01 May 2016
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25 JUNE 2016: STATEWATCHING EUROPE: European conference marking Statewatch's 25th anniversary
UK: Metropolitan Police try to escape liability for shooting and death of Cherry Groce despite admitting "irreparable harm"
"The Metropolitan Police Commissioner is to argue that the family of Cherry Groce should not be permitted to pursue any claim against him for the irreparable harm caused to them as a result of the raid by armed police officers on their family home in 1985.
Mrs Groce was shot and seriously injured in front of her young children during the 1985 raid, and she died 26 years later in 2011 as a result of those injuries. In July 2014, an inquest jury found that the shooting – and her death – was the result of serious and multiple police failures on the part of officers across the ranks.
In the wake of the inquest, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner offered a personal apology for those failures. He said:
“Today, I apologise unreservedly for our failings... we, as an organisation, failed to meet those responsibilities and in doing so caused irreparable damage to a mother and her family.”
Notwithstanding that apology, the Commissioner is now seeking to avoid liability for the admitted irreparable damage caused to this family.
The hearing of his attempt to do so is due to take place before Mr Justice Jay at the High Court in the Royal Courts of Justice, London, commencing at 10.30am on Tuesday 24 May 2016."
See: Press release from Bhatt Murphy solicitors: Met Police seek to avoid liability to Cherry Groce's family for 1985 shooting (pdf)
UK: Police and faith alliance attacks counter-extremism bill (The Guardian, link): "David Cameron’s new counter-extremism legislation has been condemned by a powerful coalition of opponents, including the former police chief in charge of the government’s anti-radicalisation programme, who warns that it could actually fuel terrorism.
The multi-faith alliance of 26 organisations and prominent individuals includes Liberty, Index on Censorship, the National Union of Students, Runnymede Trust and the Muslim Council of Britain, along with individuals including Peter Fahy, ex-chief constable of Greater Manchester and a former policing lead for the Prevent programme."
See the statement: Counter-Extremism Bill: Leading civil liberties campaigners raise concerns with proposals (Big Brother Watch, link): "We are a cross section of British society who believe in the necessity of keeping our nation safe and secure.
To defeat the scourge of terrorism we need a strategy underpinned by a soaring confidence in our values and the society we seek to build together. As such, we are gravely concerned that the proposed Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill will feed the very commodity that the terrorists thrive on: fear. We must instead put forward proposals that show those who seek to undermine us that we value our freedom more than they cherish fear.
Terrorism in all its forms is already prohibited by the criminal law, as is speech that incites violence or promotes hatred. This Bill would provide the Government with the power to exclude those they disagree with from many parts of the public space. These proposals will serve to alienate communities and undermine free speech, but there is scant evidence that they will tackle the terrorism we all want to confront.
The fact that the Government is struggling to define the ‘extremism’ it wants to ban should be a clear indication that this legislation has no place in a liberal democracy."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.5.16): supporting Sudan's post-Valletta Summit projects; condemnation of Germany's parliamentary voting for Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria as safe countries; ongoing ramifications of the EU-Turkey deal; and more.
EU: Europol report on the work of the European Counter Terrorism Centre
A report on the "state of play" of the European Counter Terrorism Centre, which started work in January this year. The report highlights the political background and context and moves on to the activities of the ECTC: a "continuous" increase of information on "foreign fighters" being inserted into FP Travellers and into the Europol Information System (EIS), along with an increased number of users (MI5 and the FBI are both highlighted as new users of the EIS); and 15,572 leads stemming from the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme between 2015 up to April 2016.
The report also discusses: operational support activities (Taskforce Fraternité, EU Internal Referral Unit (IRU), Joint Liaison Team, secondary security checks in the migration hotspots in Greece); and "key strategic issues".
See: NOTE from: Europol to: Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security: Enhancing Europol's counter terrorism capabilities: European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol (8881/16, 13 May 2016, pdf)
EU: Migration and border security top INTERPOL European meeting agenda (INTERPOL press release, link): "Addressing the border security challenges posed by an unprecedented number of migrants travelling to Europe is a key issue for senior law enforcement officials gathered at the 44th INTERPOL European Regional Conference.
Following the publication of the joint Europol-INTERPOL Report on Migrant Smuggling Networks earlier this week, delegates at the conference will hear from countries including Austria, Germany, Slovenia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well as from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on their experiences in tackling this phenomenon.
With the report highlighting that border controls influence key routes for migrant smuggling, ensuring frontline officers have access to INTERPOL’s capabilities in order to access vital policing information, particularly within the Schengen area, is an essential part of enhancing national, regional and global security."
See: MIGRANT SMUGGLING NETWORKS Joint Europol-INTERPOL Report (pdf) and speeches from the conference: Opening address by Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General (pdf) and Closing speech by Mr Alexander PROKOPCHUK, INTERPOL Executive Committee Delegate for Europe (pdf)
UK: Can Inspection Produce Meaningful Change in Immigration Detention? (Global Detention Project, link): "Abtract: Although prison inspection in the United Kingdom has a long history, inspection of immigration detention was properly established only in 2004. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), a government-appointed independent human rights-based monitoring institution, holds this responsibility. In this GDP Working Paper, a lead HMIP inspector discusses the nature and impact of the Inspectorate's work, examining both the theory and practice of inspection. The paper places the discussion in the broader context of prison reform and debates on migration and border controls. The author argues that in liberal-democratic societies there are two broad approaches to promoting human rights reforms and challenging abuses: working from the inside to achieve progress with the risk that principles may be compromised and good intentions confounded; or promoting change from the outside, which is more uncompromising but less influential, at least in the short-term. This is a dilemma that confronts human rights based inspection of immigration detention in the UK. The main focus of HMIP is on improving the treatment of detainees and conditions in detention, not challenging the system of detention, even if immigration detention policy arguably lacks legitimacy in a way that criminal imprisonment does not. The author explores the “effectiveness” of detention inspection and whether inspection can be said to have promoted meaningful change."
French airports to test EU passenger data system (The Straits Times, link): "A European Union-wide passenger data sharing system aimed at helping in the detection of militants will be tested at two of France's busiest airports this month, a senior interior ministry official said yesterday.
The Passenger Name Record (PNR) system, approved by the European Parliament in April, will be tested at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and at the Nice airport in the south-east before the tests are extended to all French airports, the official said.
He said the system should be fully operational by the end of the year, although EU countries were given two years to turn the measure into national law.
The idea was to "gradually link all the airlines" operating in France, the official said."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21-22.5.16)
UK: Home Affairs Select Committee: Report: Police diversity (pdf):
"Urgent and radical action needed to tackle police service’s “consistent failure” on diversity .
In a report published today, Saturday 21 May 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) says “urgent and radical action” is needed to tackle the gross under-representation of black and minority ethnic people in the police forces of England and Wales, which police have “consistently failed to address” over several decades."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.5.16)
African Civil Society condemns the hunt for migrants on the continent (pdf):
"African civil society condemns these hunting policies for migrants that grow everywhere on the African continent with the support of the European institutions under the guise of the fight against "irregular" migration. The current situation in Libya is a sad illustration with anti-immigration brigade heavily armed, with the support of the European Union, which tracks day and night the sub-Saharan migrant workers cram in detention centers instead of effectively combating traffickers and Libyan smugglers...
The lure of European financial aid to fight against migration transforms the African political authorities in real persecutors of their brothers and sisters who are looking for work to live and feed their families. This could recall the time of slavery abolished there only two centuries. The European Union, at the expense of its humanist values, and shamelessly, in African countries outsources its security migration policy.
African civil society calls for the African Union commission, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and all African heads of state to listen to the voice of their people and engage resolutely in a real regional integration process. Only a true African integration could prevent our countries to always be the instrument of European policy and will prevent brave young hope of tomorrow's Africa, being killed in other countries on the continent seeking win their daily bread."
Signed by: The West African Observatory on Migrations (WAOM), The Pan African Network for the Defense of Migrants' Rights (PANiDMR), Caritas - Migration and Development Network (MADE) – Africa, Moroccan Transnational Network on Migration and Development (RMTMD), Samir ABI, Visions Solidaires.
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 20 May 2016: Final press release (pdf)
"B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points (legislative, adopted without discussion) and "A" Points (non-legislative, adopted without discussion). See Background Note (pdf)
Among the "non-legislative" items to be adopted without discussion are: the EU-USA data protection "Umbrella Agreement" on the exchange of personal data - the Scope (Art 1): covers:
"The purpose of this Agreement is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information and enhance cooperation between the United States and the European Union and its Member States, in relation to the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offenses, including terrorism."
Note: the Scope covers all crimes however, minor.
- Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection, and prosecution of criminal offenses (Full-text, pdf) - Draft Council Decision - Adoption (pdf) - Council Decision (pdf)
Exclusive: Nick Clegg calls for inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave (Yorkshire Post, link):
"NIck CLEGG backs calls for a public inquiry into Battle of Orgreave during the 1980s miners’ strike.
The former Deputy Prime Minister has said the time is right to investigate the 1984 violent clash between police and miners in South Yorkshire that led to the arrests of 93 pickets.
Backing calls from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign he said: “With each passing day there are more questions to be asked. The more people are peeling back the events and the personalities involved, the more I think we will have to revisit the events surrounding Orgreave."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.5.16)
European Commission: Commission reports on state of fundamental rights in the EU (Press release, link) and see: 2015 Report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Com 265-16, pdf): The report opens with:
"The EU faced numerous challenges in 2015: security threats, unprecedented arrivals of refugees and migrants, a rise in populism and xenophobia. These put EU values and solidarity to the test. Facing such challenges, it is vital to uphold the EU's common values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law."
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "In regard to the refugee crisis EU values were certainly put to the test and blatantly failed. As to upholding "fundamental rights and the rule of law" they were thrown out of the window by the EU-Turkey "dodgy deal.""
EU: Data protection: New Regulation boosts the roles of EDPS and Europol (pdf):
"The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli and the Director of the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), Rob Wainwright, welcomed the recent adoption by the European Parliament of the new Regulation on Europol.
Speaking at the Privacy in the Digital Age of Encryption and Anonymity Online conference hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Mr Buttarelli and Mr Wainwright said that the new Regulation boosts Europol's powers to fight terrorism, serious and organised crime and enhances its role as the central hub for information exchange."
EU-UK: Government: Background Note: The UK’s cooperation with the EU on justice and home affairs, and on foreign policy and security issues (pdf)
UK: House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee: Democracy Denied: Appointment of the UK’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Government Response to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2015–16 Ninth Report of Session 2015–16 (pdf):
"We do not accept this Government Response, which fails to address the importance of democracy in appointing the UK’s Delegation to the Council of Europe. This is democracy denied. We call upon the Government to amend its process from Prime Ministerial announcement of a list of names decided in concert with party leaders, to free, fair and open election of the Commons element of a delegation by the whole House of Commons. If the House agrees to the principle of the change we propose, the Procedure Committee could consider how this reform should be implemented.
At the same time, we suggest that the Procedure Committee should consider whether the other delegations sent by Parliament to international assemblies, namely the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, should also be appointed by free, fair and open elections. We ask that the Government reconsider its response to our Report and produce a further response."
ITU: Maintainting trust in digital connected society (pdf) This paper was prepared by Douwe Korff, Emeritus Professor of International Law, London Metropolitan University, Associate, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford:
"The development of the global digital connected society requires trust and security, based on sound regulation of the use of personal data. However, this is hampered by conceptual differences between states as concerns privacy in a narrow sense and data protection in a broad sense, and by different views on the application of the basic norms to non-nationals and to people outside a state’s territory (the issue of universality of human rights).
The answer can only be found in global acceptance of a broad human rights-based concept of data protection that states must apply to “everyone” affected by their actions, irrespective of nationality or legal status or the place where they live. The global digital connected society can only develop in and between states that accept this fundamental principle."
Pregnant women in detention centres kept hidden by the Home Office (Politics.co.uk, link):
"The Home Office puts a lot of work into making sure no-one finds out how many pregnant women they hold in their immigration detention centres.
For years they keep no central data on it at all. You can imagine why. Their guidelines state that pregnant women should only be held in exceptional circumstances. But if we can't find out how many pregnant women are in detention, or what happens to them, it's impossible to work out whether they're sticking to it."
UK: Judge to examine claims UK troops drowned Iraqis during 2003 invasion (Guardian, link): "Sir George Newman says he will look into claims that technique known as ‘wetting’ was used to deal with suspected looters."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.5.16)
Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: PACE committee denounces abuse of administrative detention
"Expressing concern that administrative detention has been abused to punish political opponents, obtain confessions in the absence of a lawyer, or for stifling peaceful protest, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights calls for other solutions than those undermining the protection of the right to liberty and security.
Adopting a report on administrative detention by Lord Richard Balfe (United Kingdom, EC), the committee calls on all member states to refrain from using administrative detention as a migration management tool; for placing political opponents, human rights activists or journalists in administrative detention with a view to coercing them into confessing a criminal offence; or to prevent people from taking part in a given protest."
See: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights: Administrative detention in Council of Europe member states – legal limits and possible alternative measures (pdf)
UK-Council of Europe: Memorandum on surveillance and oversight mechanisms in the United Kingdom (pdf) and UK response to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner - Memorandum on surveillance and oversight mechanisms in the UK (pdf)
"Whilst welcoming a number of positive developments, such as the creation of a single unified Investigatory Powers Commissioner with responsibility for surveillance oversight, the Commissioner expresses his concern about certain issues such as the compatibility of the bulk interception and equipment interference powers proposed in the above Bill with the European Convention on Human Rights. He also stresses that greater protection needs to be provided in the Bill for legal professional privilege and for communications of politicians and journalists. In addition, the Commissioner highlights the need for oversight bodies and systems to be periodically evaluated to assess whether or not they possess the necessary attributes to be effective."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17.5.16)
'Hello, world': GCHQ joins Twitter (Guardian, link): "UK surveillance agency launches official account as part of attempt to improve its image after Edward Snowden revelations" See: Link
SURVEILLANCE: More files from Edward Snowden's collection released
"From the time we began reporting on the archive provided to us in Hong Kong by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, we sought to fulfill his two principal requests for how the materials should be handled: that they be released in conjunction with careful reporting that puts the documents in context and makes them digestible to the public, and that the welfare and reputations of innocent people be safeguarded. As time has gone on, The Intercept has sought out new ways to get documents from the archive into the hands of the public, consistent with the public interest as originally conceived.
Today, The Intercept is announcing two innovations in how we report on and publish these materials. Both measures are designed to ensure that reporting on the archive continues in as expeditious and informative a manner as possible, in accordance with the agreements we entered into with our source about how these materials would be disclosed, a framework that he, and we, have publicly described on numerous occasions."
See: The Intercept Is Broadening Access to the Snowden Archive. Here’s Why (The Intercept, link)
FRANCE: State of emergency: activists banned from attending protest against labour law
"The French authorities have used the anti-terror state of emergency to ban several activists from joining demonstrations against the government's labour reform this week. Unions have planned two days of protest and called strikes in the air transport, road freight, rail and oil sectors.
About a dozen members of two far-left organisations, Action Antifasciste (AFA) and Mouvement Interluttes indépendant (Mili), have received orders banning them from entering Paris's sixth, seventh, 14th and 15th arrondissements on 17 May, the day that a march against the controversial labour bill will pass through those areas."
And see: French government to bypass parliament to introduce controversial labour law
UK: Videos from The Monitoring Group's conference on political policing and racism in the UK
"On the weekend of 16th and 17th April 2016, a seminal conference took place in London, and, as the title suggests, it had two central themes to discuss and confront:
See: Watch the videos from our conference : Subversion, Sabotage and Spying: Political Policing and Racism in the UK (The Monitoring Group, link)
European Commission letter to Greek asylum authorities: all is well in Turkey
A letter from the European Commission to the Greek authorities setting out why Turkey should be considered a safe third country has been condemned by a Greek human rights group as an attempt "to establish standardized reasoning for systematically denying the asylum claims of Syrian and non-Syrian nationals as inadmissible in Greece."
And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.5.16)
UK: Parliamentary committee: safety in prisons continues "to deteriorate significantly"
A new report from the House of Commons Justice Committee examines "the Government's response to the ongoing and rapid deterioration in prison safety in England and Wales which began in 2012" and concludes that "overall levels of safety in prisons have not stabilised as the Ministry [of Justice] hoped, let alone improved and continue to deteriorate significantly."
UK: Hillsborough, Orgreave and South Yorkshire Police: the cover-up connections
"The central elements of both disgraces are chillingly similar. First – contrary to media coverage which demonised the victims, cheer-led in both cases by the Sun – the police were at fault.
Second, as they did in 1989 after the Hillsborough semi-final descended into horror, the South Yorkshire police created their own narrative about the Orgreave “battle”, blaming the miners in an apparently concerted campaign of vilification.
Third is the allegation that both South Yorkshire police operations were followed by a concerted falsification of evidence, and a cover-up."
See: Orgreave inquiry calls grow after damning Hillsborough verdict for police (The Guardian, link)
EU Referendum: Boris Johnson compares EU's aims to Hitler's (BBC News, link):
"Boris Johnson has compared the EU's aims to Hitler's, saying both involved the intention to unify Europe under a single "authority".The pro-Brexit Tory MP said both the Nazi leader and Napoleon had failed at unification and the EU was "an attempt to do this by different methods".
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14-15.5.16)
UK: Immigration Bill becomes law: The Bill becomes an Act: what’s been won, and what’s been lost (Right to Remain, link): "Yesterday (12 May 2016), the Immigration Bill 2015-16 received Royal Assent, which means it now becomes the 2016 Immigration Act.
In those words, a great deal is bound up.
As we have written previously, the Act involves a hardening and an extending of the measures designed to create a ‘Hostile Environment ‘ for migrants brought in by 2014 Immigration Act, including:
Cutting access to justice... Extending internal border enforcement... Criminalising irregular migration..."
Drone warfare: the cost of progress (openDemocracy, link): "What is clear is the determination of the United States and its coalition partners to avoid committing large ground forces to the war. The deep failures in Afghanistan and Iraq inflicted harsh lessons which have been learned, at least in respect of the need to avoid deploying tens of thousands of "boots on the ground". There may by contrast be plenty of special forces, airstrikes and armed drones; these represent the changing nature of the wars now being fought by the west.
As this kind of war intensifies, though – and with every prospect of major operations against ISIS in Libya – there are clear indications that the move to remote warfare carries unexpected consequences (see "The drone-war blowback", 29 September 2011). Nowhere is this more clear than with the proliferation of armed drones, which are still seen as weapons of choice in Washington, Paris, London and Tel Aviv."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.5.16)
UK-EU: House of Lords committee says EU's Operation Sophia deals with "symptoms, not causes" and "cannot deliver its mandate"
A new report from the UK House of Lords' European Union Committee has commended the EU's "anti-smuggling" military operation in the Mediterranean for its efforts at search and rescue, but notes that it is ultimately unable to meet its aims of deterring migrants, disrupting smugglers' networks and thwart smugglers' business models as it deals with "symptoms, not causes".
Key document: European External Action Service: Planning for a possible non-executive Civilian CSDP mission in Libya (LIMITE docxno: 7491/16, 1 April 2016, pdf):
EU to enhance terrorism "threat assessments" as Counter Terrorist Group moves towards "real time information exchange"
The Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU has offered Member States two options on how "a fuller, more coherent, comprehensive and future-oriented picture of the terrorist threat" could be established at EU level: either by increasing cooperation between Europol and the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (INTCEN), or by inviting the Council's COSI committee (operational cooperation on internal security) to develop "common conclusions" based on work undertaken by Europol and INTCEN.
Key document: Strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism threat analysis (LIMITE doc no: 8409-16, pdf)
EU: Clarifying the Euro-jargon: Terminology to be used in the agendas of the Council and Coreper (8338/1/16 REV 1, 25 April 2016, pdf)
LATVIA-ESTONIA-RUSSIA: ECJ: Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights: Advocate-General's opinion on extradition of a non-national
"2. The present case concerns an extradition request issued by the Russian Federation to the Republic of Latvia in relation to an Estonian national who had been arrested on the territory of the Republic of Latvia.
3. In essence, the Court is asked to rule on whether the protection against extradition which Latvian nationals enjoy under national law and under a bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation must, under the rules of the FEU Treaty on citizenship of the Union, be extended to nationals of other Member States.
4. A number of Member States, including the Republic of Latvia, recognised, in their national law and also in the international conventions to which they are parties, the principle that they refuse to extradite their nationals. When an extradition request is addressed to a Member State and that request concerns a citizen of the Union who is not a national of the requested Member State, such a principle establishes a difference in treatment between the nationals of that State and the nationals of the other Member States. I am of the view, however, that such a difference in treatment does not constitute discrimination on the ground of nationality contrary to the first paragraph of Article 18 TFEU, provided that it is shown that those two categories of nationals are not in a comparable situation in the light of the objective of combating the impunity of persons suspected of having committed an offence in a third State."
See: OPINION OF ADVOCATE-GENERAL BOT delivered on 10 May 2016 in Case C-182/15 (Alexsei Petruhhin) (pdf)
BELGIUM: Army deployed to help run prisons
"In the face of the current chaotic and potentially explosive situation in jails, the Belgian government has decided to use the army as its new trump card to tackle issues arising from its lack of political action and public investment." See: Should the Belgian Army Be Used to Resolve Social Issues? (Liberties.eu, link)
And: Council of Europe worried about Belgian prisons crisis (EurActiv, link)
EU: Legal aid in European Arrest Warrant proceedings: Council report on latest trilogue with Parliament
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are coming closer to an agreement on the text of a Directive that sets out provisions on access to legal aid for persons subject to a European Arrest Warrant.
A document produced by the Dutch Presidency on 4 May 2016 provides an overview of discussions that took place in a secret "trilogue" meeting on 3 May, at which the topics of discussions were articles 5 (European Arrest Warrant), 6 (timely and diligent procedures), 7 (quality of legal aid services and training) and 8 (remdies) of the proposed Directive and the forthcoming European Parliament impact assessment.
EU: Human trafficking: European Parliament says Member States not supporting victims
"EU member states should do more to protect victims of human trafficking, especially women, and take gender-specific prevention, assistance and support measures to help them, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. The text points out that EU legislation to protect victims of trafficking is not being properly enforced."
UK: Birmingham pub bombings coroner has 'significant' new information (The Guardian, link): "A “significant” piece of information relating to advance warning about the IRA’s Birmingham pub bombings has been sent to the coroner who is considering whether to reopen the inquest into the 1974 atrocity.
Louise Hunt, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, told a hearing on Thursday that the new material had been sent to her office on 27 April from an undisclosed source.
Hunt said it related to an allegation that the security services had advance notice.
“It’s significant and does raise concerns in relation to potential advanced notice, that’s as much as I can say,” Hunt said. "
Number of people arriving on Greek islands dropped dramatically in April
"The number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in April plunged by 90% compared to the previous month, reaching fewer than 2 700. The drop is a result of several factors, including The EU-Turkey agreement and stricter border policies applied by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at its border with Greece.
“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic. The total for all of April is well below the number of people we often saw reaching just the island of Lesbos on a daily basis during last year’s peak months,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
Syrians again accounted for the largest share of the migrants coming to the Greek islands, trailed by nationals from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq."
Press release: Advocate General: IP addresses are personal data
The EU's top lawyer today answered a question that seems to be as old as the Internet. In his opinion, IP addresses are personal data and may be collected only where allowed by data protection law. The opinion concerns the case of German pirate party politician and privacy activist Patrick Breyer who is suing the German government over logging all visits to government websites (Case C-582/14).
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.5.16): EU plans to ease expulsions; continuation of internal Schengen border controls; new studies on the role of the European Investment Bank, the functioning of hotspots and the situation in Greece and Macedonia; discussions on returns to Afghanistan; protecting the rights of irregular migrants; and more.
Draft Council conclusions call on Member States to "reduce administrative burdens" that hinder expulsion of third-country nationals
EU Member States will be "invited" to ease the expulsion of expelling "illegally staying third-country nationals" by reducing "administrative burdens" - such as "the suspensive effect of return and asylum decisions" and "multiple and last minute asylum applications and appeals" - if a set of draft conclusions being prepared for the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 20 May remain in their current form.
Schengen: Greece and Slovenia unhappy with continuation of internal border controls
The Council of the EU has today (12 May 2016) adopted a decision that permits the continuation of the internal border controls adopted by Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Greece and Slovenia have submitted statements disagreeing with the decision.
EU: European Parliament adopts new rules on Europol and migration of students, researchers and interns
Europol: Police cooperation: MEPs approve new powers for Europol to fight terrorism (EP press release, pdf)
Students/researchers/interns: New rules to attract non-EU students, researchers and interns to the EU (EP press release, pdf)
EU: CONSULAR COOPERATION: Council of the EU: Consular Cooperation Initiatives - Final Report (8347/16, 29 April 2016, pdf): "The overarching objective of the Consular Cooperation Initiatives (CCIs) was to optimize the consular support to all citizens of the European Union in third countries and to strengthen consular cooperation at the Union level. The specific objective was to further explore possibilities for developing the role of EU Delegations in facilitating and supporting coordination between Member States in their role of providing consular protection to citizens of the Union in third countries as agreed in the Council Conclusions on the EEAS review of 17 December 2013.
A Core Team of interested MS was established to manage the initiative under general supervision of COCON. CCI projects were implemented in 5 countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Nepal, Nigeria and Tunisia. In each country a MS assumed the role of Chef de File and developed a project plan on the basis of a common template (Annex). The EEAS acted as secretariat of the group and supported the harmonised approach. The Commission and the Council Secretariat attended the discussions. The projects ran from January to December 2015. After that, the CCI Core team continued to convene under the Netherlands presidency to compile all data, draw up the relevant conclusions and recommendations and prepare for recommended follow up.
This report first presents the overall conclusions and recommendations emanating from the detailed evaluation per country. The country evaluations are added to the report, as well as the joint EU Crisis Preparedness Framework that was drawn up as part of the Consular Cooperation Initiatives, a copy of the common template for the project plans and the global statistics on consular assistance to non-represented EU-citizens compiled by EEAS."
See also: Annex I to the Final Report: Joint EU Consular Crisis Preparedness Framework (8347/16 ADD 1, pdf) and: Consular demárches: Toolkit on procedural issues (8280, 26 April 2016, pdf)
UK: Exclusive: UK Government and Police Are Getting Information From 'Shadowy' Terrorism Database (Vice News, link): "A "shadowy" private database that has wrongly linked individuals to terrorist activity is being widely used by British police, intelligence, and the charity regulator, a VICE News investigation has found, amid growing anger among British and European parliamentarians about its effect on people's lives.
The confidential World-Check database profiles individuals and organizations under various categories, using open-source information to uncover their "hidden risk" for government agencies and banks. An adverse profile on the database, which is used by 49 of the 50 top global banks, has been linked to account closures and blacklisting."
Background: VICE News Reveals the Terrorism Blacklist Secretly Wielding Power Over the Lives of Millions (link)
And: questions to the European Commission from Sophia in 't Veld MEP (ALDE) and Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA): World Check database listing individuals as linked to terrorism (10 February 2016, pdf). The Commission has not yet responded.
EU: Facial recognition to accompany fingerprints in transnational databases
"Last week, the European Commission published its proposal to recast the EURODAC Regulation, which includes plans for longer storage periods, an expansion of data categories and comparison capabilities, and mandatory fingerprinting and photographing. To date, EURODAC has been used for comparison of fingerprints.
Now the system is also to store facial images and facial recognition capabilities are to be added. There are two different search options. When checks are taking place, people’s images can be compared with available personal data to verify their identity (known as 1:1 matching). However, it is also possible to search for a face in the entire database (1:n)."
UK: The long road to justice (New Law Journal, link): "Patrick Roche examines the lessons to be learnt from Hillsborough.
The jury’s conclusion that the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989 were unlawfully killed marked the culmination of a remarkable 27-year campaign for justice by the families of the 96. The inquests, which lasted over two years, were both the longest inquests and the longest jury case in legal history.
Responding to 14 questions relating to the causes of the disaster and a further questionnaire for each of the deceased, the jury delivered trenchant and carefully reasoned answers setting out the failures of South Yorkshire Police (SYP), Sheffield Wednesday FC and the architects Eastwoods, which caused the disaster, and the blunders by the police and ambulance service, which meant that the emergency response failed to save many of those who died."
BELGIUM: Council of Europe worried about Belgian prisons crisis (EurActiv, link): "The Council of Europe, the continent’s oldest organisation specialised in human rights, has visited prisons in Belgium where a large number of staff were absent due to strike and therefore did not provide services to inmates.
Belgium faces a growing crisis in its prisons, with the army called in to help and inmates stuck in their cells 24 hours a day as the government struggles to end a strike by prison staff.
The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee, the CPT, has made an ad-hoc visit from 7 to 9 May to look at the situation in the prisons of Huy, Ittre and Jamioulx and the social defence establishment of Paifve.
At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to Koen Geens, Minister of Justice, and senior officials of the Ministry of Justice, and held consultations on the measures taken by the Belgian authorities to establish a guaranteed minimum service, with a view to preventing inhuman and degrading treatment of inmates."
See: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits prisons affected by strikes in Belgium (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, link)
Information on the CPT's 2013 visit to Belgium: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Belgium (link); full report (French only, pdf) and government response (pdf, also in French)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.5.16): New report from the UN Secretary-General, strict new asylum measures in Hungary, EU-Turkey visa waiver talks halted in Parliament and more.
EU: Fight against terrorism: Parliament to vote on updated powers for Europol (press release, pdf): "MEPs vote this week on new powers for Europol. These would allow the agency to set up specialised units more easily so that it can respond faster to emerging threats. They would also set clear rules for centres, such as the European Counter Terrorism Centre that started on 1 January 2016. In some cases Europol would also be allowed to exchange information with private companies. For example, Europol would be able to ask Facebook to remove pages run by Islamic State.
These new powers would be accompanied by strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight rules.
Negotiators from the Parliament and the Council reached a deal on this on 26 November 2015, which was endorsed by Parliament's civil liberties committee on 30 November.
However, before the agreement can enter into force, it will still need to be formally approved by Parliament.
MEPs debate the deal on Wednesday 11 May from 9.00 CET and vote on it at about 12.30 CET."
'Risks of inaction are considerable', says Ban, urging new compact on refugees and migrants (UN, link): " Despite bold efforts, responses to the large movements of refugees and migrants – which will continue or possibly increase due to such issues as conflict, poverty and disasters – have been largely inadequate, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a new report, calling for the adoption of a global compact on responsibility-sharing that collectively ensures the human rights, safety and dignity of all refugees and migrants.
“Away from the daily headlines and stark images, strains are quietly accumulating on refugees and migrants, as well as on countries and communities that receive them, sometimes for many years,” Mr. Ban stressed in his report to the UN General Assembly, entitled In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants.
“If one lesson can be drawn from the past few years, it is that individual countries cannot solve these issues on their own. International cooperation and action to address large movements of refugees and migrants must be strengthened,” he added.
Any approach should uphold the safety and dignity in large movements of both refugees and migrants, Mr. Ban said, urging Member States to, among other things, address the root causes of such movements, protect people en route and at borders, and prevent discrimination and promote inclusion."
Full report: Report of the Secretary-General: In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants (pdf)
EU-TURKEY: Visa liberalisation for Turkey: EU critieria must be met, say MEPs (press release, pdf): "The EU should make sure that all its requirements are met before granting Turkey visa-free access to the Schengen area, stressed Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with the EU Commission on Monday. Most MEPs criticised the Commission for proposing a visa waiver for Turkish nationals even though the country has not yet fulfilled all the criteria. Turkey should not be discriminated, but neither should it receive preferential treatment, they agreed."
And see: EP stops work on Turkey visa waiver (EUobserver, link): "MEPs have stopped work on plans to give Turks visa-free access to the EU’s Schengen zone, putting a wider migrant deal in doubt.
Group leaders in the European Parliament's “conference of presidents” quietly suspended work on the file last Wednesday. Some of the lead MEPs on the dossier, the group coordinators in the civil liberties committee (LIBE), found out about the suspension on Monday (9 May).
"They [EP group leaders] decided to stop the whole thing," the German centre-left coordinator Birgit Sippel told this website on Tuesday.
Judith Sargentini, a Dutch Green MEP, said EU parliament chief Martin Schulz suspended it because Turkey had not yet met all EU visa-free criteria.
“Schulz said we will only start processing the file when the 72 criteria have been met,” she said."
French government to bypass parliament to introduce controversial labour law
"France's government announced Tuesday that it would empower Prime Minister Manuel Valls to bypass parliament and push through controversial labour reforms by decree despite widespread public demonstrations against the bill.
The decision follows weeks of sometimes violent protests against the proposed reform, which among other changes seeks to make hiring and firing easier for companies.
“Because the country must move forward ... the cabinet has authorised me to act on behalf of the government,” Valls told lawmakers, to loud boos and heckling from some deputies and applause from others."
EU: Migration: discussions on the "Central Mediterranean Route", EU Travel Information and Authorisation System; Visa Code negotiations
A leaked document produced by the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU proposes various ways to deal with a possible summer increase in people crossing the Mediterranean towards Italy. The Dutch Presidency has also issued a discussion document seeking Member States' views on a possible "EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)". Meanwhile, the Council has adopted its position for negotiations with the European Parliament on the EU's Visa Code.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10.5.16)
EU: National parliaments invoke ‘yellow card’ in response to revised Posted Workers Directive (euractiv, link):
"An attempt by the European Commission to revise the contentious Posted Workers directive is likely to fail, as the national parliaments of at least ten member states from Central and Eastern Europe are reported have used a yellow card to stop the legislation."
CIA-RENDITION: European Parliament: MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION further to Questions for Oral Answer B8-0367/2016 and B8-0368/2016 pursuant to Rule 128(5) of the Rules of Procedure on follow-up to the European Parliament resolution of 11 February 20015 on the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA (2016/2573(RSP)) Claude Moraes on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (pdf):
"Expresses, one year after the release of the US Senate study, its serious concerns about the apathy shown by Member States and EU institutions with regard to recognising the multiple fundamental rights violations and torture which took place on European soil between 2001 and 2006, investigating them and bringing those complicit and responsible to justice."
UK: Drones: parliamentary report takes aim at controversial targeted killing policy
"The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has today published its report on the Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing, following its inquiry in the wake of the killing of suspected terrorist and UK national Reyaad Khan by an RAF drone strike in Syria. The Government states that the UK military action taken against Reyaad Khan on 21 August 2015 was armed conflict, as part of the same armed conflict in which the UK was already involved in Syria, and the Committee accepts this. However, the report also establishes that it is the Government’s policy to be willing to use lethal force abroad, outside of armed conflict, when there is no other way of preventing an imminent terrorist attack against the UK."
UK: Chilcot report on Iraq war to be published on 6 July (Guardian, link): "Security checks on the 2.6m-word report have been completed without the need for any redactions, Sir John Chilcot tells PM."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9.5.16): Reports of a Syrian woman shot at the Hungarian-Slovakian border; reactions to and analysis of new EU asylum proposals, a map of refugee camps on mainland Greece, and a round-up of news stories.
GREECE-EU: Greek Govt Votes in Favor of Tough Pension-Tax Reforms (Greek Reporter, link): "Greek Parliament debated a set of tough economic pension and tax reforms on Saturday and Sunday. The 300-strong Parliament voted for the bill with 153 in favor, 143 against.
Ruling leftist SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pointed to the hard work that his government has done in order to ensure the viability of the social security system and also made reference to social justice, pointing out that tax restructuring had been taken with vulnerable groups in mind when sharing out the burden of reforms.
Main opposition conservative New Democracy Party Leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis pointed to a “historic need” to speak the “language of truth”. “You never spoke the language of truth, Mr. Tsipras,” he said from the podium of Greek Parliament. “You didn’t do it when you said you would abolish the Memorandums of Understanding nor when you said you would bring back the 13th pension payment.” Furthermore, he said the convergence package of 3.6 bln euros that creditors called for lacked credibility."
And see: Police fire tear gas at protestors outside Greek Parliament (France 24, link) and Reactions: Greek MPs Vote on More Austerity Amid Strikes, Sit-Ins and Suspensions (Greek Reporter, link)
EU: The fight against terrorism in Europe: What the EU does (not do) and what it should do (European Area of Freedom Security & Justice, link): "This was the title of a discussion seminar organised by Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso on April 18, 2016, attended by leading criminal judicial cooperation experts as well as by Emilio DE CAPITANI, Executive Director of the FREE Group,at the end of which the following document was drafted, which we submit to the attention of all concerned and in particular those responsible for policy in this sector."
Google and Microsoft have made a pact to protect surveillance capitalism (The Guardian, link): "Microsoft and Google, two of the world’s greatest monopolies, have been bitter rivals for nearly 20 years. But suddenly, in late April, they announced a startling accord. The companies have withdrawn all regulatory complaints against one another, globally. Rather than fighting their battles in public courts and commissions, they have agreed to privately negotiate.
Zuboff is a leading critic of what she calls “surveillance capitalism”, the monetization of free behavioral data acquired through surveillance and sold on to entities with an interest in your future behavior. As she explained to the Guardian: “Google discovered surveillance capitalism. Microsoft has been late to this game, but it has now waded in. Viewed in this way, its agreement with Google is predictable and rational.”
And here the most sinister upshot of Microsoft’s decision to stop needling Google with legal disputes becomes clear. “A key theme I write about is that surveillance capitalism has thrived in lawless space,” says Zuboff. “Regulations and laws are its enemy. Democratic oversight is a threat. Lawlessness is so vital to the surveillance capitalism project,” she continues, “that Google and Microsoft’s shared interest in freedom from regulation outweighs any narrower competitive interests they might have or once thought they had. They can’t insist to the public that they must remain unregulated, while trying to impose regulations on one another.”"
UK: INVESTIGATORY POWERS BILL: The Home Office Only Listens When We Don’t Want Them To (Medium, link): "Today the latest version of the Investigatory Powers Bill was published. The Government might want some credit for being transparent and publishing the document with tracked changes so we can see how it has changed since the Bill was published in early March. But more so than transparency, it indicates their brazen approach to consultation. Why? Because the Bill has barely changed: a spelling and grammar tidy up e.g. ‘intellegences services’ changed to ‘intelligence services’; A few provisions made even more draconian than they already were e.g. “If it is not reasonably practicable for an instrument making a major modification to be signed by the Secretary of State, the instrument may be signed by a senior official designated by the Secretary of State for that purpose”. This new provision means that major modification to a bulk warrant that may lead to greater intrusion into thousand or even millions of people’s personal information could now be signed off — not by a Secretary of State, not a judge, not even a Minister — but by a civil servant."
View all the changes made to the Bill by the Home Office: Is the Home Office Listening? (link) and see the Privacy International campaign: Don't Bug my Computer (link)
Protests against immigration detention centres
See: Hundreds take part in protest calling for end of immigration detention centres (ITV, link): "Campaigners from across our region have joined simultaneous protests around the world - against the use of detention centres for immigrants.
Thousands are thought to have staged demonstrations - including outside Morton Hall in Lincolnshire today."
In Scotland: Hundreds join Dungavel detention centre protest (BBC News, link) and: From Campsfield to Calais protests demand end to deportations (Socialist Worker, link)
UK-EU-ECHR: British Bill of Rights: Government should "think again" says parliamentary committee
The Conservative government's proposal to replace the Human Rights Act with a 'British Bill of Rights' has been heavily criticised by the House of Lords European Union Committee in a report that says there is "a forceful case for the Government to think again before continuing with this policy."
See: House of Lords European Union Committee: The UK, the EU and a British Bill of Rights (9 May 2016, pdf)
UK: A Significant Blow to Deportation with Assurances (One Small Window, link): "On 18 April, in a judgment that is now final, as Home Secretary Theresa May chose not to appeal within the 10-day period granted, judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London ended the long-running deportation case of six Algerian terrorism suspects. The appeal against deportation, lodged over a decade ago in 2005, concerned safety on return to Algeria.
Having spent almost the whole of this century subject to some form of detention, they have never been charged or convicted of terrorism offences in the UK, or
Round-up of news stories from across the EU 30.5.16
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