UNHCR (31.12.18): 112,852 refugees arrived in the EU by sea and 6,782 by land. 31,867 arrived in Greece, 676 in Cyprus, 1,182 in Malta, 62,479 in Spain and 23,371 in Italy. 2,262 dead/missing in the year.
"During the 2018, we’ve witnessed unprecedented backlash against human rights defenders who’ve been advocating legal access to asylum system in the EU. Volunteers and NGOs have been threatened, attacked and legally persecuted for the crimes they didn’t commit. AYS is one of them. For the first time we’re publicly disclosing our own case to paint the full picture of the events on Europe’s largest terrestrial border." (...)
UK migrant ‘crisis’ bears no comparison to EU's 2015 influx (Guardian, link):
"About 220 people have tried to cross Channel in two months, compared with 10,000 arrivals in Greece in a single day."
Are You Syrious (27.12.18, link):
32 people left at sea for over six days - the odyssey of Sea-Watch
"Since Saturday, Sea-Watch has been stranded at sea, without a safe port to disembark the 32 people on board, among them four women, four unaccompanied minors, and three children. Conditions at sea are becoming more and more harsh, and people are starting to suffer from the deprivation of a week at sea.
Five countries: Italy, Malta, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands refused to allow the vessel to disembark in their territories, pushing Phillip Hahn, head of the mission, to call out to Germany and Europe to take on their responsibilities and “show the good example.”"
"This short film, produced by The Times's Opinion Video team and the research groups Forensic Architecture and Forensic Oceanography, reconstructs a tragedy at sea that left at least 20 migrants dead. Combining footage from more than 10 cameras, 3-D modeling and interviews with rescuers and survivors, the documentary shows Europe’s role in the migrant crisis at sea."
UK citizens as non-EU citizens in the EU after Brexit: applying the EU Directive on non-EU long-term residents (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:
"What happens to UK citizens in the EU27 after Brexit, if they have been living in an EU27 country for some time? If the proposed withdrawal agreement is ratified, they will retain most of their current rights under EU free movement law in the country they live in, although without the right to move freely between Member States any longer.
There will also be a transition period during which UK citizens could still enjoy free movement rights to the EU27, and vice versa). EU27 citizens in the UK will equally retain current rights (for a detailed annotation of an earlier version of the citizens’ rights provisions in the agreement, which do not differ much from the final version.(...)"
Are You Syrious (22-23.12.18, link):
Italy and Malta = “Pure Cruelty”
"A two day old baby was rescued along with its young mother from a boat carrying 311 people 57 nautical miles from Malta. As Malta refused to allow a safe port to the other people at risk, as did Italy, they are now bound for Spain on the Open Arms vessel which has enough food for two days and is on a journey which will take 4-5 days. Malta stated that they rescued the baby for humanitarian reasons, but then refused to provide the provisions needed to keep the hundreds they had refused safe from hunger, including pregnant women, children and other small babies. Hypocrisy doesn’t cover it.
Luckily another rescue vessel, the Astral, will bring them supplies of medicines, blankets and food, but the situation remains difficult and neither boat will reach Spain until the 28th of December.
The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement: Overview and First Observations (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:
"The recently agreed Brexit withdrawal agreement may turn out to be dead on arrival, or at some point not long after. Nevertheless, if the agreement is ratified, it is the basis on which the UK would leave the EU – unless the two sides agree to amendments to the text.
Since the agreement is both complex and legalistic, but also the subject of intense political debate, there’s a need for a summary and explanation of the text for non-lawyers. This blog post aims to do that by outlining the structure of the agreement and the main content of each part of it in turn. It does not aim to be exhaustive, but only to give a broad indication of what the agreement entails."
"A teenage asylum seeker from Ethiopia is planning to sue the government for its role in funding detention centres in Libya, where he says he experienced physical abuse, extortion and forced labour.
The teenager, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, cannot be named. He lives in London and is waiting for the Home Office to determine his asylum claim. His legal action against the government’s Department for International Development (DfID) for its contribution to funding these overseas centres is thought to be the first of its kind."
Are You Syrious (21.12.18, link):
Italian authorities leave refugees to drown or be returned to Libyan hell
"Italian rescue coordination centers (MRCC) are increasingly ignoring refugee’s SOS calls, either ignoring them or turning them over to the criminal Libyan “coast guard”.
Towards midnight on 20/12/18 the Alarm Phone rescue coordination group received a call from a boat that had left from Libya. The rudder was broken so the boat could not move, and the people aboard were in fear of sinking. The rescue line was in regular coordination with the people on the boat, passing off the information, including GPS coordinates to MRCC Rome.(...)"
Sea - "There is no Christmas in the Mediterranean”
"25 people drowned in the Western Mediterranean while trying to reach Spain today. 783 people have drowned this year trying to reach Spain, according to figures from the UNHCR. That is already three times the number of people who died last year. In spite of dangerous conditions, the crossings from Morocco to Spain have continued uninterrupted."
"In future, financial information will also be queried across borders for serious crimes, and even more authorities will have access. Banks and other financial service providers will have to adhere to deadlines for the release of financial information. In Germany, the EU directive is likely to increase competition between customs and the criminal police."
"Facial recognition technology continues to be trialled by police forces in the UK despite warnings of high error rates. In the latest test, the technology is being used to scan the faces of Christmas shoppers in London, with police hoping to spot wanted criminals."
Live Facial Recognition trial (Met Police, link) and see: Live Facial Recognition, (LFR) MPS Legal Mandate (pdf) and Metropolitan Police Service Privacy Impact Assessment (pdf)
Brexit: No-deal Brexit plans put 3,500 troops on standby (Guardian, link):
"Cabinet says contingency plans must now be implemented across government.
Emergency no-deal Brexit contingency plans must now be implemented across government, cabinet ministers have agreed, including reserving ferry space for supplies and putting 3,500 armed forces personnel on standby to deal with any disruption."
BREXIT: UK confirms EU migrant clampdown post-Brexit (euractiv, link):
"The UK government confirmed on Wednesday (19 December) that most EU workers will no longer enjoy the automatic right to live and work in the UK, as it laid down its plans to reform immigration policy after the country leaves the EU. (...)
One of the chief sources of controversy in the White Paper is over whether to introduce a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for ‘skilled migrants’ seeking five-year visas."
The lawyer for a Spanish trade unionist given a suspended sentence of 17 months' imprisonment for trying to help a Kurdish refugee leave Greece has said the ruling is a "positive step" and "decisive to decriminalise solidarity" with migrants and refugees.
SCOTLAND: Sheku Bayoh custody death officer 'hates black people' (BBC News, link):
"One of the principal police officers involved in the restraint of a black man who died in custody has a history of violence and racism, it has been alleged.
Sheku Bayoh, originally from Sierra Leone, died after being arrested and restrained in Kirkcaldy in May.
The BBC has decided to name one of the officers involved, PC Alan Paton.
He is said to have attacked his parents and admitted to hating black people. He has not responded to the claims."
And see: Sheku Bayoh: calls for inquiry after new CCTV of arrest emerges (The Guardian, link)
"Several thousand people marched in Rome Saturday in protest at Italy's tough new anti-migrant law which makes it easier to expel new arrivals.
The protesters waved flags and donned yellow vests emblazoned with the slogan "Get up! Stand Up! for your right" in a reference to the famous Bob Marley song.
The new law would "only increase the number of people without papers in Italy and force people underground", protester Kone Brahima, originally from Ivory Coast, told AFP.
Another, Tony Scardamaglia, from Palermo, said: "We are still building more walls, more barriers," adding that the anti-migrant and security degree adopted last month would just cause more "difficulties"."
EU: The Schengen Borders Code precludes Germany from requiring coach transport operators of cross-border services to check the passports and residence permits of passengers before entering or leaving German territory
In today’s judgment, the Court finds that the Schengen Borders Code (in the version applicable in 2014) precludes the obligation to carry out checks at issue imposed on coach travel operators traveling to Germany and the issuing of orders prohibiting, subject to the imposition of a recurring fine, operators which infringed that obligation from providing any further transport services under the same conditions.
UK: The use of anti-terror laws to convict the Stansted 15 will chill public dissent (New Statesman, link):
"Between us, we observed every day of the trial. Far from deliberating on serious armed attacks at airports, it has often felt over the last three months that the jury was being asked to consider breaches of health and safety regulations, with Judge Morgan emphasising in his summing up to the jury that being airside whilst unauthorised could inherently be seen to be risky.
It is important, therefore, to look at what differentiates this case from the previous protests mentioned above. Because this protest was not like the others: it expressly challenged the detention and deportation practices of the Home Office."
Police Chief: No Abuse of Migrants by Croatian Police (Total Croatia News, link):
"ZAGREB, December 17, 2018 - The national chief of police, Nikola Milina, has dismissed accusations against Croatian police over their treatment of migrants, saying that no cases of beating have been found.
"Police guard the state border in accordance with the law and their professional standards. We have checked all recent reports of illegalities and have found no cases of beating," Milina told public broadcaster HRT in a prime-time news programme on Sunday evening.
He commended the police for their outstanding performance, saying that over 547 smugglers had been processed to date, the largest number on record."
EU vs Fake News: The truth about Brussels’ fight against disinformation (Channel 4 News, link):
"The EU has launched a “war” against fake news in a bid to protect next year’s European Parliament elections from outside interference.
Speaking this month, vice president of the EU Commission, Andrus Ansip, pointed the finger at Russia, saying: “There is strong evidence pointing to Russia as the primary source of disinformation in Europe.”
There is little doubt that Russia is a major source of fake news and “bot” accounts.
But what’s motivating the EU’s war, and what does it plan to do about fake news?"
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Saber and Boughassal v. Spain (applications no. 76550/13 and no. 45938/14) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned expulsion orders against two Moroccan nationals following their convictions for criminal offences in Spain.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-17.12.18) including:
From 2021 onwards, the EU will have a number of multi-billion euro budgets for internal security, border security and asylum and migration policy at its disposal. These budgets will likely be larger than any previous funds in these areas, but there has been little transparency over the discussions on the proposals in the Council. The documents provided here, obtained by Statewatch through an access to documents request to the Council, shed some light on different Member States' priorities.
EU-LIBYA: EUBAM Libya becomes a fully-fledged civilian CSDP mission (EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya, link):
"Today, the Council adopted a decision mandating the EU integrated border management assistance mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) to actively support the Libyan authorities in contributing to efforts to disrupt organised criminal networks involved in smuggling migrants, human trafficking and terrorism. The mission was previously mandated to plan for a future EU civilian mission while engaging with the Libyan authorities.
The mission's revised mandate will run until 30 June 2020. The Council also allocated a budget of € 61.6 million for the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020."
And see: Concrete Actions on Border Security in Libya (EUBAM Libya, link)
UK: High court dismisses woman's attempt to prosecute police spy (The Guardian, link):
"An environmental campaigner who was deceived by a police spy into a sexual relationship has lost an attempt to have him prosecuted.
The campaigner, known as Monica because she was granted anonymity, said the ruling by two high court judges was “appalling and hard to hear”.
She challenged a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the undercover officer, Jim Boyling, for the offences of rape, indecent assault, procurement of sexual intercourse and misconduct in public office."
Futile debates around the Global Compact for Migration are a missed opportunity for all, EU migrants included (Migration News Sheet, link):
"The political turmoil around the Global Compact should serve as a warning that nationalist politics are not fading... the way in which far-right politicians were able to take advantage of the Global Compact as a tool for political posturing can also be instructive. The public heard little about the compact (and even less about the separate Global Compact on Refugees) during the negotiation and drafting stage. Thus, far-right politicians were able to say anything they wanted when the final draft was revealed. This left supporters of the compact on the defensive and forced debate to revolve around whether the compact was legally binding or infringed on national sovereignty."
"The People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees... announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations..."
UK: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Asylum accommodation: replacing COMPASS (pdf):
"We have returned to the subject of asylum accommodation due to concerns raised in recent months about the Government’s handling of the process to replace COMPASS. This report focuses upon three main issues: the contracts and the strategic relationship between the Government and local authorities; the standards of accommodation provided for asylum seekers; and the question of fairness in the dispersal process.
Nearly two years after our previous report, very little has improved and mistrust by local authorities of central government has deepened."
EU: The Role of Technology in the Criminalization of Migration (Border Criminologies, link):
"Despite the novelty of passengers directly interacting with virtual border agents, iBorderCtrl is in fact representative of a broader trend of technologizing border controls through the deployment of automated security technologies. The deployment of these systems to collect and analyze vast quantities of personal data is not simply envisaged as a tool for border management, but also as a key component of contemporary transnational surveillance and security practices carried out within and beyond those borders.
So, aside from their potential strengths or limitations, what do these border control technologies tell us about crime, control, and justice in the twenty-first century? And, importantly, what might we gain from taking a deeper look at the technologies themselves, in addition to the legal and political environment in which they are deployed? Drawing on recent fieldwork conducted at EU institutions in Brussels, this post explores these questions."
Opposition in Hungary Demonstrates Against Orban, in Rare Display of Dissent (The New York Times, link):
"BUDAPEST — Opponents of Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orban, demonstrated on Sunday for the fourth day in the past five, in what has become one of the most sustained displays of street opposition to Mr. Orban since he entered office eight years ago.
The protests began on Wednesday as a reaction to two new laws: one that forces employees to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year, and a second that created a parallel judicial system that will severely undermine judicial independence."
See also: The struggle continues (Hungarium Spectrum, link)
EU: Asylum: Reducing Rights by Stealth (ECRE, link):
"... it is important to resist some of the new plans over the next few months, while continuing to work on positive alternatives... What is coalescing is a model whereby whenever a person crosses an external border they would be detained in a “controlled centre”, subject to a rapid process without adequate safeguards (i.e. without their rights being respected), and then returned. It continues the trend already in place in some Member States of operating parallel and substandard procedures at borders. The proposals include expanding, increasing support for, or even making mandatory such an approach."
UK: Attack on refugee family highlights rising hate crime in Bolton (The Guardian, link):
"High on a hill above Bolton on a sunny Sunday in June, a mother and three children were rushing for a bus on their way to church when they encountered an angry local man, Dale Hart.
They had not been in Bolton long, having arrived on the UN’s Gateway Protection programme, which offers a legal route for up to 750 long-term refugees to settle in the UK each year via camps in Africa and the Middle East.
The children – a boy aged 15 and two girls, 13 and 15 – had not yet learned much English, which proved a problem when the boy had to call an ambulance and explain where his mother had collapsed after Hart hit her.
Most local authorities don’t accept any Gateway refugees. But since the scheme started in 2004, Bolton has welcomed 2,307, including 255 in the last year alone."
UK: Facial recognition technology to be deployed on 17 and 18 December (Met Police, link):
"This will be a mobile deployment and will cover areas in the vicinity of Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
As with all previous deployments, the technology will be used overtly with a clear uniformed presence and information leaflets will be disseminated to the public. Posters with information about the technology will also be displayed in the area.
The technology is being used in Westminster as part of the Met's ongoing efforts to reduce crime in the area, with a specific focus on tackling violence. All the faces on the database to be used during the deployment are of people wanted by the Met and the courts."
German Police Deploy Controversial Silicon Valley Surveillance Tool (World Crunch, link):
"Critics worry that by partnering with Palantir, a Silicon Valley company with ties to the CIA, police in the German state of Hesse are opening themselves up to a potential security breach...
The version of Gotham adapted for Hesse is called "Hessendata" and was created by Palantir, a Palo Alto-based company and one of the Silicon Valley's most controversial. It now has a direct link to the German police force...
Politicians in the opposition have been asking the question of whether a company that has grown so deeply into the U.S. military-digital complex should be allowed to get so close to the German police's data."
‘Unverifiable information from unknown migrants’? – First footage of push-backs on the Croatian-Bosnian border (Border Violence Monitoring, link):
"By now our database contains more than 150 push-back reports from the Bosnian-Croatian border. In light of this figure it seems hard to deny this illegal practice of collective expulsions of people seeking protection, perpetrated by the Croatian police and often accompanied by violence. The people returning from the border with broken arms or legs, or showing bloodshot eyes and marks of beatings with batons on their backs, are no isolated cases. Their injuries and testimonies prove irrefutably institutionalised and systematically applied practices – even if the Croatian Minister of the Interior  continues to deny these accusations and instead prefers to accuse refugees of self-injury . Meanwhile, various large international media have taken up the topic and report on developments at the Bosnian-Croatian border. The Guardian, for example, recently published a video showing a refugee bleeding from several wounds just after a pushback . Yet, for some reason, up to now the available evidence has not been enough to hold the responsible persons and institutions accountable. New video material provided to BVM by an anonymous group should now close this gap in evidence."
"To combat terrorism, the EU police agency reports Internet content to providers for removal. These finds are not necessarily punishable. Now the Internet Referral Unit at Europol is to take stronger action against „smuggling networks“".
See also: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (March 2016, pdf)
Devolved powers and EU withdrawal: Scotching the worst impacts of Brexit? (EU Law Analysis, link):
"In these uncertain times, it is absolutely certain that there will now be interesting conversations regularly taking place between HM Government and the Scottish Government to resolve this legal conflict."
GREECE: Shit for the Refugees and Shit for Samos. How Much Longer? (Samos Chronicles, link):
"The coverage on Samos of the visit inevitably highlighted the problems which were threatening to ‘overwhelm’ Samos and made life ‘unbearable’ for the residents of Samos town who had to live with the Hot Spot. With over 4,000 refugees on the island all of whom are either in the Camp (1,895), in tents around the Camp (2000) or in rooms and houses in the town(235), the situation was unanimously seen by the delegation as untenable.
Now that the rains have started the squalor of the camp has deepened. There is no escaping the reality of the Samos camp as a place of nightmares. According to Vivi Michou, Director-General of the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs, the camp on Samos is now worse than Moria on Lesvos."
REFUGEE CRISIS: Investigations and prosecutions for crimes of solidarity escalate in 2018 (IRR News, link):
"At least 99 humanitarian volunteers and anti-deportation activists have been placed under criminal investigation or prosecuted so far in 2018."
European Parliament: Deal on faster exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records (European Parliament, link):
"A new tool for sharing data faster on past convictions of people from non-EU countries
The database will also include information on citizens with both EU and third country nationality
Will help prosecutors, judges and police in their fight against crime and terrorism
Plans to create an EU database to enable EU countries to exchange non-EU citizens’ criminal records faster, were informally agreed with Council negotiators on Tuesday."
European Parliament Briefing: European Council conclusions A rolling check-list of commitments to date (pdf): Useful summary.
MEPs approve new anti-terror plan (The Parliament Magazine, link)
"MEPs have approved a new plan to fight terrorism that calls for the EU to have a close security partnership with the UK after it leaves the bloc.
The call was included in the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Terrorism’s final report which emphasised that it was “crucial to ensure a continuation of the mutual security cooperation and exchange of information between the EU and the UK, post-Brexit”."
Chaos as Hungarian MPs pass ‘slave law’ and government-controlled court (euractiv, link):
"Rare scenes of chaos gripped the Hungarian parliament Wednesday (12 December) as it passed a controversial judicial reform, as well as labour legislation that critics call a “slave law”.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán attended the session during which opposition lawmakers blew whistles, sounded sirens and blocked access to the speaker’s podium in an effort to prevent votes from taking place."
UK: Review of ‘The UK border regime’ – a goldmine for activists (IRR, link):
"In the overcrowded market of books on immigration control, Corporate Watch’s 331-page book, The UK border regime: a critical guide, is one which will not only be read, but will be an indispensible resource for activists. My initial doubts that yet another book on immigration could tell me anything new were quickly dispelled: it is a goldmine of basic, vital information about how the UK’s immigration control system works and to whose benefit."
MI6 chief calls for tech-enabled ‘fourth-generation espionage’ (Public Technology, link):
"The head of MI6 has claimed that digital technology has “profoundly changed” the work of his organisation as he called for a new era of espionage that melds human and artificial intelligence.
In a rare public address – only his second in four years as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly referred to as MI6 – Alex Younger (pictured above on stage) told students at St Andrews University that the “world is changing, and SIS is changing with it”.
“I do not expect our human intelligence role will ever change fundamentally,” he said. “We will always need to understand the motivations, intentions and aspirations of people in other countries. Even in an era of artificial intelligence, you need human intelligence. In fact, it will become even more important in a more complex world.”
But he added that the rapid speed of technological development has been a key contributing factor in making the world a “dramatically more complicated” place."
POLAND: COP 24: Climate group: 14 activists banned by conference host Poland (MSN, link):
"KATOWICE, Poland — An environmental group said Monday that at least 14 foreigners have been detained or deported by Poland's Border Guard since last week's start of the United Nations climate conference in the south of the country.
Svitlana Romanko of the group 350.org said the individuals were from Germany and from countries that are not in the European Union's Schengen visa-free travel zone — Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
Romanko accused Polish authorities of "using repressive powers" and said the U.N. should pressure Warsaw to ensure civil society activists can take part in the meeting. Some of them were banned from entering Poland on Dec. 8, when around 3,000 protesters marched against climate change through Katowice, the conference's host city."
"...we raise these matters of general concern. In particular, we wish to express our views regarding the overly broad definition of terrorist content in the Proposal that may encompass legitimate expression protected under international human rights law. We note with serious concern what we believe to be insufficient consideration given to human rights protections in the context of to the proposed rules governing content moderation policies. We recall in this respect that the mechanisms set up in Articles 4-6 may lead to infringements to the right to access to information, freedom of opinion, expression, and association, and impact interlinked political and public interest processes."
See the proposal and other documentation under the heading 'Online terrorist content' here: Security and migration proposals dominate Juncker's 'State of the Union' announcements - full documentation (14 September 2018)
European Parliament study: Universal jurisdiction and international crimes: Constraints and best practices (pdf)
"This report summarises the proceedings of a workshop organised by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), in association with the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). Academics and practitioners discussed international trends as regards the concept of universal jurisdiction and the EU’s approach to promoting universal jurisdiction through its external relations, as well as practical experience in applying universal jurisdiction in the fight against impunity in Europe."
EU: Humanitarian visas to avoid deaths and improve management of refugee flows (EP press release, link):
"EU countries should be able to issue humanitarian visas at embassies and consulates abroad, so that people seeking protection can access Europe without risking their lives.
The European Parliament requested on Tuesday that the European Commission tables, by 31 March 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa, giving access to European territory - exclusively to the member state issuing the visa - for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection.
The legislative initiative report was backed by 429 MEPs, 194 voted against and 41 abstained."
Talk by Aidan White (President of the Ethical Journalism Network) at the launch of Statewatch's Library & Archive on the value of preserving written history
At the launch of Statewatch's Library & Archive on Thursday 22 November 2018 Aidan emphasised the importance of preserving history in its original written form - which cannot be digitally manipulated into fake news and views. And to ensure accountability so that past struggles can inform the present and the future. For as Orwell wrote in 1984:
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
UK: “Our action saved lives” says Stansted 15 campaigner found guilty on terror-related charges (Left Foot Forward, link):
"For peacefully stopping a deportation flight from taking off, fifteen people were found guilty yesterday of breaching an obscure and rarely-used piece of anti-terror legislation.
Thirty-three year old Jo Ram is one of the Stansted 15, a group of campaigners who went to Stansted Airport in March 2017 to stop a Titan Airways plane deporting up to 60 people to Nigeria and Ghana.
On the day after she was found guilty of terror-related charges because of this protest, she told Left Foot Forward that she does not regret it.
“We couldn’t have not acted knowing what we did: that people due to be deported that night were being deported to their deaths.”"
"Fernando López Aguilar, is the result of a long process of consultation with many stakeholders, including civil society actors and organisations as well as academics, adopted with the agreement of the Political Groups represented in the LIBE Committee."
Europe’s Shameful Silence – An Open Letter to EU Leaders from Jean Monnet Chairs (verfassungsblog.de, link):
"Because we share a commitment to a European Union based on democratic values, we are writing to you to express our profound disappointment and outrage about the EU’s failure to respond more robustly to recent developments in Hungary. On 1 December 2018, after a long running campaign of egregious harassment, the Hungarian government forced the Central European University to leave Hungary.
The fact that an independent university could be expelled from an EU member state is a galling attack on academic freedom that contravenes the Union’s core democratic values. Sadly, we are accustomed to seeing such attacks on academic freedom in authoritarian regimes such as Russia and Turkey, but the fact that this could occur within the EU is a truly shameful moment in the history of European integration."
"The case concerned a shooting spree in 2012 by an off-duty police officer at the home of a Roma family. The two applicants in the case, a married couple, were seriously injured and three members of their family were killed. When questioned by the police, the officer stated that he had been thinking about “a radical solution” for “dealing with” Roma people. He was ultimately given a reduced sentence of nine years’ imprisonment owing to diminished responsibility."
See the judgment: CASE OF LAKATOŠOVÁ AND LAKATOŠ v. SLOVAKIA (Application no. 655/16, pdf)
Marrakesh UN forum adopts migration pact despite withdrawals (euractiv, link):
"A United Nations conference adopted a migration pact in front of leaders and representatives from over 160 countries in Morocco on Monday (10 December), despite a string of withdrawals, including several EU countries, driven by anti-immigrant populism.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — finalised at the UN in July after 18 months of talks — was formally approved with the bang of a gavel in Marrakesh at the start of a two-day conference.
But the United States and at least 16 other countries either opted out or expressed concerns, with some claiming the pact infringes national sovereignty."
And see: Why the hysterical reaction to the UN migration and refugee compacts matters (euractiv, link): "Right-wing leaders are guilty of an hysterical reaction to the UN migration compact, writes Udo Bullman MEP."
Council of Europe: Special Representative on migration and refugees supports UN Global Compact at conference in Morocco (link):
"The Council of Europe, with its system for human rights protection, is ready to engage in the implementation of the Global Compact. The initiatives undertaken in the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children represent some of the most ambitious and successful actions of our organisation in the migration field. In particular they can offer a valuable contribution to our member states, but also to other regions and the international community as a whole seeking to secure the practical implementation of the laudable objectives of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.(...)
Read: Statement in full (link)
"Italian priests have declared their willingness to “open the church doors of every single parish” to people expelled from reception centres as an anti-immigration law from Italy’s rightwing government threatens to make thousands homeless.
The so-called “Salvini decree” – named after Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League – left hundreds in legal limbo when its removal of humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status but otherwise unable to return home was applied by several Italian cities soon after its approval by parliament earlier this month.
The Catholic church expressed its profound disapproval immediately after the vote."
The Irish High Court has ruled that Irish law on the retention of telecommunications data contravenes EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (3-10.12.18) including:
The USA is pushing for the adoption of an international standard on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in order to "enhance the global security community’s ability to identify risks, detect and deter terrorism," while the country's Department of Homeland Security is promoting free passenger screening software that should “make real-time prediction[s] with a reasonable response time” of less than a second.
UK: Stansted 15: Activists who stopped deportation flight found guilty of 'endangering' airport (The Independent, link):
"A group of activists who stopped a deportation flight leaving Stansted Airport have been convicted of disrupting flights and “endangering an aerodrome”.
The defendants, who have become known as the Stansted 15, said they were “guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm”.
But a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court had told the jury that their intentions were not a defence."
See: The Home Office is guilty of harm, not us: Stansted 15 respond to guilty verdict (End Deportations, link)
UK: Pepper spray used in non-violent situations in prison pilot (The Guardian, link):
"A pepper spray intended for use on violent prisoners in England and Wales has been approved despite being used in non-violent incidents more than a third of the time in a recent trial, contravening official guidance, the Guardian has learned.
The Pava incapacitant spray, which is notably stronger than CS gas, causes acute pain if sprayed directly into the eyes. One officer described its effects as “unbearable, like your skin peeling off” after being affected when it was deployed."
UK: National Audit Office report: Handling of the Windrush situation (pdf):
"The Department had a duty of care to ensure that people’s rights and entitlements were recognised and this has been re-emphasised by the Prime Minister. We do not consider that the Department adequately considered that duty in the way that it introduced immigration policy."
UK-EU: Brace for Brexit criminal data-sharing 'cliff-edge', Home Office told (Civil Service World, link):
"MPs have urged the Home Office to prepare for the possibility it will face a “cliff edge” in the exchange of data needed to protect public safety after the Brexit transition period, in a report that warns existing arrangements for leaving the EU could compromise the UK’s security.
The UK has yet to negotiate access to EU-wide criminal databases used by police and intelligence agencies after Brexit, and it will be “near impossible” to secure access by the time the transition period ends in December 2020, the Home Affairs Select Committee said in a report today."
See the report: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Home Office preparations for the UK exiting the EU (pdf)
The rise of hipster colonialism (Al Jazeera, link) by Nanjala Nyabola:
"Last week, Germany's Africa Commissioner Gunter Nooke said that European countries should be allowed to lease land and to build and run cities in Africa as a means of stemming what he views as the unchecked expansion of migration from Africa to Europe. For Nooke, allowing the "free development" of these areas would stimulate African economies and create "growth and prosperity" and therefore, reduce the attractiveness of Europe as a destination for migration.
...The easiest way to get to the heart of what's wrong with this proposal is to go back to basics - what is colonialism and why is it bad? The dictionary defines colonialism as "a policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically". Ultimately, it's about exploiting a power differential in order to reorganise one society for the economic and social benefit of another: saying that one society's economic and social imperatives are more important than the other's.
So, Nooke's proposal is fundamentally hipster colonialism - attempting to reclaim colonialism by couching it in neoliberal trends or ideology while advocating for a return to an essentially exploitative system of social and economic organisation."
More than 1700 people were arrested across France at the weekend following the fourth round of 'Yellow Vests' protests against the government of Emmanuel Macron. Some 400 people were also arrested in Belgium during a "copycat" demonstration, according to RFI.
"In today’s judgment, the Full Court has ruled that, when a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification."
AFRICA: Appeal by African civil society organisations to their states: ‘’Let us move in our continent’’ (Statewatch translation, pdf):
"This is the heartfelt cry that we, organisations of African civil society, wish to raise at the margins of the week on migration in Marrakech that will witness a gathering of states, international organisations and civil society organisations from 4 to 11 December 2018. After the difficulties which have obstructed the acquisition of visas for Morocco for numerous African civil society organisations wishing to participate in this migration week, we cannot keep silent about the discrimination that Africans continue to suffer affecting their right to mobility in their own continent.(....)
See Press release, 6-7 December, Final (pdf)
Amongst documents to be discussed are: Data retention- State of play (LIMITE doc no: 14319-18, pdf) and Reform of the Common European Asylum System and Resettlement (LIMITE doc no: 14597-18, pdf)
"The EU Border Agency has massively strengthened its surveillance capabilities. To make better use of this information, it will now be passed to the Libyan Coast Guard. This is legally impossible, now Frontex is pressing for the relevant regulations to be renewed. The navy in Libya, however, is using a Gmail address."
Host migrants or pay, France and Germany propose (euractiv, link):
"European Union governments that refuse to host refugees could instead pay to be excused from the bloc’s system of sharing out migrants, France and Germany proposed on Thursday (6 December) as they sought to end a long-running EU feud over migration.
The move reflects impatience with progress on reforming EU asylum rules ahead of EU parliament elections in May, diplomats said."
Syrian aid worker who swam refugees to safety freed from Greek jail (Guardian, link):
"Sarah Mardini had been held since August on people-smuggling charges criticised by rights groups.
After 107 days of incarceration, Sarah Mardini – the Syrian human rights worker who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dinghy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister – has been freed from Greece’s toughest jail.
The 23-year-old was released late on Wednesday from the high-security Koryallos prison in Athens, where she was being held in pre-trial detention on charges of people-smuggling.
She was allowed to walk free after her lawyers posted €5,000 (£4,450) in bail."
"The Greek government and its European Union partners should urgently ensure that all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands are transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries as winter approaches, 20 human rights and other organizations said today."
Statewatch comment: The official Greek Ministry figures shows that as of 5 December there are 15,790 refugees on the Greek islands with 7,825 on Lesvos, 4,182 on Samos and 1,476 on Kos,.
The CEU Leaves – Hungarian Students are Left in the Lurch (verfassungsblog.de,link):
"For 27 years Central European University has operated in Hungary’s capital. That era has come to an end. The December 1st deadline, given by the Board of Trustees of CEU to the Hungarian government, set the stage for a final showdown to see if an agreement would be signed allowing CEU to operate legally in the country. The Hungarian government balked, and now, all incoming students will study at a new campus in Vienna beginning in the academic year 2019-20."
"On 30 November 2018, the Council of the European Union published a draft text for its general approach on the proposal for a regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders in criminal matters – also known as “e-evidence”. The text is to be adopted by EU Member States, represented in the Council."
See also: E-Evidence: A threat to people’s fundamental rights? (euractiv, link): "EU justice ministers are set to approve a regulation this Friday (5 December) that will require EU-based tech companies to turn over electronic evidence within hours of a court order. The regulation, however, could pose a threat to people’s fundamental rights."
"Home Office guidance on the documents required and processes for returning immigration offenders to their country of origin."
"Are we "going dark?" The FBI certainly seems to believe so, although its estimation of the size of the problem was based on extremely inflated numbers. Other government agencies haven't expressed nearly as much concern, even as default encryption has spread to cover devices and communications platforms.
There are solutions out there, if it is as much of a problem as certain people believe. (It really isn't… at least not yet.) But most of these solutions ignore workarounds like accessing cloud storage or consensual searches in favor of demanding across-the-board weakening/breaking of encryption.
A few more suggestions have surfaced over at Lawfare. The caveat is that both authors, Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson, work for GCHQ. So that should give you some idea of which shareholders are being represented in this addition to the encryption debate.
The idea (there's really only one presented here) isn't as horrible as others suggested by law enforcement and intelligence officials. But that doesn't mean it's a good one."
See the article by GCHQ staff: Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate (Lawfare, link)
EU: Accountability of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency: Recent developments, legal standards and existing mechanisms (Refugee Law Initiative, link to pdf):
"The paper assesses the political, administrative, professional and social accountability of Frontex, including parliamentary oversight and the newly introduced individual complaints mechanism.
The final part of the paper focuses on legal accountability, a strong, yet highly complex, form of accountability. There, we introduce the concept of systemic accountability and investigate possible courses of legal action against Frontex. In sum, Frontex is subject to moderately increased scrutiny under its renewed founding Regulation and to various EU accountability mechanisms of general application. But several procedural and practical hurdles could render legal accountability difficult to achieve in practice."
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Preventing unlawful profiling today and in the future: a guide (pdf)
"Technological developments have triggered an increased use of profiling in a wide range of contexts, including marketing, employment, health, finance, law enforcement, border control and security. The use of profiling tools to support the work of law enforcement and border management officials has received greater attention from EU Member States in recent years...
This guide explains what profiling is, the legal frameworks that regulate it, and why conducting profiling lawfully is not only necessary to comply with fundamental rights, but also crucial for effective policing and border management. The guide also provides practical guidance on how to avoid unlawful profiling in police and border management operations. The principles and practices in the guide are supported by examples, case studies and case law from across the EU and beyond."
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary (application no. 11257/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the applicant company being found liable for posting a hyperlink to an interview on YouTube which was later found to contain defamatory content.
FRANCE: 44 organisations ask Macron to give up antiterrorism censorship project (La Quadrature du Net, link):
"44 NGOs, professionals, hosting services and non profit Internet access providers ask Emmanuel Macron to renounce to its European Regulation project to censor the whole Web for dubious security reasons.
European governments will meet on the 6th of December to find a common position on this text. This Regulation will use the fear of terrorism to silence all of the Internet. It will do nothing but reinforce Google and Facebook (read our article) and threaten the confidentiality of our exchanges online (read our article)."
See the letter: Opposition to the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation (pdf) signed by 44 organisations including Statewatch.
Vox, a far-right political party, has won 12 seats in Andalucia's regional parliament, prompting the leader of Spain's Popular Party (PP) - the country's chief conservative formation - to say that a potential alliance presents "an enormous opportunity" that he "would not let pass".
Malta says Spain will accept migrants rescued by fishing vessel near Libya (El País, link)
"Spain will accept at least 11 of the 12 migrants rescued several weeks ago by the Spanish fishing vessel Nuestra Madre Loreto off the coast of Libya, according to Maltese authorities. The migrants were rescued by the fishermen while fleeing the Libyan Coast Guard on a rubber dinghy. Three of them scrambled on board while another eight threw themselves into the water and were picked up by the ship.”
See: The humanitarian fleet #United4Med calls on Europe to open its ports to the people rescued by the fishing boat Nuestra Madre de Loreto and condemns the negotiations between Spain and Libya (Statewatch News, 28 November 2018)
European Parliament: Humanitarian visas would reduce refugees’ death toll (link):
"Asylum-seekers should be able to request humanitarian visas at EU embassies and consulates abroad, allowing them to access Europe safely, say Civil Liberties MEPs.
With 37 votes to 10 and 3 abstentions, the Civil Liberties Committee agreed on Monday to ask the European Commission to table, by 31 March 2019, a legislative proposal establishing a European Humanitarian Visa. Holders would be allowed into Europe - only to the member state issuing the visa - for the sole purpose of submitting an application for international protection."
European Parliament: Better ID card security to curb document fraud (link):
"Civil Liberties Committee MEPs agreed on common security features for EU identity documents to reduce identity fraud.
Ensuring that identity documents are tamper- and fraud-proof is a key element in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Currently the security features in ID cards, as well as residence documents issued to EU nationals and/or their family members, vary significantly across EU countries. This increases the risk of documents being falsified and of identity fraud, which are increasingly big problems in the EU."
"For cross-border cooperation, Europe’s secret services or their responsible ministries join together in non-transparent formats. These networks are difficult to monitor and control."
BREXIT: Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU
"That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded."
EU: Council of the European Union: Justice & Home Affairs Council 6-7 December 2018: Background Note (pdf) includes:
"On Thursday, ministers will aim to reach a partial general approach on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG) proposal and a general approach on the proposed regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The Council is expected to approve a comprehensive and operational set of measures to fight against people smuggling networks."
UK-BREXIT: Government publishes legal advice (euobserver, link)
"The UK will be "indefinitely committed" to the Irish backstop, UK attorney general Geoffrey Cox told MPs on Monday. Cox, who gives legal advice to the government on the Brexit deal, said there would be no unilateral right for the UK to pull out of the backstop, which is designed to prevent a new Irish border if no trade deal is reached with the EU after Brexit."
The UK government has published a limited version of the legal advice from the Attorney General (pdf) - MPs are currently debating a motion for the full legal advice to be published.
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (27.11-3.12.18) including:
EU: European Parliament civil liberties committee (LIBE): Draft mission report following the ad hoc delegation to Poland on the situation of the Rule of Law, 19-21 September 2018 (pdf):
"The objective of this mission of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) was to better understand the ongoing reforms of the Polish justice system as carried out by the Polish authorities, their objectives and their impact on the rule of law situation in Poland, within the framework of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure activated by the European Commission on 20 December 2017 in relation to the rule of law situation in Poland.
For this purpose, the delegation met with representatives of the Polish Government, the Sejm and the Senate, political parties, judicial institutions, representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR, legal practitioners, journalists and representatives of civil society."
European Council meeting, 13-14 December 2018: Draft guidelines for conclusions (CO EUR-PREP 50, LIMITE, 26 November 2018, pdf) covering multiannual financial framework (MFF), single market, migration, disinformation, external relations, racism and xenophobia, citizens' dialogues and strategic agenda:
"With a view to the forthcoming meeting of the European Council, delegations will find below the state of progress regarding the various topics on its agenda. Where possible, first indications are given on the elements the President of the European Council intends to include in the draft of the conclusions.
Member States are invited to provide their reactions, in order to help guide the preparations for the draft European Council conclusions which will be submitted in one week."
Italy’s proposed tightening of immigration rules will have a serious impact on migrants’ lives, and are of grave concern, UN human rights experts said today, urging the Government to reverse course.
"Muscular searches, preventive detention lasting for weeks, legal proceedings... For several months, the Belgian authorities have been particularly severe towards people who help migrants. A first correctional trial was held in early November in Brussels. Several Belgian citizens are accused of having participated in human smuggling after having aided and accommodated migrants, being charged and designated as smugglers. Faced with these increasingly repressive policies, a collective was created to highlight that 'solidarity is not a crime'."
Rise of killer robots seems inevitable at EU conference (EUobserver, link):
"Either Europe's military-industrial complex is incredibly shy - or it thinks that the debate about whether Europe should use lethal autonomous weapons is already over before it began.
The European Defence Agency held its annual conference in Brussels on Thursday (29 November), titled 'From unmanned to autonomous systems: trends, challenges and opportunities'.
At the last panel, one of the speakers said that it was inevitable that Europe would develop such military systems, because its adversaries would."
CYPRUS: PASSENGER NAME RECORD (PNR): House passes law requiring airlines to hand over passengers’ travel history (Cyprus Mail, link):
"Parliament on Friday approved a law transposing the EU PNR (passenger name record) directive, which requires air carriers to transfer to member states the passenger name record they have collected in the normal course of their business.
The vote was passed by 24 to 16.
The information passengers must provide includes in addition to full name, address and contact details, all payment details including billing address, passenger’s travel history including booking confirmations, ticket checks, passenger arrival information, ticket number, date of issue, seating number and all baggage information.
The plenum also passed an amendment increasing the penalties for violations relating to the management of the data."
"We, the trade unions and seafarers from various European countries, hereby emphasise our attachment to the tradition and age-old ideals of our profession: rescue is a fundamental obligation, regardless of the person and his/her circumstances. We take pride in rescuing whoever is in distress in the vicinity of our ships. Rescue, being an obligation, is not part of migration policy and must not be fashioned by it.
We refuse any criminalisation of the masters and crews of ships acting so. On the contrary,we insist upon the fact that they are acting pursuant to the obligations of international Law.Those violating International Law are the governments which refuse to provide sufficient resources to rescue people."
Signatories: La CGT (France), Ver.di (Germany), BTB.FGTB (Belgium), FSC.CC.OO. (Spain), CGIL, UIL, CISL (Italy), CGTP.IN (Portugal), PCS, Nautilus International (Great Britain), International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA).
NORTHERN IRELAND: Bail extension for No Stone Unturned journalists "a travesty of justice" (NUJ, link):
"The decision of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to extend the bail of journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey has been described as "a travesty of justice" by the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ).
The journalists will remain on bail until Friday 1 March 2019.
Trevor and Barry reported for questioning to Musgrave PSNI station today as a consequence of their arrest in August 2018 and in connection with their work on the award winning documentary film about the Loughinisland massacre called No Stone Unturned."
Turkish court rejects European rights court ruling to release top Kurdish politician (DW, link):
"A Turkish court has defied a European Court of Human Rights ruling demanding the release of Selahattin Demirtas. The decision comes after Turkey's president said the European court's decisions were non-binding."
Are You Syrious (30.11.18, link):
Denmark unveils plan for Nauru-style deportation center on Lindholm island
"As part of their yearly budget, the Danish government has unveiled a new plan, seemingly modelled on Australia’s offshore detention centers, to house asylum seekers in removal centers on the isolated island of Lindholm. The center will be established over the course of the next three years and will eventually house asylum seekers from the controversial Kærshovedgård deportation center."
"The People's Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees... announce our proposal to agree upon an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity of Action for the Full Rights of All Migrants and Refugees, women and men, based on the following considerations..."
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