in continuous detention."
News Digest 24.8.15).
Digital surveillance 'worse than Orwell' says new UN privacy chief - Joseph Cannataci describes UK data protection as ‘a joke’ and says a Geneva convention for the internet is needed (Guardian, link)
After Delfi, the chilling effect on web site comments in Europe has begun (link): "what the verdict in Delfi v Estonia means for our profession. This case, which was heard in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), concerned the issue of liability for comments on web sites, and had huge implications for any web site in Europe that allows comments."
EU: MED-CRISIS (22-23.8.15)
GREECE-EU: Greek president wants EU summit on refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link): "President Prokopis Pavlopoulos has proposed that a European Union leaders’ summit be called to discuss a mounting migrant and refugee crisis and called for a closer cooperation with the United Nations."
Migrants crisis: More than 2,000 people rescued near Libya coast (BBC News, link): "More than 2,000 migrants and refugees have been rescued from boats off the coast of Libya in one of the biggest single-day operations mounted, Italy's coastguards have said. Distress calls came from more than 20 vessels, AFP reported."
GREECE: Overcrowded and bad conditions at Greek Refugee Centre in Lesbos (YouTube, Molyvos for Refugees, link): "Endless waiting hours on the queue for the refugees from Afghanistan, in order to obtain a portion of food, during August at the Moria First Reception Centre in Mytilene, Lesvos island, Greece . Mohammed who is 24 years old from Kunduz Afghanistan and describes his bad experience during his staying there. The drinking water from the tap was hot and of low quality. So mainly for the children, they had to daily buy bottled water, at an expensive price from the one and only canteen on the area."
GREECE: MYTILENE: Refugees Welcome Party in Pikpa (lesvos.w2eu, link): "Last night w2eu and JOG hosted a welcome party in the selforganized space PIKPA to welcome and exchange with the refugees staying there. Over the last three year this became a PIKPA – w2eu – JOG Tradition." Historical Note: 2013: FRONTEX activities on Mytilene, Greece: Attempt to take over "open" PIPKA migrant centre, "closed" detention centre set up (Statewatch report)
SWEDEN: 'Nazi-inspired' anti-immigration group becomes Sweden's most popular party (Independent, link)
GREECE: FYROM loosens border as migrants get restless (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Friday relaxed a crackdown along the country’s border with Greece as crowds of desperate migrants and refugees seeking to enter the Balkan nation grew larger and more restless..... On Friday afternoon, another ferry docked at Piraeus with around 2,300 refugees from the islands of the eastern Aegean. Lesvos, Kos and other islands are under increasing pressure as the influx from Turkey is relentless. Authorities on Lesvos said there were some 11,000 migrants on the island on Friday."
Germany condemns violent anti-refugee protest in Heidenau (DW, link): "The German government has condemned the violence that broke out ahead of the arrival of asylum seekers at a temporary shelter in the east of the country. Several people were injured in scuffles with police." and: Police clash with far-right over refugees (The Local.de, link): "Several hundred people turned up in Heidenau, near Dresden, to demonstrate against the expected arrival of hundreds of refugees in a protest called by the far-right National Democratic Party." and Fresh clashes in Heidenau as de Maiziere condemns anti-refugee violence - German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has condemned violent protests against a refugee shelter in the eastern town of Heidenau. At the same time, he highlighted a spirit of giving demonstrated by other Germans. (DW, link) nd German neo-Nazi protesters clash with police at new migrant shelter - Two consecutive nights of violence force police to seal off shelter near Dresden as Germany prepares for biggest influx of asylum seekers since second world war (Guardian, link)
Greece ferries thousands of refugees from islands to the mainland (Macedonian Information Agency, link)
GERMANY: Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out' (Independent, link): "Peaceful demonstrations began after news spread that the town was welcoming a large number of refugees who are set to be housed in an empty building. The protest was hijacked by a group of far-right radicals, many belonging to the militant National Democratic Party (NPD), considered a neo-Nazi organisation."
Mediterranean migrant crisis: Irish naval vessel LÉ Niamh rescues 225 people (BBC News, link): "The migrants, including 12 children, were trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on two inflatable vessels."
AI: MACEDONIA: Macedonia: Calm at the border but uncertain fate for refugees and asylum-seekers’ onward journey (link) and Macedonia: Stop Police Violence Against Migrants (HRW, link)
News Digest (22-23.8.15)
Danish prime minister announces date for EU referendum (euractiv, link): "On 3 December, Danes will vote on a 'flexible' opt-in approach to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced on Friday (21 August)."
UK: Elderly man attacked in Rotherham dies in hospital (ITN News, link): "An 81-year-old man who was injured following an attack in Rotherham has died in hospital overnight. Mushin Ahmed was assaulted in an area just off Fitzwilliam Road in the early hours of Monday 10 August. He was understood to be on his way to a mosque for morning prayers."
ITALY: Italy arrests Algerian human rights lawyer (ANSA, link): "Mesli, who has defended Islamist torture victims, has been living as a refugee in Switzerland since 2000 after being arrested in his home country on charges of "abetting terrorism", according to Amnesty International human rights NGO. He was detained and tortured for three years, according to Amnesty."
UK: Data breach by holiday firm Thomson exposes hundreds of passengers (BBC News, link)
POLAND: Roma Camp in Wroclaw Cleared and Demolished (LibertiesEU, link): "The unannounced destruction of a Roma camp in Wroclaw is condemned by civil society, which warns that such an action raises serious doubt about human rights protections in Poland."
USA: Undercover Police Have Regularly Spied On Black Lives Matter Activists in New York (The Intercept, link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: (21.8.15)
UNHCR-MACEDONIA: Concern about developments at border with Greece (pdf): UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres spoke with FYR Macedonia Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki about the situation, and received assurances that the border will not be closed in the future. "UNHCR is particularly worried about the thousands of vulnerable refugees and migrants, especially women and children, now massed on the Greek side of the border amid deteriorating conditions," UNHCR said in a statement." and Macedonia allows migrants entry from Greece (Channel 4 News, link): "Macedonia allows a limited number of migrants to enter from Greece, hours after police drove back crowds by firing tear gas.... The United Nations refugee agency has urged Macedonia to allocate more space for migrants in its side of the border"
MACEDONIA: GREECE: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Macedonia: Thousands trapped and at risk of violence as border sealed (link): "A witness on the Greek side of the border told Amnesty International that Macedonia’s Rapid Reaction Unit, an anti-terrorist police unit, had been beating refugees and asylum-seekers who were trying to enter Macedonia, and firing over their heads. A local NGO confirmed the use of rubber bullets.... "Every country has the power to patrol its own borders, but this kind of para-military response is an unacceptable push-back in violation of international law. Macedonian authorities are responding as if they were dealing with rioters rather than refugees who have fled conflict and persecution."" And see: AI: Europe’s Borderlands: Violations against refugees and migrants in Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary (link) and see: Report: Europe's Borderlands: Violations against refugees and migrants in Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary (pdf)
Macedonian riot police fire teargas to disperse thousands of migrants - video (Guardian, link) and Macedonian police fire tear gas to drive back migrants, refugees on border (Reuters, link): "Riot police behind barbed wire fired tear gas to drive back an angry crowd demanding passage into Macedonia and north to Hungary and the European Union's borderless Schengen zone, the Reuters reporter said." also: Macedonian Riot Police Use Teargas to Hold Off Migrants at Border With Greece. (Slate, link) and Irish Times Video (link): Macedonia declares emergency on border over refugee crisis - Police fire tear gas in effort to disperse refugees as authorities attempt to seal border: "“We expect the involvement of the army will bring two desired effects - it will increase security among our citizens in the two regions and will allow for a more comprehensive approach toward people expressing their interest in applying for asylum,” Interior Ministry spokesman Ivo Kotevski was quoted as saying." and Migrants try to charge Macedonian police lines at Greek border - Medical workers race to treat injured amid reports of people fainting as hundreds try to break through to the north (Guardian, link)
And see: FYROM: Macedonia declares state-of-emergency (euronews, link): "A state of emergency has been declared in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as crowds of migrants continue to gather on its southern border. The Army has been brought in to maintain security as thousands wait,hoping to travel on to Serbia and Western Europe."
Update on airlines offering free luggage with items for refugees (Help for refugees in Molyvos, link)
Peter Sutherland critical of Europe on migrant crisis - UN special envoy on migration tells Knock faithful of EU shortcomings on response (Irish Times, link)
FRANCE-GERMANY: Merkel and Hollande to press EU to move faster on asylum policy (euractiv, link): "Germany and France will press the European Union to move faster and with more unity to deal with the worsening refugee crisis, amid complaints from Germany that it is shouldering too big a burden." and see: Germany 'can't cope' with 800,000 refugees per year - Germany cannot continue accepting refugees at its current pace of 800,000 per year, its interior minister warns. The country could reinstate border controls if other EU states fail to pull their weight (DW, link)
EU ministers to hold migrant talks: France (The Local.fr, link) and see: Council of the European Union: Valletta Conference on Migration (Malta, 11-12 November 2015) - Orientation debate (pdf):
CZECH REPUBLIC: Integration expert says migration issue should not be reduced to security (Radio Praha, link)
GREECE: Refugees head for the north despite border crackdown (ekathimerini.com, link)L "KTEL intercity bus services linking the capital to the northern port of Thessaloniki were inadequate so additional vehicles were added to the route. Instead of the 11 usual daily connections linking Athens and Thessaloniki, there are now 42, with a bus leaving the capital for the northern port city every half-hour...... Train services linking FYROM and Serbia were also suspended as large numbers of migrants camped out in the no-man’s land between the two countries." and Car ferry arrives for second time in Piraeus to disembark Syrian refugees (ANA, link)
HUNGARY: Socialists criticize border police units (BBJ, link): "Socialist immigration expert Richárd Barabás told the press that plans to set up border police units to guard the fence being built along the Serbian border show a "complete lack of goodwill" and may go against the Geneva convention, according to reports today, while deputy leader Bertalan."
Fences in Calais protect ministers – not refugees (The Conversation, link) by Heaven Crawley
Refugee Chaos in Macedonia: 'Life-Threateningly Dangerous for Women and Children' (spiegel.de, link): "A dangerous bottleneck has formed in the Macedonian border town of Gevgelija, an important hub for refugees traveling to Western Europe. Those trying to reach the trains here face extreme heat, dangerous crowds and police bullying."
“To quota” or “not to quota”? The EU facing effective solidarity in its Asylum Policy (EASFJ, link)
Why are NGOs so reluctant to help Greece? (New Internationalist, July 2015, link): "nternational observers are left wondering: how bad do conditions in Lesvos need to be before refugee aid agencies stop hiding behind the EU and start rolling up their sleeves?"
UK: Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show (Independent, link):
"The allegation of brothel keeping, which Scotland Yard later begrudgingly admitted was baseless, was just one episode in a near 20-year operation by MI5 and British intelligence to keep Lessing, one of Britain’s most influential novelists who became the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, under surveillance as a suspected subversive.
Documents released on 21 August at the National Archives in Kew, west London, reveal how the novelist, who spent her formative years in Southern Rhodesia, was monitored and her mail intercepted for at least 18 years after she was adjudged to have formed a “deep hatred” of apartheid-style policies in the British colony and become a Communist sympathiser."
and: MI5 spied on Doris Lessing for 20 years, declassified documents reveal -Newly released and redacted British intelligence files refer to author from early 1940s to long after her break from communist party in 1956 (Guardian, link)
News Digest (21.8.15)
N IRELAND: The dark history of British collusion with loyalist death squads (agreenwales.blogspot.ie, link)
AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale (International New York Times, link): "The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T. While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help."
UK-FRANCE: CALAIS: Managing migratory flows in Calais: Joint Ministerial Declaration on UK/French Co-operation (pdf) and see: Commission: Joint statement by First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Avramopoulos on Calais and European migration priorities (pdf)
And: 'Fences won't put anyone off': migrants dismiss new Calais security crackdown - People in New Jungle camp say Theresa May’s attempts to tackle crisis at French port will not deter those fleeing war from trying to reach UK (Guardian, link) and Motorway blocked! – The jungle’s answer to Theresa May’s visit to Calais (Calais Migrant Solidarity, link)
UK-EU: Compulsory fingerprinting of migrants: Government Explanatory Memorandum: EM: Commission Staff Working Document (SWD, 150-15) (pdf). The UK is not bound by this proposal but totally backs the compulsory fingerprinting of all, and observes that when faced with "non-compliance" there will be consequences:
"including the use of detention or coercion to obtain fingerprints. In our experience the appropriate use of detention... can have the effect of bringing behavioral change" [emphasis added]
See: European Commission: Staff Working Document “on Implementation of the Eurodac Regulation as regards the obligation to take fingerprints”(pdf)
And: Fingerprinting by force: secret discussions on "systematic identification" of migrants and asylum seekers - Including "fingerprinting [with] the use of a proportionate degree of coercion" on "vulnerable persons, such as minors or pregnant women" (Statewatch) and Official reports on EU databases show massive increases in "discreet surveillance" and asylum seeker fingerprinting (Statewatch)
EU: European Parliament Study: Enhancing the Commom European Asylum System and alternatives to Dublin (pdf):
"It argues that as long as it is based on the use of coercion against asylum seekers, it cannot serve as an effective tool to address existing imbalances in the allocation of responsibilities among Member States.".
FINLAND: Report to the Finnish Government on the visit to Finland carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) (pdf)
"During the visit, the CPT’s delegation examined the situation and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in police establishments, immigration detention, prisons and in a psychiatric hospital. Despite on-going efforts in a number of areas, the CPT was concerned by the lack of sufficient progress in the implementation of many of its long-standing recommendations, for example those regarding the practice of holding remand prisoners in police establishments and the practice of “slopping out” in prisons, on the regime for prisoners segregated in high-security and closed units, and on the legal safeguards in the context of involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation."
EU: MED: CRISIS: 20.8.15
UK in talks with Holland and Belgium to close off new migrant routes to Britain (Guardian, link): "Speaking during a visit to the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles – which is now surrounded by two razor-wire fences after a £7m cash injection from the UK – May said other northern French ports such as Dunkirk were being assessed amid fears smugglers could shift their efforts elsewhere."
SLOVAKIA: Migrants crisis: Slovakia 'will only accept Christians' (BBC News, link): "Slovakia says it will only accept Christians when it takes in Syrian refugees under a EU relocation scheme. The country is due to receive 200 people from camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece under the EU plan to resettle 40,000 new arrivals. Interior ministry spokesman Ivan Netik said Muslims would not be accepted because they would not feel at home."
Council of Europe: Without papers but not without rights: the basic social rights of irregular migrants (link): ""Those who think that irregular migrants have no rights because they have no papers are wrong. Everyone is a holder of human rights regardless of their status. It is easy to understand that the prohibition of torture protects all people but we should also be aware of the fact that basic social rights are also universal, because their enjoyment constitutes a prerequisite for human dignity. Therefore, member states of the Council of Europe should stand by their obligations to protect the basic social rights of everyone under their jurisdiction,
and this includes irregular migrants."
Calais migrant crisis: Theresa May in Calais as 'command centre' announced (BBC News, link)
Serbia says migrants in Macedonia should go to Bulgaria, Croatia (euractiv,link): "Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that Serbia will not put fences on its border with Macedonia, and that Hungary's new fence along its border with Serbia would redirect refugees to Croatia and Bulgaria, the Belgrade press reported "
GREECE: More than a third of migrants not fingerprinted, officials say (ekathimerini.com, link): "As part of efforts to decongest overburdened islands, Greek authorities have been registering the personal details of thousands of migrants arriving on Lesvos, Kos and other islands. But they lack the equipment to fingerprint the migrants, who are issued with documents and instructed to visit the Aliens Bureau in Athens on their arrival.More than a third issued with papers on the islands fail to visit the bureau, however, Greek Police (ELAS) sources told Kathimerini. It is thought the majority continue their journeys further into Europe."
ITALY: Response to migrants is mercy says pope (ANSA, link)
GERMANY: Germany refugee riot injures 15 after Koran defaced (DW, link) "A brawl among asylum seekers in a German town injured 15 after an Afghan tore pages from the Koran. Around 100 refugees took part in the riot at the shelter in Thüringen, which was previously criticised for overcrowding." and Germany's media blitz to discourage Balkan migrants (DW, link): "Germany's migration agency is taking out newspaper and online ads warning would-be refugees - especially from the Balkans - against seeking asylum in Germany. Experts say the approach will likely have little effect."
NORWAY: UN: Norway doing too little to fight racism (The Local, link): "Norway's authorities are doing too little to combat the threat of racism and far-right extremist violence, a damning new report from the UN has concluded."
UN: Sweden is bearing brunt of migrant crisis (The Local.se, link): "Sweden and Germany cannot continue to take in the majority of refugees seeking new lives in the EU, a top UN official has said... Antonio Guterres, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees called on Tuesday for other EU nations to play a greater role in helping asylum seekers who travel to Europe."
DENMARK: Danes publish pro-refugee advertisement (The Local.dk, link): "The initiative, which has over 18,000 followers on Facebook, ends the ad by saying that the group wants refugees to hear “another voice in Denmark - a voice representing peace, solidarity and human decency”. In response to:Denmark to run anti-refugee advertisements (link)
AUSTRIA: Ministers pay surprise visit to refugee camp (The Local.at, link)l "he severely overcrowded refugee camp in Traiskirchen, Lower Austria, received a surprise visit ... He [said] that conditions at the camp are “unacceptable” and appealed to Austria’s states “to provide decent accommodation as soon as possible so that conditions like those at Traiskirchen are a thing of the past""
GERMANY: Asylum 'could cost Germany €10bn' in 2015 (The Local.de, link): "Based on new projections for the number of asylum seekers expected to arrive in Germany this year, the country may have to find €10 billion to fund its already creaking system."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Hysteria over asylum seekers completely exaggerated, says minister (Radio Praha, link): "The minister for human rights, Jirí Dientsbier, says hysteria surrounding asylum seekers in the Czech Republic is completely exaggerated and not based on any rational risks." and New parties profit from Islamophobia (Prague Post, link)
News Digest (20.8.15)
Update on the status of data retention laws in Europe (http://mslods.com, link)
SWEDEN: Poll: Far-right party now biggest in Sweden (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the far-right Sweden Democrats are the biggest party in Sweden. According to a Yougov poll commisioned by Metro, the extremists would receive 25.2% of the vote if there was an election today, ahead of the governing centre-left Social Democrats, at 23.4%."
UK: Chilcot inquiry: Leading figures in British political Establishment accused of plotting to discredit investigation into Iraq war (Independent, link)
GREECE-TURKEY: Six Turkish jets chased out of Greek air space (ekathimerini.com, link):
GERMANY: In Berlin, probe into Netzpolitik inquiry drags on (DW, link): "This month, Germany's chief prosecutor scrapped a treason probe against bloggers who quoted leaked documents detailing plans to expand Internet surveillance. An inquiry into the case has left questions unanswered."
EU: Commission discloses documents on US tax agreements with EU Member States (http://sophieintveld.eu, link)
UK: Blind man Tasered by police paid undisclosed sum - Lancashire constabulary admits using excessive force after police officer mistook white stick for samurai sword (Guardian, link)
Study Finds ‘Supercookies’ Used Outside U.S. (WSJ, link)
IRELAND: Up to 150 anti-water charge protesters target garda station over Joan Burton charges (Independent.ie, link): " Anti-water charge protesters took their picket to the gates of Tallaght garda station last night in the wake of the possible charging of 23 people. It was revealed last week that more than 20 people would be charged over a blockade that saw Tanaiste Joan Burton trapped in her car for two hours."
GREECE: Update: 19.8.15: "The situation is getting worse. Lot of the refugees have no tents, some have no shoes/clothes. There is not enough food and no soap. People have to stay here longer as there are no seats free on the ferry to Athens and some have waited for 7 days for papers."
Report: Kara Tepe, transit camp for refugees, Lesvos (Greece) Outline development proposals (pdf)
"While going from tent to tent, interacting directly with refugees in their shelters and listening to their stories, we have observed in detail the living conditions of refugees in Kara Tepe camp and noticed that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophic.
Depending on the boats coming every day from Turkey, Kara Tepe camp houses an average of 1,000 to 2,000 mainly Syrian refugees (and from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea). The stay in this transit camp is supposed to last until 2 or 3 days. Our findings on site, however, reveal that some refugees (in July) would have waited their papers up to 11 days.
Thanks to numerous discussions with refugees, volunteers, NGOs and the UNHCR, we have drawn up this paper and hope the recommendations presented here will be found worthy of consideration."
EU-MED-CRISIS: Hungary Plans to Impose Prison Terms for Border Fence Violators (bloomberg.com, link):
" Hungary’s government wants to impose prison terms of as long as four years on those who damage a fence that’s being built along the Serb border to repel hundreds of thousands of migrants, a senior minister said.
The government is calling for an extraordinary session of parliament to pass the legislation, which would also tighten penalties for smuggling people, Janos Lazar, the minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s office, told reporters on Tuesday. The cabinet will send thousands of police to patrol a barbed-wire fence, that’s being built along the 175-kilometer (109-mile) border shared by Hungary and Serbia."
UK-EU: Home Affairs Select Committee report: Commission Communication: European Agenda on Migration and associated documents (72 pages, pdf) including European Agenda on Migration, European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean, Relocation of migrants in need of international protection. On EUNAVFOR MED the report comments:
"unlike piracy, migration does not pose the sort of threat envisaged in chapter 7 of the UN Charter, and that there is thus a difficulty in finding an appropriate legal base; — successful anti-illegal migration operations in the Caribbean and Australasia are based on repatriation, which is not envisaged in the EU plan;
— the EU plan addresses symptoms, not causes; — there is no internationally-recognised and domestically-accepted government in Libya"
See also: Five Reasons Why Militarising the EU Migration Plan Will Not Work (RUSI, link): "With news of regular tragedies involving migrants awash on Europe’s shores, the European Union is promising to respond to these through military means. But the political will just does not exist in Europe; neither can the hurdles be overcome easily." and Militarising the EU Migration Plan: A Flawed Approach (RUSI, link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: (19.8.15)
EU: Massive arrival of refugees in Greece dwarfs EU’s relocation initiative (euractiv, link): "Greece appealed to its European Union partners yesterday (18 August) to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with a growing migrant crisis as new data showed 21,000 refugees landed on Greek shores last week alone.... Greek officials said they needed better coordination within the European Union. "This problem cannot be solved by imposing stringent legal processes in Greece, and, certainly, not by overturning the boats," said government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili."
Uk-FRANCE: Theresa May set to sign new deal with French government to tackle migrant crisis (Independent, link)
GERMANY: Where racism and xenophobia are manifest in Germany - Official statistics show that most racist crimes in Germany last year occurred in the country's eastern-most states and Berlin. A civil society expert says that's no surprise. (DW, link)
GREECE: Europe struggles to respond as migrants numbers rise threefold (ekathimerini.com, link)
CZECH REPUBLIC: Zeman's spokesman against scientists' solidarity with refugees (Prague Monitor, link): "President Milos Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek criticised yesterday a call by hundreds of Czech scientists for toleration of immigrants, saying it deepens the gap between Czech society and the elites.
Researcher Pavel Jungwirth told CTK in reaction to Ovcacek's words that the call should bridge the gaps, on the contrary. The call "Scientists against Fear and Indifference" has been signed by more than 1500 personalities, the authors say on their web page."
CYPRUS: 75 million from the EC into a bottomless pit (KISA, link): "the management of the European funds granted to Cyprus for the 2007-2013 programming period raises questions as to whether the available funds for the 2014-2020 period will be used in a way that will improve the integration of migrants into Cypriot society * while making the asylum system fairer and more efficient..... "KISA considers that for the strengthening of the process of migrants’ integration and the improvement of the asylum system, Cypriot state, must first of all change the current migration model and contribute towards combating the racism and discrimination which prevail in Cypriot society." see aslo: EU allocates €74.9 million to Cyprus for migration (Cyprus Mail, link):: "Cyprus will continue the recently established voluntary return programme and will also support forced return.... n relation to border management, Cyprus continues the development of EUROSUR and plans to introduce Automated Border Control gates."
The Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) 5 Point Test For Hate Speech (link): "How can journalists determine what is hate speech? The EJN gives five points which media professionals should review before they publish."
EU-MED-CRISIS: (18.8.15): Frontex, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Greece
FRONTEX: Number of migrants in one month above 100 000 for first time (link): "In the month of July, the number of migrants detected at EU’s borders more than tripled to 107,500 compared to the same month of last year, surpassing the 100,000 mark in a single month for the first time since Frontex began keeping records in 2008.... Syrians and Afghans accounted for a lion’s share of the record number of migrants entering the EU illegally. Most of them, fleeing instability in their home countries, initially entered Greece from Turkey... the most detections were reported in the Aegean Sea (nearly 50 000), mainly on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos. "
Germany unnerved by scores of xenophobic attacks against refugees (Washington Post, link): "On a cool night six weeks ago, suspected right-wing arsonists struck the building, scorching its interior and rendering it uninhabitable days before the &SHY;asylum-seekers were to move in. The attack added Meissen, a gothic castle town of 30,000 on the Elbe River, to a string of German cities caught up in an escalating rash of violence against refugees..... The incidents in Germany include at least six cases of arson and the beating of a 23-year-old African refu&SHY;gee by five Germans that left him with serious injuries."
GERMANY: Smartphone app launched to help asylum seekers in Dresden - App offers practical assistance to refugees arriving in the eastern German city and comes in response to recent anti-immigrant hostility (Guardian, link): "A smartphone app has been launched to help asylum seekers find their feet in Dresden, which became the epicentre of anti-immigrant hostility in Germany earlier this year. The Welcome to Dresden app, developed by two IT companies based in the eastern German city, gives refugees information on how to register with the authorities, get health insurance and find their way around."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Academics warning of growing xenophobia (Prague Monitor, link): "Over 740 Czech academics and other staff of scientific and research institutions have signed a petition Academics against Fear and Indifference to face the increasingly xenophobic atmosphere in Czech society that was posted online yesterday. They feel alarmed at the activities of extremist groups that are not contained enough, the petition said. Radicalisation of society by fear is one of the biggest dangers threatening Czechs in connection with the immigration crisis, it added."
Austria set to force towns to take refugees (euractiv, link): "Austrian towns that balk at taking in refugees can be forced to accept migrants under draft legislation agreed by the two ruling parties and the opposition Greens on Monday (17 August)."
SWITZERLAND: Steinmeier urges EU-Swiss talks on planned immigration quotas (euractiv, link): "German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday (17 August) urged the European Union to negotiate with Switzerland on Bern's plans for new quotas on immigration from the bloc.... Switzerland has been scrambling to find a way to implement the wishes of the people - who narrowly voted in February, 2014 to dramatically rein in immigration from the EU - without ripping up a range of decade-old treaties governing Switzerland's ties with the bloc."
AUSTRIA: Europe migrant crisis: 80,000 will seek asylum in Austria in 2015 - and for many, this former barracks in Traiskirchen is the end of the road (Independent, link): "Ahmed has his face up against the iron bars of the asylum reception centre in the village of Traiskirchen in Austria. He fled Iraq when Isis told his family to leave. They were fishmongers, and had sold their wares to Americans, among others. “They told us that we were sinners, that we had to leave,” says Ahmed. “It gave my father a stroke and now he is dead. My sister is in Greece. My brother is in Serbia. I am here.”
GREECE: More ferries to help take migrants from Aegean islands ( (ekathimerini.com, link): "Authorities are planning to add more ferries to the route linking the islands of the eastern Aegean to the port of Piraeus and elsewhere on the mainland in a bid to ease pressure on the islands which are on the front line of an influx of migrants....The situation remained particularly difficult on two islands which are busy tourist resorts: Kos and Lesvos. Around 3,000 migrants were unable to leave Lesvos on Monday, despite having undergone police identification procedures, as there are no places on ferries." and: Park refugees moved to center at Elaionas (ekathimerini.com, link): "A new reception center for migrants in Elaionas, near central Athens, was fully operational on Monday after more than 200 refugees left a makeshift settlement at Pedion tou Areos park for the air-conditioned containers of the Elaionas plot."
Germany expecting 650,000 refugees this year: report: Germany is to raise its prognosis for the number of refugees expected to come to the country this year drastically, a paper says. The UN has called on all European states to do their share in looking after the migrants (DW, link).
ITALY: UN must address migrant 'human tragedy' - Bagnasco (ANSA, link): " Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) chief Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said after meeting 50 refugees in Genoa Monday he wondered whether "these international organs like the UN in particular that gathers political and financial power have ever seriously addressed this human tragedy".
News Digest (18.8.15)
UK: Northamptonshire police ban stop and search by officers who abuse powers - Northamptonshire police and crime commissioner says his force’s policy should be rolled out nationally to boost trust in policing (Guardian, link)
Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace: The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push (NYT, link): "The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions." and see: Amazon: Devastating expose accuses internet retailer of oppressive and callous attitude to staff (Independent, link): "Working four days in a row without sleep; a woman with breast cancer being put on “performance-improvement plans” together with another who had just had a stillborn child; staff routinely bursting into tears; continual monitoring; workers encouraged to turn on each other to keep their jobs. Life at Amazon sounds bleak, according to a devastating, 5,900-word expose by The New York Times."
USA: NSA Spying Relies on AT&T’s ‘Extreme Willingness to Help’ (.propublica.org, link): "The National Security Agency’s ability to capture Internet traffic on United States soil has been based on an extraordinary, decadeslong partnership with a single company: AT&T."
Accountability on Drones Continues to Fall Short (OSF, link): "The lack of a clear policy today makes the future more dangerous: It means that other countries could claim a measure of justification for reckless targeted killings if and when they acquire similar technology. It means the public is kept in the dark about the legality of the program. It means that families of the victims don’t get justice. Finally, it means that Americans are left to wonder who their government is killing and why. "
UK: Police chiefs running covert operations accused of victimising officers - IPCC investigates claims by lower-ranking officers that they were victimised, threatened and subjected to racial discrimination from senior figures (Guardian, link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: (17.8.15): Greece, Germany, UK. Italy and Czech Republic
GREECE: MYTILENE/LESVOS: Masked 'Commandos' Are Attacking Refugee Boats Off This Idyllic Greek Island (Huffington Post, link):
"out of nowhere came a nightmare -- a speedboat with four masked men charging toward them as they bobbed in international waters. Clad in all black and armed with guns and whips, the men bellowed at terrified passengers to stop the motor, Mohamed recalled.
"They shot at the boat with three bullets," Mohamed later recounted as he stood in a crowded parking lot in the beach town of Molyvos hours after arriving, against all odds, at the island. Hundreds of refugees sat around him, exhausted and caked in sea salt and sweat, as tourists slowed their pace to stare. "They hit us with six-meter-long sticks," he said, a few men sitting with him nodding in agreement. "They circled around us trying to flip our boat." "
KOS: Body of Syrian boy, 16, found at base of Greek island cliff (News Republic, link)
Greece sees risk of ‘bloodshed’ in migrant-crowded island (euractiv, link): "Greece dispatched extra police on the island of Kos after its mayor warned of bloodshed if the tensions created by the massive arrival of immigrants worsen, the Greek press reported. Meanwhile, human rights groups denounced the ‘disgraceful’ conditions in other EU countries trying to cope with the surge in refugees."
EC, Greece have 'game plan' for migrant influx (ekathimerini.com, link): "As thousands of undocumented migrants continue to arrive on the islands of the eastern Aegean, the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos has indicated that Greek and European authorities have a “game plan” to tackle the mounting crisis. Avramopoulos, who met with several ministers during a visit to Athens last week, told reporters in Brussels on Friday that they have drafted “a game plan... a plan for how we can work together to address a problem that is not Greek, a problem that is European.”"
Greek authorities begin to move refugees out of Athens park (ekathimerini.com, link)
Europe’s Front Door: The Refugee Crisis on Lesvos Island (fletcherforum.org)
GERMANY: Opinion: Feed asylum applicants - don't give them money (DW, link)
EU: At least 2,300 Mediterranean deaths in 2015 - IOM - Over 250,000 asylum seekers have landed in Europe (ANSA, link)
UK: The exploitation of migrants has become our way of life (Guardian, link)
ITALY: Migrants' 49 bodies, 416 survivors reach Catania (ANSA, link)
CZECH REPUBLIC: National Democracy protests against accepting refugees (Prague Monitor, link): "More than 200 demonstrators protested against the accepting of refugees and criticised the Czech government's migration policy at a rally convoked by the extremist National Democracy organisation at Prague-Vysehrad Saturday."
News Digest (17.8.15)
UK: Unemployed young people will be sent to work boot camp, says minister - Matt Hancock says plan for jobseekers between 18 and 21 to be placed on intensive activity programme is not a form of punishment (Guardian, link)
UK: Swastika daubed outside Jewish school in London in second anti-Semitic incident in weeks (Independent, link)
USA: Why Did the FBI Spy on James Baldwin? (The Intercept, link): "James Baldwin’s FBI file contains 1,884 pages of documents, collected from 1960 until the early 1970s. During that era of illegal surveillance of American writers, the FBI accumulated 276 pages on Richard Wright, 110 pages on Truman Capote, and just nine pages on Henry Miller. Baldwin’s file was closer in size to activists and radicals of the day — for example, it’s nearly half as thick as Malcolm X’s.":
UK: Britain’s ‘Twitter troops’ have ways of making you think… From Isis to Ukraine, life is busy for a section of Britain’s intelligence network specialising in stings, mind games and psychological ‘stage magic’ (Guardian, link)
GERMANY: Journalist stops blogging after threats from right-wing extremists (XIndex, link): "Blogger Heinrich Schmitz will stop blogging about right-wing extremism after receiving violent threats, he wrote in a column for the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel. Schmitz is a blogger for the website "The European" and recently wrote a column condemning right-wing extremist protests in front of refugee homes. Schmitz declared he received threats and that police entered his home in the western German town of Euskirchen after someone called a police station pretending to be Schmitz and claimed to have murdered his wife.
EU: MED-CRISIS: "La Guardia costiera greca affonda un gommone di migranti": la video denuncia di un pescatore turco (Source R.it, link)
"The Greek Coast Guard sank a boat of migrants": the video report of a fisherman turkish:
A raft of migrants from Turkey sinking after being pierced with a spear voluntarily by a patrol boat of the Greek Coast Guard and then left without providing relief. This complaint accompanying the video, taken by many Turkish media, shot by a fisherman off the coast of Kos. The author of the video would lend him the first aid shipwrecked and then called the Turkish coast guard them have recovered. The dynamics of events has not been confirmed nor denied by the Coast Guard Island." [automated translation]
EU: MED-CRISIS: UNHCR warns of deepening refugee crisis in Greece and calls for urgent and bold action (link): The UNHCR Directors of the Bureau for Europe and of Emergency, Security and Supply, visited Greece last week to assess the refugee crisis in the country, where some 124,000 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea this year – as of 31 July" and: EU leaders will use military against refugees, warns leading MEP (euractiv, link)
Emergency funds sprout up to temper storm of refugee crises (euractiv, link) See also Statement by Commissioner (pdf)
And: Europe shouldn’t worry about migrants. It should worry about creeping fascism - The greatest threat to our “way of life” is not migration. It is that we will swallow the lie that some human lives matter less than others. (New Statesman, link): "The behaviour of the British and wider European elite towards migrants is not simple inhumanity. It is strategic inhumanity. It is weaponised inhumanity designed to convince populations fracturing under hammer-blows of austerity and economic chaos that the enemy is out there, that there is an “us” that must be protected from “them”"
Kos migrants: 'They said they'd give us papers, then locked us in like a prison' - After being held in a stadium on the Greek island, refugees tell of their ordeal – as immigration officials bemoan Kos mayor’s alleged lack of cooperation (Guardian , link)
Media should speak out against hate speech (European Fegeration of Journalists (link): "The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Italian organisation on Carta di Roma welcoming the new initiative launched by the Italy newspaper La Stampa to counter hate speech. The EFJ has called on media professionals to be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media through hate speech following recent debates and media coverage on “migrant crisis” in Europe."
News Digest (15-16-8-15)
Migrant crisis: smuggling or trafficking? Politicians don't seem to know (Guardian, link): "Smugglers are paid by people to bring them across borders. After the border has been crossed, the transaction between smuggler and migrant ends. Trafficking is a very different crime. Trafficking means bringing people into an ongoing situation of exploitation and then profiting from their abuse in the form of forced labour or forced prostitution."
EU doubles down on TTIP secrecy as public resistance grows - Top national politicians must visit a special room in Brussels to read key TTIP documents (http://arstechnica.co.uk, link): "Member State governments that took the decision formally, but that the initial impulse came from elsewhere. The leaked notes obtained by Correct!v are quite clear about who was behind the move. They describe how the European Commissioner responsible for trade and thus TTIP, Cecilia Malmström, instructed officials to make the written report on the most recent round of TTIP negotiations available only in the reading room of the Commission in Brussels. As a result "transmission of negotiating reports to the Member States will no longer take place,"
U.K. (2008) Military protocol for counter-intelligence operations: On 2008 WikiLeaks released the UK military protocol for all security and counter-intelligence operations. The document includes instructions on dealing with leaks, investigative journalists, Parliamentarians, foreign agents, terrorists & criminals, sexual entrapments in Russia and China, diplomatic pouches, allies, classified documents & codewords, compromising radio and audio emissions, computer hackers—and many other related issues. (Wikileaks, link)
Twitter 'snooping' requests double in UK (BBC News, link): "equests for Twitter users' personal information more than doubled in the UK in 2015, according to the company's latest transparency report. Twitter said UK government agencies and the police made 299 requests for information between January and July, up from 116 in the previous six months. It makes UK law enforcement the biggest requester of Twitter data in the EU."
USA: Pentagon blocking Guantánamo deals to return Shaker Aamer and other cleared detainees - Exclusive: Pentagon chief and top officials playing ‘foot-dragging games’ despite 2013 agreement with UK diplomats and Obama’s promise to close facility (Guardian, link)
Art and the Law: Guides to the legal framework and its impact on artistic freedom of expression (XIndex, link)
How Germany’s Surveillance Scandals Echo Our Own (The Nation, link)
Launch of the EU Internet Forum – behind closed doors and without civil society (EDRI, link): "The European Commission has confirmed to EDRi that it is preparing to partner with US online companies in order to plan the arbitrary monitoring and censorship of European citizens and, contrary to previous assurances, will exclude civil society from these discussions. More disturbingly, this is happening at the same time as the US is preparing the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” (CISA), which grants US companies a “safe harbour” from liability for any damage they cause when enacting counter-measures against security risks."
What We Mean by "Civic Space" and Where We're Pushing Back (Huffington Post, link)
UK: FOI and policy advice: The Campaign has published this briefing explaining how the Information Commissioner and Tribunal have protected the ‘safe space’ and genuinely frank discussions from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.(Campaign for Freedom of Information, link)
Countering terrorism or constraining civil society? The impact of Financial Action Task Force recommendations on non-profit organisations in Central and Eastern Europe and Asia (pdf)
"This study is concerned with the implementation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 8 on combating the potential “abuse” of non-profit organisations (NPOs) for the purpose of terrorist financing in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) and Central Asia. Its aim is to ascertain the impact of this Recommendation on the regulatory framework for non-profits in selected countries, and how this in turn affects the freedom of association and expression of NPOs. This is done by examining two regional formations of the FATF: “MONEYVAL”, encompassing the CCEE, and the “Eurasian Group” covering central Asia."
Background: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf). And see: The Non Profit Platform on the FATF (link)
EU: MED CRISIS: New report addresses "dangerous and misleading simplifications" over migration to Europe; plus latest news reports
A new report by Medici per i dirriti humani (Doctors for Human Rights) is based on information and testimonies collected by doctors working on a project to stop the torture of refugees travelling from sub-Saharan to northern Africa.
See also: PRESS RELEASE: Doctors for Human Rights (Italy)
UK: Yarl's Wood: Migrant detention centre condemned again
A recently-published report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons on the Yarl's Wood detention centre says that "in some important areas the treatment and conditions of those held at the centre had deteriorated significantly, the main concerns we had in 2013 had not been resolved and there was greater evidence of the distress caused to vulnerable women by their detention."
NSA: "In for a penny, in for a pound": a philosophy of surveillance
A recent article published by The Intercept (11 August) examines the work of the NSA's in-house "surveillance philosopher" - the "Socrates of SIGINT" - and his willingness to be "constantly and completely monitored". His columns, from an internal NSA internal newsletter, were included amongst the files leaked by Edward Snowden.
EU: Documents: Europol on terrorism in Europe; Terrorism Working Party; report from EU human trafficking conference; evaluation of the Eurojust Decision
EU: DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: Council’s exceptions from the Data Protection Regulation degrade the privacy protection below Directive 95/46/EC (Hawktalk, link): "This blog explains, in detail, how the Council of Minister’s text of the Regulation, in particular the exceptions specified in Article 21 (A.21) and the flexibility granted to Member States to enact variations to the obligations under the Regulation, are very likely to result in a level of data protection below the standard established by Directive 95/46/EC."
See also: EU: Data Protection Regulation: documents from the secret 'trilogues'
News Digest (14.8.15)
6 Observations About Cybersecurity Based On Two New Surveys (Forbes, link)
Bin Laden’s death and the fairy tale of the War on Terror (ROARMAG, link)
EU-BULGARIA: Implementation of the Right to Information Directive in Bulgaria (Fair Trials International, link)
DIGITAL RIGHTS: Latest newsletter from EDRi (EDRi, link)
GREECE: The forgotten grassroots voices of Greece (Open Democracy, link)
IRELAND: Over 20 people to be charged over Burton car incident (RTÉ News, link): "More than 20 people are expected to appear in court in the coming weeks in connection with a water charge protest in Tallaght last year in which Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for over two hours."
POLAND: New Polish President commits to army modernisation, defence investment (Defence IQ, link)
SWITZERLAND: How a UN intern was forced to live in a tent in Geneva (BBC News, link)
UK: 11 Times The European Court of Human Rights Changed The UK (Rightsinfo, link)
UK: Banker who glassed fellow clubber spared jail because ‘it would ruin his career’ (Metro, link)
UK: IPCC proposes fundamental organisational change (Independent Police Complaints Commission, link)
UK: Police chiefs issue guide to policing anti-fracking protests (Netpol, link): "The biggest issue the guidance avoids addressing, however, is a critical one: amidst thirty pages of recommendations on how to prepare for briefings, communication, IT, officers’ welfare and for the prospects of arrests, why is there no specific advice for police commanders on how best to fulfil their positive duty to safeguard protesters’ right to assembly?"
USA: Chelsea Manning Faces Solitary Confinement Under New Charges, Lawyer Says (Buzzfeed, link)
USA: The Many Things Wrong With the Anti-Encryption Op-Ed in the New York Times (The Intercept, link)
EU: MED CRISIS: Billion-euro budgets to be distributed to Member States; plus latest news reports
The European Commission has announced the approval of 23 more national programmes for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund, paving the way for the release of up to €2.4 billion to Member States to "improve migration management, foster cooperation and make Europe safer".
UK: Government continues work on "hostile environment" for migrants
In 2013 it was revealed that the UK government had drawn up plans to create a "hostile environment" for irregular migrants. Two recent developments - a reduction of financial support for asylum-seeking families and the targeting of specific nationalities for deportation - show that the government is continuing its efforts.
UK: Tell Parliament to launch an Inquiry into Theresa May’s “aid for executions” (Reprieve, link): "Theresa May’s Home Office is Europe’s biggest backer of aggressive overseas raids which send drug mules to death row. By funding such raids the Home Office has enabled hundreds of death sentences and executions in countries like Iran and Pakistan." And see: Joint letter: Call for an urgent Inquiry into Home Office involvement in overseas drug enforcement (pdf)
EUROZONE: Germany government gained from Greek crisis - IWH study (BBC News, link): "The Greek debt crisis has saved the German government some €100bn (£70bn; $109bn) in lower borrowing costs because investors have sought safety in German bonds, a study has found."
See: Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftforschung Halle: Germany's benefit from the Greek crisis (pdf)
News Digest (12.8.15)
5 Reasons Why Video Analytics is now the Big Focus in CCTV Surveillance (IFSEC Global, link): "In the analogue age, surveillance devices themselves were used purely as security solutions. Now that IP network cameras have become so popular and especially because of the edge analytics they offer, the humble camera has become a business intelligence tool."
CYPRUS: Abuse of a Palestinian refugee detained for deportation (KISA, link)
EU: TTIP: WikiLeaks goes after hyper-secret Euro-American trade pact (Wikileaks, link)
G4S confident on full-year growth as sales rise (The Telegraph, link)
IoT security is RUBBISH says IoT vendor collective (The Register, link): "A vendor group whose membership includes Microsoft, Symantec, Verisign, ADT and TRUSTe reckons the Internet of Things (IoT) market is being pushed with no regard to either security or consumer privacy."
The Russians Are Coming: NATO's Frontier (Vice News, link)
UK: Bradford stabbing prompts UK Asians to warn of racism towards black people (The Guardian, link)
UK: More parents in England prosecuted for taking children out of school (The Guardian, link)
USA: Apple and Google are KILLING KIDS with encryption, whine lawyers (The Register, link)
EU: MED CRISIS: Greece calls for help, the Commission does too
The "humanitarian crisis within a crisis" for migrants and refugees in Greece has led Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to call for more help from the EU institutions and EU Member States: "These dimensions exceed our country’s capabilities, they are European dimensions.”
The European Commission has said "more planes and 'technical assistance' including personnel and patrol cars are needed for Greece and Hungary," and has called for "a new, more European approach. The European Agenda on Migration we presented in May sets out this European response."
The Council of the EU will continue its work on revised EU visa rules in September, when its Visa Working Party discusses a draft text put together by the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council.
Meanwhile the Council is moving towards adopting a new legal basis for access by law enforcement agencies to the Visa Information System, which contains the personal details (including biometrics) of all visa-holders. This will meet the requirements of an April 2015 court judgment that required the drafting of a new legal text.
UK: Black people still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police than other ethnic groups (The Independent, link): "Black people are still far more likely than other ethnic groups to be stopped and searched in almost every part of England and Wales despite concerted efforts to tackle the problem."
The full stop-and-search dataset can be download at data.police.uk in a 1.5 gigabyte file.
See also: StopWatch factsheet on Schedule 7 stops under the Terrorism Act 2000 (pdf): "Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides powers for ‘examining officers’ at ports and airports,to stop, question and/or detain people to investigate if they are engaged in acts of terrorism, without the need for any reasonable suspicion."
News Digest (10.8.15)
Bosnia’s survivors gather and grieve as the soil endlessly gives up its dead (The Guardian, link)
Dixons Carphone says cyber attack may have exposed customers' data (Reuters, link)
Lawmakers from US, EU and UK demand release of death-row Brit in Ethiopia (Reprieve, link)
SPAIN: Madrid mayor to cede municipal buildings to squatter groups (El País, link)
Spanish court paroles former ETA head who renounced violence (Expatica, link)
UK: Met faces investigation over teenager who died in canal (The Guardian, link): "Eyewitnesses claim police officers who had chased boy from his east London home refused to enter water until it was too late."
UK: The family behind the Iran is Great van: 'what happened to us was serendipity' (The Guardian, link)
UK: Thousands of Polish workers to take part in the first ever migrant workers strike in Britain (The Independent, link)
UK-USA: “Hard to think” UK wouldn’t have known about CIA torture, says former Executive Director (Reprieve, link): "The man who was third in command of the CIA between 2001-2004 has told the BBC that it’s “hard…to think” that UK intelligence would not have been aware of the US Agency’s torture programme."
UKRAINE: The ‘ceasefire’ in eastern Ukraine is unravelling fast (The Conversation, link)
USA: A year later, Ferguson quietly struggles forward (Los Angeles Times, link)
European Court of Human Rights demands explanations from Spanish government on "hot returns" in Melilla
The European Court of Human Rights has called on the Spanish government to explain itself in the case of two "hot returns" conducted at the border between Spain and Morocco in Melilla. At the end of July, the Court issued a decision demanding a response from the Spanish government to two applicants' claims that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were violated.
Documents: EU moving towards new terrorism laws; Europol on organised crime and terrorism
The Council of the EU is preparing to sign a new protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism that requires states "to outlaw various actions including intentionally taking part in terrorist groups, receiving terrorism training or travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism. It also provides for a round-the-clock network of national contact points to rapidly exchange information."
Meanwhile, Europol has produced a brief report on 'The nexus between organised crime and terrorism in the EU'.
EU: An incomplete European cybersecurity agenda (EurActiv, link): "The EU is starting to pay more attention to cybersecurity, but it still lacks a process to make it easier for police to share information across borders, writes Paul Rosenzweig. Paul Rosenzweig is a senior adviser to The Chertoff Group and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the US Department of Homeland Security."
EU: MED-CRISIS: Latest coverage of the migration crisis in the Mediterannean and its impact within Europe
Almost 400 refugees saved after crammed fishing boat sank off Libya (UNHCR, link)
AUSTRIA: Austria: overwhelmed refugee centre closes to new arrivals (euronews, link)
EU: Record numbers of migrants enter Europe in 2015 (France 24, link)
FRANCE-UK: Women in Calais camps: 'I have to focus on how I can stay alive' (The Guardian, link)
GREECE-TURKEY: Distress at sea and endangered lives due to coastguard actions? Evidence shows attacks on migrant boats in the Aegean Sea where engines were removed and boats punctured by coastguards (Watch the Med, link)
IRELAND: Up to 12 additional direct provision centres to open (Irish Times, link)
News Digest (7.8.15)
NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) hurdles higher than they appear (Defence iQ, link)
NORWAY: Fake bomb on Utoya anniversary clears Oslo university (euronews, link)
Spain’s Defense Ministry to spend €171 million on purchase of four drones (El País, link)
TURKEY: Erdogan sacrifices peace to entrench his own power (ROARMAG, link)
UK: Britain’s anti-terror strategy tested by move against prominent preacher (Washington Post, link)
UK: Campaigners slam new court fee system as South Shields man is ordered to pay £150 for stealing 99p can of pop (Chronicle Live, link)
UK: E-fits overtaken by newer technology in war on crime (The Telegraph, link)
UK: G4S paid author of 'independent' youth prison report as consultant (The Guardian, link)
UK: New tribunal cases on statutory human rights considerations and “integration” (Free Movement, link)
EU: Implementing the Internal Security Strategy: planning documents
Two new leaked documents outline the work being undertaken in the Council of the EU to attempt to implement the EU's 'Renewed Internal Security Strategy', adopted in June 2015 and which will run from 2015 to 2020.
EU: AMBERLIGHT: Joint Police Operation detects 1,344 "overstayers" but only 10 using forged documents
AMBERLIGHT, an EU-wide Joint Police Operation aimed at detecting visa "overstayers" and in particular those "travelling with forged documents", led to the detection of 1,344 people staying beyond the time permitted by their visa. However, just 10 were using forged documents.
EU: Data Protection Regulation: documents from the secret 'trilogues'
Statewatch has obtained two recent documents relating to the ongoing secret 'trilogue' discussions (between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission) on the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation.
News Digest (5.8.15)
EU: MED CRISIS: Death toll for migrants crossing Mediterranean passes 2,000 (The Independent, link)
How your smartphone's battery life can be used to invade your privacy (The Guardian, link)
GERMANY: Netzpolitik case: support statement (netzpolitik.us, link): "The investigation against Netzpolitik.org for treason and their unknown sources is an attack against the free press. Charges of treason against journalists performing their essential work is a violation of the fifth article of the German constitution. We demand an end to the investigation into Netzpolitik.org and their unknown sources."
Greek bank shares plunge for a third day as Syriza rejects idea of second bridge loan (The Telegraph, link)
Internet Infrastructure & IP Censorship (IP Justice Journal, link): "Many scholars and other observers of developments in Internet governance, law, and policy have commented upon an unusual and important phenomenon that has become more widespread in recent years: using control over access to critical portions of the Internet’s technical infrastructure... to enforce private and public law."
IRELAND: Privacy issues persist with Eircode postcode system (The Irish Times, link)
It’s time to end the Eurosceptic illusions (Open Democracy, link): "The EU is inherently a transnational neoliberal project. It is unrealistic to expect, and disingenuous to suggest, that it can be transformed into anything else."
UK hauliers face fines over stowaway migrants – even if they alert police (The Guardian, link)
UK-FRANCE: How the Calais Migrant Crisis Is Affecting Dover's Roads and Residents (VICE, link)
UK: Change the law on joint enterprise (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association, link): "This is the first Supreme Court case to consider the question of the harm the concept of joint enterprise causes secondary parties. This is a real opportunity to change the law. "
UK: Howard League launches campaign for urgent Criminal Courts Charge review (Howard League for Penal Reform, link)
UK: LONDON: Virtual Control - Security and the Urban Imagination (Architecture.com, link): "Exhibition by artist/photographer Max Colson explores the hidden nature of security and control within contemporary urban space."
London - Calais Migrant Support Convoy (link)
EU: Give me your tired, your poor … the Europeans embracing migrants - Away from the xenophobic hysteria aimed at desperate immigrants are people taking steps to help newcomers and promote the good things they bring (Guardian, link): "Judging from the headlines, it sometimes seems no one in Europe wants to help refugees..... But on a local level, there are thousands of people across the continent who are braving the vitriol of their peers, and filling the void left by the politicians. Many Europeans back their governments’ stance but their xenophobia masks another phenomenon – that of a huge drive by ordinary citizens to welcome refugees, rather than reject them."
Italy counts 90,000 sea migrant arrivals so far this year (euractiv, link) and More migrants land in Italy, adding to EU-wide crisis (ANSA, link)
Slovakian town votes 'No' to asylum seekers (euobserver, link)
EU offers aid to France for migrants, shows little sympathy for UK (euobserver, link)
CZECH REPUBLIC: Unrest at asylum facility sparks fresh concerns over migrant crisis (Radio Praha, link)
Landlords' Visa Checks Responsibility Would Create 'Two-Tier State', Government Was Warned (Huffington Post, link)
News Digest (4.8.15)
Hundreds of civilians killed in US-led air strikes on Isis targets – report: Airwars project details ‘credible reports’ of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes (Guardian, link) and see Airwars project (link)
LONDON: Posters branding force 'totally corrupt' appear near Scotland Yard headquarters (Independent, link)
GERMANY: Germany's Merkel backs justice minister over Netzpolitik treason probe - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined two of her ministers in casting doubt on a treason probe into two Internet journalists. She said authorities needed to be sensitive where press freedom was at stake. (DW, link)
UK: Mark Duggan: mother of man shot dead by police in 2011 calls for urgent inquiry - Call for new inquiry comes as demonstrators prepare to march to Tottenham police station close to where Duggan was shot by police four years ago (Guardian, link) and see Justice for Mark Duggan (link)
ITALY: Quelle strane morti dietro le sbarre [Those strange deaths behind bars]
Repubblica newspaper published a special report by Alberto Custodero on 27 July 2015, investigating deaths in custody in Italy's prisons (over 50 per year on average, 1,304 in 25 years from 1990 to 2014, when 43 people died). Beyond the fact that once they are imprisoned people are in the state's duty of care, it highlights that these deaths are often recorded as suicides in spite of the presence of elements that make such a conclusion difficult to believe. The article includes statistics on suicides and case details of some suspicious suicide cases.
EU: New transnational undercover policing structure cloaked in secrecy
In November 2014 Europol, the EU's policing agency, hosted a "Covert Surveillance Conference" entitled "Meeting the Challenges to Surveillance across Europe". It was attended by all 28 EU Member States and numerous other countries but, like almost all detail about the conference, their identity has been shielded from public view by Europol. Issues discussed included "Recruiting the Best Profiles" and "Advantages of Interagency Surveillance & Management".
The conference was made up of two meetings: on 26 November, of the Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW), and on 27 and 28 November, the first meeting of the Assembly of Regional Groups on Surveillance (ARGOS)....
In the UK, calls have recently been made by German MP Andrej Hunko and campaigners for cross-border undercover police operations to be included in the remit of a new official inquiry that will "report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968." Exposing the development of and ongoing secrecy over pan-European undercover policing structures to some sunlight would go some way to meeting those calls.
EU: COUNTER-TERRORISM: Vienna Declaration - Tackling Violent Extremism and Terrorism (LIMITE doc no: 7500-rev-1-15, pdf): declaration of the Ministerial Conference of Foreign and Interior Ministers “Tackling Jihadism Together” held in Vienna on 20 March 2015.and see earlier version: 7500-15 (LIMITE: pdf)
Council’s exceptions from the Data Protection Regulation degrade the privacy protection below Directive 95/46/EC (HAWKWALK, link): "The blog explains, in detail, how the Council of Minister’s text of the Regulation, in particular the exceptions specified in Article 21 (A.21) and the flexibility granted to Member States to enact variations to the obligations under the Regulation, are very likely to result in a level of data protection below the standard established by Directive 95/46/EC."
• UK: Illegal immigrants to UK face eviction without court order under new plans - Landlords who fail to check tenants’ immigration status face five-year jail terms as part of government crackdown to reduce UK’s appeal as a migrant destination (Guardian, link)
• Immigration bill will mean public sector workers 'must speak fluent English' (Independent, link)
• Italian coastguard rescues 1,800 migrants as five found dead - Almost 2,000 migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far this year, on top of 3,500 last year (Guardian, link)
• 4 vessels in distress, 2-3 intercepted, 1-2 rescued by Spain (Watch the Med, link)
• Zeman: Refugees should respect Czech rules or leave (Prague Monitor, link): "No one has invited refugees to the Czech Republic, but once they are here, they should respect the rules of this country or leave, President Milos Zeman said in an interview,,, "If you do not like it, just go away," he called on refugees."
• Cuatro subsaharianos ahogados al intentar llegar a nado a Ceuta ["Four sub-Saharan drowned while trying to swim to reach Ceuta"] (elpais, link)
News Digest (3.8.15)
EU Kosovo mission accused of trying to silence whistleblower - Maria Bamieh says threat of prosecution by Eulex is attempt to stop her from publishing claims about culture of corruption (Guardian, link)
German Justice Ministry 'warned against Netzpolitik treason investigation' - The German Justice Ministry cautioned federal prosecutors against a treason probe into two journalists, a newspaper report has said. The affair has caused a heated row within the coalition government. (DW, link)
Windows 10: Microsoft under attack over privacy - From personalised ads in Solitaire to an address book-reading personal assistant, some users are unhappy with Windows 10’s approach to privacy (Guardian, link) and see: GUIDE: How to disable data logging in W10.(reddit, link)
GCHQ and Me - My Life Unmasking British Eavesdroppers (Intercept, link)
EU: Council of the European Union: Dangerous Offenders, Global PNR, Operation Amberlight,
• Polish delegation: Proposal for an expert group on the exchange of information on dangerous offenders (LIMITE doc no: 11196-15, pdf)
"The free movement of persons and the abolition of controls at the internal borders of the EU are among the greatest achievements of European integration but are, at the same time, a major challenge to efforts to safeguard security and public order.
The proposed action should not just be confined to certain types of judgment (e.g. the abovementioned bans on travel to certain States). It should also cover (at least at the risk assessment stage) the broadest possible range of criminal offenders."
• Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries - a global approach? (LIMITE doc no: 10838-15, pdf):
"1. Up to now, the European Union has taken a bilateral approach concerning the transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data from EU airline companies to third countries; the three current PNR-agreements with the USA, Canada and Australia oblige airline companies to transfer PNR data to authorities relating to all passengers flying to, from or through those countries. All existing PNR transfers to third countries are hence governed by a bilateral agreements and have been negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
2. More and more third countries, among others Japan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand are (considering) using PNR data for law enforcenment purposes, and have requested or are expected to request entering into bilateral agreements with the Union.".
See also from the European Commission:: On the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries (COM 492-10, pdf)
• Joint Police Operation (JPO): Council: Presidency activity AMBERLIGHT 2015 (LIMITE do no 5195-15, pdf) and Presidency Activity: “AMBERLIGHT 2015”: Final Report (pdf). See: Smart borders: European Commission and Member States at odds over digitising passport stamps (Statewatch)
Historical note: Tony Bunyan: My brush with the D-Notice Committee: Committee concerned that book:
"might wander unwittingly into areas of sensitivity from a security point of view"
In 1976 when I was completing the "History and practice of the Political Police in Britain" (published first in hardback in 1976 by Julian Friedmann Publishers) the D-Notice Committee under Rear Admiral Kenneth Haydn Farnhill CB OBE was a shadowy body - the press could not even print stories published overseas without his say-so. At the time the 1971 D-Notice no 10: British Intelligence Services (pdf) was in force and the book dealt substantively with these "no-go" areas. The Journalist magazine (NUJ) reported in June 1976 what happened:
Revealed: Police Scotland did break law on spying on journalists (Herald Scotland (link):
"The Sunday Herald can reveal that force’s Counter Corruption Unit (CCU) – dubbed a “secret police force” by critics – is being probed by a surveillance watchdog over a violation criticised by the Prime Minister.
The revelations prompted the Interception of Communications Commissioner Office (IOCCO), which monitors the use of the RIPA, to investigate the extent of the snooping on reporters across the UK. IOCCO became aware of 34 police investigations over a three-year period, covering the relationship between 105 journalists and 242 sources. A majority of the applications, the Commissioner concluded, failed to justify the principles of “necessity and proportionality”. In March, the RIPA was amended to require that a revised Code of Practice protected the public interest in the confidentiality of sources,"
UK: D-NOTICE PRESS CENSORING CHANGES: D-Notices replaced by: DSMA (Defence and Security Media Advisory notices (link) and see The Five new NOTICES (pdf)
" Public discussion of the United Kingdom's defence and counter-terrorist policy and overall strategy does not impose a threat to national security and is welcomed by Government. It is important however that such discussion should not disclose details which could damage national security. The DSMA-Notice System is a means of providing advice and guidance to the media about defence and counter-terrorist information the publication of which would be damaging to national security. The system is voluntary, it has no legal authority and the final responsibility for deciding whether or not to publish rests solely with the editor or publisher concerned."
See: The D-notice system: a typically British fudge that has survived a century - This collaboration between state and media has offered a compromise between national security and press freedom – yet sometimes has been tested to the limit (Guardian, link)
News Digest (1-2.8.15)
German intelligence chief defends charges against Netzpolitik reporters - Germany's domestic intelligence chief has defended charges against Netzpolitik reporters to "ensure the fight against extremism and terrorism." Netzpolitik was to be investigated for publishing "classified" documents. (DW, link)
America classifies way too much information - and we are all less safe for it (Washington Post, link) Tom Blanton:
USA: Dylann Roof Is Not a “Terrorist” — But Animal Rights Activists Who Free Minks From Slaughter Are (Intercept, link)
UK: Magistrates resign over court charges that encourage innocent to plead guilty - Criminal court charge was meant to ensure offenders pay towards justice system, but majority of offenders will never be able to pay, say magistrates (Guardian, link)
EU: MED-CRISIS: Calais migrant crisis: French riot police use chemical spray on migrants trying to enter Channel Tunnel (Independent, link), New developments at troubled refugee center (Prague Posat, link), UK: Church attacks David Cameron’s lack of compassion over asylum crisis - Bishop of Dover pleads for PM to ‘rediscover what it is to be human’ as No 10 reveals a joint plan with France to boost security around Eurotunnel (Observer, link), Is it time for some facts about those migrants? Perhaps you'll think I'm naïve, but I still believe that when you have a debate, it's a good idea to have some facts readily to hand. (Lustig's Letter, link)
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