UK: Ministers pondering use of volunteers to guard UK borders (AoL, news, link):
"The Home Office confirmed that proposals for "Border Force Special Volunteers" at small air and sea ports were being discussed.
They would be used to bolster Border Force staffing levels, in a similar vein to police community support officers.
However an MP whose constituency covers one of Britain's largest ports warned against creating a "Dad's Army-type set-up", due to the complexities of border security."
UK: Government admits 'losing' thousands of papers from National Archives (Guardian, link)
"Documents on the Falklands, Northern Ireland’s Troubles, and the infamous Zinoviev letter among those ‘misplaced’, leaving historians suspicious
Thousands of government papers detailing some of the most controversial episodes in 20th-century British history have vanished after civil servants removed them from the country’s National Archives and then reported them as lost.
Documents concerning the Falklands war, Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the infamous Zinoviev letter – in which MI6 officers plotted to bring about the downfall of the first Labour government - are all said to have been misplaced. (...)
An entire file on the Zinoviev letter scandal is said to have been lost after Home Office civil servants took it away. The Home Office declined to say why it was taken or when or how it was lost. Nor would its say whether any copies had been made."
And see: Theresa May must search for missing archive papers, say human rights groups (Guardian, link): "Human rights groups say ‘lost’ historical documents could provide evidence of rights violations."
UK: HIDDEN FROM HISTORY: The Zinoviev Letter: This notorious "Letter" led to the fall of the first Labour government in 1924:
"The 1,200 word letter, produced on the official notepaper of the Third Communist International, purported to be a communication between Gregory Zinoviev, the President of the International, and Mr A McManus, e member of the Communist Party and the the British representative of the International's executive committee. The letter suggested that Brutish comrades should be working to create a revolutionary insurrection (...)" (Tony Bunyan, "The Political Police in Britain" see pp158-161). The forged letter. originating from a group of White Russian conspirators, found its way to MI6, Tory Party HQ and then to the Daily Mail newspaper four days before the election.
Historian Christopher Andrew also concludes in "Secret Service" (1985) that: "There seems little doubt, however, that the "political bomb" which exploded in the last days of the Labour government was planted by the intelligence community" (p308).
"The number of people applying for asylum in the European Union in 2017 dropped significantly for the first time since 2015. Germany still received the highest number of applications, but less than half were approved."
Are You Syrious (27.12.17, link):
"Local newspapers in Croatia are reporting on a teenage boy, (12 or 13 years old), who was found hanging onto the bottom of a bus was driving from Serbia to Croatia. The boy was found after passengers heard unusual sounds and demanded the driver to stop and check. Speaking to the local media, the driver said that the boy came out of the space in between the wheels, dirty and obviously in shock (...)".
UNHCR has published the monthly report containing information on sea arrivals between January and November 2017
"Here are the main figures:
- 171.300 people arrived by sea and land to Europe in 2017, with arrivals during November 2017 51% less than November 2016
- An estimated 3.100 lost their lives or went missing
- 117.000 landed in Italy (32% less than the same period in 2016)
- 15.540 of those arriving in Italy were unaccompanied minors
- Eritreans were the main nationality to reach Italian shores in November (1.100 arrivals, over 700 of them had arrived on 2 boats)
- 25.900 migrants arrived in Spain during this period (+ 106% compared to the same time period in 2016)
- 27.300 people arrived in Greece during this period (84% compared to the same time period in 2016)
- More than 40% of the sea arrivals into Greece were children
- An estimated 5.100 people crossed the land border with Turkey in 2017, 700 just in November
- 4.400 migrants were present in Serbia up to November 2017, “just 13 of them have been granted asylum during first instance procedures”
- 32.043 asylum seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy, according to the European Commission
- “In Greece, no person who has arrived after 20 March 2016 has been referred and submitted for relocation”
- 1.468 returns to Turkey"
Greece: Thousands of children in overcrowded Lesbos migrant camp, UNHCR wants to move the most vulnerable (infomigrants.net, link):
"A doctor from international aid group MSF says about forty percent of migrants sheltering in the Moria camp on Lesbos are children, and of those, nearly a quarter are unaccompanied minors. Meanwhile the UN refugee agency wants to step up evacuations of vunerable families to the mainland."
UNHCR calls for migrant transfers, Greek authorities blamed for grim conditions (ekathimerini.com, link):
"As temperatures drop, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) once more urged Greek authorities to swiftly transfer thousands of refugees and migrants living in cramped and unsafe island camps to the mainland where better conditions and services are available.
“Tension in the reception centers and on the islands has been mounting since the summer when the number of arrivals began rising,” UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told Voice of America."
497 Arrivals in Levos over the Christmas period (UNHCR source):
UK-EU Brexit: Blue passports could send UK citizens to back of queue, EU officials say (Guardian. link):
"Theresa May’s decision to change passport colour as expression of ‘independence and sovereignty’ could mean travel delays.
European officials have warned that Britain’s new blue passports could spell travel delays and extra paperwork rather than the enhanced freedom promised by the government. (...)
One senior official said that “depending on how negotiations go on all free movement issues after Brexit” there was a significant risk that British passport holders would lose the right to use a fast-track citizens lane when travelling on the continent and may also be obliged to use a new visa waiver scheme.
The EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) is modeled on the US Esta scheme and could require British travellers to Europe to register in advance and make a small administrative payment.(...)
Although a chance remains for Britain to retain fast-track privileges if there is further shift in the prime minister’s red lines on immigration, British experts said this looked unlikely. “At the moment, it looks absolutely certain that we won’t be able to go through the European citizens lane because the legal code in the Schengen borders code says it is only for citizens or people with free movement rights,” said Steve Peers, a professor of law at Essex University." [emphasis added]
Beyond Blue Passports: UK/EU immigration after Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link) Professor Steve Peers:
"it’s a good moment to review the rules on visits and long-term immigration to the EU that will likely apply to UK citizens after Brexit. This is an update of a previous post from 2014 on this issue, except it should be noted that there will likely be separate rules on UK citizens who already live in the EU27 states on Brexit Day – on the basis of the withdrawal agreement, as partly agreed earlier this month. I have discussed that partial deal separately and so I won’t discuss that category of people further again here. My focus is on UK citizens who are still in the UK on that point (and who do not also have the citizenship of an EU27 country). (...)
At present, the Schengen borders code sets up a fast track solely for those with EU citizenship or nationality of a state with a free movement deal (see Articles 8 and 10). So UK citizens will no longer be fast-tracked at those borders after the end of free movement rules, unless the UK and EU negotiate an unprecedented special arrangement."
EU 'solidarity' on migration focuses on Africa (euobserver, link):
"While unable to find a common ground on internal EU asylum policies, capitals have instead shifted the bulk of their attention on stopping immigrants from reaching EU shores in the first place.
"In a sense, this is also a kind of a cynical way out of the solidarity deadlock," said Kris Pollet, a senior policy officer at the Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).(...)
"The EU is prioritising more the security sector, investing more on the military in this fight against counter-extremism but there are millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance," said Nafkote Dabi, an Oxfam policy expert.(...)
It entails a renewed push to get international aid organisations up and running in Libya as people, plucked from its territorial waters, are returned and sent to any number of notorious detention centres."
Climate Change Is Going to Drive Thousands of Refugees to Cooler Countries (Futuriism, link):
"By the end of the century, climate change may drive 660,000 additional asylum seekers per year toward Europe. Growing mass migration is only one of the social and environmental consequences of increasing temperatures."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19-22.12.17)
Hungary will block punitive EU action on Poland (DW, link):
"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says his country would form an "insurmountable roadblock" against EU attempts to trigger Article 7. Orban said, "if one attacks Poland, it attacks all of Central Europe.""
And see: European Commission triggers Article 7 against Poland (DW, link): "The European Commission has launched proceedings against Poland for breaching European common values and rule of law. While only a warning, Article 7 could lead to sanctions and a suspension of EU voting rights."
See also: The European Commission’s Activation of Article 7: Better Late than Never? (EU Law Analysis, link)
"The potential of EU infringement proceedings as a human rights tool is underestimated. In this report commissioned by the Open Society European Policy Institute, Professor De Schutter provides recommendations on how infringement proceedings can become part and parcel of a fundamental rights policy of the European Union.
The report examines the process of infringement proceedings in law and practice and its place in the human rights architecture of the European Union, highlighting its added value compared to the political monitoring of fundamental rights under Article 7 of the Treaty on the European Union, and referrals to the Court of Justice of the European Union by national courts."
See: Report (link)
Council of Europe: Commissioner Muižnieks examines impact of national human rights action plans (link):
"Commissioner for Human Rights published today the conclusions of a workshop he convened in Strasbourg on 2 June 2017 on national human rights action plans. The workshop gathered participants from public administration, national human rights institutions and civil society from a number of Council of Europe member states, as well as representatives from the EU’s FRA and the UNDP. The participants identified the most common challenges facing the implementation of national human rights action plans and discussed best practices to overcome them."
See: Workshop report (pdf)
European Parliament Study: Integration of Refugees in Greece, Hungary and Italy Comparative analysis (pdf):
"This study presents a comparative overview of recent policy developments in Greece, Hungary and Italy, which present some similarities as regards their position in the migration routes, but also very different approaches. The focus of the analysis is on progress achieved in the last three years in the adaptation of the reception and integration system for the high numbers of new arrivals and on the main challenges encountered, with a focus on labour market integration measures.
Further, special attention is given to changes in perceptions, public opinion and political discourse with respect to the asylum and integration of refugees and how this influenced policy strategies.(...)
These countries show higher and growing rejection rates compared to the EU average in first-instance decisions on asylum applications, ranging from 60.6 % in Italy, to 76.3 % in Greece, and more than 91.6 % in Hungary compared to 39.2 % in the EU28 on average." [emphasis added]
Are You Syrious (21.12.17, link):
FEATURE: Greek islands remain overcrowded
"One boat landed on Samos with 53 people. On Wednesday, 86 refugees were transferred from the islands to the mainland, including 22 from Lesvos and 42 from Kos.
Human Rights Watch again urged the Greek government to speed up transfers from the Aegean islands to the mainland, warning that overcrowded facilities on Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Samos, and Kos are ill-equipped to deal with the coming of winter. The hot spots on the islands still have almost 11,000 people in facilities with a total capacity of just 5,576."
GERMANY; Number of rejected asylum seekers returning to their home country drops
"DW reports that the number of failed asylum seekers willing to return to their home countries from Germany has almost halved this year, compared to 2016, despite moves by Berlin to raise the incentives for voluntary departures. Under a new scheme, families can receive up to €3,000 and individuals up to €1,000 if they voluntarily return home by the end of February. In a feature, InfoMigrants also writes about the different programs available to those who want to go back."
UK; Help Refugees appeals Dubs decision
"Help Refugees is appealing after losing a high court challenge against the government over the number of unaccompanied child refugees given sanctuary in the UK. Only 200 lone asylum-seeking children have been housed in the UK under the Dubs scheme, which campaigners had hoped would bring 3,000 minors there. Help Refugees adds, “Lone refugee children are living in horrendous conditions in Greece, France, and Italy; immediate steps must be taken by the UK government to honour its obligations under the Dubs Amendment. The government has failed these children. Our appeal intends to hold them to account for this shameful failure.”"
UK: Government reponse: Unaccompanied child migrants: Government Response to the Committee’s Thirteenth Report of Session (pdf) to Home Affairs Select Committee: Report (pdf)
"Sweden and Germany at forefront of rise in refused asylum seekers being sent back since EU agreed aid package for country.
Britain and other European nations are under increasing pressure to explain why they are sending hundreds of desperate Afghans back to one of the world’s most dangerous countries.
MPs and MEPs have raised questions about whether the EU tied a 2016 aid package for Afghanistan to its willingness to take back refused asylum seekers.
Since the deal, forced repatriations have accelerated. The International Organisation for Migration says 500 Afghans have been forcibly removed back to Afghanistan this year, compared to 200 last year. More than 3,000 have returned voluntarily this year.
As of September 2017, Afghans accounted for the largest number of asylum applications in the EU, with 170,045 pending cases. But they lose more than 50% of asylum appeals – far more than Syrians do – because some parts of the country, such as the capital, Kabul, are now considered safe."
Are You Syrious (20.12.17, link):
"Over the course of the day, 4 boats arrived on Lesvos carrying 226 people."
Olive Grove, Lesvos
"The Olive Grove is a separate makeshift camp outside the gates of the Moria hotspot on Lesvos, where hundreds of people live without any security, electricity, showers, or running water. Dozens of families, single women and children were living in summer tents in the Olive Grove by early December 2017. Human Rights Watch writes about the mental health crisis facing asylum seekers on the island. Read the story here."
"Safe Passage UK have written a joint letter, alongside 5 Italian NGOs, calling on authorities to take urgent action to uphold the rights of child refugees in Ventimiglia."
Greece: Plans to expand Chios hot spot inch forward (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Plans to expand a refugee screening center, or hot spot, on the eastern Aegean island of Chios inched forward Thursday, as police on Lesvos said they had arrested six people in the wake of riots at the island’s infamous Moria facility.
Thursday, the Chios Court of First Instance rejected a request by the municipal authorities to stop work to install new prefabricated huts at the island’s Vial hot spot until a ruling is issued on an injunction against the Migration Ministry on January 16."
Greece: Lesvos:15 injured and tents burned down when clashes break out in Moria camp (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"At least fifteen people were injured and transported to hospital and several tents turned to ashes when violent clashes between different ethnic groups of refugees and migrants broke out in the hot spot of Moria on the island of Lesvos on Tuesday night."
And see: Unrealisable promises? LESVOS UPDATE 11 December 2017 (Open the islands, link)
Lesvos mayor files suit over conditions at Moria migrant camp (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The mayor of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos has filed suit against all responsible parties over the conditions at the Moria refugee and migrant processing center.
Spyros Galinos filed his suit in Lesvos’s Court of Misdemeanors, claiming that the law is being broken at the government-run facility, which is supervised by the military. His action comes two days after foreign media published videos shot covertly inside the camp and showing the squalor and cramped conditions to which thousands of refugees and migrants are being subjected.
The mayor stressed that the facility, a former military base, should not be accommodating more than 1,800 people at a time if decent living standards are to be ensured. “Unfortunately, though, for the past two years and this year especially there is an extremely large number of third-country citizens and vulnerable groups (men, women – among which pregnant women – and children) indiscriminately trapped and cramped together, coming to more than 6,000 individuals,” Galinos said in his lawsuit."
Numbber of migrants returned to Turkey 36.757 (2016) 21.376 (2017) Death at sea: 192 (2016) 55 (2017)
"Row over government’s decision to approve legislation giving executive greater control of supreme court and appointing of judges.
The EU is widely expected to trigger a process that could ultimately see Poland stripped of its voting rights in Brussels, with patience wearing thin over reforms that are said to be a threat to the independence of the country’s judiciary.
If a first step in the shape of a formal warning is taken against Poland’s rightwing government on Wednesday, it will be an unprecedented act against a member state and exacerbate a growing sense of crisis over the country’s membership of the bloc."
European Parliament Study: The implications of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (pdf):
"It maps the various policy areas in which the UK is currently participating and analyses the requirements for the disentanglement of the UK from them, as well as the prerequisites for possible UK participation in AFSJ policies after withdrawal. Furthermore, it provides an assessment of the political and operational impact of Brexit for the EU in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice."
JUSTICIA: ECHR: Beuze v Belgium (no. 71409/10) (pdf):
"On 20 December the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case of Beuze v Belgium (No 7149/10) dealing with the right to access a lawyer at the early stages of the proceedings.
The case concerns a Belgian national, sentenced to life imprisonment for intentional homicide. Mr Beuze was interrogated seven times by police and twice by the investigating judge, and was denied the assistance of a lawyer each time, which means that Mr. Beuze was unable to properly defend himself.
The decision of the Court is expected to bring clarity on the interpretation of the right to access a lawyer under Article 6(1) and 6(3)(c) during the preliminary stages of criminal proceedings and the application of the principles derived from Salduz v. Turkey and Ibrahim and Others v. United Kingdom.
In October, Fair Trials submitted a third-party intervention in which we urged the Court to uphold its approach in Salduz and endorse the Access to a lawyer Directive, which establishes clearly that aside “compelling reasons” cases, there should always be access to a lawyer in early questioning."
See: Beuze v Belgium App. No 7149/10 (Grand Chamber) - Written comments of Fair Trials (pdf)
EU silently accepts far-right in Austrian cabinet (euractiv, link):
"Unlike in 2000, when the EU imposed sanctions on Austria in response to the entrance of the FPÖ into government, this time EU leaders and institutions silently accepted the coalition deal between the far-right force with the conservative ÖVP agreed on Friday (15 December)."
And see: New Austria coalition marks ‘dangerous development’: UN rights chief (The Citizen, link):
" The UN rights chief said Monday that the far-right tilt of Austria’s new coalition government marked a “dangerous development”, and cautioned against “the peddling of fear” in European politics.
“I am very worried,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told AFP in an interview, cautioning that the new Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s decision to take hard-right positions on things like immigration to win support marked “a dangerous development… in the political life of Europe.”
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) was sworn in Monday as part of the new government, headed by Kurz and his conservative People’s Party (OeVP). Kurz took over the OeVP in May and yanked it to the right, securing his party first place in October elections. At 31, Kurz is the world’s youngest leader.
“I am unsettled by what has happened in Austria in the last six months, that the former foreign minister (moved) hard-right on the issue of immigration and migrants rights so that he could basically secure the votes that had previously gone to Freedom Party in order to win the chancellorship,” Zeid said."
ECHR-TURKEY: Fines imposed on demonstrators without adequate judicial review violated their freedom to demonstrate (press release, pdf)
"In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Öðrü and Others v. Turkey (application no. 60087/10) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned fines imposed on the applicants for participating in several demonstrations in the town of Adana following a Gubernatorial Decree restricting the times, places and arrangements for demonstrations.
The Court found in particular that the review carried out by the domestic courts following the applicants’ appeal had been incompatible with the principles of Article 11 of the Convention. It observed that the courts had not balanced the competing interests in the case, confining themselves to checking the veracity of the charges against the applicants. However, they ought also to have adjudicated on the proportionality of the impugned interference with the applicants’ right to demonstrate. The Court also considered that despite the relative leniency of the fines, it could not conclude that the applicants had sustained no major damage, in particular owing to their status as human rights activists and to the crucial importance of the right to demonstrate peacefully in a democracy."
And see the judgment: Ögrü and Others v. Turkey (application no. 60087/10) (French only, pdf)
MOAS carries out first-ever aerial evacuation mission, 74 vulnerable refugees taken out of Libya (Malta Independent, link):
"Marking the launch of its first-ever aerial evacuation mission, on Thursday the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) flew 74 vulnerable refugees out of Libya as part of a UNHCR evacuation scheme. The refugees, accompanied by MOAS staff, left Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport at 10pm local time, arriving in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in the early hours of Friday morning.
Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation, said: “I am happy to report that a group of 51 children, 22 women and one man have been successfully evacuated from Libya and are now safe in Niger. Less than 24 hours ago they were still detained in Libya, but they can now hope anew.” He added: “This evacuation could not have happened without the support of the authorities and of our partners, including MOAS, in Libya.” "
EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services (Matthias Monroy, link):
"Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services."
The project was funded by the EU's FP7 security research theme. See: Market Forces: the development of the EU security-industrial complex
GREECE: Photographs of Daily Life in an Overcrowded Refugee Camp (Vice, link):
"Around 6,000 people are spending the winter in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. According to the United Nations, about 1,500 of them – including women and children – live in makeshift tents without insulation, flooring or heating. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro this summer, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras didn't dwell on the horrid conditions: "We have received more than 60,000 refugees into mainland Greece, living in good conditions, with access to medical attention and education," he said. "I am proud of that – even though the situation remains difficult."
To see what it's really like in Moria, one refugee living there agreed to document his everyday life for a month – on the condition that he remains anonymous."
"This Special Issue includes the guest editors’ introductory essay and eleven articles tracing the nexus between global migration and constitutional identity from theoretical and comparative perspectives. How can liberal states, or a supranational Union formed by such states, welcome immigrants and treat refugees as future denizens without fundamentally changing their constitutional identity, forsaking their liberal tradition, or slipping into populist nationalism? The collection thoughtfully and thoroughly tackles one of the greatest contemporary challenges in constitutional law and theory. The topic is addressed through five themes:
- theories of constitutional identity
- the changing constitution of migration societies
- the rise of illiberal notions of constitutional identity
- immigration as a challenge to liberal constitutional identity
- constitutional elements of the international and European legal order."
UK: Report: Undercover Policing Inquiry’s First Mitting Hearing (COPS, link):
"The 20th & 21st November saw the first open hearing of the Undercover Policing Inquiry before the new Chair, Sir John Mitting, who succeeded Christopher Pitchford earlier this year.
Prior to this hearing, Mitting released several ‘minded-to’ documents that indicated his intention to restrict details of undercover officers, and said he would provide an opening statement on the future conduct of the Inquiry under him. The victims of the spycop scandal approached the hearings with trepidation and scepticism.
In this long read, we unpick the hearing in detail, in particular how the new Chair is likely to approach the release of information on spycop deployments and their supervisors. We look at Mitting’s opening remarks and how he dealt with a protest. With much of the hearings focusing on ‘restriction order’ applications for spycops’ anonymity, we look at how he handled the various challenges thrown up by them."
POLAND: Why are Polish people so wrong about Muslims in their country? (OpenDemocracy, link):
"The recent Ipsos survey Perils of Perception showed that most countries believe their population is much more Muslim than it actually is. But the Poles emerge as the unquestionable leader in these overestimations. Although Muslims make up only around 35,000 of a 38 million population, Poles believe that their number is actually 2.6 million, which would make the Polish Muslim population one of the largest in the European Union after France, Germany and the UK. "
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11-18.12.17): new EU proposals; research; EU-Libya; Greece; European Council; other news including: Bulgarian detention conditions inhumane
EU: European Data Protection Supervisor calls for consistency in EU approach to criminal records (EDPS press release, pdf):
"There is a clear need for the EU to develop a more efficient system for exchanging information on the criminal records of non-EU citizens. At the same time, any proposal to update the current system must ensure consistency with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Lisbon Treaty and fully respect data protection principles, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said today, as he published his Opinion on the Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation on ECRIS-TCN."
EU: Nobody move! Myths of the EU migration crisis (Institutes for Security Studies, pdf):
"Did the EU break down one too many foreign policy silos, flout one too many international taboos, in its handling of the migration crisis? European diplomats usually say they do their best work when they are dismantling the EU’s paper walls and finding new ways to make the EU’s power felt. Comprehensive; coordinated; complementary – these key words embody the EU’s guiding principles when operating abroad. But migration is a sensitive policy field, migrants are vulnerable individuals, and migration cooperation can be a matter of utmost delicacy. So did the centralisation of policy go too far this time?
On this subject, migration policymakers and experts have clear ideas, which are poles apart. Policymakers argue that they needed to mobilise all available means to deliver an effective response to the migration challenge. Experts believe the EU abused its international influence to shift the burden abroad.
This Chaillot Paper contextualises the EU’s migration diplomacy, taking a sympathetic look at the dilemmas facing policymakers. It identifies nine important shifts in European foreign policy that took place during the migration crisis, offering an explanation of why each occurred and arguing that they could amount to a sustainable strategy."
EU: Press release: Libyan coast guard attacks rescuers after training by EU military operation (Andrej Hunko, MdB, pdf):
"'The support for Libyan militias in the framework of the EUNAVFOR MED military operation is helping them in the brutal persecution of refugees. It has nothing whatsoever to do with training in sea rescue. This is proved by the answer received from the German Federal Foreign Office regarding an incident on 6 November, in which the crew of a Libyan patrol boat once again caused the death of a number of people. Eight of the thirteen crew members had previously been trained in the framework of EUNAVFOR MED', stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party parliamentary group in the German Bundestag."
EU: The Security of the Status of Long-Term Non-EU Residents in the EU: Some Thoughts on Case C-636/16 López Pastuzano (EU Law Analysis, link):
"When can Member States expel a third-country national (TCN) holding a long-term residence (LTR) permit and having committed a criminal offence? The ECJ engaged with this important issue in its López Pastuzano ruling on 7 December 2017. It must be recalled at the outset that, according Eurostat data, there are more than 7 million LTRs residing in the EU, with that number set to rise after Brexit. Having participated in the drafting of the written observations on behalf of the claimant before the Court, this post is a short explanation of the case and of its implications."
See the judgment: Wilber López Pastuzano v Delegación del Gobierno en Navarra (Case C-636/16, pdf)
UK: Sean Rigg's family say decision not to charge police is shameful (The Guardian, link):
"Five Metropolitan police officers involved in the arrest, restraint and detention of the musician Sean Rigg will not face charges, prosecutors have announced almost 10 years after his death in police custody.
Following a fresh review of evidence at the request of the Rigg family into what happened in south London and at Brixton police station in August 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to prosecute.
The family, who called the CPS decision “shameful”, will now have to wait to find out whether any misconduct proceedings are brought against the officers."
An in-depth investigative series from Reuters that looks at the introduction, use and effects of the "less-than-lethal" electroshock weapon, the taser, in the United States.
EU-NIGER: EU will support Niger with assistance of €1 billion by 2020 (pdf)
"Overall EU development assistance to Niger will amount to €1 billion for the period 2017-2020. This was announced by Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica at the Donors' Round Table for Niger in Paris.
This EU assistance was jointly defined with the Nigerien Government and will help to implement Niger's 2017-2021 Economic and Social Development Plan. EU support will further contribute to strengthening State capacities and the delivery of social services. It will help to boost job creation and economic growth as well as increase food security and resilience and fight against climate change. A particular focus will be put on gender equality, girl's empowerment and education. EU support will also sustain good governance efforts, the reform of the country's security and justice systems, as well as the fight against irregular migration, trafficking and smuggling." (emphasis added)
"Suspects and defendants with mental ill health or learning disabilities need to be better identified and supported, in order to ensure their right to a fair trial in England, argues a report published today by JUSTICE.
Around one in four adults in the UK are diagnosed with a mental illness during their lifetime and many more will experience changes in their mental well-being. Three quarters of people with mental health problems receive no support at all. The available evidence suggests that people in the criminal justice system are far more likely to suffer from mental health problems than the general population.
Mental Health and Fair Trial, the result a JUSTICE working party which started work in September 2016, argues that from first contact with the police through to sentence, there remain fundamental problems with the English justice system’s response to mental health. Left unaddressed the fair trial rights of many defendants may be undermined."
See: Mental health and fair trial: a Report by JUSTICE (link to pdf)
UK-EU: FOI too slow to contribute to Brexit debate, says Campaign (Campaign for FOI, link):
"The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) operates too slowly to contribute to the Brexit debate, according to the Campaign for Freedom ofInformation.
The Campaign’s director, Maurice Frankel, has submitted a witness statement to the High Court supporting an attempt to use the common law and Article 10 of the ECHR instead of FOIA to obtain government studies on Brexit. The statement says the FOI process is too slow to obtain them in time to inform public debate before the Brexit deadline. The UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019."
"Police forces are committed to sustaining and improving the trust and confidence of the public, but they risk damage to their relationships with local communities by continuing to be unable to demonstrate fair use of stop and search, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)."
EU: Migratory flows in November: Arrivals down in Italy and Greece, rise in Spain (Frontex, link):
"In November, 13 500 irregular border crossings were detected on the four main migratory routes into the EU, 27% fewer than a year ago.
The total number of migrants detected on these routes in the first eleven months of this year fell by 62% to around 186 500 from the same period in 2016.
Spain continued to see a high number of irregular migrants, with 3 900 arriving in November, more than three times the figure from a year ago. This was also the highest monthly number of migrants detected on this route since Frontex began collecting data in 2009." (emphasis added)
UK: Brighton shoplifter sues Sussex Police over Taser arrest (BBC News, link):
"A man suing Sussex Police after he was Tasered has told a court the incident left him anxious and suicidal.
A Taser was used on Paul McClelland in July 2013 in a car park in Brighton as he was being arrested for shoplifting.
A video of the arrest was passed to The Argus newspaper at the time.
In a civil case against the chief constable of Sussex, Mr McClelland is claiming the police used excessive force in carrying out the arrest. Sussex Police has rejected the claim."
UK-EU: Brexit: settled status and citizens’ rights – what has been agreed? (Free Movement, link):
"The European Commission and the UK government have reached a deal to finalise the first phase of Brexit talks. One of three core issues of this phase involved EU nationals’ rights in the UK and reciprocal rights for UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU. This post focuses on what the deal means for EU citizens in the UK.
At first sight, what has been agreed in principle does appear to be the “generous” offer originally promised. But as you start delving into the detail, obvious caveats and gaps appear."
Libyan outrage: slavery or borders? (OpenDemocracy, link):
"A recent CNN video of an apparent ‘slave auction’ in Libya has caused horror on social media, but the term slavery hides the European migration policies leading to such abuse."
"In its recently published annual report for 2016-17, the Independent Monitoring Board for Cookham Wood Young Offenders’ Institution (YOI) says that staff shortages have led to boys spending “far too much time in their cells”, and that frequent, unpredictable restrictions on their activities are “inhumane”.
Cookham Wood YOI, near Rochester, holds up to 188 boys aged 15 to 18, from all over southern England.
For the last year it has been operating with up to 20% fewer prison officers than authorised and recommended. Because of this, there have been regular but unpredictable restrictions of the boys’ activities, for safety reasons.
At the worst point, in June, a typical boy at Cookham Wood had only 5 hours out of his cell on weekdays, and only 2 hours a day at weekends."
Migrants in Libya: Pushed away, pulled back (Middle East Eye, link):
"For migrants, Libya is known for its perilous journey to Europe. But for one Nigerian woman, it was worth the risk to travel to Italy twice and escape chronic violence and poverty at home.
Eight years ago, Joy was a teenager when she was offered a job as a nanny in London. In the event, she was flown by plane to Milan, and ordered to work off a nearly $60,000 debt as a sex worker.
When Joy fled to what she thought was the safety of her home in southern Nigeria's Edo State however, it turned out to be "hell".
"Returning was one of the worst things I could have done," she said.
EU: Future-proof migration management: European Commission sets out way forward (Commission press release, pdf):
"Ahead of the EU leaders' thematic debate on migration to be held on 14 December, the Commission is today proposing a political roadmap to reach a comprehensive agreement by June 2018 on how to pursue a sustainable migration policy.
As Europe is moving away from crisis management, an agreement on a stable and future-proof EU migration and asylum policy for the long term is needed in order to maintain the momentum an all fronts – internal and external.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Even if we are now moving away from crisis mode, it is evident that migration will remain a challenge for a generation of Europeans. Europe urgently needs to equip itself with future-proof means of managing migration responsibly and fairly. We have made solid progress in the past three years but now is the time to turn proposals into law, and law into practice.""
See the Commission Communication: Commission contribution to the EU Leaders' thematic debate on a way forward on the external and the internal dimension of migration policy (COM(2017) 820 final, pdf) and: numerous papers available online here (Commission, link) including on Frontex, budgets, "working with partner countries", EU-Turkey statement and more.
EU to agree plans to link all Justice & Home Affairs databases into one centralised system
- repeated references to migration, internal security and terrorism
On 12 December the European Commission put forward proposals to link all Justice and Home Affairs databases - existing and future - into one centralised system: Security Union: Commission closes information gaps to better protect EU citizens (Press release, pdf) covering: "security, border and migration management." The plans are set out in two proposed Regulations:
- Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 (COM 793-17, pdf) and: - Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 794-17, pdf)
Center-Right and Far-Right in Austria’s anti-migration coalition government (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"Austria is getting a 31-year-old chancellor who will be Europe’s youngest leader and a coalition government that puts members of a far-right party in charge of defense, foreign affairs and other key departments.
Austria's government will include the far-right FPÖ, founded by former members of the Nazi party after WW2 & led by a man who was once held by police in Germany for taking part in a torchlit neo-Nazi rally."
And see: Here are the main policies of Austria's new right-wing government (The Local.at, link)
Greece: Samos: Fatima and Ahmad (Samos Chronicles, link)
"On Tuesday morning I said goodbye to Fatima. At least for the time being. Some time tonight or in the early morning tomorrow she will be taken from Samos to Lesvos and from there to a closed camp in Turkey. As always accurate information is hard to come by if you are a refugee. When I asked the police officer this morning when she would be leaving he replied that he didn’t know yet."
EU: Trilogue discussions on: Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (pdf). State of play as at 11 December 2017, 4-column document with the Commission proposal, positions of the Council and European Parliament and the draft "compromise".
UK-BREXIT: European Council: European Council (Art. 50) meeting (15 December 2017) - Guidelines (pdf):
"The European Council welcomes the progress achieved during the first phase of negotiations as reflected in the Communication from the Commission and the Joint Report (...)
It calls on the Union negotiator and the United Kingdom to complete the work on all withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase, in conformity with the European Council guidelines of 29 April 2017, to consolidate the results obtained, and to start drafting the relevant parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. It underlines that negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible." [emphasis added]
This means that contrary to some official UK comments the Joint Report is going to be legally binding agreement drawn up between January and March before the second phase (Trade, CSDP and JHA issues) can start - it includes the "no hard border" agreement in the island of Ireland.
See: Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom's orderly withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)
European Council: European Council meeting (14 December 2017) – Conclusions (pdf):
Although unable to agree to on how to handling future refugees and migration issues the Council Conclusions showed unanimity on developing the EU Military Union - an ironic by-product of UK's withdrawal as it consistentently opposed such a move.
The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics (Guardian, link):
"In order to tempt nuclear scientists from countries such as Iran or North Korea to defect, US spy agencies routinely send agents to academic conferences – or even host their own fake ones."
And see: The CIA Within Academe (Inside Higher ED, link): "Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it’s not happening in the lab or classroom as well.
In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities (Henry Holt and Company), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores (...)
EU-USA: Passenger vetting
The USA House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee has approved the 'Screening and Vetting Passenger Exchange Act of 2017' which says:
"Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall develop best practices for utilizing advanced passenger information and passenger name record data for counterterrorism screening and vetting operations."
See: PNR Directive: USA offers a helping hand to EU air travel surveillance and profiling efforts (Statewatch News).
Story of a journey across Europe (FEPS, link):
"In 2015-2016, when the influx of refugees trying to escape from conflict and persecution and seek asylum in Europe was at its climax, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and SOLIDAR launched the project “From Europe to local: Migrating solidarity”, which aimed at analysing the crucial role that civil society organisations all over Europe played in offering assistance, support and comfort to migrants wishing to integrate in European societies. The book that resulted from the study also focused on the, more often than not, difficult relations between NGOs and public authorities – at local, national and European level – responsible for the integration process."
Press Release: EASO signs new Operating Plan with Greece (link) and see: OP (pdf)
Italy condemned again for failing to recognise same-sex marriages (euractiv, link):
"The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Italy on Thursday (14 December) for failing to recognise same-sex marriages, a ruling that will result in a token financial compensation for the plaintiffs and more negative publicity for the country.."
"Greek authorities are failing to provide adequate protection for women and girls living in government-run, European Union-sponsored facilities for asylum seekers on the island of Lesbos, Human Rights Watch said today."
EU survey reports appalling living conditions for migrants (New Europe, link):
"The results of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) survey, which polled 5,237 migrants in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Sweden, draws a rather gloomy picture. The findings reveal particularly bad housing conditions and low life satisfaction.
The survey, which was published on December 14, shows migrants struggle with high levels of discrimination and verbal abuse, feelings of being treated worse than their colleagues at work, and being victims of crime on the basis of their ethnicity or migration status."
EU: Migration row mars EU summit, exposes divides (euractiv, link):
"EU leaders ended the first day of the end-of-year European Council summit with no sign of tensions thawing amid recent disagreements on migration, which have once again exposed divides between eastern members and ‘old Europe’.
Most leaders left Council headquarters in Brussels without speaking to the press early Friday morning (15 December), after a heated, more than a two-hour-long debate over migration."
And see: Bitter divisions over migration threaten show of unity at EU summit (Guardian. link): "Germany and Italy criticise proposal by European council president, Donald Tusk, who described refugee quotas as ‘divisive’"
SCOTLAND: Police Scotland to train 500 new Taser officers (BBC News, link):
"Police Scotland will increase its Taser capability by 500 officers after a sharp rise in the number of assaults. So far this year, 969 officers have been assaulted - an increase of nearly 27% on the 764 recorded in 2016.
The plans, which will be put to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), are aimed at improving public safety. The force also confirmed it is extending the role of Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) officers to allow them to be deployed to more non-firearms calls.
Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said the newly-trained officers will be based in all 13 local policing divisions."
UK: Ban on police retiring while under misconduct investigation lifted (Police Oracle, link, account required):
"Officers will be able to resign or retire while under investigation, ending a limbo situation which has been in place for two years for those accused of misconduct who want to leave the service.
In 2015 the government banned officers from leaving the job while they were the subject of misconduct proceedings.
Since then, forces have continued to pay officers under investigation for gross misconduct while they are suspended or on restricted duties, even if they wanted to leave policing.
On Friday regulations will change to re-instate the previous practice, but misconduct proceedings will be able to continue after personnel have left forces."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Police, Interpol check 100,000 passengers at Prague airport (Prague Daily Monitor, link):
"The Czech police and Interpol experts checked more than 100,000 passengers at the Prague international airport within an exercise to reveal suspicious people, luggage and cargo in late November, police headquarters spokeswoman Ivana Nguyenova said in a press release on Tuesday.
The officers revealed two shortcomings concerning transported luggage.
The exercise held during the airport's regular operation focused on the fight with international illegal trading and smuggling of radioactive material. (...)
The aim of the police operation dubbed Conduit was to share experience with U.S. and Interpol experts."
Group: Refugees abused by border forces in Balkans (Al Jazeera, link):
"Refugees and migrants attempting to cross from Serbia into neighbouring European Union countries have endured illegal deportations and widespread police violence, including beatings and electric shocks, according to a report by a watchdog group.
The findings by German monitor, Rigardu, paint a grim picture of systematic abuse on the borders of Serbia - which is not an EU country - and Hungary and Croatia, which are both members of the bloc.
The group said on Sunday it had documented at least 857 instances of people being subjected to violence, including kicking and dog bites, so far this year.
Of that total, 52 incidents involved minors."
EU: More transparency on EU decision-making: new register of delegated acts (Council of the EU, link):
"A new online register, launched on Tuesday 12 December, will make it easier to find and track EU decisions taken in the form of delegated acts.
Delegated acts are used to supplement or amend EU laws.
Delegated acts are most common in the areas of economy, agriculture, environment and public health, the single market and trade. They are a form of secondary legislation which is used, for example, to update technical requirements in legislation. Parliament and the Council empower the Commission to draft delegated acts, which are then submitted to them. Parliament and Council are able to reject draft delegated acts."
European Parliament Study: The Victims' Rights Directive 2012/29/EU (pdf):
"This study assesses the implementation of Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime in EU Member States. It assesses its coherence, relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and added value. In doing so, it covers various aspects of the directive's application: legal transposition measures at Member State level, practical implementation on the ground, benefits to victims, and also the challenges encountered. Finally, the study offers a number of conclusions and recommendations for further promoting implementation of the directive in the future."
European Parliament Study: E-Lending: Challenges and opportunities (pdf):
"This briefing identifies key challenges and opportunities in the evolving field of e-lending via public libraries based on an analysis of 18 different e-lending models in Europe and North America. It concludes that ongoing dialogue between libraries and publishers, alongside better comparative data on e-lending and e-book purchasing across all EU Member States, will be among the key enabling factors for e-lending in the future."
"Fresh tensions have flared up over a controversial scheme to move thousands of refugees across European Union countries. One senior official compared talks on the divisive issue to "fighting trench warfare."
Press freedom in Bulgaria under attack ahead of EU Presidency (euractiv, link):
"Bulgarian opposition parties exposed on Tuesday (12 December) what they see as an attempt to silence and close down media considered unfriendly to the government of Boyko Borissov. Bulgaria will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January."
EU: Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria' (euobserver, link):
"European Council president Donald Tusk has sparked controversy with a note on migration that has been called "anti-European" by an EU commissioner.
Tusk has called for a debate on migration at the EU summit on Thursday (14 December) in a note to EU leaders that described the migration relocation quotas as "highly divisive" and "ineffective".
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos called Tusk's note "anti-European", which in the Brussels' EU bubble translates to plain heresy.
Tusk's note has caused ripples among member states as well, and it highlights insitutional frictions that plagued the EU's handling of the migration crisis."
New EU-Turkey "dodgy" deal: Greece to speed up migrant transfer after Turkey deal (euractiv, link):
"Greece will speed up the relocation of thousands of migrants from its overcrowded islands to the mainland before the onset of winter after reaching a deal with Turkey, a key ally in helping to tackle Europe’s migration crisis, government sources said yesterday (11 December).
Athens persuaded Ankara last week to accept migrant returns, including Syrian refugees, from the mainland and not just from the Aegean islands as previously agreed under a 2016 EU-Turkey pact, a government source told AFP.
The new agreement — reached during a strained two-day visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — aims to reduce the more than 15,000 people packed into refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, another source said."
EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty (euobserver, link):
"The EU and respective member states are complicit with migrant abuse and torture in Libya, says Amnesty International.
The NGO's Europe director John Balhuisen told reporters in Brussels on Monday (11 December) that the EU, and its member states led by Italy, are flaunting human rights obligations by helping Libyans return migrants to the country.
"When you partner with a partner who is itself a partner with criminals, and you turn a blind eye to those crimes, you certainly become in some sense a partner to those crimes," he said."
UK: The hidden world of “private spies” (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, pdf link)
"How Royal Bank of Scotland, British Airways, Porsche and Caterpillar employed private security firms which spied on protesters (...) The Bureau and Guardian were given inside information which shines a light on this hidden world, when hundreds of pages of documents were leaked to us from two corporate intelligence firms. The documents cover the period 2003-11 and offer insight into how some operators in a normally subterranean industry work.
The subsequent investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau then identified five large companies which have paid corporate intelligence firms, often known as “private spies”. These firms were paid to monitor campaigning groups that challenged their businesses, the leaked documents reveal."
And see: Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows (Guardian, link)
The European Commission's January 2017 proposal for a new EU ePrivacy Regulation (which would replace the current ePrivacy Directive) has provided a forum for discussions on the issue of data retention, as it opens up the possibility of including data retention rules in the forthcoming Regulation. A Council working paper obtained by Statewatch prepared on the basis of responses to a questionnaire issued by the Estonian Presidency shows the positions of a wide number of EU Member States, and Europol, on the possibility of including mandatory data retention rules in the ePrivacy Regulation.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the three children of an Iraqi family detained in Bulgaria were subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. The cell they were held in was run-down, dirty, had litter and damp cardboard on the floor and "as there had been no toilet in the cell, they had to urinate on the floor." They were not given food or water for 24 hours and the youngest child's milk was confiscated for 19 hours.
German Foreign Ministry rejects additional winter aid for refugees on Greek islands (Keep Talking Greece, link):
"The German Foreign Ministry has made it clear that it will not provide additional winter assistance to refugees on the Aegean islands. In a related question from German newspapers, the foreign ministry replied that “responsibility for accommodating and feeding refugees falls under the jurisdiction of each country.”
According to dpa, the Foreign Ministry recalled that Berlin recently funded the installation of 135 heated containers for a total of 800 people in two camps in the Thessaloniki region and that the EU has allocated up to now 1.4 billion euros to tackle the refugee crisis in Greece.
Meanwhile, there is media report that Greece has persuaded Turkey to accept migrant returns from the mainland in order to reduce critical overcrowding in its refugee camps."
SERBIA: Europe's migrant crisis: the ghosts of Sid (France 24, link):
"Exhausted from being stuck in Serbia for months, dozens of young migrants survive in appalling conditions in Sid, a small town bordering European Union member Croatia, which they try to enter every day.
Every morning in the freezing winter cold they head for a closed printing factory, the last stop before the border with the EU."
Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership (EUobserver, link):
"Romania is expecting a clear signal from the EU in the year to come over its accession to the Schengen area, before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019.
"We simply have to take a decision," EU affairs minister Victor Negrescu told a group of journalists, including EUobserver, in Bucharest. ?
The Romanian government says that it meets the technical criteria for the accession, and that the EU is holding back the decision for political reasons."
"A boxing champion who has fought for England several times is locked in an immigration centre pending deportation to Nigeria - a country he's competed against.
Bilal Fawaz, also known as Kelvin, London's current middleweight boxing champion, arrived in the UK from Nigeria at the age of 14 and has even represented England on six occasions.
However, the 29-year-old's leave to remain has expired and for the past week he's been held in an immigration centre he says is "like prison", pending his deportation to the West African country.
The Home Office has rejected Bilal's numerous applications for residency and declared his marriage to a British citizen void."
The Council of the European Union has established 'Permanent Structured Cooperation' (PESCO) on military issues with the participation of 25 Member States, including a commitment for "regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms"; while the European Parliament will vote tomorrow (12 December) on a resolution that calls for creation of a Commission Directorate-General on Defence.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-10.12.17)
Greece: Migrant arrivals offset decongestion efforts (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The effort to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants stranded at overcrowded reception centers on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos by transferring some of them to the mainland will fail to yield the desired result as long as flows from Turkey continue.
In its latest report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that 17,764 people were transferred from the islands to the mainland in the period from July 2016 to November 2017.
UNHCR sources clarified, however, that the number of those removed from the islands is significantly higher than the official figure."
"Migrants who arrive in Spain from Africa often face detention in a Center for the Internment of Foreigners (CIE), where their fundamental human rights are not always respected. Santiago Saez reports from Madrid.
Are You Syrious (9.12.17, link)
"We keep stressing, almost daily, the inhumane conditions in which asylum seekers are detained in Libya and it seems never to be enough.
On Thursday, MEDU - Medici per i Diritti Umani (an NGO that has been working with migrants for years, offering medical care and assistance, based in Rome), presented the results of last year’s research in the light of the work of their mobile clinic at Piazzale Maslax, in co-operation with Baobab Experience.
As reported, more than 80% of the patients survived torture and serious abuse in Libya, just to reach Italy and find no welcoming reception system.
From December 2016 until November 2017, the staff members of MEDU treated 868 people, completing 1,524 checks (including first checks and follow ups visits), during 124 night shifts in 3 different precarious “spots” in Rome: Piazzale Maslax, the Termini area and an occupied building in the Tor Cervara district.
As Melting Pot further reports, the majority of the patients were forced migrants (seekers of asylum relocation, refugees, forced migrants transiting to other EU countries). 93% of them were males, between 18 and 30 years old (68%) and, in the majority of the cases, they had reached Italy a few months or weeks before (44% less than a month before). (...)
"According to the llaLatest statistics published by AYS, 3,800 people arrived in the Greek islands the past month, while 2,128 were transferred to the mainland in the same period."
"Rigardu e.V. will publish on Sunday the full report regarding systematic police violence against refugees and illegal push-backs occurring at the borders of the EU with Serbia. The entire report will be available on their website and on the AYS FB page.
In co-operation with other NGOs, Rigardu e.V. has collected visual proofs and reports of more than 110 cases in which Croatian and Hungarian police illegally deported migrants to Serbia, just in 2017. More than 850 people, including minors, have experienced violence and abuse and were deprived of their dignity. The incidents were mainly reported in the areas of Šid (Serbia-Croatia) and Subotica (Serbia-Hungary). The asylum seekers involved were mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Maghreb."
EU: European Council 14 December, 2017:
See: European Council (14 December 2017) – Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no 13862-17, pdf): Including:
"SECURITY AND DEFENCE
Further to its December 2016 and June 2017 conclusions, the European Council reviewed progress in the field of security and defence, and:
- welcomes the establishment of permanent structured cooperation and stresses the importance of quickly implementing the first batch of fifteen projects; it calls on participating Member States to deliver on their national implementation plans;
- calls for further work on the European Defence Fund, and in particular the swift adoption in 2018 of the European Defence Industrial Development Programme, in time to finance the first capability projects in 2019;(...)
UK-EU-BREXIT: Justice and Home Affairs: The Home Affairs Select Committee has started an inquiry into: Home Office delivery of Brexit: policing and security co-operation: Oral evidence to the Committee, 5 December 2017 (pdf)
UK-EU-BREXIT: Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government (pdf) The key paragraph is:
"The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement." [emphasis added]
EU: E-Justice: Article 29 Working Party: Data protection and privacy aspects of cross-border access to electronic evidence (pdf):
"the WP29 expresses concerns that the adoption of the envisaged production order towards organizations which are not established in the EU could also increase the risk of adoption by non-EU countries of similar instruments that would enter in direct conflict with EU data protection law.(...)
The circumvention of existing MLATs or other applicable legal basis under EU law by a third country’s law enforcement authority is therefore an interference with the territorial sovereignty of an EU member state. Vice versa, EU law enforcement authorities should also - as a general rule - be required to respect existing international agreements such as MLATs or any other applicable legal basis under EU law when requesting access or disclosure from data controllers in third countries."
UK: Report by David Anderson QC: Attacks in London and Manchester March-June 2017 Independent Assessment of MI5 and Police internal reviews (pdf):
"The nine classified reports that I have assessed contain detailed and accurate accounts of intelligence-handling prior to each of the four attacks, and a series of pertinent recommendations for operational improvement. They will not remove the risk of terrorist attack: to do so would be manifestly impossible in a free society. But if properly given effect they will strengthen the hand of police and MI5, without compromising the sound legal and ethical framework within which they willingly work. I welcome the care and the energy with which the reviews were conducted, their recommendations, and this opportunity to offer a flavour of them to a wider public."
UK: New Data Laws Declare Open Season On Migrant Rights - It Could Be You Next (Huffington Post, link):
"Data protection laws going through Parliament this week propose to exempt individuals' data privacy rights for the 'maintenance of effective immigration control' or 'the investigation or detection of activities that would interfere with effective immigration control'. What is meant by 'effective immigration control' and 'interference' are undefined and therefore open ended. (...)
The immigration exemptions going through Parliament will make data sharing regarding migrants more likely and frequent, whatever their immigration status. Liberty has raised that the data of those supporting undocumented migrants through charities, night shelters and food banks, could also fall under these exemptions given that Theresa May's 'hostile environment' is conceived, in her own words, of avoiding "a situation where people think that they can come here and overstay because they're able to access everything they need."
Greece: Mouzalas says cannot rule out risk of deaths from cold at migrant camps (ekathimerini.com, link):
"As winter looms, and hundreds of migrants continue to live in tents outside overcrowded reception centers on the Aegean islands, Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has conceded that he could not rule out the risk of people dying from hypothermia.(...)
Asked why Greece is not transferring larger numbers of migrants from cramped centers on the islands to the mainland, Mouzalas said authorities were doing all that they could within the framework of a deal between Ankara and the European Union aimed at cracking down on human smuggling across the Aegean."
CROATIA-SERBIA: 'They treated her like a dog': tragedy of the six-year-old killed at Croatian border (The Guardian, link):
"When the train hit six-year-old Madina Hussiny, her family stumbled to the watching Croatian border police begging for help, her body limp in their arms.
The same officers had ordered the exhausted Afghan family down railway tracks towards Serbia in the dark without warning them there might still be trains running, said Madina’s mother, Muslima Hussiny. But desperate and terrified, they had nowhere else to turn.
Madina was a casualty of a slow-burning crisis along Europe’s borders that aid groups and activists say is causing untold suffering."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Conclusions and background documentation
Outcomes and documents discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: eu-LISA, ECRIS-TCN, Freezing and confiscation, PNR Directive, CSDP operations and JHA Agencies, Asylum Package, CEAS: Common Procedures, Reception and Qualifications, Data Retention and EU accession to ECHR.
EIB: Agreement on extra €3.7 billion to address migration issues (European Investment Bank press release, 1 December 2017, pdf):
"The European Investment Bank will be able to increase its lending to projects outside the EU that address migration issues and can benefit from an EU guarantee.
An additional €3.7 billion will be earmarked for projects addressing the long-term economic needs of refugees, migrants and host and transit communities, and providing a strategic response to the root causes of migration.
On 1 December 2017, EU ambassadors endorsed, on behalf of the Council, an agreement with the European Parliament on a mid-term review of the EIB's external lending. The extra lending stems from that review.
In total, the financing limit under the EU guarantee will be increased by €5.3 billion."
HUNGARY: Hungarian MEP charged with spying on EU for Russia (BBC News, link):
"Hungarian prosecutors have charged one of the country's members of the European Parliament with spying for Russia.
Bela Kovacs, 57, from the nationalist Jobbik party, has denied the charges.
A Hungarian inquiry began in 2015 after the European Parliament lifted Mr Kovacs' immunity."
NETHERLANDS: Seven things you need to understand about how refugees here feel (De Correspondent, link):
"Some 300 newcomers to the Netherlands have answered this month’s thirty questions asked by members of De Correspondent. It was the largest group interview ever conducted with refugees in this country. Today: the answers to a single question."
EU: Commission takes Orban's Hungary to court (EUobserver, link):
"The European Commission on Thursday (7 December) stepped up pressure on the Hungarian government of Viktor Orban over migrant quotas, NGOs and a school associated with US billionaire George Soros.
The EU executive said it was also taking Hungary, plus the Czech Republic and Poland, to court over their defiance to comply with an EU decision in 2015 to relocate refugees based on a quota.
In addition, the commission is also taking Hungary to court over amendments to its higher education law that targets the Budapest-based Central European University.
...The commission is also suing Hungary over another law, which obliged NGOs in Hungary that receive funding from outside the country of more than €24,000 annually to give details about their funding, and show in all their publications that they are "foreign-funded"."
EU: Latest Council Presidency text of the e-Privacy Regulation
"The Presidency has... analysed various proposals submitted by delegations as well as relevant provisions of the GDPR and put together a number of modifications for delegations' consideration. Delegations will find below the details on those modifications below. For ease of reference, the latest changes are marked in underline."
See: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) - Examination of the Presidency text (15333/17, 5 December 2017, pdf)
"Respect and protection of human rights are a negligible part of the EU’s training to the Libyan Coast Guard, as revealed by the training materials the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) disclosed in response to an access to documents request. From a total of 20 documents – including a video – released, only 0,5% of the content is dedicated to ensuring the protection of human rights."
USA: Trump Lawyers Attempt to Sue an Environmental Philosophy under Anti-Racketeering Laws (Earth First! Newsire, link):
"December 5, 2017, New York, NY – On behalf of the environmental magazine the Earth First! Journal, the Center for Constitutional Rights urged a court to dismiss parts of a lawsuit brought by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Energy Transfer Equity (ETE). ETP and ETE are part-owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and have attempted to sue the broad social movement known as Earth First! for racketeering. The ludicrous allegations in the complaint, filed yesterday, drafted by Trump’s law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, claim that Earth First! funded a violent terrorist presence at the Standing Rock protests with $500,000 and proceeds from drug sales on the site, and is part of a sprawling conspiracy with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to deceive the public about the environmental risks of pipelines."
Three new developments in the ongoing undercover policing saga and the struggle for justice.
SCOTLAND: Motion of no confidence in Police Scotland defeated (Holyrood, link):
"The Liberal Democrats came under fire from MSPs of other parties as the party's motion of no confidence in Police Scotland was defeated at Holyrood.
The party called for an independent commission to look at previous reforms which saw local police forces merged into a national force"
A new online resource on police militarisation has been launched by the organisation War Resisters International (WRI), bringing together articles on a variety of relvant topics and providing an interactive map that "can be used to explore the militarisation of policing" in countries across the globe. WRI state: "The aim of the resource is to illustrate how the militarisation of police forces around the world is happening, how it is rooted in deeper structural violence and to bring to the fore stories of resistance from communities across the globe."
A major new report from the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) shows that "immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life – most often when seeking employment." The findings of the report are based on a survey of 25,500 people of an immigrant or ethnic minority background in all 28 EU Member State.
UK: The Anarchist Cookbook and the Terrorism Act: Is your library criminal? (Doughty Street Chambers, link):
"In 1999 the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, was presenting what was to become the Terrorism Act 2000 to the House of Commons. Answering a challenge about the breadth of its terms he said:
'Of course, we can all invent hypothetical circumstances—fantastic circumstances—in which any of us, according to the criminal code, could be charged and subject to conviction; but there is no point in our doing so. We know that, in the real world in which we live, the criminal law is subject to a significant series of checks and balances, including proper invigilation by the courts of the land and control of the Crown Prosecution Service by Members of Parliament who are answerable to the House of Commons and the other place. Such circumstances therefore do not arise, and I do not believe that they ever will.'
Tell that to Josh Walker; in the summer of 2015 he was organising a student role playing game at his university in Aberystwyth. To make it more real he signed into his student library internet account, searched and printed off a partial copy of the Anarchist Cookbook... At the end of the game the students planned to destroy all the paperwork but Josh forgot and ended taking the partial book and some other random papers home. A year and a half later they were found in the drawer under his bed. In the meantime Josh had seen what was going on in Syria and flown out to help the Kurdish groups who were fighting against ISIS. He came home in December 2016 and was arrested as police tried to work out what he had been doing in the Middle East; he was not charged for helping the same group that the Americans, the French and the UK are assisting, but a police search of his Aberystwyth bedsit found the book and 10 months later he stood trial in Birmingham Crown Court, accused of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist, under section 58 of Jack Straw’s 2000 Act."
How white engineers built racist code – and why it's dangerous for black people (The Guardian, link):
"The lack of answers the Jacksonville sheriff’s office have provided in Lynch’s case is representative of the problems that facial recognition poses across the country. “It’s considered an imperfect biometric,” said Garvie, who in 2016 created a study on facial recognition software, published by the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, called The Perpetual Line-Up. “There’s no consensus in the scientific community that it provides a positive identification of somebody.”
The software, which has taken an expanding role among law enforcement agencies in the US over the last several years, has been mired in controversy because of its effect on people of color. Experts fear that the new technology may actually be hurting the communities the police claims they are trying to protect.
“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be subjected to this technology and the technology is more likely to be wrong,” House oversight committee ranking member Elijah Cummings said in a congressional hearing on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition software in March 2017. “That’s a hell of a combination.”"
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5-6.12.17)
EU: Dutch police encouraging "business analysis" of refugee and migrant smuggling
The Council of the European Union: Action Plan on the way forward with regard to financial investigation - implementation of Action 3 (Financial investigations applied in the fight against migrant smuggling) (LIMITE doc no: 14607-17, pdf)
The Netherlands police are encouraging other EU police forces to examine refugee and migrant smuggling from a "business analysis" perspective. Defining the issue as:.
"Criminal organisations facilitating irregular migration play a key role in the current flow of migrants into Europe and so pose a major threat to European security."
UPDATED: 5 December 2017: EU: Trilogue on ETIAS: Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (pdf): Four column document giving the Commission proposal, the positions of the Council and the European Parliament and "Compromise" position for discussion in secret trilogue o/n 12 December 2017.
EU: Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact (euobserver, link):
"he United States needs to appoint an independent ombudsperson who can deal with data complaints by EU citizens before 25 May 2018, the EU's data protection authorities said in a report published on Tuesday (5 December).
If it does not, the authorities said they would "take appropriate action", including going to court.
The data watchdogs are known collectively as the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29), named after the relevant article in the EU's data protection directive."
"The Senate whips on Tuesday "immediately" tabled a bill on living wills, a controversial measure that has been held up by conservative opposition, but put off until the end of the parliamentary agenda a similarly opposed 'ius soli' law on citizenship for immigrant children, effectively killing the bill's chance of being approved before the end of the legislative term. "They'll never discuss it, and I'm happy," said the rightwing populist League whip, Gian Marco Centinaio"."
"Demonstrators from islands including Chios, Lesbos and Samos lead protests in Athens and demand government acts.
A surge in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey has seen numbers soar with officials speaking of a four-fold increase in men, women and children seeking asylum on Chios, Kos, Leros, Lesbos and Samos.
Conditions are deteriorating in the vastly overcrowded camps in a situation that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Wednesday warned was “beyond desperate”.
“In Lesbos, entire families who recently arrived from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are packed into small summer tents, under the rain and in low temperatures struggling to keep dry and warm,” said Aria Danika, MSF’s project coordinator on the island."
EU: Frontex asks for greater access to databases under interoperability proposals: Non-paper by Frontex on its access to central EU systems for borders and security (LIMITE doc no: 15174-17, pdf):
Frontex says it has less access to data than national authorities. Thus it needs greater access to check hird country nationals at external borders with "hotspot" style roles of screening, registration, debriefing and fingerprinting and its role in "returns".
Fatal Journeys Volume 3 Part 2: Improving Data on Missing Migrants (IOM link):
"This report, the third volume in the Fatal Journeys series, focuses on improving data on migrant fatalities. It is published in two parts. Part 1 critically examines the existing and potential sources of data on missing migrants. Part 2 focuses on six key regions across the world, discussing the regional data challenges and context of migrant deaths and disappearances.
The second part of Fatal Journeys Volume 3 makes five key recommendations that emerge from the comparison of regions and innovative methodologies discussed in both parts of the report."
See: Report (link)
German government wants ‘backdoor’ access to every digital device: report (The Local.de, link):
"Germany’s Interior Minister wants to force tech and car companies to provide the German security services with hidden digital access to cars, computers, phones and more, according to a media report from Friday.
The RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported that Thomas de Maizière had written up a draft proposal for the interior minister conference, taking place next week in Leipzig, which he has called “the legal duty for third parties to allow for secret surveillance.”
Are You Syrious (4.12.17, link):
"An Italian outlet reported today that a 30 year old Syrian man named Sami Naser attempted the crossing from Tripoli to Lampedusa on his own. He was rescued by a Spanish vessel, who were shocked to see someone attempting the dangerous journey alone. Sami told the volunteers who rescued him that he had no choice but to flee Libya. He had been working as a nurse outside of Tripoli in a state of semi-slavery for months, with all his wages being stolen. Sami wanted to leave the country before he fell into the hands of kindappers who would likely torture and ransom him."
Moria, Lesvos: Journalist harassed
"Today the journalist and photographer Patrick Strickland released some images from the Moria camp on Lesvos showing the despicable conditions there. Strickland also reported being harassed by police outside of the Moria camp today, another blatant attempt to intimidate and push away journalists."
"Activists and volunteers on the ground in the Pordenone area continue to report unacceptable conditions for refugees there. While the right and left wing parties continue their asinine debates over who is a “real” refugee, the real questions are being ignored. As a Pordenone solidarity organization put it: “The real issues here are: why are they on the streets, forced to sleep in the fields? Why do they not even have a place for their primary needs, to bathe, drink and eat?”"
"The Spanish journalist and human rights defender Helena Maleno Garzon has been requested to appear before a Moroccan court (her country of residence). While the charges against her are forthcoming, the international human rights organization FIDH has surmised from the court documents that she is being charged with involvement in human trafficking. This charge appears to stem from the fact that, because of her long standing work as an advocate, she is a frequent point of contact for refugees crossing the Mediterranean. In particular, she has been called by many refugees requiring emergency rescue at sea."
The segregation of Hungarian Roma children must end (New Europe, link):
"The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. In Hungary, over 750,000 citizens of Romani background are subject to racist violence and official persecution. They suffer from extreme poverty and poor health and they are inadequately housed. The plight of Hungary’s Roma is exacerbated by the systemic failure of the education system. Barely a fifth of Roma children complete secondary education and only one percent undertake postsecondary education.
This bleak image is unfortunately not much different from 12 years ago when the Roma Education Fund was created by George Soros and the World Bank, with the belief that education is the first step to integration and with the long-term goal of closing the gap between Roma and non-Roma."
Germany accused over 'illegal' deportation of Afghan asylum seeker (Guardian, link):
"Lawyers say decision to return 26-year-old contradicts government’s own rules on removals.
The German government has been accused of breaking its own rules on removing Afghan asylum seekers with a decision to deport a 26-year-old who fears he will be killed if returned.
The man, who the Guardian is not naming, is due to be flown out of Germany on Wednesday to a country he has not set foot in since he was five years old.
The case has focused attention on Germany’s acceleration of deportations, which have doubled over the past year. In all, 78 people are due to be deported on Wednesday."
See also: EU-Afghanistan returns plan: Another "dodgy" deal (Statewatch News) and Council Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) casts doubt on EU policy of "safe" return of refugees to Afghanistan (Statewatch News)
"Perpetrators and abusers exploit people’s vulnerabilities, exacerbated by factors such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, male violence against women, lack of access to education, conflict, war, climate change, environmental degradation, and natural disasters for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, begging, criminal activities and more."
The Commission refers to both "trafficking" and "migrant smuggling" each of which has a different legal basis while also highlighting the exploitation of women and children.
"Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers - and winning.
Many pilots in Germany are refusing to participate in deportations, local media reported on Monday.
Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.
Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany's main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany's largest and most important hub."
Greece: Push to move migrants from islands to mainland (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Municipal officials from the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos, which are bearing the brunt of an increased influx of migrants from neighboring Turkey, are due in Athens on Tuesday to press the government for action to ease the pressure on their local communities.(...)
In a related development on Monday, a court on Lesvos indicted 16 North African migrants who participated in the occupation of a central square in Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos."
Venice Commission active on Poland, expects the same from Warsaw (euractiv, link):
"The Venice Commission is waiting for the response of the Polish government regarding its draft opinions on the reform of the judiciary in Poland, as well as for confirmation that a Polish government representative will take part in this Council of Europe’s body’s next plenary session."
Hungary: We face a ‘delicate mix’ of witch hunt and short trial (euractiv, link):
"Hungary is convinced that the EU institutions are on the wrong side of history in the context of the migration crisis, Zoltán Kovács, the spokesperson of the Hungarian government, told journalists in Brussels on Monday (4 December)."
Statewatch Analysis: Human rights violations at Spain’s southern border: steps towards restoring legality (pdf)
In mid-August 2014, a group of around 80 people attempted to enter Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, by climbing the three razor-wire topped fences that divide the territory from Morocco. The majority remained balanced atop a fence for around nine hours while some held onto their perches for up to 16 hours, “despite the suffocating heat and the lack of food and water,” as one news report noted at the time. But regardless of how long they held on, as soon as they came down from the fence they were all returned to Morocco by officers from Spain’s Guardia Civil.
Although the Article 3 claim was dismissed by the Court [ECHR], the other complaints were accepted, and on 3 October the Court found that the Spanish government had indeed violated the prohibition on the collective expulsion of aliens (Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the right to an effective domestic remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).
EU-Africa agree on repatriating migrants, but not on the bill (euractiv, link):
"African and European countries have adopted a special joint declaration on Libya and said they want to repatriate migrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin. But the question of who should pay for it has been carefully avoided.(...)
This is perhaps the only concrete action taken at the EU-Africa Summit, which ended on Thursday (30 November) in Abidjan. Some 3,800 African migrants stranded in Libya in inhumane conditions will be repatriated urgently to their country of origin.(...)
At the end of the two-day summit, leaders issued a joint declaration on the situation of migrants in Libya, pledging in particular “to take all necessary actions to offer [the refugees] the necessary assistance and facilitate their voluntary return to their country of origin.”
Leaders clashed on mentioning “voluntary and forced returns of migrants”, but the final wording of the text only mentions the option of voluntary return."
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 December 2017: Background Note (pdf)
Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate (The Conversation, link):
"A new short film from the Campaign Against Killer Robots warns of a future where weaponised flying drones target and assassinate certain members of the public, using facial recognition technology to identify them. Is this a realistic threat that could rightly spur an effective ban on the technology? Or is it an overblown portrayal designed to scare governments into taking simplistic, unnecessary and ultimately futile action? We asked two academics for their expert opinions."
Blocked humanity (euractiv, link):
"The Dublin regulation, allocating asylum claims to the first port of call on a migrant’s journey, is unfit for purpose. The European Parliament has come to a shared position that guarantees fair treatment of refugees and shared responsibility in the EU. Now it’s up to member states to do their share, writes Cornelia Ernst."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30-11-17-04-12-17)
UK: The Lions of Grunwick (IRR News, link):
"‘We are the Lions Mr Manager’ is a small but perfectly formed play which tells the story of the Grunwick strike."
EU: EDPS "Reflection paper" on the interoperability of JHA databases poses fundamental questions
"Technology should always come in support of policies and user needs, not the other way around. What is technically feasible might not necessarily be legally justifiable or ethically desirable."
"We are concerned that repeatedly referring to migration, internal security and fight against terrorism almost interchangeably brings the risk of blurring the boundaries between migration management and fight against terrorism."
How many terminals and how many officials have or will have access to all the existing and planned JHA databases? In 2003 the SIS alone could be accessed from 125,000 terminals!
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published a "Reflection Paper on the interoperability of information systems in the area of Freedom, Security and Justice" (17 November 2017, pdf) which poses fundamental questions for the Commission who will draft new measures and the co-legislators (the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament).
EU: HQ of the Atlas Network's 38 Special Intervention Units to be based at Europol
A Report from the Council Presidency, dated 16 November 2017: Draft Council Conclusions on the strengthening of the ATLAS Network (LIMITE doc no: 12583-REV-5-17, pdf) seeks amongst other things to create a permanent ATLAS Support Office based at Europol. The Network's:
"Special Intervention Units (SIUs) of the Member States may be called to intervene in a variety of situations not necessarily linked to terrorism."
"In today’s latest hearing in our ongoing legal challenge against the collection of massive troves of our personal data by the UK intelligence agencies, shocking new evidence has emerged about GCHQ’s attempts to yet again avoid proper independent scrutiny for its deeply intrusive surveillance activities.
In a truly breath-taking exchange of letters between the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (“IPCO”) and the Director of Legal Affairs at GCHQ, it has emerged that GCHQ have attempted to undermine legal proceedings against them, as well as the independence of the very body that is tasked with seeing that our intelligence agencies operate lawfully, by suggesting that the government and IPCO should work together to decide together what evidence is submitted during legal proceedings."
Lesvos, Greece:The Memories of the Dead will not be erased with Black Paint (w2eu, link):
"In the night of the 24th of November 2017, by the harbour of Thermi on Lesvos Island, unidentified persons vandalised the memorial that we had erected there in 2013. It carries the names of those who had drowned on their journeys to Europe. Two wooden paddles hold the plaque with the names of the dead and the memorial looks out to the sea, dedicated to those of all ages and backgrounds, whose lives ended at sea."
GREECE: The number of refugees on the Greek islands as at 30.11.17 was 15,486: Lesvos: 8,398, Chios: 2,649, Samos 2,247. Leros: 1004, Kos: 1,044, Other islands: 144 (Hellenic MInistry).
Are You Syrious (2.12.17, link)
Feature: When injustice becomes law… Resistance becomes a duty
"The European commission is currently in the process of pushing through a proposal which will replace the Asylum Procedures Directive of 2013. The new proposal will expand the concept of a ‘safe third-party country’ and the consequence of this is that applications could now be rejected lawfully based solely on the grounds of ‘inadmissibility.’ This has the potential to extend way farther than the current EU-Turkey deal and the effects are going to be catastrophic for asylum seekers.
We need to act now before this legislation is passed."
"Seven boats were rescued on the Spanish coast today by SALVAMENTO MARITIMO. The total number of those rescued today came to 164 persons.
Maydayterraneo - Proyecto AitaMari is asking for people to join their team and become rescuers. In 8 rescue operations, they have rescued 580 lives thanks to team work. They want to highlight that donations also help to save lives: 50 euros can provide 200 people rescued at sea with warm blankets. To learn more visit this link."
"Currently the islands of the Aegean are ‘housing’ approximately 15,500 refugees. Hotspots such as Moria, Vathi and Vial are three times over capacity yet still the travel ban is not being lifted which would allow refugees to be transferred to accommodations on the mainland, many of which remain unfilled.
A rally has been organised for Tuesday by the municipalities of the three islands in an attempt to bring the current situation on the islands to the attention of the media. Protesters will congregate outside the Immigration Policy Ministry and demand the immediate transfer of refugees from the Eastern Aegean islands to the mainland."
Are You Syrious (1.12.17, link)
"Some parts of Europe are already covered with snow. In others, it is rainy and very cold. In these conditions, thousands of people are on the move, trying to reach a place where they will feel safe.
Unfortunately, too many of them are forced to stay out in the open, using makeshift shelters, while almost the only help they get comes from volunteers and locals. For all of these groups, help is needed to continue helping people who are abandoned by the institutions and big NGOs, and left in the streets of European cities.
The situation is not good in Greece, but also in Serbia, Italy, Spain, France, Croatia (...)"
"The slave auctions in Libya that have provoked international outrage are partly a result of policies put in place by the EU, the director of France’s Doctors Without Borders wrote Thursday in an op-ed for Le Monde, and Politico translated it into English.
Refugee Accommodation and Solidarity Space City Plaza is organizing an action day across Europe: Stop Europe Funding Slavery in Libya - Stop Wars Against Migrants on December 18.
If you want to participate, get in touch with them: firstname.lastname@example.org"
"Public administrations or specialised agencies are not the only ones producing data : not for profit organisations and collectives supporting migrants also collect information that helps capture – in a very precise manner – what exiles endure.
Since 2014, thousands of exiles have been living on the streets of Paris. Most if not all of them gather, forming makeshift camps and squats to resist hunger, thirst or fear. The city police and the riot police force dismantle these camps using their boots, guard dogs and tear gas. Tents, sleeping bags, carboard boxes and sometimes even ID documents are thrown into garbage trucks owned by the city of Paris, while fences, blocks of stone and urban furniture are set up to prevent any further informal settlement.
This map illustrates two distinct processes : the first one displays the era of a non-welcoming policy through the example of street camps established between 2010 and 2016. The second process, which started on 22 July 2016, identifies the elements of ever-stronger repression where “evacuation and shelter” operations were replaced with mass arrests and deportations flights. The so-called “transit” city centre opened by the city of Paris in September 2016 at “Porte de la Chapelle” in the 18th arrondissement should probably have acted as a wake-up call. If Paris is not a border-city, why was a transit camp open there?"
And see: Calais : 20 ans d’(in)hospitalité (migreurop, link): "Calais: 20 years of (in)hospitality
For 20 years, exiles transiting through the city of Calais and its vicinity have been confronted with police operations forcing them into areas with often inhuman and degrading living conditions. When these sites become too visible, they are systematically dismantled. This was the case with the Sangatte camp in December 2002, for a large part of the jungle in 2009, when squats and scattered settlements in Calais were closed in the winter of 2015, or when the slums surrounding the Jules Ferry centre were eradicated in October 2016. The British and French governments have persistently deceived public opinion into believing that such police operations may solve the migration situation. Yet in fact, precarious living areas will keep reappearing if appropriate solutions are not provided. "
UK police to lose phone and web data search authorisation powers (Guardian, link):
"Change is one of several to snooper’s charter law proposed by ministers in attempt to comply with European court ruling.
Senior police officers are to lose the power to self-authorise access to personal phone and web browsing records under a series of late changes to the snooper’s charter law proposed by ministers in an attempt to comply with a European court ruling on Britain’s mass surveillance powers.(...)
But the government says the 2016 European court of justice (ECJ) ruling in a case brought by Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, initially with David Davis, now the Brexit secretary, does not apply to the “retention or acquisition” of personal phone, email, web history or other communications data by national security organisations such as GCHQ, MI6 or MI5, “as national security is outside the scope of EU law”. [emphasis added]
See: Investigatory Powers Act 2016: Consultation on the Government’s proposed response to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union on 21 December 2016 regarding the retention of communications data (pdf) and Communications Data DRAFT Code of Practice (pdf)
UK: Marcin was crying, begging for help’: crisis of EU migrants detained in the UK (The Observer, link):
"The death of a Pole was one of three suicides in detention centres in a month, and relatives claim the Home Office is covering up cell deaths."
UK-BREXIT: House of Commons Brexit Committee: The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal (pdf):
"We welcome the Government’s commitment to “no physical infrastructure” at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. We also welcome its rejection of a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. We do not currently see how it will be possible to reconcile there being no border with the Government’s policy of leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, which will inevitably make the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland the EU’s customs border with the UK; i.e. including the land border in Northern Ireland and at the ports of Holyhead, Milford Haven and Fishguard that provide freight services to and from the Republic of Ireland. It will be made harder by the fact that the Government’s proposals, by its own admission, are untested and to some extent speculative. We call upon the Government to set out in more detail how a “frictionless” border can in practice be maintained with the UK outside the Single Market and the Customs Union."
"On the eve of a crucial new national-security debate, parliamentarians are being told that federal spy agencies are out to data-mine "bulk" amounts of electronic records about ordinary people as they seek to spot extraordinary terrorist threats."
Islanders to descend on Athens over refugee crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Protesters will converge outside the Immigration Policy Ministry on Tuesday to demand immediate relief for the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios, where facilities for migrants and refugees are overflowing with thousands of stranded asylum seekers.
The rally is being organized by the municipalities of the three islands and aims to publicize the plight of asylum seekers who have been trapped there for more than a year, testing local communities."
EU: Council of the European Union: Registration of Identity in EU Member States
• Questionnaire on issues related to Registration of Identity - Updated assessment of the replies (LIMITE doc no:12004-REV-1-17, pdf): "Delegations will find enclosed an updated version of the assessment of the replies to the questionnaire related to Registration of Identity prepared by the Commission services."
"Registration or evidence of identity refers to processes enabling the tracing, linkage and verification of identity against breeder documents (e.g. birth certificate, ID cards, etc.) (...)
It is divided into six parts which seek to follow a logical approach from registering the identity to issuing breeder documents and control mechanisms:
1. Population registers
2. Initial/ foundational identity (first time registration)
3. Identity verification (subsequent registration)
4. Breeder documents
5. Other identity-related procedures
6. Control mechanisms."
Only three Member States/SAC (Austria, Spain and Latvia) use biometric identifiers in the process of registering the identity in the
population registers. Many others Member States/SAC (17: BG, CH, HR, CZ, DE, DK, EE, FI, FR, LU, NL, LV, RO, SE, SI, NO, UK) do not take any biometrics.
And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 12004-17, pdf)
Why German airport checks target Greeks (New Europe, link):
"Schengen took a wrong turn during a recent flight from Greece to Germany. Berlin decided to block free travel within the Schengen zone in response to Europe’s refugee crisis and Islamic terror."
ECRE head: Asylum management needs compliance, not new laws (euractiv, link):
"Some European countries are trying to enact restrictive policies and create a hostile atmosphere to discourage migrants and asylum seekers, blatantly ignoring EU and international law, Catherine Woollard told EURACTIV Slovakia."
UNHCR: Arrivals in the Med 2017: 166,250: Italy 121,916, Greece: 27,245, Spain: 21,304, Cyprus 1,062.
And see: UNHCR Europe monthly report (pdf):
"Between 1 January 2017 and 31 October 2017, 157,400 refugees and migrants arrived by sea and land to Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus only, including arrivals to the Canary Islands and by land to Spain). As a result of the reduced numbers of refugees and migrants crossing from Libya, the 5,800 sea arrivals in October was 79% lower than arrivals in October 2016. This October, sea arrivals from Tunisia comprised approximately 46% of sea arrivals in Italy and for the third successive month more refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by sea than those who crossed from Libya.(...)
In Greece, the conditions on the islands have deteriorated further as a result of the increased arrivals since August 2017 and the limited reception capacity. The situation is most dire on Lesvos and Samos. On Lesvos, nearly 5,200 people are staying in a site with capacity for 1,400 at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and the olive grove next to Moria (at 31 October) while on Samos there are 1,584 people at the Vathy RIC site with capacity for 700.(...)
Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights published a letter sent to the Italian Minister of Interior requesting information on Italy’s maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters, urging the Italian government to clarify the kind of support they expect to provide to the Libyan authorities and what safeguards Italy has put in place to ensure that people intercepted or rescued by Italian Italian vessels in Libyan territorial waters do not subsequently face a situation contrary to Article 3 ECHR (prohibition of torture). The Commissioner also requested information on the measures ensuring that search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, including those by NGOs, can continue to be carried out effectively and safely."
"EU lawmakers should create a new, centralised data protection authority to oversee investigations of privacy breaches that affect more than one member state in the bloc, Giovanni Buttarelli, the EU’s top privacy watchdog, said in an interview."
EU-AFRICA: Joint Statement on the Migrant Situation in Libya (pdf):
"African and European leaders, gathered in Abidjan for the 5th AU/EU Summit, discussed the terrible media reports on inhuman treatment of African migrants and refugees by criminal groups. They condemned in the strongest terms any such criminal acts and expressed their firm resolve to work together for an immediate end of these criminal practices and to ensure the wellbeing of the migrants and refugees.(...)
They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin as well as durable solutions for refugees."
And see: Civil Society barred from speaking at the Africa-Europe Summit (Concord, link):
"The AU EU Summit should have been a great opportunity for young people from Africa and the EU to exchange and listen to each other’s views. Scheduled to speak, and with speeches prepared, as part of the peace, security, and governance section of the Summit today, instead their contribution was ruled out on the grounds of “rules of procedure” after the objections of a number of delegations. Civil Society Organisations in a statement reacted angrily to the situation."
EU-Africa join forces against slave trade (euractiv, link):
"During an emergency meeting on the situation in Libya, nine African countries and European member states decided to launch a joint intelligence operation to dismantle the human trafficking networks.
The tragic situation of migrants being trafficked in Libya has taken space on the agenda of the 5th summit between the European Union and the African Union in Abidjan.
On the sidelines of the summit, the African Union, the EU and the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as nine countries present at the summit (Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Chad, Niger, Libya, Congo, Morocco), held an emergency meeting to decide on actions to stop human trafficking in Libya. (...)
To fight these networks more effectively, the countries agreed to pool their intelligence services to create an operational “task force”. This would be tasked with “challenging and dismantling the networks of traffickers, as well as their financers”, said Macron."
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