October

UK: Lawyers believe Shaker Aamer has strong claim against UK government (Guardian, link): "Released Guantánamo inmate claims British intelligence officer was present while he was tortured in Afghanistan"

and: Before Shaker Aamer: others who made it back to Britain from Guantánamo Bay (Guardian, link): "Shaker Aamer is one of at least 16 UK citizens or residents to have been detained at the US base. A number have alleged that British authorities were complicit in their mistreatment"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (34 stories and documents, 30.10.15) See: Crisis News updated during the day

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: Another step after months and months of dithering: Entropy or incompetence? IPCR (Integrated Political Crisis Response) is the joint responsibility of the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS): Council of the European Union Press release: 30 October: Migratory crisis: EU Council Presidency steps up information sharing between member states by activating IPCR (pdf):

"The EU Integrated Political Crisis Response arrangements (IPCR) reinforce the European Union's ability to take rapid decisions when facing major crises requiring a response at EU political level."

See: Finalisation of the CCA review process: the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) arrangement (2013, pdf)

"Some major emergencies or crises, of internal and/or external origin are of such a wideranging impact or political significance, that they require timely policy coordination and response at EU political level. This could result from the number of affected or involved Member States, or the cross-sectorial nature of the crisis, the imminence thereof, or from time constraints, or a combination of these factors...."  [emphasis added]

and: Concept Note on "Arrangements for Crisis Coordination at EU political level (2012, pdf):

"whether the CCA [EU Emergency and Crisis Coorination Arrangement] in its current configuration is the politically and strategically agile tool required by the EU as a whole to respond quickly and adequately to a serious crisis situation; as appropriate, develop proposals that incorporate all relevant EU level actors and crisis coordination tools...." [emphasis added]

European Parliament: Follow-up to the European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens (Text adopted, pdf) and Mass surveillance: EU citizens' rights still in danger, says Parliament (Press release, pdf):

"Too little has been done to safeguard citizens' fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an "effective level of protection" and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a "human rights defender". Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.

This resolution, approved by 342 votes to 274, with 29 abstention"

UK: SYRIAN REFUGEES: Home Affiars Select Committee report: The work of the Immigration Directorates (Q2 2015) (pdf): While many consider that the UK taking only 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years is woefully few the Committee says that even this number will be difficult to achieve:

"We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment made on 7 September 2015 to resettle 20,000 Syrians before the end of this Parliament. To meet this undertaking would require an average of 4,000 Syrians to be resettled each year. According to the Government’s own figures, in the last 10 years the highest number of refugees resettled in any one year is 1,039 in 2012. At no point in the recent past has the UK come near to resettling 4,000 refugees in one year....

We note that unlike other countries the UK has not provided the UNHCR with a specific pledge of the number of places for the end of 2016..."

News Digest (16 stories, 30.10.15)

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits Hungary to examine detention of foreign nationals (link): "Strasbourg, 30.10.2015 – A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Hungary from 21 to 27 October 2015.... The purpose of the visit was to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty under aliens legislation or the recently amended criminal legislation according to which, inter alia, crossing the border fence or damaging it constitute a criminal offence... A detailed report on the visit will be submitted to the Government in due course."

UK: Cameras worn by Met's armed police are 'blocked whenever they aim their guns' (Evening Standard, link): "Body-worn cameras issued to Met firearms officers have been condemned as “unfit for purpose” by the police watchdog.

"The video cameras are mounted on the shoulders of marksmen but the watchdog found their view is obscured whenever an officer raises a rifle to his shoulder to aim or fire the weapon."

Statement from Independent Police Complaints Commission: IPCC issues learning to Metropolitan Police during investigation into shooting in South London (pdf)

See also: Security fears arise over body-worn plodcam footage (The Register, link): "Fears have been raised over the security of information from the new police bodycam recordings held in the public cloud by US company Taser."

UK: UPDATE: Police force behind Newsnight laptop seizure reveals BBC did not contest Terrorism Act application (Press Gazette, link)

Newsnight journalist’s laptop seized by UK police under Terrorism Act (Guardian, link): "BBC says police accessed communications between Secunder Kermani and Isis member in Syria, in move criticised by press freedom campaigners...

The editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, said on Wednesday: “While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest.”"

SERBIA: ‘Soft' Censorship Threatens Serbian Press Freedom (Balkan Insight, link): "The Serbian government’s use of "soft" censorship remains a threat to press freedom, a report issued on Thursday by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, WAN-IFRA, and the Center for International Media Assistance, CIMA, in Washington says." Full report: Media reform stalled in the slow lane: Soft Censorship in Serbia (pdf)

UK: Parliament’s human rights committee to investigate lethal drone strikes (The Guardian, link): "The prime minister’s policy of ordering targeted drone killings overseas outside designated war zones is to be scrutinised in the first inquiry launched by the new chair of parliament’s human rights committee." See: MPs right to push for answers over Government’s kill policy (Reprieve, link) and also: UK to double drone fleet and boost SAS kit in fight against Isis militants (International Business Times, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18 stories and documents, 29.10.15) See: Crisis News updated during the day

News Digest (10 stories, 29.10.15)

UK-USA-IRAQ: Chilcot report on Iraq war to be published next June or July (The Guardian, link): "Sir John Chilcot has announced that he is to publish his report into the Iraq war next June or July following intense pressure from David Cameron to speed up his timetable."

See also: Peter Oborne's unofficial Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq war (BBC News, link) and We don't need to wait for Chilcot, Blair lied to us about Iraq. Here's the evidence by Peter Oborne (OpenDemocracy, link)

EU naval anti-smuggler operation “not working”, needs intervention in Libya: French admiral (Libya Herald, link):

"The EU naval operation to clamp down on illegal migrant crossings from Libya is not working, according to its deputy commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean. The only way to stop the flow, he said in Rome yesterday, was by going to Libyan territory, both the country’s inshore waters and on land and hitting the smuggler networks.

“The operation will only be effective when we can work close to the networks, go after the big fish not the little ones who go out to sea,” he said.

In the three week since it started, the operation, codenamed Sophia and designed to arrest the smugglers and seize their boats them had not done so at all so far, the French rear admiral admitted."

MEPs vote in favour of granting Snowden asylum in EU (WIRED, link):"The European Parliament has called on EU member states to drop all criminal charges against Edward Snowden and protect him against extradition to the United States. MEPs voted 285 votes to 281 in favour of a resolution that the NSA whistleblower should be allowed to seek safe asylum in the EU.

The resolution, which isn't binding, is nonetheless a strong signal from MEP's that EU member states should grant Snowden protection. MEPs voting in favour of the measures described Snowden as a "human rights defender" and urged member states to "drop any criminal charges" against him."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Joint MI5-PSNI report on paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland

"All the main paramilitary groups operating during the period of the Troubles remain in existence... Seventeen years after the 1998 Belfast Agreement, paramilitary groups remain a feature of life in NI [and] maintain a relatively public profile in spite of being illegal organisations.

"However, the most serious current terrorist threat in NI is not posed by these groups but by dissident republicans (DRs) - paramilitary groups not on ceasefire and who reject the 1998 Belfast Agreement... Their activities pose a severe threat to NI's security and stability and, at any given time, a terrorist attack is highly likely. There is also a smaller threat posed by dissident loyalist paramilitary groups. This report does not focus on dissident groups."

See: Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland: An assessment commissioned by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary groups focusing on those which declared ceasfires in order to support and facilitate the political process (pdf)

And: Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before the House of Commons, 20 October 2015 (pdf)

News coverage: IRA's 'army council' still exists and influences Sinn Féin strategy – report (The Guardian, link) and Confusion as PSNI say IRA Army Council exists... but gardai say 'not on their side of the border' (Irish Independent, link)

Sweden to keep shelters for asylum seekers secret (euractiv, link): "The Swedish Migration Agency has decided to keep the locations of refugee housing facilities secret, following 21 being torched since March.

Yesterday, the municipality of Danderyd, a town located north of Stockholm, announced that a new residence for 70 asylum seekers will be opened in November, in facilities that previously belonged to a public school. But around 2AM this morning (28 October), the building was set alight. On Tuesday (27 October), a building that was meant to be used for refugee accommodations in Färingtofta, in southern Sweden, was likewise destroyed in an arson attack.

In order to prevent more fires, the Migration Agency has decided to make it harder for the public to locate the addresses of planned homes for asylum seekers. This means that 66,000 residences will be kept a secret. "The level of security has deteriorated and it's worrying with all these fires. We will keep the residences a secret so that they won't become common knowledge," said Willis Åberg, operations manager at the Migration Agency, according to Radio Sweden" [emphasis in original].

European Parliament Studies:

- Cybersecurity in the European Union and Beyond: Exploring the Threats and Policy Responses (pdf)

"It sets out to develop a better understanding of the main cybersecurity threats and existing cybersecurity capabilities in the European Union and the United States. The study further examines transnational cooperation and explores perceptions of the effectiveness of the EU response, pinpointing remaining challenges and suggesting avenues for improvement."

- The law enforcement challenges of cybercrime: are we really playing catch-up? (pdf):

"While this study shows that cybercrime poses significant challenges for law enforcement, it also argues that the key cybercrime concern for law enforcement is legal rather than technical and technological. The study further underlines that the European Parliament is largely excluded from policy development in the field of cybercrime, impeding public scrutiny and accountability."

ECRE/AIDA: The new asylum procedure at the border and restrictions to accessing protection in Hungary (pdf):

"increasing pressure has triggered a series of changes in the Hungarian asylum system which raises multiple legal and policy concerns. At the same time, Hungary appears to be a transit country for a large number, if not most, of refugees and asylum seekers arriving there, who seek to continue their journey towards other European countries....

the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has sought to gain an in-depth understanding of the new border procedure applied at the Hungarian border and the conditions facing asylum seekers in the new transit zones. This enquiry is followed by an assessment of the treatment afforded to persons who enter the country irregularly, as well as by a discussion on the broader effects of the recent restrictions imposed by Hungary for refugees seeking protection in Europe "

EU: DIRECTIVE ON LEAs EXCHANGE OF PERSONAL DATA: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): A further step towards comprehensive EU data protection: EDPS recommendations for the police and justice sectors (Press release, pdf)

"The EDPS calls on the legislators to ensure that none of the provisions of the Directive decrease the level of protection that is currently offered by EU law and by the instruments of the Council of Europe....

Careful attention should be given to the modalities for international transfers of personal data to bring them in line with the recent CJEU ruling in the Schrems case. This ruling will have an impact on new legal instruments and agreements to be concluded by the EU with non-EU countries in the field of law enforcement (including, for instance, the EU-US Umbrella Agreement) so that they pass the strict test established by the Court"

Full-text of EDPS Opinion (pdf)

EU-UK: Meijers Committee report: Accommodating British EU-demands and democratic change of the Treaties (pdf):

"An agreement by the Heads of Government to change the Treaties, would give rise to serious concerns over legality, transparency, parliamentary scrutiny and democratic oversight. The Meijers Committee argues that the European Council should not be the exclusive forum to consider changes to the Treaties in an effort to accommodate British political demands. The Meijers Committee stresses that national parliaments, the European Parliament and, possibly, a Convention have a role to play and should not be left out of the current negotiations only to be confronted later on with a political agreement cast in stone."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26 stories and documents, 28.10.15) See: Rolling Crisis News updated during the day

UN Special Rapporteur raises alarm over effect of counter-terrorism policy on civil society

A UN Special Rapporteur on human rights has warned of a global "ideological pandemic" that has seen more than 60 states across the world pass counter-terrorism measures that have been used "to stifle legitimate opposition and to choke public interest and human rights organisations".

In an address the the UN's General Assembly, Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, "urged governments across the world to ensure that the NGO sector be allowed to continue to play an indispensable role in co-ordinated efforts to counter the spread of terrorism."

His findings are detailed in a new report examining the impact of counter-terrorism measures on civil society: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (pdf)

Opening remarks by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Maison de la Paix, Geneva: Lessons from the Syrian Refugee Crisis: Towards New Global Coordination 27 October 2015 (Full-text, pdf)

and see: Derogatory speech against migrants can lead to murders, UN official warns (euractiv, link): "Politicians who use derogatory language about refugees and migrants may be responsible for causing violence and racism, UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein warned yesterday (27 October). "Once you classify people along lines such that they pose a threat - that these are 'hordes', that we are being 'invaded', that there are 'swarms' of people coming, you have started the process of dehumanizing them as we know from history," he said." and U.N.'s Zeid says politicians' anti-migrant rhetoric can be deadly (Reuters, link)

Northern Ireland: Secret service surveillance secrecy leads to court case collapse

A court case in Northern Ireland involving some of the "most sophisticated" surveillance "ever seen" collapsed last week after MI5 refused a judge's order to provide more detail on tracking devices it had used to monitor the movements of three brothers accused of conspiracy to murder police and prison officers.

EU: Parliament agrees with Council, votes against net neutrality

"The European Parliament has voted against a set of amendments on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that would help preserve net neutrality in the EU, angering and disappointing supporters of the rejected legislation, and calling into question the future of a democratized web in Europe—and even the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, couldn't persuade them otherwise." See: Against Advice From Inventor Of The World Wide Web, EU Votes Down Net Neutrality (Tech Times, link):

And: Parliament green lights roaming and net neutrality (EurActiv, link): "EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger addressed opposition to the internet rules following the Parliament vote yesterday afternoon. 'If the concerns of the organisations are ever realised, I'm prepared to propose a change,' Oettinger said."

What is net neutrality? The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains (link)

Text as adopted: Position of the Council at first reading with a view to the adoption of a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down measures concerning open internet access and amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services and Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union (pdf)

FINLAND: Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee reports on Immigration Detention in Finland (International Detention Coalition, link): "On 20th August 2015, The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published the report on its fifth visit to Finland, which took place from 22 September to 2 October 2014."

See: 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 and Punishment (CPT) from 22 September to 2 October 2014 (pdf)

News Digest (12 stories, 28.10.15)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26 stories and documents, 27.10.15)

EU: Council of the European Union: Future of the SIS/SIRENE configuration of the Working Party for Schengen Matters (LIMITE doc no: 12887-17, pdf)

"Currently, the political guidance seems to come more from outside than inside the WG... Hot topics (foreign fighters, illegal migrants, return)"

EU: Europol seeks "workable solution" on law enforcement access to encrypted data

Europol, the EU's policing agency, has called for: "a workable solution to the issue of encryption which allows legitimate users to protect their privacy and property without severely compromising government and law enforcement's ability to investigate criminal or national security threats."

The demand to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to access encrypted communications comes in Europol's latest 'Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment' (IOCTA) (4.4 MB, pdf), which was published at the end of September.

UK-ECHR: Legal safeguards regarding covert surveillance of a detainee’s consultations with his lawyer were insufficient at the time of his custody (Press release, pdf) and Judgment: Full-text (pdf):

"The applicant in the case of R.E. v. the United Kingdom (application no. 62498/11), who was arrested and detained in Northern Ireland on three occasions in connection with the murder of a police officer, complained in particular about the regime for covert surveillance of consultations between detainees and their lawyers and between vulnerable detainees and “appropriate adults”. In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence) of the European Convention on Human Rights as concerned the covert surveillance of legal consultations.."

EU-FRANCE: French delegation: Temporary reintroduction of border controls at the French internal borders in accordance with Articles 23 and 24 of Regulation (EC) 562/2006 establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (pdf):

"Delegations will find attached a copy of a letter received by the General Secretariat of the Council on 16 October 2015 concerning the temporary reintroduction of border controls by France at its internal borders from 13 November - 13 December 2015.... Subject: Reintroduction of controls at the internal borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Swiss Confederation, Italy and Spain on the occasion of COP 21, which is to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015"

News Digest (17 stories, 27.10.15)

UK: Lord Justice Pitchford: Undercover Policing Inquiry: Core Participants Ruling (pdf):

"The Inquiry received applications from over 380 individuals, groups and organisations. Many established the criteria for core participant status. In those cases the applicants were notified that designation would be made."

and see: Undercover police inquiry accidentally reveals witnesses data (The Guardian, link)

EU-NSA SURVEILLANCE: European Parliament: Follow-up to the European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens (pdf)

and see: Europe Is Spying on You (nytimes.com, link): article on the threats of surveillance law just published by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, in the New York Times: "When Edward Snowden disclosed details of America’s huge surveillance program two years ago, many in Europe thought that the response would be increased transparency and stronger oversight of security services. European countries, however, are moving in the opposite direction. Instead of more public scrutiny, we are getting more snooping."

Greek Minister Rejects Criticism Over Allowing Transit of Migrants (WSJ, link):

"In interview, Yiannis Mouzalas criticizes Europe’s slow response to influx... “Greece can guard its borders perfectly and has been doing so for thousands of years, but against its enemies. The refugees are not our enemies,” Yiannis Mouzalas said in an interview....

“In practice what lies behind the accusation is the desire to repel the migrants,” said Mr. Mouzalas. “Our job when they are in our territorial sea is to rescue them, not [let them] drown or repel them.”"

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: Commissioner Jourová's remarks on Safe Harbour EU Court of Justice judgement before the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (Libe): Strasbourg, 26 October 2015 (pdf)

and European Parliament: The CJEU's Schrems ruling on the Safe Harbour Decision (pdf) and also: German Data Protection Authorities Suspend BCR approvals, question Model Clause transfers (dataprotectionreport.com, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16 stories and documents, 26.10.15)

News Digest (18 stories, 26.10.15)

Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal's anti-euro Left banned from power (The Telegraph, link): "Portugal has entered dangerous political waters. For the first time since the creation of Europe's monetary union, a member state has taken the explicit step of forbidding eurosceptic parties from taking office on the grounds of national interest. "

and see: Four Things You Need to Know About Portugal's Political Crisis (link)

EU-UK: House of Lords: Select Committee on the European Union: Potential impact on EU law of repealing HUman Rights Act (Unrevised transcript of evidence taken, pdf): Unrevised transcript of evidence from Professor Steve Peers, Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Dr Tobias Lock.

Greece: PM Tsipras: Greece rejects proposal for 'refugee ghetto', EU accepts gov't alternative (ANA-MPA, link):

"Three proposals that included the creation of a ghetto for 50,000 refugees in Attica were rejected, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said early on Monday, following the conclusion in Brussels of a mini-Summit of European leaders on migration.... Tsipras said that the three proposals included the creation of the equivalent of a city, with 50,000 refugees, within Greece; the option of an EU country to bar entry to refugees from another EU country, which would have created a domino effect stressing Greece; and a new operation by EU border police Frontex in northern Greece to check migratory flows towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In explaining the rejection of each of the proposals... "

Greece agrees to host 50,000 refugees as part of new EU plan (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Greece committed on Sunday to opening enough reception centers to house 30,000 refugees by the end of the year, with the United Nations to provide another 20,000 places, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. "We will increase reception capacities to 100,000 places in Greece and in the western Balkans," he said following a meeting of 11 European leaders in Brussels....

the final agreement included a Greek commitment to increase to 30,000 by the end of this year the number of places it has to host migrants - officials said it currently has some 7,000-10,000. A further 20,000 people should be sheltered in private accommodation in Greece, the statement said, while another 50,000 places should be available in countries further north." and

EU leaders criticize each other at summit on refugees (ekathimerini.com, link):

"European leaders lashed out Sunday at each other's handling of the continent's greatest immigration crisis since World War II, even as they came together to seek ways to ease the plight of the tens of thousands marching across the Balkans toward the European Union's heartland.... Many say the EU needs to get control of the refugee flow at the bloc's external border between EU-member Greece and Turkey. Migration experts, however, say the flood of refugees won't be halted until the world resolves the war in Syria, which is driving millions out of the country."

EU: Refugee crisis: 25-10-15: Final Statement: Leaders' Meeting on refugee flows along the Western Balkans Route: Leaders’ Statement  (pdf):

Greece to build camps to hold 30,000 refugees plus 20,000 in rented homes and UNHCR a further 50,000 further north

- "Under the current circumstances, we will discourage the movement of refugees or migrants to the border of another country of the region. A policy of waving through refugees without informing a neighbouring country is not acceptable. This should apply to all countries along the route...

- Greece's intention to increase reception capacity to 30.000 places by the end of the year and commit to supporting Greece and UNHCR to provide rent subsidies and host family programmes for at least 20.000 more. Financial support for Greece and the UNHCR is expected. This is an important precondition to make the emergency relocation system work...

- We will work with the UNHCR who has committed to support our efforts in improving our capacities. An additional capacity of 50.000 would allow for a better and more predictable management of the flow....

- We will work with the European Commission and Frontex to step up practical cooperation on readmission with third countries; cooperation will be intensified with Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, in particular in the area of returns....

- Upscaling the Poseidon Sea Joint Operation in Greece, in particular Frontex's presence in the Aegean Sea, and strengthening significantly Frontex support to Greece in registering and fingerprinting activities...

- We reconfirm the principle that a country may refuse entry to third country nationals who, when presenting themselves at border crossing points, do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection (in line with international and EU refugee law, subject to a prior non-refoulement and proportionality check)...

It should be noted that there is nothing further on "relocation"

The European Commission has called a meeting - mini-summit- in Brussels of the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia: Leaders' Meeting on the Western Balkans Route: Draft Leaders’ Statement (pdf): Note this "Draft" was circulated on Saturday 24 October the day before the meeting organised by the Commission.

Frontex slows down registration procedures in “Hot Spot” Moria, leaving refugees for days in life-threatening conditions (w2eu.net, link):

"Since Frontex has entered the scene, registration processes were dramatically slowed down. Frontex procedures of ‘screening’ individuals takes a long time which has caused great delays and thus created a situation of humanitarian emergency for the hundreds of people waiting outside. The official opening of this hotspot on Lesvos coincided with increased numbers of new arrivals and deteriorating weather conditions...

The ongoing tragedy in the “Hot Spot” and around, mirrors the failure of Europe to protect refugees and the violence of the border regime on which European Migration policies are based. Screening and registration are priority, peoples’ lives are not.

We demand the immediate end of hotspot procedures and the instant withdrawal of Frontex personnel. The EU has to immediately put an end to the slowing-down of registration procedures produced by Frontex which is life-threatening. We denounce the procedure of ‘speeding up returns’ in the strongest possible terms." and:

Moria/Lesbos: Rain-sodden feet, frozen white hands, hypothermic pregnant women and trampled down children (w2eu.net, link):

"The “Hot Spot” of horror is what Moria turned to the last week and since its inauguration when numbers of new arrivals were high and the weather conditions harsh with constant rain falls. The authorities together with the UNHCR and all other involved actors of the humanitarian aid regime failed in protecting hundreds of refugees from what was a predictable catastrophe." [emphasis in original]

EU: "Returns" package

Under the so-called "hotspot" process refugees are first "nationality screened" (national officials lead by Frontex) and then divided into two groups: a) those to be returned and held in "closed" camps (they have no legal representation or right of appeal) and b) those to be "relocated" within the EU who are "asylum" processed, by EASO and national officials, to be held in "open" camps.

1. European Commission: CONTACT GROUP “Return Directive” (2008/115/EC) 14 October 2014: Preparation of Return Handbook (80 pages, pdf)

2.European Commission: Recommendation: Preparation of Returns Handbook (COM 6250, pdf)

3. European Commission: ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

4. European Commission: EU Action Plan on return (COM 453-15,pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6, Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf):

"Member States must systematically issue return decisions, take all necessary steps to enforce them and provide adequate resources, including funding and staff, necessary for identifying and returning illegally staying third-country nationals. All measures must be taken to ensure irregular migrants' effective return, including use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. In particular, Member States should reinforce their pre-removal detention capacity to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return and take steps to prevent the abuse of rights and procedures."

7. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

8. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

Germany probes new case of US spying (The Local.de, link):

"German authorities have launched a probe into allegations of a new case of suspected spying linked to the US National Security Agency, a media report said Saturday... The latest probe by Germany's federal prosecutors targets persons unknown for "espionage activities", Der Spiegel said. It centres on the personal laptop of a department chief in the chancellery onto which a spying virus known as "Regin" was allegedly installed, the magazine said."

EU-USA COOPERATION: Council of the European Union: Europol Joint Supervisory Body: Report on the Europol's implementation of the TFTP agreement (Doc no: 12338-15, pdf)

"The present assessment of the JSB is focussed on how Europol fulfils its task under the TFTP Agreement. In this respect, the JSB likes to restate its assessment that due to the nature of the TFTP, the situation in terms of mass data transfer remains unchanged. The JSB restates that, in view of the nature of the TFTP and the scope of the agreement there is a massive, regular, data transfer from the EU to the US. There is a clear tension between the idea of limiting the amount of data to be transmitted by tailoring and narrowing the requests and the nature of the TFTP." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (34 stories and documents, 23.10.15)

PLS SHARE: Update from Lesvos: Frontline of refugee crisis: Posted on Facebook: 22.10.15 by Marienna Pope-Weidemann

"People will die tonight. This I can say for certain. I can't recount in writing the horror of the past 12 hours. Camp Moria has descended into madness. The Syrian side of this segregated hell hole is bad enough. The 'Afghan side', which is for everyone else - refugees from the wars the West wants to ignore - is like another dimension. They segregate themselves now, men with sticks policing the lines our colonial empire taught them to build....The EU has the blood of the world on its hands tonight. I have never been so angry, and I will never be the same...."

EU: Council of the European Union: Access for law enforcement purposes to the EES (LIMITE doc no: 12531-15, pdf):

"a large majority of delegations agreed that access to the Entry-Exit System (EES) for law enforcement authorities (LEA) should be provided as of the start of the operation of the future system....

i) the possibility of the use of the future EES as a criminal identification and investigation tool, ii) the data that should be inserted in the system, the data to be used for searches of the system and the data that should be obtained as a result of a hit, iii) the minimum retention period for access to LEA purposes and, iv) the possibility of transfer of EES data to third countries...

– whether intelligence agencies or other specific types of administration units should be authorised to act as designated authorities..." [emphasis added]

Frontex Consultative Forum on Fundamental Rights: Second Annual Report: 2014 (pdf) and First Annual Report: 2013 (pdf)

Greece Records Highest Weekly Migration Inflows in 2015 So Far (IOM, link):

" This week IOM Greece recorded the highest migration inflows since the beginning of 2015. Despite deteriorating weather conditions, approximately 48,000 refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands – or about 9,600 migrants and refugees in each of the past five days.... The influx has left many local authorities unprepared. The island of Lesvos continues to receive the highest percentage of refugees and migrants. Some 27,276 reached the island during the period, while 9,750 arrived in Chios."

This year up to 22 October 139,518 refugees have arrived in Italy and 537.460 refugees arrived in Greece:

"Data for Greece are derived by the new and updated data collected by IOM Regional Staff in Greece and Greek authorities (1/1/2015 – 20/10/2015). Numbers are not the actual daily arrivals but the number of migrants who have officially been recorded by the Greek authorities after their arrival."

EU and 17 states sign foreign terrorist fighter agreement (link) See: Council Decision authorising signing (pdf) Background: EU moving towards new terrorism laws; Europol on organised crime and terrorism (Statewatch database)

News Digest (20 stories, 23.10.15)

Czech Republic: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Zeid urges Czech Republic to stop detention of migrants and refugees (pdf)

"The High Commissioner expressed concerns that the authorities continue to practice this policy, even though those detainees who have been able to challenge the detention in court have been released. He noted that most detained migrants and refugees are not in a position to swiftly challenge their detention in court – as is their right -- because they do not receive information about free legal aid and because civil society organizations that work with refugees have reportedly been receiving very restricted access to detention facilities like Bìlá-Jezová (80 km north of Prague)." [emphasis added]

and: Czech ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility (pdf):

"The severe conditions which children and families with children have to endure in Belá-Jezová constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Objectively speaking, children in the facility have worse living conditions than inmates in Czech prisons. Belá-Jezová is a former military facility where the living conditions are, in many ways, much worse than those in Czech prisons. Prison inmates are people who committed a crime and were convicted for it. On the other hand, the people in Belá have not been convicted of any crime and no sentence has been imposed on them. The fact that hundreds of children are detained in this facility goes against our notion of the Czech Republic as a civilised country." [emphasis added]

Full-text of Ombudsman report (pdf)

Also: UN: Czechs violate refugee rights to deter others (euobserver, link)

EU: Commission Issues Opinion on Temporary Reintroduction of Controls at Internal Borders: Germany and Austria acting in compliance with Schengen Borders Code (Press release, pdf): "The Commission has concluded that the initial reintroduction of controls at internal borders by Germany and Austria, as well as the subsequent prolongations, are in compliance with the Schengen Borders Code."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (33 stories and documents, 22.10.15)

Prevent duty ‘heavy-handed and discriminatory’ (IRR, link):

"In the week that the government announced new counter-extremism measures, the IRR publishes contributions from its seminar on ‘Securitisation, Schools and Preventing Extremism’, held at Garden Court Chambers on 7 October, where participants considered the consequences of a new statutory duty on public bodies to prevent non-violent extremism and whether it breached the Equality Act."

Boat refugees been sunk five times (link): Great interview by Eric Kempson (Lesvos) on the shameful EU role and that of Turkish coastguard.

See also: Masked Greek Coastguards again? Attacks on Boats Risk Migrant Lives (HRW, link):

"Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters".

Boats from Greece confront refugees at sea with guns (Youtube, link): "Published on Sep 8, 2015 CBS News has obtained video showing a group of men on a boat confronting migrants at sea near the Greek coastline. The men cut the migrants' fuel lines, leaving them stranded at sea. CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: Europol Regulation, Counter-terrorism and CT short term actions

- Preparation of the upcoming trilogues and technical meetings on the draft Europol Regulation (DS LIMITE doc no: 1532, pdf) 31 pages. Including the Internet Referral Unit at Europol (EU IRU):

"If the EU IRU is expected to actively identify threats from, for example, terrorism propaganda, according to Europol, it is indispensable that a dialogue with the concerned private parties is possible. This would mean that e.g. Facebook is in a position to respond to a referral by Europol, by pointing out that the same IP address or the same person also has other accounts that
Europol has not yet discovered. The same applies to other service providers, which generally have a very good overview of their customers’ activities on their own platform, but possibly and probably also as regards other platforms."

- EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Follow-up to the statement of the Members of the European Council of 12 February 2015 on counter-terrorism: State of play on implementation of measures (LIMITE doc no: 12318-15, pdf): The explicit interface between counter-terrorism and refugees and migrants:

"the new “Hot spot approach” developed along the Commission proposals, and especially the EU Regional Task Force in Catania allow Frontex and Europol officers to cooperate on the spot and to make the best possible use of screening and debriefing interviews of migrants....

Europol: Member States have increasingly provided information on foreign terrorist fighters to Europol since January 2013. The total number of contributions is now 1069 (620 by the end of February 2015), with 9724 person entities stored in Focal Point (FP) Travellers (3600 in March 2015), out of those 1969 are confirmed fighters/travellers. Interpol has become a significant contributor to FP Travellers with more than 3000 persons reported by September 2015...

The IRU (see story above) has already carried out 500 referrals, over 90 % of which have been successful leading to the removal of the flagged content.... The IRU is also tackling the facilitation of illegal immigration, with a continuous analysis of social media-related information on a 7/7 basis." [emphasis added]

- Fight against terrorism: implementation of short-term actions (LIMITE doc no: 12551-15, pdf)

"The Council considers it necessary and important to consolidate and strengthen the IRU within Europol. Member States are invited to increase contributions for referrals to the EU IRU and to second experts to the EU IRU. The Commission is invited to provide the EU IRU with appropriate resources as soon as possible and to inform COSI thereof in November..."

News Digest (16 stories, 22.10.15)

EU: Valletta Conference 11-12 November 2015: Update and background

Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Three (LIMITE doc no: 12560-rev-2-15, pdf) and: Draft Council Conclusions on the EU Horn of Africa Regional Action Plan 2015-2020 (28 pages, LIMITE doc no: 13200-15,pdf)

""[T]hree issues affecting EU interests in the region have gained particular salience: the influence of the wider region on the Horn of Africa, violent extremism and migration and forced displacement....

"The high number of people in the region who are willing to migrate is by far larger than the limited possibilities of legal avenues for migration, be it within the region or outside. Lack of opportunities for legal migration or complex and expensive procedures mean that many migrants feel that they have no other option than to use irregular channels."

See also: EU: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria prioritised for "pilot initiative on return" (Statewatch database)

European Commission: President Juncker calls Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels on refugee flows along the Western Balkans route (pdf) Leaders from the following countries have been summoned: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

and see: Balkan summit highlights Juncker-Tusk leadership gap (euobserver, link): "By calling a mini summit on Sunday (25 October), European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has decided to push forward the Commission's role in addressing the migrant crisis. By doing so, he has also highlighted an apparently widening gap with the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party."

and yet another "Extra" Justice and Home Council has been called on 9 November, in Brussels.

European Parliament Studies:

- EU cooperation with third countries in the field of migration (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, reflects on the imbalances of EU external action as well as on the lack of evidence on the impact and efficiency of EU funding regarding the objectives of the migration policy, which are sometimes conflicting with the development goals.

The study brings forward recommendations for rationalization and coordination of action, more balance between the different components of the GAMM, more transparency for a better evaluation and scrutiny, and a reinforced partnership approach with third countries."

- The European Parliament as a driving force of constitutionalism (pdf):

"The report demonstrates that EP’s formal and informal powers in legislation, comitology, Commission investiture, the budgetary process, economic governance and international agreements have increased strikingly since the Treaty of Rome. This empowerment is partially explained by the concern for democratic legitimacy on the part of some member states’ (and the Commission).

To another important part the empowerment may be explained by the fact that treaties frequently contain ambiguous provisions and thus allow room for informal rules to emerge through bargaining specifying the details of treaty provisions."

Fundamental Rights Agency: Fundamental rights implications of the obligation to provide fingerprints for Eurodac (link) and see: Report (pdf): "The swift identification and registration of asylum seekers is an important measure to ensure their protection. Under EU law, registration procedures also include taking fingerprints. To help authorities ensure fingerprinting practices do not violate fundamental rights, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a 10-point checklist for rights compliance in its latest Focus paper."

EU: Audiovisual Media Services Regulation and The ‘Newspaper Exception' (EU Law Analysis, link):

"As services have developed, however, the boundary between a ‘text-based’ newspaper and audiovisual has become blurred, as newspaper companies started to expand what was offered, specifically the inclusion of video sections on the newspaper site. Do such activities still really qualify for the ‘newspaper exception’? This contentious question arose in a reference from the Austrian courts in the New Media Online case, which the ECJ ruled on yesterday."

See: Judgment (link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17 stories and documents, 21.10.15)

EU: DATA PROTECTION DIRECTIVE: Law enforcement agencies: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties and the free movement of such data (LIMITE doc no: 12643-rev-1-15, pdf) Outcome of Proceedings, 90 pages, with 129 Member State positions.

For a Thousand Lives: Be Human: An Appeal from European Filmmakers and Other Film Professionals to our Governments and to the E.U (link): Over 5,500 cinema directors and actors sign a petition:

"Every day, people fleeing war, terror, political persecution and misery are drowning in the sea, suffocating in the back of a truck or tumbling to their death in ports or train stations in their desperate attempts to reach Europe. According to Amnesty International, more than 23.000 people have lost their lives that way since 2000. These deaths are a direct consequence of E.U. immigration policies. The guilt doesn’t just lie with the traffickers; Europe cannot deny its share of responsibility.

To make matters worse, those who reach Europe often find themselves in degrading living conditions and are subjected to inhumane treatment. The E.U. is spending up to twenty times more money on border control, than on welcoming centres for refugees."

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: The House of Representatives today approved the Judicial Redress Act of 2015 (H.R. 1428) by voice vote. Introduced by Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations (link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21 stories and documents, 20.10.15)

Weekend Greece Arrivals Exceed Peak Summer Day Total (IOM, link): as at 20-10-15: 651,132 refuge arrivals (Greece: 507,825 Italy: 139,711) and 3,138 dead/missing people.

"IOM Greece reports, after consultations with the Hellenic Police, an unprecedented number of migrants arriving in Greece this weekend, with totals exceeding arrivals during peak summer sailing days. On Friday (16/10) over 8,900 migrants crossed into Greece; on Saturday (17/10) arrivals exceeded 9,100; and on Sunday (18/10), arrivals approached 9,200.

A total of over 27,000 migrants entered Greece last weekend, the majority of whom arrived on the island of Lesvos (16,448). The island of Chios, which previously saw arrivals of up to 300-500 migrants a day, over the weekend, witnessed the arrival of over 4,300 migrants."

See: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis: Humanitarian emergency - updated daily

NSA: Transparency about spying on the rest of the world, "Approved for Public Release"

A sterling effort at transparency from the NSA/the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: declassification of 'Procedures used by the National Security Agency for targeted non-United States persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information pursuant to section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended' (pdf)

Far-right parties always gain support after financial crises, report finds (euractiv, link): "Extreme and populist right-wing parties have always been the biggest political beneficiaries of financial crises, according to a new study."

Report: Going to Extremes: Politics after Financial Crisis, 1870-2014 (pdf)

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Disabilities: Implementing the UN CRPD: An overview of legal reforms in EU Member States (link): "Many people with disabilities often face legal and societal barriers that prevent them from taking an active and full part in society. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has helped galvanise efforts to advance the rights of people with disabilities across the EU since it entered into force in 2008.

and Report (pdf)

Archives shed light on Nazi atrocities in Greece (The Local.de, link): "From the number of Cretans to be executed for every dead German soldier to advice on which brothel to use, new research is shedding light on Nazi wartime atrocities in Greece. Greece's defence ministry on Monday unveiled its first findings from research into formerly classified Wehrmacht papers found in archives in the United States. The senior historian working on the project spoke of an "endless list" of killing, looting and burning of villages, drawn from local dispatches to the Wehrmacht high command and personal diaries."

News Digest (21 stories, 20.10.15)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29 stories and documents, 19.10.15)

European Commission: The "Returns" package:

1. Returns Handbook: Full text (106 pages, pdf)

2. ANNEX: Return Handbook (116 pages, pdf): "The content of this handbook deals essentially with standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals and is based on EU legal instruments regulating this issue (in particular the Return Directive 2008/115/EC)."

3. Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (pdf)

4. EU Action Plan on return (pdf)

5. Addressing the Refugee Crisis in Europe: The Role of EU External Action (Commission and EEAS, pdf)

6. Council of Europe: Guidelines on forced returns (pdf)

UK: New "counter-extremism" strategy launched

The UK government has launched its new "one-nation Counter-Extremism Strategy" targeted at "all forms of extremism". "Extremism" has been defined by Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values". The strategy precedes forthcoming anti-extremism legislation.

Northern Ireland: The Good Samartian Bombing: challenge to the Attorney General to order a new inquest

Press release from the Pat Finucane Centre: "The family of Eugene Dalton, killed in what has become known as The Good Samaritan Bombing in Derry in 1987, have applied to challenge a decision of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland not to order a new inquest into his death. On Monday 19 October the High Court in Belfast will hear the arguments of both sides as to whether this challenge should be granted leave for a full hearing on this important Conflict related Legacy matter."

News Digest (19.10.15)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23 stories and documents, 17-18.10.15)

Establishing control of refugees took precedence over providing humanitarian aid

First hotspot inaugurated on Lesvos (ekathimerini.com, link): "“If this had taken place 10 months ago, we could have avoided what we went through this summer,” Avramopoulos said. “More importantly, we would have been able to treat all those people who are seeking for a better life in Europe in a more humane manner,” he said. Additional hotspots on Chios, Samos, Kos, and Leros are expected to be fully operational by end-November."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos's statement does not hold water. His DG produced on 13 January 2015 a: "Fact Sheet: Facts and Figures on the arrivals of migrants in Europe" (pdf) predicting what was to unfold this year - it said 276,113 refugees had arrived in 2014. The simple truth is that the EU had no plans to swiftly put in place humanitarian aid and protection from January 2015 in Italy and Greece. This aid has only come now, ten months late, with the so-called "hotspots" which ties aid to registration and fingerprinting (with "proportionate coercion" if necessary). Estabilishing control of refugees took precedence over providing a "humane" response."

EU: Greece and Italy "state of play" from the European Commission including "return flights": First groups "nationality screened" for "return"

Refugee crisis: Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Greece (pdf): Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos and Map of the 'Hotspots' designated in Italy (pdf): Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Augusta, Porto Empedode and Trapani

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" AGREEMENT: Study: Fundamental Rights European Experts Group (FREE): (97 pages, Complete-text, pdf) prepared by Douwe Korff: "The Agreement , in our view, cannot be approved by the European Parliament in its present form”

UK: MoD police admits 170 officers are under investigation - Concern at allegations against armed personnel responsible for guarding key military bases and nuclear weapons (Observer, link) and see: FIO request response: Ministry of Defence Police: NUMBER OF POLICE OFFICERS AND POLICE STAFF UNDER INVESTIGATION OR DISMISSED (pdf)

The Drone Papers (The Intercept, link) "The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars."

- The Assassination Complex - Secret military documents expose the inner workings of Obama’s drone wars (link)
- A Visual Glossary Decoding the language of covert warfare (link)
- The Kill Chain: The lethal bureaucracy behind Obama’s drone war (link)
- Find, Fix, Finish: For the Pentagon, creating an architecture of assassination meant navigating a turf war with the CIA (link)
- Manhunting in the Hindu Kush: Civilian casualties and strategic failures in America’s longest war (link)
- Firing Blind: Flawed Intelligence and the Limits of Drone Technology (link)
- The Life and Death of Objective Peckham: Stripped of British citizenship and killed by an American drone (link)
- Target Africa: The U.S. military’s expanding footprint in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (link)
- The Alphabet of Assassination: A guide to the acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms used in The Drone Papers. We defer to definitions provided in the source text where available; other interpretations are based on open source material (link) and

Documents:

- Small Footprint Operations 2/13 (link)
- Small Footprint Operations 5/13 (link)
- Operation Haymaker (link)
- Geolocation Watchlist (link)

Snowden and Ellsberg hail leak of drone documents from new whistleblower (Guardian, link): "Classified documents on US assassination program released to the Intercept welcomed by men who exposed NSA surveillance and Pentagon Papers"

European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) Statement: With winter approaching ECRE urgenty calls on Europe to act (pdf)

"With the winter season approaching, European countries must ensure adequate reception conditions and treat people in need of protection with dignity and respect.
The current focus on increasing border controls may have the opposite effect and deny these children, women and men fleeing war and persecution from
accessing the international protection they need."

EU-USA DATA PROTECTION: Statement of the Article 29 Working Party on: Maximilian Schrems judgment (pdf):

"If by the end of January 2016, no appropriate solution is found with the US authorities and depending on the assessment of the transfer tools by the Working Party, EU data protection authorities are committed to take all necessary and appropriate actions, which may include coordinated enforcement actions....

Regarding the practical consequences of the CJEU judgment, the Working Party considers that it is clear that transfers from the European Union to the United States can no longer be framed on the basis of the European Commission adequacy decision 2000/520/EC (the so-called “Safe Harbour decision”). In any case, transfers that are still taking place under the Safe Harbour decision after the CJEU judgment are unlawful." [emphasis in original]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (31 stories and documents, 15-16.10.15)

EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Text of "Revised": EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan (dated 16.10.15, pdf)

EU COUNCIL: RESPONSE TO REFUGE CRISIS: SUMMIT CONCLUSIONS (16.10.15, pdf):

"welcomes the joint Action Plan with Turkey as part of a comprehensive cooperation agenda based on shared responsibility, mutual commitments and delivery. Successful implementation will contribute to accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap towards all participating Member States and the full implementation of the readmission agreement. Progress will be assessed in spring 2016."

See: Turkey’s Erdogan calls the shots at EU summit (euractiv, link): "Faced with a refugee crisis they seem unable to control, EU leaders last night (15 October) tried to accommodate ambitious demands by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just two weeks before crucial elections in Turkey.... Yesterday morning in Ankara, Commission First-Vice President Frans Timmermans had agreed with his Turkish counterparts a "package" in exchange for Turkey's help in stemming the flow of refugees to the EU." and: Merkel backs multibillion-euro refugee package for Turkey (FT, link) also: EU bid to stem refugee influx stalls on how much to give Turkey (ekathimerini.com, link): "European leaders failed to reach a final agreement on recruiting Turkey to help stem the flow of refugees from the Middle East, with some eastern member states dragging their heels over how much aid to grant their neighbor.... While the member states agreed to send hundreds more border guards to help Frontex and other joint agencies patrolling the bloc’s borders, leaders made little progress on how to redesign the system of distributing immigrants, forming an EU border guard corps or on how to ensure arrivals are properly processed. “These are all divisive issues and the goal today was to have the first serious exchange,” Tusk said"

EU migrant crisis: Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban pushes for Greek border to be sealed (IBT, link): "The country's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said: "We have urged Greece and the European Council to put together a joint European force to protect the external Schengen border. Unfortunately this decision has not been made. "If this decision is not made during the European Council meeting today and tomorrow, we really have to put into serious consideration to protect the Schengen zone at the Croatian-Hungarian border," he added. Hungary has already built a fence along its border with Croatia in a bid to keep Middle Eastern migrants out.

Seven people die off Lesvos as tensions flare at crowded reception facility (UNHCR, link):

"Authorities in Greece have reported up to seven people were killed – four of them children – in a collision between a smuggling boat and a Greek Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Lesvos, the UN refugee agency said today.... The collision between the Coast Guard patrol vessel and a wooden fishing boat carrying 38 people occurred off the island's north-western coastal town of Molyvos, the Greek Coast Guard said on Thursday (October 15). Seven bodies, including those of the four children, were subsequently recovered. Thirty-one people were rescued following the incident. The Greek authorities have announced that they are investigating the matter, UNHCR said." and see:

Seven migrants killed when their boat, reportedly fleeing, collides with Greek coast guard vessel (japantimes.co.jp, link): "LESBOS, GREECE – A wooden boat carrying dozens of migrants from Turkey to Europe sank Thursday near the island of Lesbos after colliding with a Greek coast guard vessel, leaving at least seven people dead, including four children, rescuers said. The boat sank within minutes of the crash with a 30-meter (100-foot) patrol vessel on Thursday morning, in circumstances that were being investigated.... An AFP photographer who witnessed the crash from the shores of Lesbos said the boat went down just two or three minutes after the collision, which took place some 2 km (1.2 miles) from land."

Afghan Migrant Shot Dead in Bulgaria near Border with Turkey, (novinite.com, link):

"An Afghan man died in Bulgaria after being indirectly hit by a bullet of border police on Thursday, authorities say. The incident took place around 22:00 local time (EEST), the Interior Ministry's Chief Secretary, Georgi Kostov, has announced. Pretrial proceedings have been launched.

It happened as border police detected the movement of 54 people trying to enter Bulgaria near the town of Sredets, in the country's south-east, not far from the border with Turkey. After shooting in the air as a warning sign, a bullet "rebounded" hitting one of them in the back of the neck by mistake, Kostov has explained, without elaborating." [emphasis added]

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 stories and documents, 14.10.15)

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" AGREEMENT: Study: Fundamental Rights European Experts Group (FREE): prepared by Douwe Korff

- NOTE on the EU-US Umbrella Data Protection Agreement (pdf)

"We believe the following aspects of the Umbrella Agreement violate, or are likely to lead to violations of, the Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights:

The Umbrella Agreement appears to allow the “sharing” of data sent by EU law enforcement agencies to US law enforcement agencies with US national security agencies (including the FBI and the US NSA) for use in the latter’s mass surveillance and data mining operations; as well as the “onward transfer” of such data to “third parties”, including national security agencies of yet other (“third”) countries, which the Agreement says may not be subjected to “generic data protection conditions

The Agreement should therefore, in our view, cannot be approved by the European Parliament in its present form”

- ANNEX: ARTICLE-BY-ARTICLE ANALYSIS of the EU-US Umbrella Data Protection Agreement: [TEXT OF THE AGREEMENT IN BOLD; COMMENTS ARE IN ORDINARY TYPE] (pdf)

- Data flow: Chart 1 (pdf) and Data flow Chart 2 (pdf)

- Letter from Commissioner: announcing "deal" (pdf)

- EU-USA Umbrella Agreement: Full-text (pdf)

UPDATE: EU: MED-REFUGEE SUMMIT: New European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11140-15, pdf)

Previous versions: European Council: 15-16 October 2015: Draft Conclusions (LIMITE doc no 11139-15, pdf) and European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no:1137-15, (pdf)

Spain: Impunity for border control killings in the Canary island: No charges in case involving Guardia Civil patrol boat which sank dinghy near Lanzarote in 2012

On 13 October 2015, El Diario newspaper reported that the third instruction court in Arrecife shelved the case involving the sinking of a dinghy by a Guardia Civil patrol boat in December 2012 which resulted in a Moroccan boy's death and the disappearance of six other passengers.

Frontex: 710 000 migrants entered EU in first nine months of 2015 (link) Frontex gets headline news with this kind of press release but are they accurate?

"Clarification: Frontex provides monthly data on the number of people detected at the external borders of the European Union. Irregular border crossings may be attempted by the same person several times in different locations at the external border. This means that a large number of the people who were counted when they arrived in Greece were again counted when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia."

This is why the Frontex figures always exceed those of IOM and UNHCR: Mediterranean Arrivals Near Record 600,000 (IOM, link) and October 2 (UNHCR) refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015.With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000"

EU-USA: DATA PROTECTION: Must-read data protection law. DPA says neither model clauses NOR consent are sufficient for transfer to USA: Schleswig-Holstein: Model Clauses ist Kaput! [Update 1] (link)

EU: European Parliament: Mass surveillance: EU citizens' rights still in danger, MEPs say (pdf):

"Too little has been done to ensure that citizens' rights are protected following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say civil liberties MEPs in a resolution passed on Tuesday. They urge the Commission to come up immediately with alternatives to Safe Harbour, following the ruling by the European Court of Justice. They are also concerned about the surveillance laws in several EU countries."

EU: SUMMIT ON THE MED: Council President Tusk invitation letter to Heads of State Summit: 15-16 October, 2015:
"Even if the influx of refugees slows down during winter, we must be ready for spring and the threat of bigger waves flowing to Europe".(pdf)

"Let us be clear about one thing. The exceptionally easy access to Europe is one of the main pull factors. In this context we should consider:

1. The future of the Dublin system, which is now in force - whether to keep it as it is or to look for alternatives;
2. The specific role of hotspots in light of different opinions as to their character and purpose;
3. The strengthening of our external borders, including a possible EU border guard."

EU: From fingerprints to facial scans: Why the French want biometrics on all EU travellers (ZDnet, link): "France wants to collect biometric data from all EU nationals and foreign travellers crossing the outer borders of the Schengen area."

See: Council of the European Union: French Delegation: Smart borders for all (pdf) and France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs (Statewatch)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27 stories and documents, 13.10.15)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council Presidency Letter to the President of the European Council for the Summit meeting on 15-16 October 2015 (pdf): A summary of the actions taken and future plans: Includes two sets of Conclusions and 1994 Recommendations (EU return Laissez-passer) in which national and European parliaments have no say at all:

"To increase the effectiveness of the EU's return system, Ministers reiterated their willingness to implement all measures, including the use of detention as a legitimate measure of last resort. They underlined the need to reinforce pre-removal detention capacities to ensure the physical availability of irregular migrants for return....

an integrated system of return management by building on synergies between all relevant stakeholders [see footnote]....

The Council also highlighted the importance of all EU actors exploiting the full potential of EU diplomacy on the ground and prioritizing readmission in all relevant contacts at political level with countries of origin of irregular migrants, thus helping to identifying potential leverage. On this issue, Commissioner Avramopoulos stressed his strong support for the organization of planned joint return flights to Pakistan by the end of the month...

addressing the future management of the external borders of the European Union. In the current circumstances, further efforts need to be undertaken on hotspots, with a focus on green [land] borders....

Influx of migrants to the European Union will not abate in the short run."

Footnote: New initiatives to try and persuaded, or "bribe", the so-called "more for more principle" if African states agree to the return of refugees:

"Notably the European Integrated Approach on Return towards Third Countries (EURINT), the European Reintegration Instrument Network (ERIN) and the European Return Liaison Officers network (EURLO), as well as Immigration Liaison Officers (ILOs), Frontex Liaison Officers and European Migration Liaison Officers (EMLOs), to be deployed by end of 2015 to Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Pakistan, Serbia, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan." [emphasis added]

EU: Europol Supervisory Body report: Victims of trafficking in human beings: a data protection perspective (pdf):

"The Europol Joint Supervisory Body experienced that on national and on international level more attention and harmonisation is needed for data processing activities by all competent authorities - police, prosecutors and investigative judges - involved in the fight against trafficking in human beings."

Watch The Med Alarm Phone‘s 1 Year Anniversary Statement 12.10.2015 (pdf):

"While we are confronted with a lot of despair, we have also been inspired uncountable times by the willingness to overcome the sea and to move on to desired places throughout Europe.

They grew stronger, louder and more visible every day in the past months: the incredible social and political struggles of refugees and migrants for the freedom of movement. To overcome the Mediterranean Sea in small overcrowded boats is one of the most dangerous aspects of these migration journeys towards the European Union as safe and legal pathways are closed down and fenced off by its government."

Website: www.alarmphone.org

ECRE Comments on the proposal for an EU common list of safe countries of origin (AIDA, link):

"ECRE seriously questions the compatibility of the safe country of origin concept with international refugee law, as it is at odds with the obligation on states under the 1951 Refugee Convention to treat refugees without discrimination based on their country of origin. The use of safe country lists, whether nationally designated or at EU level, further contributes to a practice of stereotyping certain applications on the basis of their nationality and increases the risk of such applications not being subject to a thorough examination of a person’s fear for persecution or risk of serious harm on an individual basis, which is at the core of the refugee definition and crucial to ensuring full respect for the principle of non-refoulement....

In that regard, ECRE is opposed to the adoption of a common EU list of safe countries of origin as proposed by the Commission, as it is part of a worrying development in EU asylum law to increasingly assume a negative outcome of an asylum procedure on the basis of the nationality or profile of the applicant as being manifestly unfounded prior to a proper examination of the application."

and see: ECRE Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (COM(2015) 452) (pdf)

EU: Fingerprints, facial scans, EU border data slurp too tasty for French to resist - France wants proposed rules applied to EU citizens as well (The Register, link):

"French authorities want fingerprint and facial scans of everyone entering or leaving the EU. The proposal from the French delegation came as the European Commission puts more pressure on interior ministers to adopt its so-called “smart borders” package. The Commission plan is to set up a digital dragnet to monitor all non-EU nationals entering and exiting the EU....

But hot on the heels of their own version of the Patriot Act, France (PDF) wants to “broaden the scope of the smart borders package for all travellers, also including European nationals”.

See: Council of the European Union: French Delegation: Smart borders for all (pdf) and France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs (Statewatch)

Germany: Data retention bill that is to be adopted without substantial changes this week: Draft Act introducing a storage obligation and a maximum retention period for traffic data (pdf)

EU: AUSTRIA: Xenophobia on the increase in Austria (euractiv, link): "The Council of Europe is concerned about a rise in racism in Austria. Certain political parties and organisations, as well as media outlets, are cultivating a chauvinistic discourse."

and see: European Commission against racism and intolerance (CoE): ECRI report on Austria (pdf)

Spain-Morocco: Two deaths at Spain-Morocco border after marines overturn raft

Two migrants died and 20 others were injured at the Spanish-Moroccan border on Friday 9 October after a raft on which they were travelling was overturned by the Moroccan Royal Marines, according to a report on the website of Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

Cadena SER cited eyewitness testimony from people working with the NGO Caminando Fronteras, who said: "The immigrants were travelling in a raft which was intercepted and overturned by the Royal Marines with great violence; they were subsequently beaten."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24 stories and documents, 12.10.15) and Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17 stories and documents, 10-11.10.15)

EU: European Commission: Letter to Hungary: and detailed Annex: Comments and preliminary concerns on recent legislative changes related to the migration crisis (pdf)

"This preliminary assessment reveals a number of concerns and questions on substance and implementation relating inter alia to:

- a possible quasi-systematic dismissal of applications for international protection submitted at the border with Serbia

- a possible lack of sufficient safeguards in the asylum procedure implemented at the border, including as regards the existence of effective remedies to challenge a decision on the admissibility of an asylum application

- the criminal sanctions introduced relating to the crossing of the border and a possible lack of adequate safeguards ensuring respect of the rights of defence and effective remedies in the criminal proceedings

- the closing of border crossing points

- the powers granted to the military forces in border management and questions as to the existence of adequate safeguards and remedies

- a possible general lack of specific procedures or safeguards for children"

EU: REFUGEE CRISIS: VALLETTA CONFERENCE: 11-12 November 2015: Council of the European Union: Valletta Summit Action Plan - Working Draft Two (LIMITE doc no 12560-rev-1-15, 7 October 2015, pdf)

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf): "achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See earlier version: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on Migration Foreign Affairs Council, 12 October 2015 (pdf):

"The Council recalls the importance to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with African countries of origin and transit in order to jointly manage migration and asylum flows in the spirit of partnership, ownership and shared responsibility. In this regard, the Council welcomes the efforts by the Presidents of the European Council, the Commission and the Presidency of the Council of the EU, in close cooperation with the HRVP, in preparation of the Valletta Summit on 11 and 12 November and encourages all those involved to find comprehensive and balanced solutions and make substantial progress on all priority domains of the draft Action Plan."

UK: REFUGEE CRISIS: Call from the Legal Community for Urgent Action:This statement calls for an urgent, humane and effective governmental response to the refugee crisis. Its signatories include retired judges, Queen’s Counsel, barristers, solicitors and law professors (Letter in Guardian and Times, link):

"Like many others, we consider that the UK Government’s offer to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East, spread over 5 years, is too low, too slow and too narrow."

EU: Gáspar Miklós Tamás: ”This is post-fascism” (link): Gáspár Miklós Tamás (b. 1948) is one of Hungary’s most prominent intellectuals and an important political voice in Europe. Trained as a philosopher and author of numerous books and articles, he was a leading dissident in the 1980s. Today he calls himself a Marxist and is very critical of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his nationalist ideas:

"You have written about what you call “post-fascism”. Do you still think that concept is useful to understand what we are seeing in Europe now?

I have been vindicated, unfortunately. So yes, this is what we have [in Hungary, editors’ remark], this is postfascism. It has all the democratic trappings, there is no need for a formal dictatorship. We have a minority media world, where people as myself can talk with no consequence for them – because it doesn’t reach more than 5 to 10 percent of the population...."

If we look at Europe, what currents are the dominating ones right now, in your opinion?

".. The right is on the march. And I think the refugee crisis will result in a much nastier Europe than we had a year ago. That’s already the case."

If we change the perspective to the refugees. When they refuse to accept these borders and fences and keep on going, do you see that as a political act, in some way?

A little, yes. They instinctively realize that they have rights independent of citizenship. And that’s very important. Very important! And in my opinion they are right in that. Rights are either universal or they are not rights. Because rights that are not universal are called privileges. There’s a difference. To realize that, you don’t need to be Marxist. It’s enough to be a Kantian. It’s absolutely disgraceful how people think of rights in terms of privileges..."

and see: What is Post-fascism? (Open Democracy, link) by Gaspar Miklos Tamas.

EU: European Parliament studies:

- The protection role of the Committee on Petitions in the context of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (pdf):

"It considers the petitions received on disability issues and examples of CRPD protection mechanisms implemented at level of the UN, the EU and the Member States. Recommendations are made to assist the EP in deliberating on disability issues in its protection role."

- EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration, asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."

See: also: MED CRISIS: Billion-euro budgets to be distributed to Member States; plus latest news reports (Statewatch database): "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".

UN: EU Med Operations: Resolution 2240 (2015), Security Council Authorizes Member States to Intercept Vessels off Libyan Coast Suspected of Migrant Smuggling (Full-text, pdf)

See: U.N. council OKs mission against human trafficking off Libya (Reuters, link):

" The United Nations Security Council on Friday authorized European Union naval operations for one year to seize and dispose of vessels operated by human traffickers in the high seas off Libya. The 15-member council adopted the British-drafted resolution with 14 votes in favor. Venezuela abstained.

The resolution approved the second of three phases of an EU naval mission intended to help stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, which has escalated into a major crisis in recent months. The third phase of the EU mission, which is not covered by the resolution, would involve European operations in Libyan territorial waters and coastal areas."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (25 stories and documents, 9.10.15)

EU SUMMIT: European Council meeting 15-16 October 2015: European Council (15-16 October 2015) - Draft conclusions (pdf):

"achieve concrete operational measures at the forthcoming Valletta Summit with African Heads of State or Government, focusing, in a fair and balanced manner, on effective return and readmission, dismantling of criminal networks and preventing illegal migration... See: Possible elements for the Outcome Document for Valletta - annotated version (LIMITE doc no 11534-15, pdf)

"devise technical solutions to reinforce the control of the EU's external borders to meet both migration and security objectives, by making full use of technological developments in order not to hamper free circulation and to facilitate travel" : See: France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs and:

"press ahead with the establishment of further hotspots...

step up implementation by the Member States of the Return Directive...

development of a European Border and Coast Guard System...

enlarge the Frontex mandate on return to include the right to organise joint return operations on its own initiative and enhance its role regarding the acquisition of travel documents for returnees...

promote the acceptance by third countries of an improved European laissez-passer as the reference document for return purposes.[*]"

[*] The Council's legal basis is relying on 1994 Recommendations for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures.

UK: With the death of Ken Leech, on 12 September from a stroke, we have lost a pillar of the anti-fascist movement (IRR, link):

"He was always there for the calling on in the struggle against racism – a thoughtful stalwart, a socialist who would stand up and be counted, unafraid of getting his hands dirty from community politics... Ken, who was a guiding light of the Christian Socialist Movement, marched with CND and championed gender equality and justice for lesbian and gay clergy, of course never got any ‘preferment’ in the established Church. It is not there then that his legacy lies, but in the ‘subversive orthodoxy’ that he practised and preached."

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Final Press release: 8-9 October 2015 (pdf) including:

"B" Points agenda (for discussion, including some non-legislative items), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points -non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and see: Background Note (9 pages, pdf) and Agreed: Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf)

France says protect free movement with mass fingerprinting, face scans and entry-exit logs

France has proposed extending the EU's proposed "smart borders" systems from non-EU nationals to all EU nationals and residents as well, a move which would require fingerprinting, face scans, systematic database searches and entry and exit logging for everyone entering the EU. The smart borders proposals are one of many items on the agenda of the JHA Council meeting yesterday (8 October).

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" DATA PROTECTION AGREEMENT: European Parliament Study: A comparison between US and EU data protection legislation for law enforcement purposes (pdf)

"The proposed Judicial Redress Act will not solve the structural imbalance between the protection of US and non-US persons. The Draft Act has a limited scope, referring only to “covered records”.... Therefore, the Judicial Redress Act does not necessarily guarantee equal rights to EU and US persons....

A further indispensable point concerns the still ongoing collection of foreign intelligence in the framework of Section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act and Executive Order 12333. The FREEDOM Act did not bring about any major changes regarding these instruments with regards to the protection of EU citizens. A future instrument regulating data exchange should address these two issues, as serious questions on their compatibility with EU fundamental rights arise (see recent opinion of Advocate General Bot in the Schrems case)."

This is the first study carried out by the EP: The US legal system on data protection in the field of law enforcement. Safeguards, rights and remedies
for EU citizens
(pdf)

See: European Ruling is Merely a Symbolic Victory for Privacy (NYT Editorial, link): "The Court of Justice is right to question whether the personal information of Europeans is being protected adequately in the United States. But mass surveillance by European governments is just as intrusive of privacy, and requiring data storage in Europe offers little comfort." Also Commission advice on Transfers Abroad: Currently there are other ways of tranferring data to a third states - by-passing the adequacy rule (link), though these may not hold when the judgments of the CJEU are taken into account.

IOM Monitors Mediterranean Migrant Flows: 7,000 Crossing Daily to Greece (link):

"Despite the increased number of arrivals on the island of Lesvos, the congestion on the island has declined significantly. This is due in part to the fact that 70 per cent of migrants and refugees who arrived in Greece last week immediately crossed into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at Greece’s Idomeni border.... Migrants and refugees have to pay for their own tickets for all their transport in Greece and, according to people interviewed by IOM, nationality has become an important factor in determining how quickly they can leave the islands and travel to the FYROM border.

Syrians are now travelling faster from the islands to the border because they can afford it. They buy tickets for boats to Athens, buses straight to the border and sometimes even pay for taxis that can cost up to EUR 700 a family from Athens to the border.

Afghans, on the other hand, often have to work to get enough money to buy tickets or have to contract friends or relatives to borrow funds for onward travel. Consequently they spend more time transiting Greece."

See: Med infograpics with latest figures (pdf)

EU: EXCHANGE OF PERSONAL BETWEEN LEAs: Council of the European Union: Adopt: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties and the free movement of such data - General approach (pdf) and will now enter trilogue with the European Parliament.

See also: EU Data protection reform on track: Commission proposal on new data protection rules in law enforcement area backed by Justice Ministers (pdf) Commission press release

Commission’s proposal to put Turkey on ‘safe countries' list under attack (euractiv, link): "Commission plans to put Turkey on a list of "safe countries", to which migrants can be quickly returned as they would not risk oppression, have run into opposition from several European nations, sources said on Thursday (8 October).... Several member states refuse to add Turkey - home to two million refugees from the Syrian war - because of its poor record on judicial independence, minority rights and freedom of expression, several diplomatic sources told AFP." and see:

Turkey frowns at EU refugee aid plan (euractiv, link): "Turkey has given a lukewarm response to a European Union plan to assist Ankara in coping with over two million Syrian refugees, indicating that funding needs to be drastically increased.... Turkish officials, so far, are not rushing to embrace the plan."The EU is in a hurry but we are not," a Turkish official, who asked not to be named, told AFP."

See: Commission Press release: EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf)

European Parliament:

Draft Report: on the Special Report of the European Ombudsman in own-initiative inquiry OI/5/2012/BEH-MHZ concerning Frontex (pdf): Rapporteurs: Roberta Metsola, Ska Keller

and REPORT: on the draft Council Implementing Decision fixing the date of effect of Decision 2008/633/JHA concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information System (VIS) by designated authorities of Member States and by Europol for the purposes of the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and of other serious criminal offences (pdf): Rapporteur: Timothy Kirkhope

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 stories and documents, 8.10.15)

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: "B" Points agenda (for discussion, including some non-legislative items), "A" Points - legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points -non-legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and see: Background Note (9 pages, pdf)

Agreed: Council conclusions on the future of the return policy (pdf)

See: Director of IOM: Swing Asks EU to Respect Rights of Vulnerable Migrants Arriving on its Shores (to be delivered later today at a high level EU conference in Luxembourg on refugees and migration flows through the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkans, link):

"Mr Swing underscored that care needed to be taken when dealing with asylum seekers who do not neatly fit into the category of refugees. “Many of those on the move defy easy categorization. Many will be covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention and many others will not. But it is too simplistic to conclude that all of them fall into a single broad category of “economic migrants,” he said.

“I am speaking of a wide range of vulnerable migrants - families with children; persons seeking to re-unite with their families already in Europe; unaccompanied and separated children; victims of trafficking; single and pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and the injured. The majority are coming from countries facing great strife, abject poverty or simply, hopelessness,” he noted."

and Migrant crisis: EU considers faster deportations (BBC News, link) also: EU to step up deportation of economic migrants (euractiv, link): "European Union governments are set to agree today (8 October) to accelerate the repatriation of illegal immigrants among the hundreds of thousands who have failed to win asylum, as they try to cope with a surge in refugees from war-torn Syria. Diplomats say interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg should agree, among other things, to back the detention of those who may abscond before expulsion and exert more pressure on African and other poor states, including via aid budgets, to make them accept the return of citizens refused entry to Europe."

Greece’s Tsipras in Lesvos: Hiding the refugee crisis under the carpet (link):

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Lesvos on Tuesday, Oct. 6, accompanied by Austrian chancellor Werner Feymann, to ostensibly appraise the refugee crisis on the islands firsthand, but what they saw there did not correspond to the everyday reality. Journalist Sofia Christoforidou was at the Mytilene harbor and tweeted updates on the preparations there while waiting for the PM’s visit....

“Tsipras and Faymann came from the back entrance, saw few refugees, everything in order at port, and they departed.”...

Boat arrivals in Lesvos’ northern beaches, which usually number in the dozens daily, practically stopped for the duration of the two leaders’ visit....

Hours after Tsipras’ visit, the boats came back, and the arrivals of refugees continued."

EU: Secret trilogue law-making: Giegold: I've no problem with livestreaming secret talks on EU law (euractiv, link):

"The lead MEP on a European Parliament transparency report has said that he was lobbied “all the time” during secret negotiations over EU law, and had better access to classified documents just because he is German. Sven Giegold exclusively told EurActiv he wouldn’t care if “trialogue” discussions were livestreamed and branded a European Commission push for better regulation an attack on parliamentary democracy.

I think that there is a problem of transparency and accountability, and that has to be changed. There’s also a problem of integrity. There’s a problem with transparency because there’s no minutes, because it is not clear when they take place, it is not clear who has participated.

There is also a lack of accountability, because it is not transparent about who has defended which position in the negotiations. Lastly, there is a problem with integrity. The documents that are meant to be secret are not secret. I’ve seen it very often that lobbyists have documents given to them through sources in the Parliament, or more often through the Council."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (39 stories and documents, 6-7.10.15)

The party’s over: EU data protection law after the Schrems Safe Harbour judgment (EU Law Analysis, link): "In this post, I’ll examine the reasons why the Court put its foot down, and invalidated the Commission’s ‘ Safe Harbour’ decision which allows transfers of personal data to the USA, in the recent judgment in Schrems. Then I will examine the consequences of the Court’s ruling"

Secret EU plan to throw out thousands of migrants (The Times, link):

" Hundreds of thousands of failed asylum seekers will be deported from Europe within weeks under secret plans leaked to The Times.

Brussels will threaten to withdraw aid, trade deals and visa arrangements if countries such as Niger and Eritrea refuse to take back their economic migrants. The proposals also envisage EU states detaining thousands of migrants to prevent them from absconding to avoid deportation.....

Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch, an EU civil liberties watchdog, said: “Refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The returns policy proposed is not going to work,” he said. “It cannot be seriously expected that Turkey would accept the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees.”

See: Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015

EU ministers to fast-track migrant deportation (euobserver, link): "EU ministers are coming up with plans on how to best to use the deportation of failed asylum seekers as a deterrent for others. A leaked paper from the Council, representing EU member states, says some €800 million will be set aside on larger efforts to remove people without the proper paper work from the EU back to their home countries....

"The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws", said Statewatch director Tony Bunyan."

EU-USA: DATA PROJECTION JUDGMENT FALL-OUT:

- Data deal with US must be immediately suspended and replaced by new, solid framework for data transfers, says Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes (pdf): "The European Commission must immediately suspend the 'Safe Harbour' framework with the US and initiate a new, secure data protection framework that will guarantee the rights and privacy of European citizens, says the Chair of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, Claude Moraes, following today's ruling of the European Court of Justice in the case regarding Facebook's transfer of EU citizens data to the US."

- Issued by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party: The Court of Justice of the European Union invalidates the EU Commission Safe Harbor Decision (pdf): "The Working Party welcomes the fact that the Court’s decision reaffirms that data protection rights are an inherent part of the EU fundamental rights regime... For several years, the Working Party has been studying the impact of mass surveillance on international transfers and has on several occasions presented its concerns.

Today’s Court judgment confirms that due to in particular the existence of mass surveillance and the absence of possibility for an individual to pursue legal remedies in order to have access and to obtain rectification or erasure, serious questions exist regarding the continuity of the level of data protection when data are transferred to the United-States."

- First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová 's press conference on Safe Harbour following the Court ruling in case C-362/14 (Schrems) (pdf) Extraordinarily on the planned EU-USA "Umbrella" Agreement on the exchange of personal data for criminal offences (all offences however minor) Commissioner Vera Jourová seeks to claim:

"The Umbrella agreement is something different than Safe Harbour. It does not itself enable data transfers." [emphais aded]

Whistleblower Edward Snowden hails 'Safe Harbor' data sharing verdict (DW, link): "US whistleblower Edward Snowden has praised the European Court of Justice's decision to invalidate a 15-year-old pact allowing data transfers between the US and EU. White House says it's "disappointed" by the verdict. "

EU-Africa: The 'Khartoum Process': beefing up borders in east Africa

The 'Khartoum Process' is intended to limit the number of people travelling to Europe via the "Horn of Africa migration route" and involves east African states, EU Member States, the European Commission and the African Union. Formally known as the 'EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative', it has been criticised by the human rights organisation AEDH as attempting "to arrange the material conditions to avoid that they [migrants and refugees] come to Europe, especially by establishing asylum processing centres" within African countries. The 'Process' foresees, amongst other things, the enhancement of law enforcement powers and border controls in east African states.

EU-TURKEY: Draft Action Plan: Stepping up EU-Turkey cooperation on support of refugees and migration management in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq (6.10.15, pdf): Note it is a "Draft":

"The Action Plan identifies a series of collaborative actions to be implemented as a matter of urgency by the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Turkey with he objective to assist Turkey in managing the situation of massive influx of refugees and preventing uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU....

Prevent further arrivals of irregular migrants to Turkey and irregular departures of refugees and migrants from Turkey to the EU...

Ensure prompt return to the point of origin of irregular migrants who are not in need of international protection and who were apprehended by the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States or Turkey and support the reintegration of returnees to the countries of origin....

Support Turkey to strengthen its capacity to combat migrant smuggling, notably by reinforcing the Turkish Coast Guard patrolling and surveillance capacity...

The implementation of the Action Plan is set to start immediately; it will be jointly steered and monitored by the European Commission and the High Representative / Vice President and the Turkish government through the establishment of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogue on migration."

and Press release (pdf)

European Parliament study: EU funds for Migration policies: Analysis of Efficiency and best practice for the future (pdf):

"This study provides an overview of EU funding and agencies in the field of migration,asylum and integration. It begins with a brief assessment of their effectiveness and efficiency before examining whether the design of management, budgeting and control systems is effective in preventing the misuse of resources. The study illustrates good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations on how to achieve greater transparency in the implementation of future EU funding programmes."


European Parliament study: Shaping and controlling foreign policy: Parliamentary diplomacy and oversight, and the role of the European Parliament (pdf): "The paper examines the role and functions of parliaments in shaping and controlling foreign policy, also by discussing some case studies (US, German, British and French). It reflects particularly on the gradual parliamentarisation of Member State-dominated EU foreign policy."

EU Refugee crisis: Returns policy - unworkable

Council of the European Union: Draft Council conclusions on the future of the EU return policy (LIMITE doc no: 12420-15, pdf) for adoption at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 8-9 July 2015. Including:

"The Council invites the Commission and the EEAS, and the Member States, in particular through their representations outside the EU, in close cooperation with the liaison officers mentioned in paragraph 9, to promote the EU laissez-passer (standard travel document for the expulsion of third-country nationals) which should become the travel document commonly accepted for return purposes by third-countries. Moreover, Member States commit to using more regularly the EU laissez-passer in return operations." (Point 14, emphasis added])

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"The Commission and the Council have never understood that refugees, who have fled from war, persecution and poverty, do not want to return to the country they have come from. The idea that returns can be fast-tracked through issuing EU laissez-passer to return refugees to third countries is reminiscent of the apartheid pass laws.

This is compounded by the Council is relying on 1994 Recommendations as the legal basis for issuing these co-called EU laissez-passer return documents which were adopted before the European or national parliaments had any say. Furthermore these "Conclusions" are "soft law", non-binding but enabling two or more Member States to undertake operational measures - again parliaments have no say. Measures which will have such a profound effect on refugee's rights and freedoms should be the subject of formal EU legislative procedures."

EU: European Court of Justice: SAFE HARBOUR JUDGMENT: The Court of Justice declares that the Commission’s US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid (Press release, pdf): and Full-text-judgment (pdf)

"The Data Protection Directive provides that the transfer of personal data to a third country may, in principle, take place only if that third country ensures an adequate level of protection of the data..... The United States safe harbour scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons, and the Commission decision does not refer either to the existence, in the United States, of rules intended to limit any such interference or to the existence of effective legal protection against the interference."

See: Intial response from max schrems (pdf) and see his Facebook

European Parliament failure to bring proceedings against Hungary: "According to internal European Parliament emails seen by Playbook (Politico), the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, chaired by Claude Moraes from U.K. Labour, has rejected a request by the Liberal faction ALDE group supported by Greens, far-left parties and Italy’s Five Star Movement to trrigger an “Article 7.1 procedure” against Hungary for its behavior towards refugees. The move was blocked by the two big parties, who instead put to a vote a Socialist proposal to request that the Commission follow through on a June request that it “present a proposal to establish an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.”

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15 stories/documents: 5.10.15)

EU: Council of the European Union: The future management of the EU's external borders (LIMITE doc no: 12541-15, pdf):

"How can the collective responsibility of Member States and Frontex evolve, e.g. for ensuring a better and at times compulsory allocation of border guards and equipment from low risk areas to those most affected by illegal migration?" [emphasis added]

EU: Council of the European Union: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 October 2015: Background Note (9 pages, pdf)

EU: TURKEY: EU Action on Migratory Pressures - targeted update and the outcome of discussion on Turkey (LIMITE doc no: 9491-15, 15 pages, pdf):

"Turkey had the capacity to act as a significant transit point for migrants from the wider Middle East-North Africa region: migrants may legally enter Turkey but then illegally enter the EU. Along with Syrians, Moroccan, Tunisian, Libyan, Georgian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iranian passport holders do not require a visa to enter Turkey."

EU: Council of the European Union: Accession to the ECHR: Accession of the European Union to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) - State of play (Limite doc no: 12528-15, pdf): "On 18 December 2014 the CJEU declared the Draft Accession Agreement incompatible with the EU Treaties on a number of grounds.... [for example] entrust a judicial review of EU actions in (some) CFSP matters - for which the CJEU has no competence - to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)."

EU and Turkey to discuss plan to stem flow of migrants (ekathimerini.com, link):

"Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet with Juncker on Monday.

A spokesman for the European Commission said the meeting was "precisely about seeing how to step up cooperation to jointly tackle the refugee crisis" and said any new announcements would be made at a news conference on Monday.

Asked about the newspaper report, a spokeswoman for the German government said Merkel, Juncker and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann had held a phone call on Wednesday but she declined to comment on the content of their discussion."

See also: Erdogan brings Turkish election campaign to Strasbourg, Brussels (euractiv, link): "Supporters and foes gathered in Strasbourg on Sunday (4 October) on the occasion of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has apparently turned his European tour into part of his election campaign..... The European Commission and Turkey have agreed on a plan to stem the flow of refugees to Europe by patrolling Turkey's frontier with Greece and setting up new camps, a newspaper cited sources in the Commission and the German government as saying yesterday.... However a senior EU official involved in the negotiations with Turkey told Reuters that the newspaper report went beyond what was currently under discussion between Brussels and Ankara. "It's a bit exaggerated," he said."

and EU and Turkey have struck plan to stem flow of migrants - newspaper (Reuters, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: Exchange of personal data between law enforcement agencies & UNHCR

- Council agrees its negotiating position: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties and the free movement of such data - General approach (pdf)

- Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, in the sixty-sixth session of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (pdf) and the detail in: Annex (pdf)

EU and Turkey 'agree on refugee plan' (The Local.fr, link): "The European Union and Turkey have agreed in principle to a plan of action to help ease the flow of migrants into the bloc, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.... Under the plan, Turkey would agree to stepped-up efforts to secure its frontier with the EU by taking part in joint patrols with the Greek coastguard in the eastern Aegean coordinated by EU border protection agency Frontex, the report said.

Any migrants picked up would be taken back to Turkey, where six new camps for up to two million people would be built, co-financed by the EU."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15 stories/documents: 3-4.10.15)

Refugee sea arrivals in Greece this year approach 400,000 (UNHCR, link):

"ATHENS, Greece, October 2 (UNHCR) -- The UN refugee agency said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. With the new figures from Greece, the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year is nearly 530,000.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that the continuing high rate of arrivals underlines the need for a fast implementation of Europe's relocation programme, jointly with the establishment of robust facilities to receive, assist, register and screen all people arriving by sea. "These are steps needed for stabilizing the crisis," he said.

As of this morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world's top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent)."

Frontex asks for 775 border guards - refugees to be "nationality" screened (link):

"This is the largest number of border guards Frontex has ever requested in the history of the agency. The officers are to assist mainly Italy and Greece in the registration and identification of migrants coming from Libya and Turkey. Since the beginning of this year over 470 000 migrants arrived in Greece and Italy alone. No country can possibly handle such high migratory pressure at its borders by itself. It is crucial that all those arriving in the EU are properly registered and identified,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.

Frontex requested 670 officers – mainly screeners, debriefers and interpreters to be deployed in Italy and Greece, in addition to 105 officers to be deployed at various external land borders of the European Union.

The screening officers play a key role in helping authorities to determine the nationality of the incoming migrants in order to identify and register them. Debriefers gather information about the activities of smuggling networks." [emphasis added]

"Screening officers" will be carrying out "nationality screening" (Frontex in European Parliament hearing on 23 September 2015), followed by registration and fingerprinting after which refugees will be divided into two groups, those destined for "return" to their country of origin to be held in closed camps and those to be relocated in the EU through asylum procedures in open camps.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24 stories/documents: 2-10-15)

EU: Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU):

Data protection legislation of a Member State may be applied to a foreign company which exercises in that State, through stable arrangements, a real and effective activity (Press release, pdf) and Full text of Judgment (pdf)

and: Persons whose personal data are subject to transfer and processing between two public administrative bodies must be informed in advance (Press release, pdf) and Full text of Judgment (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Cybercrime evaluation & UK and SIS

- Interesting detailed report: Evaluation report on the seventh round of mutual evaluations "The practical implementation and operation of European policies on prevention and combating Cybercrime" - Report on Slovakia (Declassified document no: 9761/1/15 REV 1 DCL 1, 139 pages, pdf)

- Putting into effect of the provisions of the Schengen acquis on data protection and on the provisional putting into effect of parts of the provisions of the Schengen acquis on the Schengen Information System for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - State of play (pdf): "agreed inter alia on a set of recommendations addressed to the United Kingdom and considered that further proceedings were necessary in order to conclude the evaluation with a view to adopting an implementing decision setting the date for the final putting into effect by the United Kingdom of the provisions referred to in Article 1(a)(ii) of Decision 2000/365/EC, in so far as they relate to the functioning of the SIS."


30 October 2015

IOM Mediterranean Update

 

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