EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration (EUobserver, link):
"EU leaders agreed on Friday (23 February) to spend more on defence, security and "stemming illegal migration" in the next long-term budget, European Council chief Donald Tusk said.
After leaders held their preliminary discussion of the first post-Brexit budget, Tusk told reporters that many European heads of government were ready to contribute more money to the next budget cycle, that runs 2021-27.
"All the leaders approached [the budget] with open minds, rather than red lines," he stated.
Tusk however said that the EU Commission's ambitious deadline for reaching an agreement by the end of this year seemed "really difficult"."
The Council of the EU is discussing how to improve the use of Article 36 alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which mandate "discreet checks or specific checks" on objects or persons linked to "serious criminal offences" and "for the prevention of threats to public security".
"In practice, this Court jurisprudence turns the concept of overriding public interest and the subsequent public interest test established by the Transparency Regulation into a ghost concept with no practical relevance.
At the same time, the case also revealed something we would not have wished to learn: that the refugee deal was made based on extremely limited and hasty legal analysis, the substance of which was not and has not been made public. The implications of this for the substance of the legal advice is clear: if the analysis confirmed that the agreement was legally sound, then the Commission would have had no problem in allowing its disclosure, however its being kept in the dark all but confirms the suspicions regarding its contents. While this is something we already knew, it demonstrates the difficulty of running a Union in a manner consistent with its values, such as respect for fundamental rights. When things get rough, other matters tend to take priority. We refuse to believe that settling this balance is a matter of no significant public interest."
See: Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU: Case T-851/16: Access Info Europe v European Commission (pdf)
UK: Yarl's Wood Centre detainees 'desperate' (BBC News, link):
"Detainees at an immigration removal centre are in a "desperate" situation, according to the shadow home secretary.
Diane Abbott visited the Yarl's Wood Centre in Bedford on Friday and raised concerns in Parliament on Monday.
The Labour MP accused the government of ignoring women who are on "hunger strike" at the centre.
The company which runs the centre, Serco, said some women were refusing to eat in the restaurant, but that it was not a hunger strike."
See: This Is Why Over 100 Women Are Currently On Hunger Strike Inside Yarl's Wood (The Debrief, link)
How Eastern European populism is different (Political Critique, link):
"Only in Europe’s post-communist east do populists routinely beat traditional parties in elections. Of 15 Eastern European countries, populist parties currently hold power in seven, belong to the ruling coalition in two more, and are the main opposition force in three."
EU’s new copyright law will effectively create censorship machines (The Next Web, link):
"This is one of those political-tech debates that could turn nasty.
Last week, the European Parliament’s MEP in charge of overhauling the EU’s copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor’s position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU’s copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content."
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has proposed providing financing of up to €6 billion over three years "in the areas of dual-use technology, cybersecurity and civilian security", in response to a December 2016 invitation from the European Council and ongoing suggestions from the Commission that more money is needed for EU security and military policies.
EU-GEORGIA: Foreign Minister Warns Against Visa-Waiver Abuse (Civil.ge, link):
"Georgian authorities will step up police cooperation with European partners on fighting organized crime, and will carry out a nationwide information campaign to reduce the growing number of Georgian asylum seekers in the Schengen countries, according to Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze.
“They are spending their already limited [financial} resources to travel to the EU Member States, and are in very dire conditions in [refugee] camps … and as I have already pointed out, seeking asylum [in EU countries] is almost like a lottery – the approval rates are between zero percent and three percent [for Georgian citizens],” Janelidze clarified.
Earlier, the government announced that it would tighten regulations for reducing the number of Georgian asylum seekers. These measures, among others, will involve a set of legislative amendments, which will impose readmission costs on readmitted persons, toughen procedures for changing last names, etc."
EU: Italian work on Libya and migrants OK (ANSA, link):
"Brussels, February 20 - Italy's work on migrants and Libya has been positive, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri told ANSA in an interview Tuesday.
"Italy is working to use the resources allotted by the EU to find sustainable solutions for Libya" and the migrants held there, he said.
"And for now it is going in the right direction, even though the conditions of the centres in Libya are not in line with our standards, and with basic humanitarian standards.
"But that is not Italy's fault, all the international community and not only the EU can help"."
EU: EIB: Council approves extra €3.7 billion to address migration issues (Council press release, pdf):
"The Council has given the go-ahead to increased lending by the European Investment Bank to projects outside the EU that address migration issues.
It adopted the decision and regulation on 27 February 2018, following an agreement with the European Parliament on a mid-term review of the EIB's mandate for 'external' lending.
In total, the financing limit under an EU guarantee is increased by €5.3 billion. Of this, €3.7 billion are earmarked for projects in the public and private sectors providing a strategic response to the root causes of migration."
Greek authorities anticipate spike in Turkish appeals for political asylum (ekathimerini, link):
"Greek authorities are anticipating a significant increase in applications for political asylum from Turkish nationals fleeing their homeland amid a continuing crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kathimerini understands.
The last major case involved 17 Turkish nationals who arrived on the islets of Oinousses last Monday.
They were initially transferred to a reception center on nearby Chios before being moved, in a secret operation, to Piraeus.
According to official government figures, 1,827 Turkish citizens lodged applications for asylum in Greece last year."
EU: Migrant border crossings remain challenging in some Member States (Fundamental Rights Agency, link):
"Stricter border management policies remain in effect in a number of Member States, according to Agency’s latest report on migration-related fundamental rights issues. Pushbacks and refused entry for asylum seekers are just some of the challenges facing migrants when trying to enter or travel through the EU. Harsh winter conditions are also making conditions difficult for migrants."
UK: The 12 Pakistani men from Rotherham you probably haven’t heard about (The Independent, link):
"If, after reading the headline, you for one reason or another presumed this had something to do with child sexual exploitation (CSE) because of the mere mention of a group of Pakistani men from Rotherham, then you have learnt lesson number one in structural racism. The presumption of guilt based on a stereotype of a race.
These 12 Pakistani men, what later became known as part of the “Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign”, were all charged with violent disorder and not CSE – and that’s why you’ve probably never heard about them. The Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign highlights how media sensationalism and dangerous political rhetoric leads to injustice, and makes justice a political act – not a legal one."
EU: Q&A: Defending Europeans’ Right to Protest (Open Society Foundations, link):
"Free speech is an indispensable element of a healthy civil society. Recently, the Open Society Human Rights Initiative’s Iva Dobichina spoke with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law’s Andrea Judit Tóth about how governments in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe are failing to uphold this fundamental right."
See: Monitoring the Right to Free Assembly in Nine Countries – 2017 (European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, link): "Recent years have seen an increased number and intensity of protests in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership region. At the same time, countries have experienced a significant increase in restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly. To ensure systematic monitoring of local laws and implementation, in 2016 ECNL and its local partners produced the first comprehensive country reports on assembly rights in five Western Balkan countries."
UK: Taser roll out amid Thames Valley officer assault rise (BBC News, link):
"A police force will issue Tasers to more frontline officers amid an increase in assaults on constables.
Thames Valley Police is set to Taser-train 130 response officers to take the total number equipped to handle the stun gun to 390, a 50% increase.
The force's federation announced the decision after a meeting with the Chief Constable Francis Habgood.
PC Craig O'Leary said 900 assaults on Thames Valley officers had been recorded since February 2017."
The Andalusian Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) has called today for Spain to establish safe routes to access the country that will prevent people risking their lives at sea. The call comes alongside the presentation of the report 'Migratory Balance 2017', which demonstrates the notable increase in entries into Spain by maritime routes: 22,419 people arrived in 2017, almost tripling the number from the previous year.
Italian elections and the crisis of European democracy (Al Jazeera, link):
""Perhaps only a war can wake our country from slumber and give direction to our politics." Most people would be surprised to hear a young progressive utter these words in a cafe in Rome. But I have heard them more than once. And only a few weeks before the national elections on March 4, the question haunting Italy is familiar to many across the world: can democracy still bring about real change?
The global success of Babylon Berlin, the German TV series portraying life under the fragile Weimar republic, signals a rising European fascination for the tumultuous inter-war period. Comparing the situation today to the 1930s has become something of a political cliche on the continent. The sense of dancing on the verge of the abyss seems real enough: exploding inequalities, threats of ecological catastrophe, disruptive technological change and rising extremism. Psychological distress seems to have crossed all class barriers, with the ultra-rich hoarding cash, preparing for the apocalypse, and purchasing foreign passports.
Yet, in this very European obsession with historical repetition, one element seems too easily forgotten: the power of individuals to effect political change. "
"Last year, the EFI received €5 million from the multi-billion-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) to expand its programmes in Burkina Faso.
The fund, launched in 2015, aims to tackle the root causes of outward migration through development aid, security and peacebuilding support, as well as financing for migration management.
But in a country like Burkina Faso where remittances from migration represent real financial benefits for families, are projects like EFI – or more traditional EU rural development assistance – enough to dissuade young people from taking the risk of travelling to Europe?"
EU: End of the infamous EU refugee "relocation" scheme
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "The states that failed to respond deserve to be named and shamed and will go down in history for their inhumanity."
In the autumn of 2015 the EU set up a relocation scheme to move 160,000 refugees and migrants fleeing from war, persecution,poverty and climate change from front line EU states - especially from Greece and Italy - to the other 26 Member States. Later this was reduced to 98,253: 63,302 from Greece and 34,953 from Italy to be relocated.
The scheme ended at the end of 2017 when just 21,729 had been relocated from Greece and 11,853 from Italy: The final summary was published by the Commission on 5 February 2018 (pdf) and one of the last full summaries was dated 3 November 2017 (pdf). A number of Member States took no refugees, some a few and some met or nearly met their commitments.
"The systematic crackdown on the rights of refugees and migrants in Hungary continued, while foreign-funded universities and NGOs faced new restrictions, according to Amnesty International’s 2017/18 State of the World’s Human Rights report.
In the report, the international human rights watchdog recalls the European Commission launched and moved forward with four formal infringement proceedings against Hungary in 2017."
"Spain should create a strong equality body, adopt new comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and improve the education of Roma and migrant children, says the ECRI monitoring report. While progress has been achieved in re-housing and education of Roma, only 45% of Roma children complete compulsory education and the rehousing measures have contributed to residential and school segregation.(...)
Racist and xenophobic hate speech on the rise in Sweden, despite considerable preventive efforts, ECRI says. Positive developments recorded in the country include state support to combating racism and xenophobia, to integrating the extraordinary high number of refugees who arrived in 2015 to facilitate their access to the labour market and housing. "
"Committee urges to tackle police ill-treatment and the poor treatment of prisoners."
See: Report (link)
*A* Labour Brexit policy – or *the* Labour Brexit policy? Comments on Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy speech (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:
"Time will tell whether today’s speech simply set out a Labour Brexit policy, designed as a short-term tactical shot across the bows of the Conservative party to be developed further later; or the Labour Brexit policy, left deliberately vague on many points to continue to serve as a compromise position designed to appeal to significant numbers of both Leave and Remain supporters. In any event, its political significance is that it creates a clear distinction between the Brexit policies of the two largest parties. "
EU: The "reflection process" on data retention: working documents discussed by Council published
A number of "working documents" discussed as part of the Council of the EU's "reflection process" on the mandatory retention of telecommunications data have been released following an access to documents request submitted to the Council by Statewatch.
The documents provide an insight into some of the issues that have been discussed by Member States' representatives and EU agencies, who since March 2017 have participated in a sub-group of the Council's Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX) to "facilitate a common reflection process at EU level on data retention in light of the recent judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.2.18 - 25.2.18)
European Commission: Delivering on commitments: new programmes to protect migrants and support return and reintegration in Africa worth €150 million adopted (Press release, pdf):
"The European Union is adopting today three new programmes worth over €150 million under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, directly following up on the commitments made by the Joint African Union – European Union – United Nations Task Force to address the migrant situation in Libya."
And see EEAS Press release: High level mission of the AU, EU and the UN visits Tripoli to enhance co-operation on migration and protection issues in Libya (pdf):
"The Joint Mission also underlined the need to implement a comprehensive and systematic registration at disembarkation points and in detention centres by Libyan authorities, with the support of IOM and UNHCR. This is to ensure the safety and traceability of all refugees and migrants." [emphasis added]
"Migration in Europe: Call for united political will, commitment to Council of Europe standards and durable solutions.
In order to successfully tackle the challenges linked to migration, there needs to be “a clear, principled and holistic approach by the Organisation covering all areas of migration management”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Bocek, in his first activity report, published today."
See: 1st report (pdf)
"BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) have launched a legal action which they hope will mean multinational security firm G4S is finally held to account."
"On 14 March 2016, more than 1500 people started walking from Idomeni in Greece across the border to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), seeking to move on and escape the inhuman conditions in Greece. However, they were apprehended by the Macedonian military, threatened, returned to the border in army vehicles, and ordered to crawl under the fence from FYROM back to the Greek side. Such large-scale push-backs form part of a pattern of systematic expulsions at the Greek-Macedonian border. It shows that the enforcement of border closures - following the EU leaders’ decision on 7 March of the same year to stop migratory movements along the former Balkan corridor - engenders predictable human rights violations."
EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Migration to the EU: five persistent challenges (pdf)
UK: It’s time to separate EU migration fact from Brexit fantasy (Guardian, link):
"The government’s failure to limit non-EU migration exposes the idiocy of its arbitrary cap.
The net number of EU migrants coming to Britain has fallen to 90,000. That of non-EU migrants has risen to 205,000. These are the main takeaways from the latest set of immigration figures."
Five injured in far-right attack on leftist hangout in Piraeus (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Five people were injured on Sunday evening when a group of men believed to be far-right supporters smashed their way into a leftist community center in the port city of Piraeus.
The attackers were wielding tire irons and lit smoke bombs when the barged into the premises shortly after 7 p.m., attacking the people who were gathered there at the time and smashing windows and furniture.
According to reports on an anarchist website, the attackers shouted the slogan “blood, honor, Golden Dawn,” which is used by the far-right party that is currently on trial for a string of attacks, some deadly, on migrants and opponents,"
"Thousands have taken to the streets of Brussels, the heart of the European Union, in protest at the Belgian government’s refugee policy, calling on authorities to adopt a more “humane” approach in dealing with “those without papers.”
Some 10,000 protesters attended the rally on Sunday at Brussels’ Maximilien Park in close proximity to Belgium’s Immigration Department, where those seeking refugee status have been sleeping in camps since 2015.
The demonstration was organized by the activist group 'Citizen’s Platform for Refugee Support' and dubbed 'Human Wave for Solidarity and Humanity.'"
Two Ankara-based LGBTI NGOs Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) had challenged the ban in court, initiating their legal action days after Ankara's governorship made the announcement. Both NGOs called the ban illegal and asked for the decision to be revoked.
However, both NGOs’ appeals to halt the Ankara ban have been rejected by the city’s administrative courts.
"The High Court will tomorrow hear the first part of Liberty’s landmark legal challenge to the Government’s flagship surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Act.
The challenge has been funded by donations from members of the public, who gave more than £50,000.
This hearing will focus on the first part of Liberty’s case against the Act – its challenge to government powers to order private companies to store everybody’s communications data and internet history so that state agencies can access it. Liberty argues that indiscriminately retaining every person’s data in this way violates the UK public’s right to privacy. "
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 6238-18, pdf):
Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogues. Contains extensive Footnotes on Member State positions.
EU Law enforcement information exchange guidelines
The Council of the European Union has produced a proposal for a: Practical Advisor for Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no 6243, pdf) covering Interpol, Europol, SIRENE and the Liaison Officers' network.
Agence Europe reported on 22 February 2018 that the Greek Parliament is investigating allegations of corruption against Dimitris Avramopoulos EU Migration Commissioner:
"The parliament has decided to set up a committee of inquiry into the allegations of bribes from the Swiss-based pharmaceutical group Novartis to ten or so political leaders when they were in office, including European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos when he was serving as Greece's health minister between 2006 and 2009."
"“Libya is unable to nominate a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), and so rescue missions outside its territorial waters are coordinated by the Italian MRCC in Rome. More and more often the Libyan coastguard is being tasked to lead these missions as on-scene-commander. Since refugees are subsequently brought to Libya, the MRCC in Rome may be infringing the prohibition of refoulement contained in the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This, indeed, was also the conclusion reached in a study produced by the Bundestag Research Service. The European Union and its member states must therefore press for an immediate end to this cooperation with the Libyan coastguard”, says Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the Left Party."
See: Research Services: Maritime rescue in the Mediterranean Rights and obligations of vessels under the SAR Convention and mani-festations of the principle of non-refoulement on the high seas: Overview (pdf))
EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration (euobserver, link):
"EU leaders agreed on Friday (23 February) to spend more on defence, security and "stemming illegal migration" in the next long-term budget, European Council chief Donald Tusk said.
After leaders held their preliminary discussion of the first post-Brexit budget, Tusk told reporters that many European heads of government were ready to contribute more money to the next budget cycle, that runs 2021-27. "
Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency? (euobserver, link):
"When the EU border and coast guard agency known as Frontex started in 2005, it had a €6m budget. Today it pulls in €320m and employs over 530 people, a staff number set to more than double in the next few years.
But its biggest change is elsewhere. Frontex has effectively become a law enforcement agency. Focus on migration has morphed into drug smuggling, document fraud, terrorism, and cigarette smuggling. It has even seized arms.
"I would not object if you define us as a law enforcement agency at EU level," Fabrice Leggeri, the agency's chief, told EUobserver on Tuesday (20 February)."
Nationalism in heart of Europe needles EU (BBC News, link):
"Not far away, at Hungary's southern border, the wind whips across the steppe, flattens the grass and whistles right up against the vast metal intricacy of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's border fence.
Few try to cross it these days. Even so a security patrol crawls, rather menacingly, along its barbed perimeter.
What is, for some, all about internal security, also represents this country's decision to prioritise national interest above that of the EU. It's a symbol of defiance.
It's also a vote winner."
Greek Council for Refugees: Legal Aid for Migrants, Asylum seekers and refugees in Greece: challenges and barriers (link):
"Greece has been the second refugee population receiving country in the EU since September 2015. More than 51.000 people are stranded around Greece (according to data published by the Greek Government1). The majority have applied for asylum while others wait for relocation or family reunification applications to be decided so that they can move on to other member states. Applicants for all processes require legal assistance: to ensure the appropriate asylum procedure is pursued, vulnerabilities are detected, deadlines met, the process is fair and that basic human needs are fulfilled, and rights are respected."
After Bulgaria, Slovakia too fails to ratify the Istanbul Convention (euractiv, link):
"A wave of opposition in Central Europe to so-called “gender ideology” has led Bulgaria on 15 February, and then Slovakia yesterday (22 February) to oppose ratifying the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence."
Interoperability of EU databases - The Meijers Committee
- Unintended consequences?
- Targeting third country nationals
- Casting a very wide net?
The Meijers committee have prepared: Comments on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) 12 December 2017, COM (2017) 794 (pdf).
No, the EU Commission has not given up on ‘mass immigration’ (euractiv, link):
"Contrary to claims seen on some far-right websites, the EU Commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, does not believe that “mass immigration” is unstoppable. EURACTIV.com looks into the allegations as part of the “Fact or fake” series, in partnership with France 24.
Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress (euobserver, link):
"Hungarians perceive their country to have become increasingly corrupt in recent years, according to this year's edition of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, released on Thursday (22 February).
The annual ranking is based on a variety of surveys on corruption, including an assessment of business conditions and how often respondents encounter bribery in their country."
EU: Research agenda considers "non-lethal force by unmanned platforms" for civil and military use
The EU should prioritise research into the development of autonomous non-lethal weapons systems that can be used by both civilian and military agencies, according to a research agenda drawn up on the basis of input from EU institutions, Member States and "industry representatives".
According to the "civil-military research agenda for maritime security", which was compiled by the EU's Joint Research Centre at the end of last year, armaments may appear to be "a purely military topic" - but they are in fact something that "needs to be considered" by civilian institutions.
This is because to be "fully successful for both civil and military use," a "platform… should not exclude the option to host armed modules… systems used for guarding purposes in civil security may need to be capable to fend off attacks or disable intruders."
New Council returns and readmission strategy to target African countries
- By-passing formal readmission agreements: "a number of non-legally binding informal arrangements aimed at reinforcing cooperation in the area of return policy have been concluded with a number of relevant third countries."
- "The gap between the orders to leave the territory and the effectively implemented returns remains significant. In particular, cooperation with relevant African countries is still totally unsatisfactory."
- "Partnership Framework" in Africa: Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This policy is best seen as asking EU Member States to use their histories of imperialism, oppression and exploitation to get African states to sort out the EU’s problem."
See: Bulgarian Council Presidency "Draft" Note to Member States on: "Enhancing the returns from the European Union" (LIMITE doc no: 6047-18, pdf)
UN Human Rights Council : Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (pdf):
"This report addresses the human rights challenge of states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism. In particular, it identifies new post 9/11 emergency practices and their adverse effects. Emergencies are not a new phenomenon for states. Human rights law enables states to limit the full exercise of derogable human rights when governments are faced with exceptional challenges allowing for proportionate and necessary restrictions to human rights. However, emergency powers are a limited device.
State use of emergency and exceptional national security measures should provide a positive basis to return to the full protection of human rights within a reasonable time-frame. States of emergency have long been co-related with extensive and wide-ranging human rights violations."
European Ombudsman ‘Fast-Track’ - Help in accessing EU documents faster (link) and Press release (link):
"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has introduced a new fast-track procedure to deal with access to documents complaints.
Under the new system the Ombudsman will be able to take a decision within two months of receiving the complaint.
Access to documents decisions can be prioritised in this way as – unlike other complaints alleging maladministration – the institution will in general have already fully outlined its reasons for its decision when the Ombudsman receives the complaint. "
European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): Towards a digital ethics: EDPS Ethics Advisory Group (pdf):
"Ethics and the law each have an important role in our societies. Convergence allows us to put the human being, their experience and dignity at the centre of our deliberations.
This report by the members of the EDPS’s Ethics Advisory Group engages thoughtfully with this question. The report presents the main shifts provoked by the digital revolution and the impact they have on the values we hold dear."
Italy's Northern League pledges mass migrant deportations (Guardian, link): "Analysts doubt viability of far-right plan but it highlights nature of pre-election debate"
Macron's migrant law faces rough ride in parliament (digitaljournal.com, link):
"French President Emmanuel Macron faces a difficult week as lawmakers weigh up a controversial bill that toughens France's stance on migrants, with even some of his own party reluctant to back it.
After France processed a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, Macron vowed to grant asylum faster but also to deport economic migrants more swiftly, while better integrating those who stay. The new law will be presented to his cabinet Wednesday ahead of parliamentary debates that promise to be stormy, with migrant charities and left-wingers blasting the bill as repressive.
Staff at France's asylum court and the Ofpra refugee protection office are even set to strike Wednesday over a law that unions have blasted as "an unquestionable break with France's tradition of asylum"
How the E.U.’s Migrant Crisis Reached the Streets of Brussels (NYT, link):
" The city is freezing. At night, Hamza Khater eats and sleeps at a volunteer-run shelter. He spends his days hanging around the international bus stop next to the Gare du Nord.
“What am I looking for? I am looking for a life,” said Mr. Khater, 31, who fled the violence-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur a year ago. Specifically, he is looking for a chance to reach Britain. He has been for months."
GERMANY: What's in Your Police File? (Our Data Our Selves, link):
"In this article, we shed light on a number of databases collected by police and security forces in Germany, including the specific kinds of data they collect, how it is used to profile and categorise individuals - in particular activists and human rights defenders - and how this information is shared. We also examine the existing policies for data protection and the vulnerabilities that activists may face as a result."
CATALONIA: Mediapro sees Civil Guard report as an "attack on freedom of expression" (El Nacional, link):
"Multimedia group Mediapro describes a Civil Guard report which names their president, Jaume Roures, as a possible member of the "executive committee" behind the Catalan independence process, as an "attack against freedom of creation, expression and thought".
According to a statement from the group, the report, submitted to Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, came with a DVD attached including the 1-O documentary produced by the company "as proof of the involvement of Jaume Roures and Mediapro in the plot to proclaim the independence of Catalonia"."
May's Brexit transition demand 'would penalise EU citizens' (Guardian,link):
"Unthinkable for EU to agree to PM’s key demand on citizens’ rights, says Verhofstadt.
Theresa May’s demand that EU nationals coming to the UK during a Brexit transition deal should enjoy fewer rights than those already in the country would amount to “penalising citizens”, Guy Verhofstadt has said. (...)
e said: “It’s not acceptable for us that rules will continue without change for financial services, for goods, for whatever other business, and only for the citizens, their situation will change. That is penalising citizens.”
He added: “For us that is not acceptable. We do not even want to be talking about it.”
Orbán calls for global anti-migrant alliance with eye on April elections (euractiv, link):
"Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán called yesterday (18 February) for a global alliance against migration as his right-wing populist Fidesz party began campaigning for an 8 April election in which it is expected to win a third consecutive landslide victory.
Popular at home but increasingly at odds politically and economically with mainstream European Union peers, Orbán has thrived on external controversy, including repeated clashes with Brussels and lately the United Nations."
Italy used to be a tolerant country, but now racism is rising (Guardian, link):
"The upcoming election has unleashed a tide of anti-migrant action, whose roots can be traced to the financial crisis and the country’s weakened leftwing ."
EU will not lift visas unless Turkey eases terrorism laws (euractiv, link):
"The European Union told Turkey today (16 February) it would not ease travel requirements for its citizens unless Ankara softens counter-terrorism laws that the bloc says are excessive.
The EU has been taken aback by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security crackdown following a botched coup in 2016 that saw some 50,000 people, including journalists, arrested and 150,000 more, from teachers to judges to soldiers, sacked or suspended from their jobs.
That has soured the bloc’s relations with its NATO ally that is also instrumental in keeping a lid on Middle East immigration to Europe."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.18-17.2.18)
ECRIS-TCN trilogue discussions: four-column document and Council position on EP amendments
Council of the European Union: ECRIS-TCN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Four column table with Presidency suggestions/comments (LIMITE doc no: 5505-18,104 pages, pdf): Four column document setting out: Commission proposal, European Parliament amendments, Council general approach and "compromise" position."
And see: Questions concerning the EP amendments (LIMITE doc no: 5730-18, pdf):
"In view of the first trilogue, which is scheduled for Wednesday 7 March, the Presidency (PRES) would like to obtain a view of the positions of the Member States on the EP amendments. PRES would also very much appreciate Member States bringing forward arguments that could be used during the negotiations.(...)
Far-right parties re-register to access EU funds (euobserver, link):
"Two far-right European political parties are now officially registered, opening European parliament funding opportunities for 2019.
The far-right nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) was listed as registered at an independent oversight authority on Wednesday (14 February).
APF members include politicians from the Greek neo-nazi Golden Dawn party and Germany's NPD, another ultra-nationalist political party with a neo-nazi ideology."
"Hundreds of Bulgarian nationalists have marched in Sofia in an annual celebration of World War II general Hristo Lukov, a Nazi collaborator. The city government was unsuccessful in its attempt to stop the demonstration."
Council of the European Union gets to work on the interoperability of EU databases
The Council of the European Union is working out its negotiating position - prior to trilogue discussions - on the: Proposal for a 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 - Examination of Presidency revised text of Articles 1-32 (LIMIITE doc no: 5758-18, pdf):
"Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough. (...)
Footnote 1: General scrutiny reservations by: CY, CZ, DE, EE, ES, FI, FR, IT, LT, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SK, SI, UK, CH."
Council of the European Union: European Investigation Order (EIO): Directive 2014/41/EU on the European Investigation Order - Transposition (5908-REV-1-18,pdf):
"Member States will find attached information provided by the Commission services on the transposition by Member States of the Directive and on the measures that have been transmitted to the Commission in application of Article 36(3) of the EIO Directive (situation on 12 February 2018). Twenty-two Member States have notified measures to the Commission: BE,CZ, DE, EE, EL, FR, HR, IT, CY, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SI, SK, FI, SE, UK."
And see: European Judicial Network: Summary (link)
Are You Syrious (15.2.18, link):
ITALY: Where else do the corridors lead to?
"In the past months, we have been hearing more and more about humanitarian corridors and other ways to thought possible to “regularly” enter Europe. UNHCR has recently posted the news that, since November 2017, it has moved more than 1,000 people out of Libya and is now looking to establish similar permanent solutions to allow people to reach safe countries without having to risk their lives. Note that flights and journeys are not necessarily directed towards Europe, but could be to ANY country deemed a “safe” third country."
UK: Refugee Rights Europe releases report on British hostile attitudes towards refugees
"The newly-released Refugee Rights Europe report highlights the hostile environment that many refugees in Britain encounter. The report is the result of, among other things, a number of interviews with refugees, the largest contingent of which comes from Sudan, followed by Kuwait, Eritrea, Iraq, and Morocco."
"The EU could put its citizens at risk if it allows ideology or rigid institutions to blind its leaders to the need to cooperate against terror threats, Theresa May will say on Saturday, proposing a new UK-EU treaty on intelligence and security."
And see: Sky News coverage (link)
Comment: The speech seems to call for a new Treaty on justice and home affairs and the Common Security and Defence Policy - a return of a "third pillar style" arrangement?
INDIA: What Is It Like To Live In The World’s Biggest Experiment In Biometric Identity? (Huffpost, link):
"As of October 2017, India had issued 1.18 billion identity cards. There are big differences between states, but across the entire country, Aadhaar now covers 99 percent of the adult population, 75.4 percent of children between five and 18 years old, and 41.2 percent of children between zero and five. The system is meant to make it possible to "target delivery" of essential government services; there are least 87 different schemes linked to it, including education access, pensions, scholarships for minorities, farming subsidies, school meals, and healthcare. (...)
In closing old gaps in service provision, Aadhaar has opened new ones, and the system has thrown settled lives into disorder and confusion. Many of those who need government services the most are also the most likely to fall through these new gaps in the system: poor migrants, children, the rural elderly, caste and tribal minorities, the visually impaired, the physically disabled, and more." (...)
Throughout history, identity systems—from the first paper passports to modern digital programs like Aadhaar—have been used to define people in different ways. Who's eligible for government welfare, and who isn't; who gets treated with humanity by the state, and who doesn't. They define individuals as either acceptable or unacceptable in the eyes of people with power."
See also: International Telecommunication Union: Review of National Identity Programs (pdf): "The status and characteristics of 48 national identity programs and initiatives in 43 developing countries were reviewed, including an evaluation of how these programs are being connected to—or used for—service provision . The identity programs reviewed are mainly government-issued national IDs. However, other types of national identity programs with links to various services including voter cards, passports, and two programs targeting the poor and the banking population were also reviewed."
Greece: Refugee with Legal Status in Germany Pushed Back to Turkey (Enough is Enough, link):
"The 23 year old Syrian refugee K. went from Germany to Greece to meet his younger brother who were supposed to come from Turkey by the end of November 2016. When he looked for him in Didimoticho, Greece, showing a photo of the 11-year old brother, he was arrested. 14 months later, K. is back in Greece after being pushed back to Turkey with 50 other migrants on the 30th of November 2016."
ITALY: ECHR asks Italy for clarification on minors held at hotspot (InfoMigrants, link):
"The European Court of Human Rights has asked the Italian government to provide clarification by May 14 following reports from an association that unaccompanied foreign minors had been held illegally in the migrant hotspot in the southern city of Taranto.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has declared admissible the appeals brought in July and August 2017 by 14 unaccompanied foreign minors from Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Senegal, and asked the Italian government to provide clarification concerning claims that they had been "held illegally" in the hotspot in Taranto, the association for legal studies on immigration (ASGI) has said."
And see: another case regarding Italy: ASGI and ARCI appeal against mass deportation to Sudan deemed admissible by the ECtHR (Statewatch News Online, 12 January 2018)
UK: Home Office delivery of Brexit: immigration (Home Affairs Committee report, pdf):
"The Home Office is one of the key government departments involved in delivering Brexit. We are assessing the Home Office’s capacity to meet this challenge in a number of policy areas. We published a report on customs operations in November.1 We expect to report soon on post-Brexit policing and security cooperation. In this inquiry we have examined the challenges facing the Home Office in delivering immigration services once the UK leaves the European Union.
...the Home Office needs to plan for delivery of new arrangements, some of which are due to start later this year and some of which are due to be in place for March 2019. The Home Office has been allocated around £60 million for Brexit contingency planning in the current year, but it is unclear what it is being spent on.
Registration and administration arrangements need to change, new IT systems need to be developed, enforcement mechanisms need to adapt, and customs and border arrangements may have to change too. More than three million EU citizens living in the UK, and a further 230,000 EU citizens a year if current levels of immigration persist, may become subject to immigration control."
And see: MPs call for review into May's 'hostile environment' for migrants (poliitcs.co.uk, link): " MPs have today called for a review into the impact of the government's 'hostile environment' policies which are designed to make life as difficult as possible for undocumented migrants."
French woman faces charges for 'aiding' asylum seekers (Al Jazeera, link):
""I'm going to continue," Landry told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview from Menton, a town in southeastern France near the border with Italy.
"I know I'm within my rights and I want to assert my rights."
But Landry said those rights were put in question during an incident last July.
According to the activist, she was standing on the French side of the Menton-Vintimille border crossing between France and Italy when she witnessed Italian police forcibly return two young men to French territory. (...)
But Landry, who works with the French branch of Amnesty International and Anafe, a group that provides assistance to foreign nationals at French borders, now faces criminal charges for her actions."
UK: DEATHS IN CUSTODY: CPS decides not to charge Sussex police officers involved in the events surrounding Duncan Tomlin’s death (INQUEST, link):
"The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced today that criminal charges will not be brought against any of the Sussex police officers involved in the events surrounding Duncan Tomlin’s death. This is the second time that the CPS has decided not to bring charges against the officers. The original decision was reconsidered by the CPS following a Victim’s Right to Review by the family in January 2017.
Duncan died on 29 July 2014 in Haywards Heath. He became unresponsive after being restrained by police and placed into a police van.
The question of whether there will be disciplinary proceedings in respect of any of the officers are still being considered by the IOPC and Sussex Police."
"Figures released by the BBC reveals the alarming reality of London's knife crime epidemic.
In 2017, more than 4,000 of the 19,243 people who were cautioned, reprimanded or convicted for carrying a knife in England and Wales, were under the age of 18.
This is the highest number for almost a decade.
The report added that there was more knife crime in the capital than anywhere else in the country, with nearly 150 knife crimes occurring per 100,000 people.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan began 2018 by giving an additional £15 million investment to New Scotland Yard to tackle London's knife crime culture.
However, not all politicians agree with his approach and Mr Khan has come under fire over plans to increase stop and searches."
And see: Stop and search: young black men share their experiences (BBC News, link): "Young black men from London speak to BBC Newsnight about their experiences of stop and search. "
Spain proposes EU-Morocco accord to Frontex (InfoMigrants, link):
"Madrid has proposed to the European Union an agreement with Morocco similar to the deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants entering the country illegally. In 2017, there was a 100 percent increase compared to the year before.
"Morocco is making an enormous effort to loyally ensure cooperation with Spain on immigration", Security Minister Jose Antonio Nieto was quoted as saying by newspaper ABC. The government of Mariano Rajoy "is constantly conveying to Frontex", the European border agency, ''the need to start a strategically organized policy to deal with migrant issue'', added Nieto.
The minister recalled that what he called a "very solid alliance" established with Turkey had given results as illegal arrivals in Greece went down 77 percent last year."
Six journalists given life sentences in Turkish court, local media reports (Press Gazette, link):
"A court in Istanbul has sentenced six journalists accused of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt to life prison terms, according to Turkey‘s state-run news agency."
European Commission: WHERE’S AVRAMOPOULOS? "Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner from Greece who is responsible for migration, home affairs and citizenship issues, seems to have disappeared from Commission appearances since a scandal broke involving pharmaceutical bribes in Greece dating back to his time as the country’s health minister. It’s been noted around town that Avramopoulos has no public appearances or major meetings scheduled for the whole month of February. Other commissioners average 11 appearances." (link)
"The EU is looking to improve its capabilities to circumvent and crack encryptions. Member states are to invest in hardware and software with Europol coordinating these efforts.
The police agency Europol is set to receive a further 5 million euros to reinforce its capabilities with regard to decrypting content, as was reported by the European Commission in its Thirteenth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union. According to the report, the money will be set aside in the Europol budget for 2018. The Commission had already pledged these funds in its twelfth progress report, but did not disclose the amount until 24 January. Prior to this, the EU home affairs ministers had called for further support at their December meeting."
CoE: Commissioner for Human Rights: Sweden should enhance protection of asylum seekers and persons with disabilities (link):
"“Sweden’s renewed commitment to participate in the relocation of asylum seekers and to increase resettlement are positive signals, but it’s time to lift the restrictions imposed on asylum seekers at the height of the 2015 migration crisis”, says the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, in a report released today following his visit to the country in October 2017."
"The #MeToo movement has reached Hollywood, the press, restauranteurs, the White House, and even the gambling industry. But can it bring change for sexual assault victims in immigration detention?
Laura Monterrosa is a lesbian asylum seeker from El Salvador who is being held in the privately run Hutto Detention Center in Texas. Last year, she told authorities that she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a female guard. When Laura said she would report her, the guard allegedly said, “Do you think they’ll believe you or me?” In December, the FBI launched a civil rights investigation looking into her case."
UNHCR evacuates 1000 migrants from Libya in three months (Libya Observer, link):
"UNHCR has evacuated over 1000 highly vulnerable refugees out of Libya since November and is looking for durable solutions for them in third countries.
The UNHCR said on its website that a flight departed on Tuesday from Tripoli and arrived in Niamey, Niger, carrying 128 refugees, adding that on Wednesday, a second plane took 150 refugees from Tripoli to Rome, Italy, bringing to 1,084 the total number of immigrants evacuated since the beginning of UNHCR’s operation - three months ago."
Hungary and Austria agree on ways to tackle migrant crisis (abouthungary.hu, link):
"Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that migration poses the greatest threat to Europe’s future, which should be protected.
The prime minister made the comment while meeting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna on Tuesday.
“There exists a Christian culture and a way of life, which we would like to protect,” PM Orbán said. He added that we should preserve Europe’s identity and Christian foundations."
Hungary plans to paralyse NGOs dealing with migration (euobsserver, link):
"Hungary's government submitted a so-called "Stop Soros" legislation package to parliament late Tuesday (13 February), which would grant the interior minister powers to ban civil groups deemed to support migration.
The bill is part of prime minister Viktor Orban's anti-immigration drive that has recently targeted Hungarian-born US financier and philanthropist George Soros, who has been promoting liberal values through his foundation, Open Society. "
"“Refugee women and children face heightened risk of sexual violence amid tensions and overcrowding at reception facilities on Greek islands.”
This is the alarming title of the report published Friday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), expressing grave concerns for the safety of women and children in the so-called refugee “hotspots” on Greece’s islands. The Greek government quickly responded – but not as you would hope."
Brussels must bite the bullet on a common EU migration policy (euractiv,link):
"The EU Commission is soon to re-enter the conflict over immigration. Whether it will do so timidly or in a blaze of political courage remains to be seen when it unveils ideas for a ‘European Labour Authority,” writes Giles Merritt.
Giles Merritt is the founder and chairman of Friends of Europe."
Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills (euobserver, link):
"Germany's minister of state for Europe expressed concern on Thursday (15 February) over draft legislation - known as the 'Stop Soros bills - put forward by the Hungarian government, warning that it could make NGOs' work with migrants "impossible".
Michael Roth said in a statement that he had "clearly expressed our concerns" to the government of prime minister Viktor Orban. "
Council of Europe: Protection of children against sexual abuse in the circle of trust: workable strategies (link):
"In a new report published today, the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Committee analyses the strategies used by 26 European countries(*) to protect children against sexual abuse in the circle of trust (extended family and persons close to the child who exercise influence over the child).
European Ombudsman: Ombudsman says Member States must open up their opaque negotiations on EU laws
"The Ombudsman specifically criticises the Council’s failure systematically to record the identity of Member States taking positions during discussions on draft legislation, and the widespread practice of disproportionately marking documents as not for circulation, or LIMITE (,,,)
“It’s almost impossible for citizens to follow the legislative discussions in the Council between national government representatives. This ‘behind-closed-doors’ approach risks alienating citizens and feeding negative sentiment,” said Ms O’Reilly."
And see: Statewatch Observatory on FOI in the EU (from 1992 onwards)
ECHR: Two members of the terrorist organisation ETA sustained inhuman and degrading treatment after their arrest (Press release, pdf):
"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Portu Juanenea and Sarasola Yarzabal v. Spain (application no. 1653/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
- a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in its substantive and procedural aspects.
The case concerns allegations of ill-treatment sustained by Mr Portu Juanenea and Mr Sarasola Yarzabal when they were arrested in 2008 by officers of the Guardia Civil and at the beginning of their incommunicado police custody.(...)
The Court held, by four votes to three, that Spain was to pay 30,000 euros (EUR) to Mr Portu Juanenea and EUR 20,000 to Mr Sarasola Yarzabal, in respect of non-pecuniary damage."
European Commission: Border management: European Border and Coast Guard Agency strengthens operational cooperation with Albania (pdf):
"Once in force, the agreement will allow the Agency to provide assistance in the field of external border management and will enable European Border and Coast Guard Agency teams to be swiftly deployed on Albanian territory in case of a sudden shift in migratory flows.(...)
Today's draft agreement is the first negotiation to be concluded between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency and the EU's partners in the Western Balkans."
"In January, 8 300 irregular border crossings were detected on the four main migratory routes into the EU, down 7% from a year ago.
The number of migrants arriving in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route in January rose to more than 4 800, double the figure from the previous month (...)
According to preliminary data, Eritreans were the largest group of migrants detected on this route, followed by nationals of Pakistan and Tunisia. In recent months, Frontex also noted an increase in the number of Libyans making their way across the Mediterranean."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-12.2.18) including: how the Hungarian government uses the law to repress civic spirit; how refugeeand migrant solidarity groups across the EU are confronting the hostile environment
The UK has set out its response to 12 recommendations on preventing and combatting cybercrime made in a September 2015 report by the Council of the EU, covering issues ranging from investigation and prosecution, to legislation and mutual legal assistance.
UK: ‘Custody image’ deletion request figures revealed (BT, link):
"Police received only a trickle of requests to remove images from a vast collection of mugshots after a new deletion regime was unveiled, an investigation reveals.
Hundreds of thousands of people were given the green light to ask forces to erase photographs under a Government review published last year.
But figures obtained by the Press Association indicate that only a small number have lodged applications."
See also: Biometrics: MPs concerned over huge police mugshot database that still has "no real rules" (Statewatch News Online, 24 January 2018)
"Police in the UK have started using a mobile fingerprinting system that lets them check the identity of an unknown person in less than a minute. Fingerprints collected on the street will be compared against the 12 million records contained in national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases and, if a match is found, will return the individual’s name, date of birth and other identifying information."
UK: James Matthews: Former British Army soldier who fought against Isis in Syria faces terror charge (The Independent, link):
"A former British Army soldier who fought against Isis in Syria is to be charged with a terror offence.
James (Jim) Matthews has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14 February to be formally accused of attending a “place used for terrorist training”.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the 43-year-old would be charged with travelling to “a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism on or before 15 February 2016”."
Ska Keller’s extraordinary Bulgarian experience reverberates in Brussels (EurActiv, link):
"The presidents of the European Commission and Parliament have personally expressed support to Ska Keller, co-president of the GREEN/EFA group in the European Parliament, following her extraordinary and unpleasant experience in Bulgaria, the country that holds the rotating EU Presidency.
Keller paid a two-day visit to Sofia last week, where she was insulted and threatened by nationalists who are part Bulgaria’s ruling coalition.
On Friday (9 February), Valery Simeonov, the leader of the “National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria” (NFSB), one of the three nationalist parties in coalition with the centre-right government of Boyko Borissov, posted a derogatory and insulting statement against Keller on his Facebook page
The statement contains elements which can be interpreted as threats against her life, as well as an outright appeal for the “green Jihadist” Keller to be expelled “in a van” from Bulgaria to the Turkish border. Simeonov added that NFSB could provide the van."
UK: Ethan Stables trial: Neo-Nazi convicted of planning terror attack at gay pride event (The Independent, link):
"A neo-Nazi has been convicted of planning a terror attack at a gay pride event after posting violent homophobic rants online.
Armed police stopped Ethan Stables as he was travelling to the celebration at a pub in Cumbria, finding weapons including a machete and axe at his home.
They had been tipped off by a member of a far-right Facebook group who saw the unemployed 20-year-old post a message saying he was “going to war” and planned to “slaughter every single one of the gay bastards”."
HUNGARY: Operation Starve & Strangle: how the government uses the law to repress Hungary's civic spirit (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) and Hungarian Helsinki Committee, pdf)
"On 18 January 2018, the Hungarian government launched the ‘ Stop Soros ’ package, a proposal of three laws that target civil society organisations... These laws follow up on the 2017 NGO Law on foreign-funded organisations (Act LXXVI of 2017) over which the European Commission has decided to refer Hungary to the EU Court of Justice. The 2017 NGO Law requires that NGOs receiving foreign funding over €24,000 register on a separate list, report and publicly label themselves as ‘foreign-funded’ or face sanctions.
The latest proposal comes amidst a wider effort to stigmatize specific individuals and non-governmental organisations, and has been presented as a bid to stop ‘illegal migration’, to ‘strengthen the protection of borders’ and to ‘protect Hungary’s national security interests’. The proposed measures will affect a number of areas key to the functioning of civic life in Hungary. Despite their name, they not only target those who allegedly engage in supporting or funding ‘illegal migration’, but through less-conspicuous provisions also target the wider group of NGOs."
And see: “Observer”: The Stop Soros bills–Hopefully only propaganda and nonsense (Hungarian Spectrum, link)
Recent responses from Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, to questions from MEPs on
"This memorandum provides a preliminary assessment of the Identity Documents Act 2010 and has been prepared by the Home Office for submission to the Home Affairs Committee. It is published as part of the process set out in the documents Post Legislative Scrutiny – The Government’s Approach (Cm 7320).
All of the provisions of the Act have now been commenced in full (see Annex A)."
UK: Body worn video rolled out to Taser officers in Crewe (Crewe Chronicle, link):
"Body worn video (BWV) has been rolled out to Taser officers in Crewe this week.
The cameras were introduced to firearms officers last year, and the second phase of the programme will see a further 140 cameras introduced to the Constabulary.
These will be made available to 264 Taser officers and 10 football spotters to help capture evidence as it happens.
The first 12 cameras were installed at Crewe LPU on Wednesday and are now being used by Taser officers."
UK: 'A lottery': asylum system is unjust, say Home Office whistleblowers (The Guardian, link):
"The British asylum process is a lottery and many asylum interviews are rushed, biased and resolved by “cut and paste” decisions by overworked Home Office staff, whistleblowers have told the Guardian.
Former staff employed in deciding asylum claims said some colleagues had a harsh, even abusive, attitude towards applicants, mocking them to one another and employing “intimidation tactics” during interviews.
As a result, the whistleblowers said, the asylum system was in effect a lottery, depending on the personal views of the decision-maker who picked up the file. They said some staff took pride in rarely, if ever, granting asylum."
And see, from eight years ago: Border staff humiliate and trick asylum seekers – whistleblower (The Guardian, link): "Claims that asylum seekers are mistreated, tricked and humiliated by staff working for the UK Border Agency are to be investigated in parliament."
"The Government is under pressure to clarify the law on extremist material online after a key internet company was accused of storing the website content of a banned neo-Nazi group on servers in Britain.
Anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate said it had found material put online by NS131, an alias of National Action , a virulent far-right group recently banned as a terrorist organisation by the Home Office, being stored on servers in London and Manchester operated by Cloudflare."
EU: The Hierarchy of Hate: Mixed Signals in the Combat against Hate Speech (Verfassungsblog, link):
"There is a number of varying thresholds to free speech regulation set out by relevant legal tools, namely Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the EU’s Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia and the Additional Protocol to the Cybercrime Convention. These variations, discussed below, can do nothing but confuse countries. Moreover, threshold or no threshold, anti-hate speech legislation developed on an international and European level has a major flaw, which goes against principles such as solidarity and equality. More particularly, apart from the justifiable direction of the ICERD, these frameworks are marred by what I refer to as the hierarchy of hate, namely the arbitrary focus on particular types of hate speech, such as racist speech, and the simultaneous disregard for other genres such as homophobic speech."
POLAND-UKRAINE: Memory Wars: The Polish-Ukrainian Battle about History (Verfassungsblog, link):
"The Polish-Ukrainian conflict on memory is a deplorable result of political abuse of history from both sides: the two countries strive to monopolize the past to glorify their history and protect their national dignity. They simplify complex events to construct historical narratives which describe themselves as heroes or victims but never perpetrators. Thereby, both states violate basic principles of freedom of speech.
The Polish-Ukrainian case proves well that a clash of historical narratives should not be solved with the use of criminal sanctions. Criminal law, by its very nature, is an ill-suited moderator for public discussion on history but a powerful and dangerous weapon in memory wars which pose a threat of fueling real conflicts in the future. The escalation of memory wars should challenge Europe to reconsider its principles of mnemopolitics including a ban of the use criminal sanctions as a means of politics of memory."
EU: Enforcing the Rule of Law in the EU: What can be done about Hungary and Poland? Part II, Michel Waelbroeck and Peter Oliver (blogdroiteuropéen, link):
"In an earlier post, we set out our concerns about the decline of the rule of law in the EU with particular reference to the two Member States where the problem is most acute and indeed systemic. First of all, we showed how the harmful effects of such persistent unlawful action are not confined to the Member States concerned, because the principle of mutual recognition is undermined and because the ensuing corruption (which is especially evident in Hungary) is almost bound to have a negative impact on the EU’s budget.
Next, we concentrated on two recent and unprecedented developments, namely the Commission’s proposal to the Council to take action under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union and the Court’s Order to Poland to put an immediate end to logging in the primeval forest of Bialowieza, failing which it would be required to pay a fine of €100,000 per day.
In the present post, which is likewise based on our very recent article in the Cahiers de droit européen (see the bibliography below), we shall focus on the steps – other than recourse to Article 7 TEU – which the EU can usefully take to exert pressure on these regimes to observe the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as they are required to do by Article 2 TEU."
UK: Metropolitan Police officer guilty of assaulting man during arrest (IOPC, link):
"A Metropolitan Police officer who forced a man’s head against a wall during an arrest has been convicted of common assault.
PC Kashif Mahmood, based at Stoke Newington police station, was found guilty at Hendon Magistrates Court on Friday 9 February following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation. He will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates Court on 19 February.
PC Mahmood was investigated as the result of a complaint made after a man sustained a cut to his head on 5 May during an incident at a police cordon in Clapton, east London."
EU: Few migrants returned to Turkey under 2016 deal (EUobserver, link):
"The vast majority of people arriving on the Greek islands from Turkey to seek asylum are not being returned, as was demanded under an EU-Turkey migrant swap deal.
Fewer than 2,000 have been returned between March 2016 and November 2017, according to the European Commission. Around 12,000 Syrians have resettled from Turkey."
IRELAND: A nation of welcomes? New figures challenge the Republic of Ireland’s record on asylum and immigration (The Detail, link):
"ALMOST nine out of every 10 asylum applications were turned down in the Republic of Ireland since 2008, according to new figures revealed by The Detail, which also show an upward trend in the number of non-EU citizens refused entry.
As part of a special investigation supported by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund and the Tony Ryan Trust, The Detail analysed and visualised data relating to asylum and immigration to provide a comprehensive picture of the republic’s response to the global refugee crisis.
Using data sourced from the European Commission database, Eurostat, this analysis reveals that almost nine in every ten asylum applications considered by Irish authorities were refused between 2008 and 2016.
Eurostat figures also show that the republic’s 13% rate of granting asylum compares poorly with an EU average of 44% between 2008 and 2016.
This analysis further reveals that 28,000 non-EU citizens were refused entry to the republic since 2008 and that invalid or false visas or permits was the main reason for refusal."
And see: Rohingya man in ‘right to work’ case seeks reunification with children (The Irish Times, link): "The Rohingya man at the centre of the “right to work” case has asked the Minister for Justice to allow his three children, two of whom are in an orphanage in Bangladesh, to join him here."
Statewatch has updated its: Observatory on the European security-industrial complex
What is the European security-industrial complex?
The European security-industrial complex is a term used to describe the confluence of interests within the European Union between the 'homeland security' industry and politicians and state officials dealing with security policies.
BREXIT: The Running Commentary Begins: Annotation of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement (EU Law Analysis, link): by Professor Steve Peers:
" Yesterday, the EU Commission for the first time proposed the text of part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. From the legal point of view, ultimately the withdrawal agreement (if it is successfully negotiated and comes into force) will be the key legal text governing the Brexit process as such (there will be post-Brexit treaties governing the future relationship between the EU and the UK).
Due to its importance, I will provide what the UK’s Prime Minister once disdainfully referred to as a ‘running commentary’ on the draft text of the agreement as it develops. Several caveats apply (...)".
See also: Guide to Brexit sources (link)
How refugee and migrant solidarity groups are confronting the hostile environment (IRR News,link) by Frances Webber:
"A review of recent pan-European developments in the criminalisation of solidarity. New developments are emerging in the criminalisation of solidarity, as the hostile environment principle, familiar to us in the UK, is adapted to other European contexts, further shrinking the space for solidarity.(...)
It was back in November 2017 that the IRR published its research, Humanitarianism: the unacceptable face of solidarity. At that time, we sent a copy the European Commission, asking them in a covering letter to reconsider the decision they made in March 2007. Two months later, at the end of January, the Commission finally replied. Their response (read it here) does not address the cases we presented, but argues that it is for member states to decide whether conduct is criminal or not. This entirely misses the point: a mandatory humanitarian exemption would not only set clear limits on states’ ability to criminalise acts such as rescue assistance if a humanitarian motive was established. It would also – and this perhaps explains the Commission’s reluctance – send a clear signal to states that there are limits to an anti-humanitarian political culture that, in abandoning refugees, criminalises humanity."
Are You Syrious (8.2.18, link)
FEATURE: A letter to Paris
"At least 128 unaccompanied minors (aged 13 to 17, mainly boys) are reported to be on the streets of Paris at these freezing temperatures, while some reports are saying there are around 400. “Many unaccompanied minors (…) are currently left to their own devices in the streets of Paris, without shelter, in negative temperatures, and thus exposed to a serious and immediate danger to their physical and mental health,” lawyers Catherine Delanoë-Daoud and Isabelle Roth, heads of the unaccompanied minors section of the Paris Bar, and Emmanuel Daoud, a member of the Council of the Paris Orde, alarmed in a letter sent today to the prosecutor and the prosecutor in charge of minors. They are asking the city and the prefect of Paris to put “all the material and human means in work to ensure effective protection of these minors.”
"In the wake of the death of little Madina, that occurred near the border between Serbia and Croatia, the Croatian Ombudswoman has submitted a letter to the State Attorney regarding the circumstances of the event. Croatian police issued two orders (one on 24 November 2016 and on 15 February 2017) that match the data on increasing violence against refugees and unlawfully preventing refugees from seeking asylum in Croatia that us civil society organizations have been warning about. The police, however, do not want to submit the text of the order to the Ombudwoman due to “technical difficulties.”
The Croatian Center for Peace Studies, in addition to initiating proceedings before the Constitutional Court (...)
EU: Intergroupon LGBT RIghts: Parliament urges Commission and Member States to guarantee freedom of movement LGBTI families (ep.eu/press-releases, link):
"Today, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on protection and non-discrimination with regard to minorities in the EU Member States. The resolution contains strong wording on the free movement of LGBTI families."
Brexit: Irish border paradox puzzles EU lawyers (euobserver, link):
"European Commission lawyers have tried and failed twice already to draft a text designed to make last year's Brexit deal on the Irish border into a legally-binding document, two EU sources told the Bloomberg news agency. The EU and the UK agreed in 2017 there should be no hard border with Northern Ireland, but the UK also wants to leave the EU customs union, creating the need for border checkpoints."
EU politicising development aid to build Fortress Europe (euractiv, link):
"EU investments should not be used to blackmail or externalise borders. Particularly if the EU really wants to tackle the root causes of forced migration, writes Xabier Benito Ziluaga.
Xabier Benito Ziluaga is a member of the European Parliament from the GUE/NGL group, Spain-Podemos."
“Out of sight” – Second edition (MSF, link):
"This report is a follow-up to the research contained in "Out of Sight" - Asylum seekers and refugees in Italy: informal settlements and social marginalisation. It is the result of constant monitoring activities carried out in 2016 and 2017 by way of repeated field visits and in collaboration with an extensive network of local associations."
EU: ETIAS: Trilogue discussions on: Proposal for a 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 (377 pages, pdf): State of play: Commission proposal, Council position, European Parliament position and "compromise" position.
"Most armed groups involved in human smuggling and trafficking in Libya have links to the country’s official security institutions, sanctions experts said in a confidential report to a U.N. Security Council committee seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Eritrean migrants told the sanctions monitors they had been arrested by the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), which is an armed group affiliated with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord’s Ministry of Interior, the report said.
The migrants said the Special Deterrence Force handed them to various smuggling rings. “The panel is assessing whether the SDF’s leadership was aware of collusion and trafficking being conducted within its ranks,” the sanctions monitors wrote."
EU: What’s next for acquired rights of EU27 and UK citizens? Anticipating the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement (EU Law Analysis, link) by Professor Steve Peers:
"While attention during the Brexit talks has been focussed on the two sides’ negotiation positions, and on the measure of agreement reached so far (notably the December joint report, discussed further here), in the long term the most important text on EU and UK citizens’ acquired rights after Brexit will be the withdrawal agreement itself – assuming it is agreed and ratified. Once a draft withdrawal agreement is produced (which is reportedly likely soon) we can offer a ‘running commentary’ on it, but in the meantime here are some thoughts about what to look for. "
Attacks on immigrants highlight rise of fascist groups in Italy (Guardian, link):
"More than 70 years after Benito Mussolini’s death, thousands of Italians are joining self-described fascist groups in a surge of support that antifascist groups blame on the portrayal of the refugee crisis, the rise of fake news and the country’s failure to deal with its past.
The shooting in Macerata on Saturday that left six Africans injured was only the latest in a series of attacks perpetrated by people linked to the extreme right. According to the antifascist organisation Infoantifa Ecn, there have been 142 attacks by neofascist groups since 2014."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.2.18-7.2.18) including: European Commission position on situation for refugees in Chios "at considerable odds with the factual situation"
EU: Council Legal Service note ponders how to involve the Council's EU Military Committee in decision-making on Defence Industrial Development Programme
See: Speaking Note of the Council Legal Service representative at the EUMC meeting held on 15 January 2018 (5490/18, LIMITE, 19 January 2018, pdf)
UK: Offender tagging scheme is 'catastrophic waste of public money' (The Guardian, link):
"The Ministry of Justice’s programme to introduce the next generation of satellite tracking tags for offenders has been “fundamentally flawed” and proved “a catastrophic waste of public money”, MPs have concluded.
The long-promised programme to introduce the GPS tags is already five years behind schedule and more than £60m over its £130m original budget.
The Commons public accounts committee (PAC) report published on Wednesday discloses that when the system is finally rolled out next year it will rely on the same technology that was available when the programme was launched in 2011."
See the report: House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts: Offender-monitoring tags (pdf)
GREECE/TURKEY: Investigation: Coercive 'voluntary' deportations leave refugees trapped in jail and facing torture (Al Araby, link):
"A "voluntary" returns programme being heavily marketed to refugees is leaving them stranded in inhumane conditions in Greek and Turkish jails for months at a time, and facing imprisonment and torture once they return to their home countries - if they are ever able to get there at all.
For many refugees arriving in Greece and Turkey, whose claims for asylum are rejected, the International Organisation for Migration's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme is effectively the only alternative to brutal jail systems. They are forced to give up their right to appeal their asylum decision in order to escape six or 12 months of confinement by accepting "voluntary" return.
...asylum seekers who have experienced the programme told The New Arab they were misled into accepting inhumane conditions, detention and torture, after joining a programme one lawyer called "a fist in a velvet glove… wrongful, coercive and distasteful"."
SPAIN: Melilla calls for reform to repatriate minor migrants (Info Migrants, link):
"The government in Melilla is calling for a reform on the law on foreigners, to face "the flood" of unaccompanied minor migrants and to keep them in reception centers. The governor of the autonomous city in Morocco, Jose Imbroda, of the Partido Popular (PP) said these migrants aren't "disaffected or defenseless children" which they can receive when they reach adult age.
Imbroda, cited by Spanish media, said the situation should be faced "not in terms of minor protection, but as a migration problem"."
"On Monday 5 February, 2018, the Undercover Policing Inquiry held another hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice. The hearing dealt with seven more requests from former undercover police officers who wish to have their real and cover names concealed from the public.
Although the Inquiry was due to be nearly completed by now, substantive evidence hearing are not likely to even begin before 2019.
Extraordinarily, although the Inquiry has a budget in the millions, a 33-person team, and 25 legal representatives working on behalf of the various ‘core participants’, the amount of useful information to have emanated from its operations is thus far dwarfed by the tiny Undercover Research Group operating, in its own words, on a ‘shoe-string budget’."
"Azerbaijan`s Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov has embarked on a working visit to the Federal Republic of Germany to attend the 21th meeting of the European Police Congress in Berlin.
The Congress, which was opened by German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior Gunter Krings, focuses on the topic “Better linked up security".
The European Police Congress was organized by the Behorden Spiegel with support of national and European authorities.
With its two-day main program and more than 25 panel sessions, where numerous further strategic and technical topics are discussed, and about 1,500 national and international participants, the European Police Congress is Europe´s leading conference-fair on homeland security."
"This report presents figures on deaths during or following police contact that happened between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017. It provides a definitive set of figures for England and Wales, and an overview of the nature and circumstances in which these deaths occurred.
This publication is the thirteenth in a series of statistical reports on this subject, published annually by the IPCC. To produce these statistics, the circumstances of all deaths referred to the IPCC are examined. We decide whether they meet the criteria for inclusion in the report under one of the following categories:
• road traffic fatalities [there were 32 in 2016/17]
• fatal shootings [six]
• deaths in or following police custody 
• apparent suicides following police custody 
• other deaths following police contact that were subject to an IPCC independent investigation "
A report published today by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) says that there is "no evidence" that officers from Police Scotland "infilitrated social justice campaigns", and that the inspectorate "believes" that between 1997 and 2007 the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) deployed 11 undercover officers to the country, while the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) deployed nine. The review does not suggest that there were any issues with these deployments - a view that has been questioned by campaigners.
IRELAND: National biometric database for accessing public services: Identifying problems with mooted Public Services Card (Irish Examiner, link):
"If you aren’t currently registered for the PSC or its SAFE2 database in Ireland, you can be denied access to essential services in violation of your human rights.
The PSC requires users to provide a facial image biometric scan. Other pieces of identifying information can be combined across agencies into the Single Customer View database accessible by certain public agencies.
One way to push back against this regime is to refuse it. However, you are not allowed to refuse the PSC card in many circumstances which appear to be inconsistent.
...the PSC has now been made the only acceptable form of identity verification for services including social welfare payments, child benefit, school transport, treatment benefits, driver’s license applications, age verification, school grant appeals, and online health and revenue portals.
If a person is does not consent to their private details being held in databases in order to access essential services, there needs to be legislative basis for it. There is no clear legislative basis for the PSC."
The European Commission has published a position paper on "Transitional Arrangements in the Withdrawal Agreement" that "translates into legal terms the principles laid down in the European Council Guidelines of 29 April and 15 December 2017 and in the supplementary negotiating directives annexed the Council Decision [sic] of 29 January 2018." Meanwhile the European Parliament has published a briefing paper on the implications of Brexit for readmission: "the act of returning... persons to their state of origin, or in limited circumstances, to another state."
"The Hamburg police want to significantly expand their controversial search operation for alleged “rioters” and “violent criminals” on the periphery of the G20 summit in July 2017. The measure is part of a massive stepping up of state powers at home and corresponds to the plans of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Union parties (Christian Democratic Union-CDU/Christian Social Union-CSU) for coordinated policing practices across Europe."
"After considering your response, we found your assessment of the current situation to be at considerable odds with the factual situation we daily witness on the ground"
NGOs on Chios complained to the European Commission about the treatment and conditions of refugees on the island: Complaints to the Commission signed by 11 NGOs (dated: 6 November 2017, pdf):
"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island."
The Council is developing its negotiating position on the proposed Asylum Procedures Regulation, part of the legislation on the revamped Common European Asylum System. There are 300 footnotes showing Member States' positions, many of which have been deleted in the censored version officially published by the Council.
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights: Closing of investigation in 6 February 2014 Ceuta police operation causing 15 deaths (Press release, pdf)
"Four years of impunity: Spanish judge refuses to hear survivors and to fully investigate lethal push-back at Ceuta border
Berlin/Madrid 5 February 2018 Four years ago on 6 February at least 15 people died and several more were injured during a brutal push back operation by the Spanish Guardia Civil - a paramilitary police force - at the border between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the beach of El Tarajal.
On 28 January 2018 the judge in charge of investigating these events closed the case against officers of the Guardia Civil for the second time. This decision came though the regional court already quashed a similar decision in January 2017, explicitly ordering the identification, location and hearing of direct victims and witnesses. Subsequently two victims now residing in Germany informed the judge of their willingness to testify. However the judge hindered their participation in the investigation by closing it without hearing them."
See also: Case study (pdf) and: More than 125 NGOs call on the European Parliament to declare 6 February the 'Day of Victims of Borders' (El Diario, link): More than 125 European organisations will call this Tuesday, on the fourth anniversary of the death of 14 migrants at El Tarajal in Ceuta, for the EU institutions to officially recognise 6 February as the 'European day of Victims of Borders'. It is foreseen that the petition will be registered during the morning at the Spanish office of the European Parliament, in Madrid.
"Document ST 6261/17 ADD 1 REV 1 should bear the distribution marking "LIMITE"."
UK: Growing number of refugees and asylum seekers falling into poverty in Britain (Independent, link)
"Exclusive: Thousands of vulnerable people destitute after being granted refugee protection.
The number of refugees and asylum seekers living in food poverty has soared by 20 per cent in a year, as thousands are left destitute even after being granted protection in the UK, The Independent can reveal.
The Red Cross warns that a lack of government aid for asylum seekers and a sudden cut-off in support once they are granted refugee status is pushing a growing number of vulnerable people into destitution.
The charity supported 15,000 people experiencing destitution last year, during which it recorded a 20 per cent rise in demand for food parcels and a 43 per cent increase in people needing baby packs since 2016 – with overall distributions now at a five-year high."
Portraits challenge Britain to see refugees as family (reliefweb.int, link):
"When Syrian teenager Abdulaziz Alkhaleed first arrived in Britain in 2015, he could not speak a word of English and even going to the supermarket made him nervous.
"I wasn't able to communicate," he said. "My first six months in this country I was isolated from everyone".
His life turned around when Ingrid Van Loo, a 51-year-old mother-of-three, welcomed him into her house in Epsom, near London, as part of a scheme run by Refugees at Home, a charity matching refugees with volunteer hosts."
GREECE: Arrivals have doubled since August, migration minister says (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Migrant and refugee arrivals onto Greek shores have doubled since August 20 to reach as many as 180 people a day in clement weather, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said on Tuesday. (...)
“Whoever says that emptying the islands will improve the situation is wrong,” Mouzalas said, reiterating concerns that moving all migrants and refugees to the mainland will simply encourage more arrivals.
“In 2017, we transferred 27,000 people to the mainland and 19,000 arrived on the islands,” he added."
Frontex: Invitation for industry and academia (link):
"Workshop on projects/ideas for developing border security products/technologies/solutions
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, intends to organise in December 2018 a workshop with representatives of the European industry and academia who lead, or are about to start/are in the incubation phase of ideas on research and development projects aimed at developing new products, technologies, solutions for border security and using financial sources other than EU financing (e.g. industry’s/academia’s own funds)."
Italy shooting raises stakes in immigration debate (Politico, link):
"A drive-by shooting in central Italy has pushed immigration to the forefront of the electoral debate, one month before Italians go to the polls on March 4.
A 28-year-old man opened fire on a group of African immigrants in the town of Macerata, Saturday, wounding five men and one woman. The suspect, Luca Traini, reportedly wore an Italian flag around his neck and made a fascist salute before his arrest, according to local media. A copy of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was later found at his home.
The political reaction to the shooting split neatly along party lines, with the right-wing coalition led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blaming the attacks on the rising number of immigrants residing in the country."
Adapting to global human mobility after a refugee and migrant crisis (EurActiv, link):
"More people than ever are on the move globally. This raises the need for courageous European leadership and broad-based support from the media to depoliticise refugees and migrants and to free public opinion from irrational fear, writes Idriss Jazairy.
UK: Police Self-Investigators are Doorstepping Spycop Victims (COPS,link):
"Once again, police self-investigations have been contacting activists who were spied on, asking for co-operation.
The latest activity centres around Operation Sparkler/Operation Nitrogen, which is examining evidence that undercover police officer Bob Lambert planted incendiary devices in the Harrow branch of Debenham’s in 1987."
On 25 January the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its position on the proposed European Criminal Records Information System for Third-Country Nationals, which will be a centralised EU database holding identity data on non-EU nationals convicted in a Member State. This will allow national authorities to see which Member State(s) hold information on previous convictions of non-EU nationals, to whom they will then be able to make a request for that information.
DENMARK: Socialdemokratiet sets out asylum overhaul in 2019 election mandate (Copenhagen Post, link):
"Socialdemokratiet are the bookies’ favourites to form a government following the next general election, which will take place no later than June 2019.
And yesterday, Denmark’s biggest opposition party took what it hopes will be a giant step towards achieving that goal by proposing a complete overhaul of the current asylum process.
The new policy, entitled ‘Retfærdig og Realistisk’ (fair and realistic), will seek to put a ceiling on both asylum and family-reunification approvals – as agreed each year by Parliament – whilst adhering to UN refugee quotas."
ITALY: From Overcrowding to Dirty Mattresses: A Visit to Lampedusa (Liberties, link):
"After the suicide of a Tunisian migrant on 5 January and the outbreak of a large fight at the end of the month, Italy's national guarantor for people deprived of liberty, Mauro Palma, visited the hotspot of Lampedusa. The results of this visit were presented at a press conference on 24 January.
During his press conference, Palma said he was extremely concerned to find that, both legally and materially, the situation he found on Lampedusa was exactly the same as one year ago, meaning that none of the recommendations he gave a year ago has been implemented by the authorities."
"As millions of dollars in EU funds flow into Sudan to stem African migration, asylum seekers say they are increasingly trapped, living in a perpetual state of fear and exploitation in this key transit country.
In interviews with over 25 Eritrean and Ethiopian asylum seekers in Khartoum and the eastern city of Kassala, as well as local journalists, and lawyers working on behalf of refugees, IRIN has documented allegations of endemic police abuse, including extortion, violence, and sexual assault.
The pattern of corruption and rights violations uncovered feeds into broader concerns over whether the EU’s migration policies are making a difficult situation worse."
UK-EU: New UK data protection rules are a cynical attack on immigrants (The Guardian, link):
"In September, I warned in a Guardian opinion article that the Brexit process could have the effect of allowing the UK government to bring in more draconian and discriminatory immigration laws, harking back to the 70s and 80s.
Many people wondered how this would happen and the answer was that Brexit would allow the sweeping away of advances like the abolition of the hated primary purpose immigration rule made illegal by the European court of justice.
But now a far more profound and deliberate line of attack is being adopted by the British government in its national immigration policy, under cover of implementing the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the biggest modernisations of data protection law anywhere in the world. Simply put, a new clause in the government’s data protection bill, which implements the GDPR, would remove the rights of people who are subject to an immigration procedure to know what public authorities hold about them and to rectify or delete erroneous or unlawfully collected personal data."
UK: Lancashire fracking security guard denies assault charge (Lancaster Guardian, link):
"A security guard at a Lancashire fracking site has appeared in court charged with assaulting a protestor and criminal damage.
Ebrima Jagne, of Levens Grove, Blackpool, appeared before magistrates in Lancaster on February 1 charged with assaulting protestor Louise Boyle outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Little Plumpton on June 1 2017.
He is also accused of destroying her camp bed.
The 33-year-old had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are understood to be the first brought against security staff at the Preston New Road site."
UK: Woman reveals police spy tricked her into relationship in 1970s (The Guardian, link):
"A woman has disclosed how she has discovered after 40 years that she was deceived into a sexual relationship by a police spy.
The woman, known as Mary, said the discovery was “very embarrassing and upsetting”. “I feel very used by him, and by the state, invading my privacy and my body,” she added.
She was a young leftwing student in the 1970s when she was tricked by the undercover officer, who had adopted the fake identity of Rick Gibson.
The woman made the discovery last month after a public inquiry, led by a judge, Sir John Mitting, confirmed in August that Gibson had infiltrated leftwing groups between 1974 and 1976. "
Europol head fears loss of UK influence after Brexit (BBC News, link):
"Britain will lose influence on cross-border policing and security after Brexit, the outgoing head of Europol has told the BBC.
Rob Wainwright steps down in April, after nine years, as talks begin on what happens once the British flag leaves the Europol boardroom table.
"There will be a loss of influence, there's no doubt about that," said Mr Wainwright.
Mr Wainwright, who was recently revealed to have been an MI5 agent before moving to Europol in 2009, reflects the strong British involvement in shaping the priorities and protocols of cross-border police co-operation and law enforcement in the EU.
The UK is the second largest contributor to Europol information systems and is copied in to 40% of the institution's data messages. "
UK: Liverpool: A Broken Prison in a Broken System (Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, link) by Joe Sim:
"On January 19th, the Chief Inspector of Prisons published a lacerating report on the state of Liverpool prison. It highlighted, in bleak detail, the ‘abject failure of HMP Liverpool to offer a safe, decent and purposeful environment’. Conditions were the worst the Inspectorate had ever seen.
Government ministers, old and new, should be ashamed of the callous immorality displayed in Liverpool, as should prison service managers and many, though not all, of those who work in the institution. The report demonstrates a moral and political dereliction of duty which, if it happened in other organisations, would be unequivocally condemned, and indeed, could result in prosecutions. Why has this not happened in this case? As ever, a culture of immunity and impunity prevails when it comes to taking any action against those who either fail to do their job, or fail in their duty of care towards prisoners. Until such action is taken, and state servants are held accountable for their actions, through the utilisation of provisions in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to investigate deaths in custody, as the charity INQUEST has called for in the case of Woodhill prison, then this will not be the last report of its kind."
See: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Liverpool (pdf)
Bulgaria: 21 asylum seekers to be indicted for riot at refugee camp (Sofia Globe, link):
"During the height of the refugee crisis, when far more refugees were in Bulgaria, a riot erupted at the refugee camp in the Bulgarian town of Harmanli. A total of 21 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, who allegedly took part in the riot, are now being indicted by the local District Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecution accuses the refugees, four of whom are minors, to be responsible for “hooliganism with boldness and cynicism” and for the destruction of property. The damage supposedly amounts to 85,000 leva.
The cause of the riot in Harmanli, which broke out on November 24, 2016, will not be part of the trial. Neither will police officers who allegedly attacked and beat refugees who were not even part of the riot."
13,000 migrants repatriated from Libya, but many returnees face problems (EurActiv, link):
"More than 13,000 migrants have been repatriated from Libya since the beginning of December, the African Union’s chief said yesterday (29 January), nearly two months after reports emerged showing refugees being sold as slaves.
That number is short of the AU’s goal to fly 20,000 out of the conflict-wracked north African nation by mid-January, but chairperson of the AU commission Moussa Faki Mahamat insisted the campaign was on course.
“We have 13,000, and every day, the number increases,” Faki told a press conference after the closing of an AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa."
POLAND: Calling Murders by Their Names as Criminal Offence – a Risk of Statutory Negationism in Poland (Verfassungsblog, link):
"On the eve of the international commemoration of the Holocaust Remembrance Day (27th of January), the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament approved a law on the defamation of the Polish State and Nation, causing extremely harsh reactions from the Israeli side, joined within days by tens of international organisations, the US Administration, and, most importantly, Holocaust survivors themselves. None of the arguments against the law convinced the Polish legislator to reconsider the legislation and just five days later, during a nightly sitting, the Senat, the upper chamber of the Polish Parliament, approved the memory law. It now awaits the signature of the Polish President to become a binding law.
...the official reason for submitting the new law to the Polish Parliament, or rather an amendment to existing legislation, has been fully justified – to stop the use of the term “Polish concentration camps” and “Polish death camps” anywhere in the world, a reason with which we have no argument whatsoever. Clearly, no such camps have ever existed. There have been, however, a number of German Nazi concentration camps designed and operated fully by the German occupiers of Poland. And yet, the idea has been abused, and instead of introducing civil remedies supporting requests of withdrawal of the term “Polish camps” from the media, the Polish Parliament decided mistakenly to use criminal sanctions and extending the sanction to any case of “attributing responsibility to the Polish State or Polish Nation”. This approach appears not only to be ineffective but also to suppress the freedom of historical debate and generally the freedom of speech by restricting the range of acceptable interpretations of historical events with a view, primarily, to eliminating those that present Poles as anything less than heroic, in particular as those who assisted Germans in committing Nazi crimes against Jewish people."
EU and military and security industry meet on future of EUROSUR (Stop Wapenhandel, link):
"On 6 and 7 February EU and member states' officials meet up with military and security companies for the 'Industry Day on Border Surveillance and Integrated Border Management' in Brussels. The aim of the day is to discuss the future development of EUROSUR, the EU border monitoring and surveillance system. This shows again the close connections between the EU and the European military and security industry and the influence the industry has on EU border policies.
The Industry Day, organised by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission, includes speeches and presentations by leading officials from DG HOME, the border security agency Frontex and the European Defence Agency. A speech on 'The role of industry' will be delivered by Giorgio Gulienetti, Head of National and International Technical Collaborations with Italian arms producer Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica) and chair of the Integrated Border Security Working Group of the European Organisation for Security (EOS). EOS is one of the main lobby organisations of the European military and security industry."
Antisemitic incidents in UK at all-time high (The Guardian, link):
"Antisemitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK, with the Jewish community targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year, figures indicate.
There were 1,382 antisemitic incidents recorded nationwide in 2017 by the Community Security Trust.
This was the highest tally that the trust, a charity that monitors antisemitism, has registered for a calendar year since it began gathering such data in 1984. The figure rose by 3%, compared with a total, in 2016, of 1,346 incidents – a tally that itself was a record annual total."
EU+ receives 43% fewer asylum applications in 2017 (EASO, link):
"The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has published data on asylum trends in the EU+ in 2017 on a newly enhanced interactive portal. The results show a significant decrease in lodged applications for asylum compared with 2016, with 40% of decisions in 2017 being positive."
IRELAND: PNR: Government approves proposals on counter-terrorism legislation (RT'É, link):
"Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said the Government has approved his proposals on counter-terrorism legislation, which will require details of passengers on flights entering or leaving the State.
The proposals come under the European Union directive - Passenger Name Record (PNR) - that Ireland signed up to and must be implemented by 25 May this year.
PNR means airlines will have to provide advance passenger information to authorities here and in other EU countries.
Mr Flanagan said the shared intelligence resource is significant in the fight against terrorism."
UK: Bristol police Taser autistic man with the mental age of a seven-year-old (Bristol Post, link):
"A man with learning difficulties was tasered by police and charged with assaulting an officer - in a case that collapsed when his mother discovered CCTV of the incident.
The autistic man, Paul, who has a mental age of seven, could have been jailed had the trial gone ahead - until his mother provided the damning evidence.
She obtained CCTV footage from The Laurels sheltered accommodating in St Paul's where the then-25-year-old lived - showing a different version of events from those provided by police."
And: Taser training for police as levels of violence increase (North Somerset Times, link): "A rise in violence has seen more than 350 Avon and Somerset police officers trained to use a Taser in the past year."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.18-4.2.18)
Irish court refuses man's extradition because of Brexit (Guardian, link):
"Supreme court judges rule UK will have left EU by the end of the company director’s sentence.
Ireland’s supreme court has declined to extradite a company director wanted for fraud to London because by the time he finishes his prison sentence the UK will have left the EU.
The surprise decision in Dublin is an early sign of the disruption Brexit may inflict on legal cooperation across the continent. A fresh extradition treaty between the two countries could be needed."
Polish Crackdown Ahead of Climate Talks (HRW, link):
"Bill Will Limit Protests During COP24 Summit.
In mid-January, the Polish parliament passed a government-sponsored bill which, will hamper the rights of environmental activists to protest at UN climate talks in December and subject them to government surveillance. President Andrzej Duda signed the law on January 29.
The summit, known as the COP24, taking place in the southern city of Katowice, brings together states parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and thousands of experts, journalists, businesses, and nongovernmental groups."
"Police in Macerata have arrested a man they say went on an hours-long shooting spree targeting African immigrants. The shootings come amid high tensions after an immigrant was detained in connection with a brutal murder."
Border treaty blamed for Calais migrant surge that has led to violence (The Observer, link):
"A sudden surge of refugees arriving in Calais is stoking new tensions between migrant communities and led to the mass brawl and multiple shootings that shocked France last week.
There has been a 25% increase in the number of migrants heading for the French port, placing pressure on food handouts and increasing competition for routes into the UK.
Migrants and charities blamed the rapid increase on a recent border treaty between France and the UK, which raised “false hopes” that it would be easier to reach Britain."
The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us (Guardian, link):
"The west has profited from globalisation but refuses to bear its responsibilities to displaced people. We have abandoned our belief in shared humanity"
Bulgarian PM criticises EU’s migration approach (New Europe, link):
"Speaking at a conference on security and migration management in the Western Balkans in Brussels on Thursday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov lambasted the EU’s migration and asylum policy, calling it “a complete failure”.
Borisov, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency on the European Council, offered a number of solutions that could deal with the ‘chaos’ that resulted from the EU’s existing approach towards migrants.
Part of his initiatives may face misunderstanding among other member states.
Borisov was particularly abrupt when speaking about the migrant issue and repeatedly countered the claims of Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship, who earlier called the EU’s relocation and resettlement scheme “a European success story”."
"Ahead of the first anniversary of Italy signing a deal with Libya on measures to stop refugees and migrants from travelling to Europe, thousands of people remain trapped in Libyan detention camps where torture is commonplace, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
“One year ago, the Italian government, backed by their European counterparts, agreed on a dodgy deal with the Libyan government that has trapped thousands. People are being forced to endure torture, arbitrary detention, extortion and unthinkable conditions in detention centres run by the Libyan government,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office."
"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is launching a new operation in the Central Mediterranean to assist Italy in border control activities.
The new Joint Operation Themis will begin on 1 February and will replace operation Triton, which was launched in 2014. Operation Themis will continue to include search and rescue as a crucial component. (...)
Its operational area will span the Central Mediterranean Sea from waters covering flows from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Albania."
Hungary will exit the series of negotiations on the UN’s migration package unless there is a positive shift (HUNGARIAN government, link):
"If there is no shift in a positive direction towards Hungary’s standpoint in the first draft of the UN’s migration package, Hungary’s exit process from the series of negotiations will be launched”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said. "
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