"British intelligence agencies were involved in the torture and kidnap of terrorism suspects after 9/11, according to two reports by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.
The reports published on Thursday amount to one of the most damning indictments of UK intelligence, revealing links to torture and rendition were much more widespread than previously reported.
While there was no evidence of officers directly carrying out physical mistreatment of detainees, the reports say the overseas agency MI6 and the domestic service MI5 were involved in hundreds of torture cases and scores of rendition cases."
See: Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament: Detainee mistreatment and rendition: 2001–2010 (Press release, pdf) and Report: Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition: 2001–2010 (pdf) and Detainee mistreatment and rendition; Current issues (Press release, pdf) and Report: Detainee Mistreatment and Rendition: Current Issues (pdf)
See also:Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, speech to the European Parliament hearing in Brussels on 23 January 2006: On the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners - EU governments have colluded by turning a “blind eye”, by failing to ask any questions or exercising any control (pdf)
" We called the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), the governmental body which oversees and authorises rescue operations. Normally we need their permission before we can do anything. But this time they gave us no guidance, other than to tell us to call the Libyan coastguard. In the past, the Libyan coastguard has threatened NGO boats like ours. Perhaps because of this, the captain decided not to contact them. At the same time, our NGO’s board in Germany told us to go north, away from Libyan territorial waters (which end 24 miles from shore), since the MRCC had given us no express orders to get involved. We headed north and then west, towards Tunisia. The VHF radio was silent for the rest of the night.
How is it that a rescue boat was fleeing from, instead of going towards, a boat in need?"
EU: Fair Trials research lifts the lid on mistreatment of European citizens subjected to European Arrest Warrant (Press release, link):
"Fair Trials, the global criminal justice watchdog, is calling for new EU human rights safeguards in order to stem the misuse of the European Arrest Warrant system, the EU’s flagship crimefighting tool, by EU member states
In a comprehensive investigation into what happens to individuals after they are surrendered following a European Arrest Warrant, a fast track extradition system, Fair Trials and its partners in Spain, Poland, Lithuania and Romania have uncovered evidence that shows how ordinary people are being swept into the system ruining their lives and those of their family members."
Lesvos, Greece: Moria community leader ends hunger strike after talks (ekathimerini.com, link):
"The leader of the Moria community on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos ended on Wednesday a hunger strike which he had started on Sunday in protest at overcrowding at the Moria reception center.
Nikos Trakellis called off his protest following talks with Deputy Migration Minister Yiannis Balafas, though it did not appear that the latter offered additional pledges other than those made by the ministry’s general secretary on Tuesday.
In comments to Kathimerini, Trakellis indicated that his hunger strike had been a symbolic action, aimed at drawing attention to conditions on the island where more than 8,000 migrants live in cramped conditions at the Moria center."
Tsipras to bail out Merkel on refugees (euractiv, link):
"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is ready to sign a deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make it easier for Germany to send asylum seekers back to other European countries, the Financial Times reported."
And see: France adds its voice to stop NGO ships from acting as ‘taxis’ (euractiv, link) Also: Europe's migration crisis: Could it finish the EU? (BBC News, link): "Hardened Eurosceptics might love to think the EU's in trouble, but as leaders gather in Brussels for their summer summit on Thursday, dedicated Europhiles are also sounding the alarm. "
EU: Bulgarian Council Presidency: At today’s summit, Merkel will seeks bilateral deals on migrant ‘secondary movements’ (link):
"German chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking bilateral talks on managing so-called secondary migration, at the two-day summit starting today (28 June). Georgi Gotev has the story.
The dispute is over plans drawn up by Merkel’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, the head of Bavaria’s conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), to send back migrants who reach the German border after having registered in other EU states. Merkel needs to take home a significant number of bilateral deals to be able to save its coalition."
"A senior European politician has warned that MEPs would seek to block any use of EU funds for offshore migrant camps in north Africa.
The opposition to offshore centres for processing asylum claims raises tensions before an EU summit that will be dominated by a political crisis over migration that threatens Angela Merkel’s future as German chancellor.
As Mediterranean countries spar over who is responsible for people rescued at sea, the EU is reviving the idea of processing asylum claims in countries outside Europe.
Claude Moraes, a British Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s influential justice and home affairs committee, said the parliament “wouldn’t cooperate on the budget” for such centres, because “we think these ideas are extreme and we are not going to touch them”.
The parliament must give its consent to the EU’s next seven-year budget, which foresees spending €35bn (£31bn) on border management from 2021-27, compared with €13bn in the current budget."
UK: HMRC takes 5 million taxpayers’ Voice IDs without consent (Big Brother Watch, link):
"HM Revenue and Customs has collected 5.1 million taxpayers’ voiceprints without their consent, a Big Brother Watch investigation has revealed.
Millions of callers to HMRC have been required to repeat the phrase, “My voice is my password” on an automated line before being able to access services. Big Brother Watch said taxpayers are being “railroaded into a mass ID scheme” as they are not given the choice to opt in or out, in a scheme that experts say breaches UK data protection laws.
Big Brother Watch submitted Freedom of Information requests revealing the Government department has amassed a staggering 5.1 million voiceprints."
Council of the EU: Sahel/Mali - Council conclusions (25 June 2018) (10026/18, pdf) including on migration:
"10. The EU reconfirms its commitment to strengthen its engagement with the G5 Sahel countries on migration in the region in line with the five pillars of the Valletta Action Plan, the Partnership Framework, the AU-EU Abidjan Declaration and the work of the Tripartite AU-EU-UN Taskforce on the migration situation in Libya. The EU underlines the need for enhanced collective efforts with the G5 Sahel countries to save lives, assist and protect migrants and refugees, fight against smuggling and trafficking in human beings, secure humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in conflict zones, while providing viable alternatives to irregular migration, in particular to communities along the main transit routes. Enhancing cooperation in the area of returns and readmission in accordance with international law and standards is also crucial. The EU reiterates its determination to support broad-based cooperation between countries in the Sahel and Libya in pursuit of these objectives and to tackle related cross-border challenges, including on the southern borders of Libya, while taking into account the security situation in this region."
Recent judgments from the European Court of Human Rights on a number of issues of interest: the death of a man after he was restrained by the French police, in which the court found that the authorities were negligent; a ruling that the Romanian courts violated a journalist's freedom of expression when fining him for sharing classified military information; and a ruling against Hungary for holding a man in pre-trial detention for three years despite there being no reasonable suspicion against him.
Council of the EU: Maritime security: EU revises its action plan (press release, link):
"90% of the EU's external trade and 40% of its internal trade is transported by sea. Safe and secure seas and oceans are of fundamental importance for free trade, the EU economy and living standards.
The Council today adopted conclusions on the revision of the EU maritime security strategy (EUMSS) action plan.
"With this action plan, the EU reaffirms its role as a global maritime security provider. It promotes international cooperation, maritime multilateralism and the rule of law at sea, in line with the strategic priorities identified in the EU Global Strategy." - High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini"
See: Council conclusions on the revision of the European Union Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) Action Plan (26 June 2018) (pdf) and background: Securing the high seas: Maritime Security Strategy progress report (Statewatch News Online, July 2016)
"ASSAMAKA, Niger (AP) — From this isolated frontier post deep in the sands of the Sahara, the expelled migrants can be seen coming over the horizon by the hundreds. They look like specks in the distance, trudging miserably across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain in the blistering sun.
They are the ones who made it out alive.
Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).
In Niger, where the majority head, the lucky ones limp across a desolate 15-kilometer (9-mile) no man’s land to Assamaka, less a town than a collection of unsteady buildings sinking into drifts of sand. Others, disoriented and dehydrated, wander for days before a U.N. rescue squad can find them. Untold numbers perish along the way; nearly all the more than two dozen survivors interviewed by The Associated Press told of people in their groups who simply could not go on and vanished into the Sahara."
IRELAND: EU plan for fingerprints on IDs ‘will not affect public services card’ (The Irish Times, link):
"EU plans to force member states to include people’s fingerprints on their national identity cards are not expected to affect the State’s public services card, the Department of Social Protection has said.
In April, the European Commission proposed what it described as measures to bolster the security of identity cards and reduce document fraud, and to provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with access to electronic evidence and financial information.
It proposed making biometric data mandatory for those countries with ID cards and said EU citizens’ ID cards (older than 12 years) and non-EU family members’ residence cards would now include biometric data, namely fingerprints and facial images, stored on a chip."
See: EU plans to include fingerprints in identity cards are unjustified and unnecessary (press release, 11 June 2018)
Destination Europe: Evacuation (IRIN, link):
"The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.
Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind."
Bulgaria under fire for ill-treatment of asylum-seekers (Bulgarian Presidency, link):
"French lawyers will today (26 June) bring a complaint against Bulgaria and will ask the European Commission to start and infringement proceeding for inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by this country’s authorities, the Green/EFA group announced. Georgi Gotev has the story.
In the presence of the Green/EFA group co-chair Ska Keller, the lawyers presented a 20-page report, based on shocking testimony by Afghan asylum-seekers, and answered journalistic questions.
Chloé Gerbert Cahuzac who represents the 14 Afghan claimants who are currently asylum seekers in France said they were in a state of anxiety aid groups had “never seen before”.
She quoted them as repeating the same sentence: “We prefer to go back to Kabul than to Sofia. In Afghanistan people kill you right away with one bullet, in Bulgaria they let you die slowly”."
EU: European Parliament briefing: A Europe without internal borders? Free movement of persons (pdf):
"The free movement of persons is one of the four freedoms of the EU single market, the other three being the free movement of goods, services and capital. Since the founding of the EU, internal borders have been progressively dismantled and these freedoms have expanded. Today the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States are for the most part based on Directive 2004/38/EC. Free movement may in practice entail different rights for different categories of people."
HUNGARY: Unfurling the flag: A new right radical party is born (Hungarian Spectrum, link):
"László Toroczkai, Dóra Dúró, and her husband Elod Novák created a new right radical party on Saturday in Ásotthalom, a village near the Serbian-Hungarian border where Toroczkai has been mayor since 2013. About 1,000 radical right-wingers gathered to witness the birth of this party, Mi Hazánk (MH/Our country). Musical entertainment was provided by a group that calls itself Romantikus Eroszak (Romantic violence). Members of the New Hungarian Guard and the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement, a far-right irredentist organization founded by László Toroczkai in 2001, joined in the festivities.
(...) With this introduction I simply want to demonstrate that the founders of MH are hard-core radicals who refused to abandon the original mission of Jobbik. Toroczkai’s speech and his subsequent interviews reinforce this point. One of his first pronouncements was that the country “will remain a white Hungary.” He added that this will be the case whether “there is a European Union or not.” The Roma issue was also high on the list. Toroczkai noted that while almost a million Hungarians have left the country, the number of Gypsies has grown from 400,000 to 876,000."
EU: New interoperable, centralised, Justice & Home Affairs database: Adoption of Regulations a democratic shambles
On 12 December 2017 the Commission put forward proposals on "interoperability" which will bring together into a central source data held in the Justice & Home Affairs databases on asylum, migration and borders for the first time.
The European Parliament and the Council got to work quickly, after all the proposals concerned migration and terrorism and only covered non-EU citizens so they were thought to be uncontentious. By June 2018 both the institutions - as co-legislators - were well advanced on agreeing their negotiating positions prior to starting trilogue talks.
But in June 2018 the Comission produced two Amended Regulations dependent on five underlying mesures which have yet to be agreed.There is all the makings on a democratic shambles.
Are You Syrious (25.6.18, link)
Greece: Fascist Attack
"Activists report that a fascist attack took place on Sunday night against a squatted social health centre, PIKPA, at Petralona, Athens. Twenty men attacked the building with molotovs during an assembly of the neighbourhood. One antifascist was injured in the head, while police arrested the antifascists instead of the attackers. A spontaneous demonstration happened after the incident.
On Monday, Krypteia, a neonazi group responsible for many other attacks, claimed responsibility, also mentioning Manolada (the immigrant worker’s area) and an arson attack which took place there a few weeks ago."
EU: Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs (European Parliament, press release, link):
"The EU should ensure that helping migrants for humanitarian reasons is not punishable as a crime Civil Liberties Committee MEPs said on Monday.
MEPs highlight concerns that EU laws on humanitarian help to migrants is having “unintended consequences” for EU citizens that provide it, in a non-legislative resolution passed by 38 votes to 16, with 2 abstentions.
Under the 2002 “Facilitation” directive, EU member states are required to introduce laws listing criminal penalties for anyone who “facilitates” the irregular entry, transit or residence of migrants.
However, the EU legislation also empowers member states to exempt “humanitarian” action from the list of crimes.(...)
They call on EU countries to include this exemption in their national laws, to ensure that individuals and civil society organisations who assist migrants for humanitarian reasons are not prosecuted for doing so."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.6.18 - 26.6.18)
European Parilament: Hotspots at EU external borders - State of play (pdf):
"As migration continues to be one of the EU's main challenges, the hotspots are a key element of EU support for Greece and Italy to help them face the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, reception conditions remain a concern. The majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants."
"As Germany's government bitterly debates border protection, Austria is undertaking a large-scale border operation. Austrian leaders say the German squabble and possible changes to European policy triggered the move.
Austria held border patrol training exercises on Tuesday. The country's leaders told German newspaper Bild that they came in response to a rift in the German government over migration."
"The latest Council draft conclusions on migration circulated on Monday and obtained by POLITICO, which EU leaders will discuss at a summit this week, largely leaves out amendments proposed by the Commission."
See: European Council meeting (28 June 2018) – Draft conclusions (Statewatch, LIMITE doc on: 8148-18, dated 25 June 2018, pdf)
"What the latest draft summit conclusions say: “In this context, the European Council supports the development of a concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM [the International Organization for Migration]. Such platforms should allow for rapid and secure processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor.”
EU summit to focus on lowering Mediterranean immigration (euractiv, link):
"European Union leaders meeting over migration later this week will agree to further tighten their external borders, give more support to Libya and look at creating “disembarkation” centres outside of their territory for people who arrive by sea.
But a draft of their statement showed no agreement on distributing asylum seekers around the bloc, a measure strongly opposed by the Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia).
With anti-immigration politicians raising the stakes in EU countries from Germany and Austria to Italy and Hungary, the bloc is seeking more ways to curb Mediterranean arrivals."
"MEPs called on EU member states to initiate the procedure, foreseen in Article 7(1) the EU Treaty, for determining whether there is a systemic threat to the EU’s founding values, as enshrined in EU Treaty Article 2. These include respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
The draft proposal for a Council decision to trigger an Article 7 procedure, which the committee approved by 37 votes to 19, still needs to be endorsed by Parliament as a whole. This would be the first time that Parliament exercises its right of initiative with regard to Article 7."
BREXIT: EU Withdrawal Bill: amendments and debates (link): Sets out in chart form the changes to government proposal
USA: The Wiretap Rooms - The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight U.S. Cities (The Intercept, link):
"The secrets are hidden behind fortified walls in cities across the United States, inside towering, windowless skyscrapers and fortress-like concrete structures that were built to withstand earthquakes and even nuclear attack. Thousands of people pass by the buildings each day and rarely give them a second glance, because their function is not publicly known. They are an integral part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks – and they are also linked to a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.(...)
The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of internet traffic across the United States and the world."
"Nine EU member states are set to sign off on the establishment of a joint European military intervention force, an initiative which has won the backing of the UK as it seeks to maintain defence ties after Brexit.
Spearheaded by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the European force will be designed to deploy and coordinate forces rapidly to deal with crises around the world.
Defence ministers from France, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain and Portugal were expected to sign a letter of intent in Luxembourg on Monday."
See: Council Conclusions on Security and Defence in the context of the EU Global Strategy - Council Conclusions (25 June 2018) (pdf): "proposals made by the High Representative to develop a more strategic approach for EU Partnerships on security and defence with third countries."
And: Council decision establishing a common set of governance rules for PESCO projects (Press release, pdf)
"Xenophobic populism and hate speech have continued to be on the rise in 2017, with high levels of migration and challenges of integration, religious extremism, terrorist attacks and the austerity-driven socio-economic climate observed all over Europe, says the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) published today."
"The UNHCR reports that in the last three days approximately 220 have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This spike in death toll caused the UN agency to call for more rescue capacity at sea, while European governments, with Italy in a leading role, do everything to avoid effective sea rescue. Sea-Watch warned on Wednesday of deadly days on the horizon due to a lack of rescue capacity; these drownings are a direct effect of the current crackdown on sea rescue."See: ECRI report 2017 (pdf)
UK: Metropolitan Police admits role in blacklisting construction workers (BBC News, link);
"Scotland Yard has admitted Special Branch officers passed information to a controversial network that blacklisted construction workers.
It follows a six-year battle to find out if the Metropolitan Police supplied the intelligence on trade unionists.
The force says its investigation had "proven" the allegation, which will be investigated by a public inquiry.
Workers who say they were unfairly barred from jobs have already received millions of pounds in compensation."
Council of the European Union: Letter from the High Commissioner for Refugees to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria (LIMITE doc no: 10316, pdf): Backing the need for solidarity between EU Member States to take their fair share of refugees.
See also: Conte and Macron compare notes on migration at mini-summit (euractiv, link): "Sixteen EU heads of state and government held an emergency summit in Brussels on Sunday (24 June) to discuss migration – a crisis with a destructive potential for the EU. No results were announced but sources said the discussions had largely revolved around a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte." And: Migration is threat to EU free travel area, says Italian prime minister - Giuseppe Conte presents 10-point plan to solve migration crisis at emergency summit (Guardian, link)
Also: Migration crisis risks Europe’s dream - Antonio Tajani (Times, Malta, link): Antonio Tajani is president of the European Parliament
EU: Europe’s asylum system is broken and leaders must fix it (AI, link)
"Hungarian humanitarian groups that help asylum seekers are standing in defiance of new draconian laws imposed by Viktor Orban’s authoritarian government that criminalize their work."
"An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission criticises a key provision on illegal migration of the so-called “Stop Soros” legislation that the Hungarian Parliament adopted this week.(...)
the Hungarian provision goes far beyond what is allowed under Article 11, as it unfairly criminalises organisational activities not directly related to the materialisation of illegal migration, including “preparing or distributing informational materials” or “initiating asylum requests for migrants.” Criminalising such activities disrupts assistance to victims by NGOs, disproportionally restricting their rights as guaranteed under Article 11, and under international law. Furthermore, criminalising advocacy and campaigning activities – under the new provision – constitutes illegitimate interference with freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10, according to the opinion." [emphasis added]
See: Press release (link)
"The European Union is stepping up efforts to protect its external borders. The focus is on developing the Frontex Border Agency into a European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Another pillar of EU migration policy is the transfer of border security to third countries. Particular attention is paid to the maritime borders in Libya and neighbouring countries. Furthermore, most of the migrants reaching the European Union via the Mediterranean come from Libya. Their absolute number is declining, yet in 2017 almost 119,000 people fled.
The fragile „unity government“ in Tripoli controls only a fraction of the land borders. However, their military coastguard and civilian maritime police are responsible for those stretches of the coast from which many depart for the EU."
EU: Visegrad Four to shun EU's weekend mini-summit on migrant crisis (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday said leaders of the Visegrad Four countries Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will skip a European Union mini-summit on the migration crisis this weekend.
All four eastern EU states strongly oppose calls from western counterparts especially Germany for all member states to accept a quota of migrants who have streamed into the EU since 2015 in order to share the burden around the bloc."
EDRI: We can still win: Next steps for the Copyright Directive (link):
"On the 20th of June 2018, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) ignored all advice and voted for the chaotic Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive.
There are several steps for the EU institutions to go through before the Directive can finally be adopted. We can still win!"
EU: Tensions build ahead of hastily prepared migration meeting (euractiv, link):
"Jean-Claude Juncker’s invitation to a handful of EU leaders for an informal mini-summit on Sunday (27 June) to discuss migration and asylum appears to have raised more issues than the meeting can solve."
Fair movement of people: equal treatment? (Part Two) (EU Law Analysis, link):
"A second element of our scheme would include possible restrictions on the principle of equal treatment in respect of both work and access to benefits. We suggest that the UK needs to utilise the restrictions on equal treatment that already exist in the Citizens’ Rights Directive 2004/38 while developing the restrictions on the equal treatment principle contained in the Brussels New Settlement Agreement negotiated by David Cameron in February 2016. We suggest that this may (eventually) be acceptable to the EU because it reflects both the origins of the free movement provisions in the EU and a political realisation that free movement is less popular than it was for Western EU states."
CoE: CPT factsheet on transport of detainees (link):
"On a number of occasions, CPT delegations have inspected vehicles intended for the transport of detainees, such as road and railway vehicles. They frequently found that conditions were substandard or that basic safety requirements were not being met. The Committee has also come across practices which called for criticism (e.g. overreliance on means of restraint; unnecessarily long periods of confinement in prisoner transport vehicles)."
See: Factsheet (pdf)
UK: "The heart is where the battle is": A celebration of Sivanandan's legacy, Saturday 23 June 2018. The Memorial event at Conway Hall. London will be live-streamed on the Institute of Race Relations News Youtube Channel from 1.30 to 5.00pm: https://www.youtube.com/user/IRRnews
Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application.... Preparation for the trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 9848-18, pdf)
"It is of utmost importance to Member States that the European Parliament has accepted the possibility for Member States to use a proportionate degree of coercion as a last resort to ensure the compliance of minors with the obligation to provide biometric data."
"A joint declaration by the Ministers of Justice of France, Germany, Belgium and Spain ... was distributed in the margins of the conference. It called for the reinforcement of the sharing of information on current investigations and convictions for terrorist offences with Eurojust."
UK-BREXT: Commission slide show: Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (pdf)
EU countries prepare mini-summit as migration row festers (ekathimerini.com,link):
"Leaders from a group of European Union countries, led by Germany and France, will meet Sunday to thrash out possible solutions to a divisive row over migrants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose own government is in crisis over the management of migrant arrivals, is expected to join the leaders of Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain for “informal talks” at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday."
This unusual move just days before an European Council (Heads of State) meeting was unowned by the Commission in a minimal way see: Informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues (Press release, pdf). The text simply says:
"President Juncker is convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming European Council."
"Hungary’s parliament yesterday (20 June) approved a package of bills that criminalises some help given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups.
Parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary – a swipe at Brussels over its resettlement quota plan.
The legislation narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), making their workers liable for jail terms for helping migrants to seek asylum when they are not entitled to it."
See also: Hungary: Draconian anti-NGO law will be resisted every step of the way (AI, link)
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (18.6.18-20.6.18) including: EU to consider migrant processing centres in north Africa; EU-Ethiopia returns: Council fails to answer three simple questions; "Stop Soros" legislative package to be voted on in Hungary
"Britain will be locked out of EU policing and security databases after Brexit, the bloc’s chief negotiator has confirmed.
Michel Barnier said the UK would also lose access to the European arrest warrant and that UK representatives would no longer have a role in managing agencies such as Europol and Eurojust.
In a speech in Vienna Mr Barnier said the British government needed a dose of “realism” about what would be possible on security cooperation after the UK leaves the bloc."
EU: Court of Justice: Member States are entitled to adopt a return decision as soon as an application for international protection is rejected, provided that the return procedure is suspended pending the outcome of an appeal against that rejection (press release, pdf):
"In today's judgment, the Court of Justice finds that an applicant for international protection falls within the scope of the directive on returning illegally staying non-EU nationals as soon as his application for international protection has been rejected by the responsible authority. In that regard, the Court notes that the authorisation to remain in the territory of the Member State concerned for the purposes of exercising the right to an effective remedy against that rejection decision does not preclude the conclusion that, as soon as that rejection decision is adopted, the stay of the person concerned becomes, in principle, illegal (...)
The Court also notes that Member States are required to provide an effective remedy against the decision rejecting the application for international protection, in accordance with the principle of equality of arms, which means, in particular, that all the effects of the return decision must be suspended during the period prescribed for lodging such an appeal and, if such an appeal is lodged, until resolution of the appeal."
See the judgment: Sadikou Gnandi v Belgium (Case C-181/16, French only, pdf)
On 8 June 2018, the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALLL) ruled on case no. 205104, which concerned an appeal against a Dublin transfer from Belgium to Greece of an applicant from Palestine. The applicant arrived and lodged an asylum application in Belgium in October 2017. Since he was in possession of a valid visa delivered by Greece, Belgium sent a “take charge” request to Greece on the application of the Dublin III Regulation. The applicant appealed against this decision before the CALL based on, inter alia, the alleged existence of systematic deficiencies in the asylum and reception systems in Greece.
On 15 February 2018 Judith Sargentini MEP asked the Council of the EU three questions concerning procedures for returning Ethiopians to their country of origin, which were approved by the Council at the end of January. The Council's answer came over four months later, on 18 June, and fails to answer any of the questions effectively.
"The EU is to consider the idea of building migrant processing centres in north Africa in an attempt to deter people from making life-threatening journeys to Europe across the Mediterranean, according to a leaked document.
The European council of EU leaders “supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms”, according to the draft conclusions of an EU summit due to take place next week (pdf).
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "Vassilis was a very old friend and comrade. I knew him for over 20 years both through the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control and as a contributor to Statewatch. Over the years we spoke together on many platforms including in Komitini, Athens, Nafplion, Lesvos and Corinth. We had many hours of thoughful and compassionate discusions on Greek history, the future of the EU state and democracy and ongoing struggles."
HUNGARY: The “Stop Soros” bill revisited (Hungarian Spectrum, link):
"Tomorrow is D-Day for the so-called “Stop Soros” legislative package. At 3 p.m. the Fidesz voting machine, perhaps with the assistance of Jobbik, will accept all of the provisions of the 7th amendment to the constitution.
Since January, when it was first proposed and failed to pass because Fidesz didn’t have a super majority in parliament at that time, the bill has gone through several iterations. In the first version, foreign-financed organizations “supporting illegal immigration” were to be registered and a tax imposed on them. The bill would have included the issuance of restraining orders in an 8-km border zone in the case of Hungarian citizens; non-Hungarian supporters of illegal immigration would have been barred from Hungary altogether. All this was unconstitutional as far as Hungarian law was concerned and illegal under the laws of the European Union."
115 rescued, 5 dead in Libya wreck - Libyan Navy (Info Migrants, link)
"Libyan coast guards have rescued 115 migrants off Mellitah, west of Tripoli, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Libya's Navy. At least five were reported dead in the shipwreck.
Libyan coast guards rescued 115 migrants, including two children and 22 women aboard a rubber dinghy taking on water some eight miles north of Mellitah, west of Tripoli, the Libyan Navy said in a statement published on Facebook Tuesday. They were also reportedly able to ''recover five bodies,'' including three men and two women, according to the statement.
The coast guard vessel "Ras Jedir" carried out the rescue operation and saved migrants from different African countries and four Pakistanis. The statement said high waves had "destroyed part of the dinghy" and "some undocumented migrants fell into the sea," without elaborating."
"In a vote today, 20 June, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted for the a Copyright Directive, which includes measures to monitor and filter virtually all uploads to the internet.
The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, which mandates the mass monitoring and censorship of internet uploads. The vote comes after wide criticism of these measures and against the advice of civil society, of leading academics and universities, of research institutions , the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and even the inventors of the internet and of the world wide web."
European Migration Network: Annual Report on Migration and Asylum 2017 (pdf):
Covers: 1. Legal migration and mobility; 2. International protection including asylum; 3. Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups; 4. Integration; 5. Irregular migration including border control; 6. Return; 7. Actions addressing trafficking in human beings; 8. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility.
11 Member States are insistent on the need for a new scheme on the resettlement of refugees into the EU to be used as an instrument for trying to ensure that 'third countries' cooperate with EU policies on migration.
Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Greece, Malta, Austria and Ireland have "[stressed] the need to retain in the text the idea that resettlement is a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries," according to a note distributed by COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, made up of Member States' head officials in Brussels) in response to a Bulgarian Council Presidency note drafted at the beginning of this month.
EU: Council bypasses Parliament on Europol personal data exchange deals with Middle Eastern and North African states
The views of the European Parliament on proposed agreements that would allow the exchange of personal and other data between Europol and eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa are to be ignored by the Council of the EU and the European Commission.
At the beginning of June the Council of the EU approved negotiating mandates that will be used by the European Commission in talks with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.
ECHR: In a "democratic society" you have to trust the state: Bulk interception of communications in Sweden meets Convention standards (Press release, pdf) Although the Court found that:
"The Court considered that the relevant legislation amounted to a system of secret surveillance that potentially affected all users of mobile telephones and the Internet, without their being notified. Also, there was no domestic remedy providing detailed grounds in response to a complainant who suspected that his or her communications had been intercepted (... and)
The court’s [Foreign Intelligence Court] activities are in practice covered by complete secrecy.(... and)
while the Court found certain shortcomings in the system, notably the regulation of the communication of personal data to other States and international organisations and the practice of not giving public reasons following a review of individual complaints (... that the review system) (...) developed in such a way that it minimised the risk of interference with privacy and compensated for the lack of openness of the system". [emphasis added]
And see full text of the: Opinion (pdf)
"Under the neighbourhood policy the southern Mediterranean countries are supported with a police programme. Since 2004 measures in „cyberspace“ are on the agenda. Once again, this is the surveillance of social networks, upload platforms and video telephony.
The European Union wants to train North African countries in Internet surveillance. This is what Johannes Hahn, Commissioner responsible for EU neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, writes in his reply to a question by MEP Sabine Lösing. In an unnamed „partner country in the southern neighbourhood“, training courses on „social media investigations“ are to be held as part of the „Euromed Police IV“ police programme. Further measures are to be taken in the areas of „cyberspace and terrorism“. These include financial investigations and digital forensics."
Greece: A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria (Samos Chronicles, link):
"For the past ten days I have been waiting for news from Mohammad. Like me he comes from Aleppo but for the past 6 years he has been with his mother and brother living in Istanbul. Mohammad is 18 years old.
We became friends through Facebook where he saw that I was involved with many refugees in Athens and in Samos. He had read my story in the Samos Chronicles. As a young gay man he turned to me for advice and help which I was happy to give. Over the past six months we have talked a lot and a good friendship has developed. I know that he trusts me...."
MEP: In the long term, migrants will be part of solution in Europe (euractiv, link):
"More and more voices are calling for an urgent reform of the strained Dublin asylum system as migrants continue arriving across the Mediterranean and migration takes centre stage in Europe again.
In an interview with EURACTIV’s Karolina Zbytniewska, Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP for the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, is positive: “If we did not have the Dublin rules or if we had changed them, we wouldn’t be having what is now happening in Italian ports and in the Mediterranean.
EU: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual report 2017 (pdf):
"Importantly, recognition rates tend to vary across EU+ countries, at both relatively low and high values of the recognition rates, in particular for applicants from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, where the recognition rate ranged between 0 and 100 %. For others, there was relatively more convergence at higher (e.g. Eritrea and Syria) and lower (e.g. Albania and Nigeria) recognition rates."
See also: Sharp fall in number of people seeking asylum in EU (Guarsian, link): "Almost 730,000 applications were made in 2017, a 44% drop on the 1.3m made in 2016."
Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap (euractiv, link):
"French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany tomorrow (19 June) seeking progress with Chancellor Angela Merkel on elusive eurozone reforms, but the deepening EU rifts over migration threaten to dominate an already daunting agenda."
Italy: Salvini's Roma census abhorrent - Martina (ANSA, link):
"Caretaker Democratic Party (PD) leader Maurizio Martina on Monday described Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's proposal to conduct a census of ethnic Roma people in Italy as "abhorrent". "It is the latest act in an escalation of dangerous, unacceptable messages," Martina told ANSA. (...)
"Yesterday the refugees, today the Roma, tomorrow guns for all," Gentiloni said via Twitter. Matteo Orfini, the president of the centre-left party, proposed that: "if we really want to have a census, I'd start with racists and fascists"."
UK: Time 2 Listen consultation on mental health and policing (Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, link):
"The Time 2 Listen consultation, believed to be the first of its kind ever held in Northamptonshire, heard from 1,200 people in the county who have either mental illness, autism or ADHD, as well as more than 260 professionals working in health, policing, criminal justice and the voluntary sector.
The consultation aimed to understand their experiences in order to recommend improvements to service provision.
People with a mental health concern are much more likely to come into contact with the police, either as victims or offenders. It is estimated that at least 20% of all incidents dealt with by Northamptonshire Police each year are related in some way to mental health, although the real figure may be much higher. Up to 90 per cent of people in prison and two-fifths of people on community sentences have some sort of mental health concern.
The results of this major consultation revealed that people feel that services do not work together: that there are gaps in the support available and an inconsistent approach between organisations.
The Time 2 Listen report contains 34 recommendations for criminal justice and health agencies, along with an action plan to implement them through two existing, multi-agency groups – the Mental Health Transformation Board Steering Group and the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Board."
See the report: Time 2 Listen Report 2018 (pdf)
EU: Refugees in Orbit – again! (Verfassungsblog, link):
"Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new far-right home secretary, tweeted “Vittoria!” after news broke that the 629 persons stranded aboard the M.S. Aquarius would be forced to proceed to the Spanish city of Valencia rather than being allowed to disembark at much closer ports in Sicily (...)
But is it a victory for Italy, as the home secretary presumably meant to suggest? There is no doubt that Italy (and to a much greater extent, Greece) has shouldered more than its fair share of refugees arriving to seek protection in Europe. Nor can it be doubted that Europe and the rest of the world have acted too slowly and undependably to share-out what is in principle a common responsibility to protect refugees, thus fueling frustration and even anger. The EU’s absurd “Dublin Regulation” rule that allocates nearly all protection duties to the first country in which a refugee arrives is both unprincipled and cruel. So while nothing can justify Italy’s flagrant breach of the duty to facilitate speedy disembarkation of those rescued, its determination to force a redistribution of responsibility is perhaps more comprehensible.
In truth, the real villain here is an outmoded system of implementing protection obligations under the UN’s Refugee Convention. Under the status quo, whatever country a refugee reaches is the one and only country that has protection obligations to that refugee. Accidents of geography, rather than any principled metric, determine which states are obliged to carry the burdens for implementing what is in theory a universal duty to protect refugees."
TURKEY-AFGHANISTAN: Their Road to Turkey Was Long and Grueling, but the Short Flight Home Was Crueler (New York Times, link):
"KABUL, Afghanistan — Their desperate journey out of Afghanistan, en route to safer lives in Europe, had taken months through high mountains and treacherous deserts.
They survived bullets, beatings and insults from border guards. Bandits stripped them of nearly everything except their shoes and clothes — which over the months of the journey they would wash in whatever puddle or pool was available, laying the clothes out in the sun to dry and then wear again.
But their migration halted suddenly in Turkey, and now they were being deported to a home country racked by war. I flew with them on the return flight to Kabul from Istanbul that finally ended their hopes. It took just five hours last month."
UKRAINE: Human rights groups condemn Ukraine over its funding of nazi militias (Morning Star, link):
"HUMAN rights groups in Ukraine hit out today after it was revealed that nazi militias involved in brutal and violent attacks against minorities have received cash from the government.
A report published on YouTube by the Ministry of Youth and Sports showed officials voting to fund the far-right Svoboda party along with the violent neonazi C14 group via grants for “national-patriotic education projects.”
In a statement on its website the ministry admitted that, while it does not directly finance any public groups, including the far-right, it does fund the projects of those groups."
"An EU proposal to impose export controls on technology products that can be used as spyware is at risk of being delayed as a group of nine countries have pushed back against the overhaul.
EU officials are concerned that a bill to regulate the export of so-called dual use products could be toppled ahead of next year’s European Parliament election. Dual use products can be used for either civilian or military purposes and fall under special export controls.
Nine countries, led by Sweden, have united against the proposal’s clampdown on exports of technology products that could be used to harm human rights.
Sweden, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom drafted a paper criticising the bill."
UK: New study of police stop and search within British Muslim communities (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, link):
"The British Journal of Criminology has published a new study of police stop and search within British Muslim communities and the analysis of statistical data collected by the Crime Survey of England and Wales between 2006 and 2011.
The primary aim of the study was to determine the extent to which Crime Survey data support allegations of police discrimination against British Muslim communities. The study represents the first of its kind to model large-scale police stop and search data from British Muslim communities. Previous research has tended to use data pertaining to ethnicity or anecdotal evidence.
Analysis revealed that being Muslim increased the likelihood of being subjected to a foot stop by only a very small amount (around one per cent) and actually decreased the likelihood of being subjected to a vehicle stop. However, once stopped, being Muslim increased the likelihood of being searched on foot by a factor of eight - more than for any other ethnic or religious group analysed in the study. Overall, the study revealed a more complex picture of police stop and search practices within British Muslim communities than has been asserted by academics, politicians and campaign groups."
See: Police Stop and Search Within British Muslim Communities: Evidence From the Crime Survey 2006–11 (British Journal of Criminology, link)
UK: No officers to face prosecution or disciplinary action over taser death (ITV News, link):
"Granada reports can reveal that NO officers from Greater Manchester Police will face prosecution or disciplinary action over the death of a man after he'd been shot with a taser.
Jordon Begley, 23, died after being Tasered and restrained when Greater Manchester Police officers were called to his home in Gorton, Manchester, during a row with neighbours in July 2013.
An original report by police watchdog the IPCC into his death, which found no individual officer had a case to answer, was quashed by the High Court in 2016 after it was found to be inconsistent with a subsequent inquest."
Italy bars two more refugee ships from ports (The Guardian, link):
"Italy’s interior minister has sparked a new migration crisis in the Mediterranean by barring two rescue boats from bringing refugees to shore, a week after the Aquarius was prevented from docking.
“Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant party the League, wrote on his Facebook page. “These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go.”
Italy’s closure of its ports to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, which was carrying 620 people, triggered warnings from aid agencies of a deadly summer at sea for people trying to cross the Mediterranean."
EU: The EU’s Answer to Migration Is to Triple Funding for Border Management. Will This Do the Job? (Center for Global Development, link)
"Earlier this week, the European Commission published its proposals on migration and border security for the next EU budget (2021–2027). Financial support for migration, asylum, and border management is to almost triple, from €13 billion to €34.9 billion. What might this mean for the EU and future migration flows? (...)
The Aquarius incident serves as a reminder of how much pressure the unresolved migration challenges put on the EU’s internal cohesion. There is major disagreement on the future of migration policy within Europe, with Southern European states disagreeing and a deep East-West divide, especially as Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic refuse to take part in resettlement efforts for a fairer European allocation of asylum seekers, leading to the Commission launching infringement procedures against these member states last year. The unprecedented increase in funding for border management in the MFF seems to reflect the “principle of hope” that more money will do the job in reducing internal tensions during the budgetary negotiations. However, in the long-term and given the absence of legal migration mechanism and the EU’s struggle to build a coherent asylum system by successfully revising the Dublin regulation, population growth, instability, and economic development in Africa could drive more people into risking the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean, irrespective of cutting-edge border management technologies."
Big Data, Big Promises: Revisiting Migration Statistics in Context of the Datafication of Everything (Border Criminologies, link):
"We are witnessing the datafication of mobility and migration management across the world. In the context of Europe, programs like Eurosur use satellite images for surveilling the EU’s maritime borders, while the so-called hotspot approach aims to register all newly arriving migrants in biometric databases. Similarly, in the field of asylum, biometric databases are built for purposes of refugee management, while asylum seekers in Greece are distributed cash-cards. These new types and collections of data do not only change border and migration management practices. They also reconfigure how human mobility and migration are known and constituted as intelligible objects of government. The crucial innovation driving this datafication is the digitization of information that was previously stored – if at all – on paper files. This information is now available in a range of databases and can – at least in theory – be searched, exchanged, linked, and analysed with unprecedented scope and efficiency (...)
The ‘huge potential of Big Data’ to provide accurate and up-to-date accounts of international migration is promoted. Nevertheless, the promises driving these efforts are just as big as the data they refer to. In this post, we briefly discuss three reasons why it is rather unlikely that Big Data will simply solve the most important known limitations of migration statistics. Each reason is related to a form of politics which, taken together, shape the quantification of migration."
Italy to compile 'register' of Roma people: Matteo Salvini (The Local, link):
" Italian authorities are to carry out a census of Roma people with a view to deporting those without papers, according to new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
Salvini, head of the anti-immigration League party that is the junior party in Italy's governing coalition, plans to order "a survey of Roma in Italy to find out who, how, how many", he told a northern Italian TV station on Monday, saying the information would be collected in a "register".
"Irregular [undocumented] foreigners will be deported via agreements with other countries, but Italian Roma unfortunately you have to keep at home," he was quoted as saying.
Salvini has a long history of targeting Italy's Roma and Sinti population, which numbers an estimated 130,000-170,000, around half of whom are believed to be Italian citizens.
The League has already proposed creating exceptional laws for Roma people that would make it easier for authorities to remove children from their families if they were found not to be attending school, while Salvini has called for Roma camps to be "bulldozed" and accused Romani of preferring crime to work."
EU: Mastermind smuggler involved in 2015 migrant crisis arrested in Greece (Europol press release, pdf):
"One of most prolific migrant smugglers along the Western Balkan route was arrested in Athens on 12 June 2018 after very close cooperation between the Hellenic Police (Aliens Division of Attica), the Hungarian National Police (National Bureau of Investigation Illegal Immigration Unit) and Europol. The suspect, a Syrian national, was apprehended in Athens together with an accomplice who is involved in document fraud.
The main suspect, based in Hungary, was involved in the transport of migrants in 2015 and 2016. At that time, he was under investigation in different EU Member States for facilitating several smuggling incidents between Hungary and Germany. The investigation showed that he moved to Greece after the closure of the Western Balkan route to continue his criminal activities. Based on this information, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Hungary. After an excellent exchange of information via Europol, both the Hellenic and Hungarian authorities met for a final operational meeting with the European Union Task Force (EURTF) in Greece to discuss future steps in the investigation."
See also in a seperate case: Greece: Leaders of Smuggling Network get 1,400 Year Sentence (OCCRP, link)
"BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, announces the launch of its petition for the procession ‘March from Palermo to Brussels - A Monument to the European Union’ to bring the recovered refugee shipwreck from the 18th April 2015 from Italy to Brussels and install it as a permanent monument in the heart of the headquarters of European politics.
The procession through Europe with the recovered shipwreck of the refugee boat that sank in the Sicilian Channel in spring 2015, will start in Palermo in summer 2018 - referencing the Charter of Palermo and the freedom of movement as a human right, as well as the local tradition of the syncretic Santa Rosalia procession as a victory over the plague and a celebration of life.
The procession will move through Italy, crossing the borders of France, Germany and Belgium, to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. There the shipwreck will come to its final halt and be displayed permanently in front of the European Council and Commission as a reminder of and transnational monument to Europe’s failed migration policies and its legislative machine that creates illegality and social destruction."
POLICE COOPERATION: Despite tensions with Russia, World Cup countries pitch in for tournament safety (Reuters, link):
"As World Cup squads and their fans fly into Russia for the start of the tournament on Thursday, so do police officers from all the competing nations to help deter hooliganism and the threat of any militant attack.
The country has deployed thousands of police to the 11 host cities to deal with an influx of potentially rowdy soccer fans and other security threats.
But they will not be alone. Regardless of any political differences with Moscow, the 32 participating countries have sent officers to help Russian police spot troublemakers and prevent fans from having run-ins with the local authorities.
Housed in an Interior Ministry training facility outside Moscow, the police cooperation center bringing them all together was inaugurated on Tuesday and hailed by its head Colonel Roman Azyavin as “a single family of international police forces”."
ID4Africa survey shows near universal support for biometrics elections among African identity community (Biometric Update, link):
"This is the first of a four-part series summarizing the most important lessons from ID4Africa's 2018 survey (...)
Over 60 percent of Africans believe their country will either launch or refresh identity programs in the next 24 months, according to the results of ID4Africa’s annual survey for 2018. The results were announced as part of the final day of ID4Africa 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, and present a snapshot of the market for biometrics and strong identity across the continent.
The survey included responses from more than 300 members of Africa’s identity community, with a high proportion of government respondents.
The survey showed that over 97 percent of the African identity community believe that biometrics should be used for elections, despite a presentation earlier in the conference pointing out that biometric registration of voters often costs $20 per voter, and does not address such hindrances to free and fair elections as voter intimidation or suppression of the opposition. This indicates that effective democracy on the continent requires foundational identity or lasting voter registries, or both."
UK-NORTHERN IRELAND: Spycops infiltrated Bloody Sunday march organisers - renewed calls for NI inquiry (COPS, link)
"An undercover officer from a disgraced political policing unit infiltrated Northern Irish civil rights groups, including the Bloody Sunday march organisers.
Under the name ‘Sean Lynch’, the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad undercover officer infiltrated several organisations from 1968-74. These included the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), Irish Civil Rights Solidarity Campaign and Sinn Féin (London). NICRA was the organiser of the Bloody Sunday march in 1972 when the British army shot dead 14 unarmed demonstrators."
EU: Council of the European Union adopts its negotiating mandate on the interoperable Big Brother database - making clear that it will not just cover third-country nationals
On 14 June the Council of the European Union adopted its negotiating mandate on two separate Regulations - borders and visas and police and legal cooperation - on the creation of a centralised database run by euLISA: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) - Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 9670-18, 8 June 2018, pdf).
EU: UK to build new computer to hold DNA records on convicted people only and exclude the innocent in bid to rejoin the Prüm data exchange system
The UK is seeking to rejoin the Prüm system which allows for the exchange of DNA data on individuals (and finger-prints anf vehicle data). A note from the UK Delegation dated 12 April 2018 offers: Clarification on DNA concerns raised at previous DAPIX meetings (LIMITE doc no: 7772-REV-1-18,12 April 2018, pdf) says:
"Delegations will find in Annex a note from the UK delegation providing clarification on concerns, which were raised by Member States during the discussion on the UK implementation of Prüm DNA data exchange."
The key area of "concern" raised is:"the inclusion of DNA profiles from "suspects", i.e. those who are not convicted of a criminal offence in the UK."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (11.6.18-17.6.18)
EU: Interoperability, centralised database: European Commission
• Amended proposal on asylum and migration: Amended proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (COM 478, 13 June 2018, pdf):
"This proposal, under Chapter IX, seeks to amend the original proposal only insofar as it presents the further necessary amendments to other legal instruments that are required under the interoperability proposal. These amendments were identified as necessary in the original proposal but, because of ongoing negotiations between co-legislators on some of the systems concerned, it was not possible to include the necessary amendments in the original proposal."
• Amended proposal on police cooperation: Amended proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 480, 13 June 2018, pdf):
"This proposal, under Chapter VIIIa, seeks to amend the original proposal only insofar as it presents the further necessary amendments to other legal instruments that are required under the interoperability proposal. These amendments were identified as necessary in the original proposal but, because of ongoing negotiations between co-legislators on some of the systems concerned, it was not possible to include the necessary amendments in the original proposal."
Greece: Unbelievable: Non-Schengen nationals need passport for beach Tsamakia on Lesvos (Keep talking Greece, link);
"An organized beach on the island of Lesvos has introduced new practices that stun not only swimmers but also local media. Tsamakia Beach requests from visitors to show their passport at the entrance if they are from countries outside the Schengen zone. With a notice posted at the entrance, visitors are warned that will be not allowed to enter the beach without a passport.
The warning is in English, French and Arabic."
And see: Lesbos Legal Centre (link)
Greece: Report on Rights Violations and Resistance in Lesvos (Legal Centre, link):
"In the months since our last update on rights violations and resistance in Lesvos, our advocacy and campaigning resources were almost exclusively focused on the two trials for the Moria 35 and Moria 10 that took place in Chios in late April and early May 2018."
French police cut soles off migrant children's shoes, claims Oxfam (Guardian, link)
"Charity accuses authorities of detaining minors without food before illegally returning them to Italy.
French border police have been accused of detaining migrant children as young as 12 in cells without food or water, cutting the soles off their shoes and stealing sim cards from their mobile phones, before illegally sending them back to Italy.
A report released on Friday by the charity Oxfam also cites the case of a “very young” Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby."
See: Oxfam report (link)
European People's Party faces moment of truth over Hungary (euobserver, link):
"Last week, the European People's Party (EPP) had a chance to stand up for its values and those of the European Union. But instead, it ducked the issue.(...)
Hungary is on the verge of forcing the Central European University out of the country, only because Hungarian-born philanthropist and billionaire George Soros is funding it. And Hungary's parliament is now debating a new law that would make is virtually impossible for asylum-seekers to receive protection in Hungary, criminalise any assistance, research or advocacy on their situation, and make NGO and humanitarian workers face prison."
MEPs again angrily urge EU to act on refugee crisis (theparliamentmagazine.eu, link)
"The Italian government has been roundly condemned by MEPs for its refusal to allow the 629 refugees stranded on board the Aquarius to land"
Hungary: Four men jailed over deaths of 71 migrants locked in lorry (Guardian, link):
"Four members of a people-smuggling gang have each been jailed for 25 years in Hungary for letting 71 people suffocate inside a lorry that was then dumped at the side of an Austrian motorway.
The four men – one Afghan and three Bulgarians – were found guilty of “aggravated murder with particular cruelty” after a year-long trial in the town of Kecskemét, which took over the proceedings from Vienna after it emerged that the migrants suffocated in Hungary.
Ten other suspects were found guilty of various charges and handed prison sentences of between three and 12 years.
The victims – 59 men, eight women and four children, including a baby – came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Having made their way to the Serbian border with Hungary, they were packed into an air-tight poultry refrigerator lorry, where their pleas to stop for fresh air were ignored."
Fair trials under threat, as counter-terrorism policies restrict defence rights (link):
"There is no doubt about the threat posed by terrorism. In response, new counter-terrorism laws and policies are being adopted in response to heated public debate throughout Europe. At Fair Trials we have been observing some worrying threats to justice in the name of security. The European network of fair trial defenders, the Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP), that we coordinate, are reporting three main ways in which counter-terrorism policies are impacting defence rights in Europe."
"This report highlights learning from CTAC’s work with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), safeguarding children who had lived in the Calais 'Jungle'. RYS refers children to CTAC when it suspects they have moved from France to the UK. CTAC then shares child protection information with relevant UK agencies and tries to establish the children’s whereabouts."
EU: Merkel under internal pressure to abandon EU-wide solutions to migration crisis (euractiv, link):
"German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a tense showdown yesterday (14 June) within her divided conservative camp over the flashpoint issue of immigration that could threaten her political future.
Merkel was confronted with an open rebellion by her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, long a fierce critic of her liberal stance on refugees who wants to toughen border controls.(...)
Seehofer has demanded as part of his new “migration master plan” that German border police be given the right to turn back all asylum-seekers without valid identity papers and those who are already registered elsewhere in the European Union."
GREECE: Still Here: Samos Refugees June 2018 (Samos Chronicles, link):
"The recent silence of this blog does not imply nothing is happening with 2,335 refugees currently on Samos. We should have written earlier. In our silence we unwittingly supported the forgetting of the refugees detained on the Greek frontier islands such as Samos. This forgetting is an insidious process. For the refugees it compounds their sense of isolation and abandonment."
"BIG BROTHER" LEGISLATIVE PROCESS GETS UNDERWAY: Council of the European Union: Improving security through information sharing: Council agrees negotiating mandate on interoperability (Press release, 14 June 2018, pdf): :
On 14 June 2018, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) endorsed, on behalf of the Council, a mandate for negotiations on two regulations establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. On the basis of this mandate, the Council Presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament once the latter has adopted its position."
Brexit and EU27 citizens’ rights: a proposal for a Protocol (EU Law Analysis, link):
"Since the EU and UK presented a (partially) agreed draft version of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) in March 2018, many seem to assume that the post-Brexit status of the more than 3 million EU27 citizens in the UK (and more than a million British citizens in the EU) is resolved. The EU has indeed made an important effort to define and obtain a status for those citizens that comes close to their current rights."
And: Brexit: Some conceptual clarifications concerning EFTA and the EEA (EU Law Analysis, link)
EU migration row boils over as Italy and France trade insults (Guardian, link):
"France and Italy have traded insults, rifts have widened in Germany’s ruling coalition and Austria has called for an “axis of the willing” to take action as a simmering row over how Europe should handle irregular migration finally boiled over.
Rejecting French criticism of its immigration policies, Italy summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday and cancelled a planned meeting between the Italian economy minister and his counterpart in Paris.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, was reportedly considering postponing a visit to Paris on Friday for talks with Emmanuel Macron after the French president said Rome had acted with “cynicism and irresponsibility” in turning away a migrant rescue ship."
Stranding People at Sea is an Abomination (HRW, link):
"Italy and Malta’s Move Puts Lives in Danger.
After a nerve-wracking stand-off and intense negotiations, 629 people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Aquarius, a rescue ship run by two nongovernmental groups, SOS MEDITERRANEE and MSF, are finally heading towards Spain. Spain’s humane gesture stands in stark contrast to the disgraceful behavior by Italy and Malta."
"Stupefied and worried by this modern Exodus, we see on the horizon the infinite cabotage of this boat which status of lifeguard becomes one of burden. Although Rinaldo Melucci and Luigi de Magistris, the respective mayors of Taranto and Naples, declared to be ready to welcome Aquarius migrants, the new Italian government, largely committed to the xenophobic and racist ideas of Matteo Salvini, flex its weak muscles and refuses the entry of Aquarius into Italian ports. AEDH knew that nothing was to be expected from a government whose partners had announced during the election campaign that it would not respect human rights.
Salvini announces Italian-German initiative to shield EU external borders (New Europe, link):
"The Italian Minister of Interior and leader of the far-right Lega, Matteo Salvini, announced a common political initiative with the German government to safeguard the EU’s external border.
Salvini told the Italian public News Agency (ANSA) that he had a cordial conversation with the German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, in which there was complete consensus on immigration policy. The two ministers agreed not to “waste further time” in dealing with the issue, while Seehofer invited Salvini for consultations in Berlin."
The European Commission has published its proposals for the EU home affairs budgets for the period 2021-2027, with the aim of increasing the internal security budget by €1.3 billion to €4.8 billion, and tripling the funding for border security and migration to €34.9 billion.
The deadline for Member States to implement the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of air passengers, was 25 May. So far 13 Member States have notified their implementing measures to the European Commission, and 10 of them will be making use of the option to monitor internal EU flights.
USA: The Next Frontier of Police Surveillance Is Drones (Slate, link):
"A company that makes stun guns and body cameras is teaming up with a company that makes drones to sell drones to police departments, and that might not even be the most worrisome part. The line of drones from Axon and DJI is called the Axon Air, and the devices will be linked to Axon’s cloud-based database for law enforcement, Evidence.com, which is used to process body-camera data too. And it could open a vast new frontier for police surveillance.
By working with a company that is already familiar with contracting with police departments, the Chinese-owned DJI—the world’s biggest consumer drone manufacturer—could widen up a new, growing customer base: cops. Axon Air, which was announced Tuesday by Axon, is marketed as a way to help law enforcement with search-and-rescue operations, crowd monitoring, traffic-accident reconstruction, and evidence collection. It will make drone data the latest addition to Axon’s suite of tools for police, which include tasers, body cameras (of which Axon is the country’s biggest seller), and car cameras. Axon CEO Rick Smith recently said that his company is actively considering using facial recognition with its camera technology."
See also: Statewatch publications Back from the battlefield: domestic drones in the UK and Eurodrones, Inc.
EU: European Court of Auditors: Special report n°13/2018: Tackling radicalisation that leads to terrorism: the Commission addressed the needs of Member States, but with some shortfalls in coordination and evaluation (pdf):
"I. European Union (EU) Member States are responsible for national security, including the fight against terrorism. They are in charge of designing and implementing measures at national level that aim to tackle radicalisation, i.e. the phenomenon of people embracing extremist ideologies and behaviours which could lead them to commit acts of terrorism. As radicalisation is caused by several factors, a wide range of preventive actions are generally deployed to address the problem. The Commission’s role is to support Member States in their efforts and help to ensure that good practices are exchanged. To do so, the Commission draws on an increasingly wide range of EU funds.
II. Our audit examined whether the Commission manages this cross-cutting support well. In particular, we assessed whether:
(a) the Commission provides Member States with relevant support;
(b) the actions financed by the different EU funds are coordinated to make the most of any synergies;
(c) the Commission has put in place a framework to assess the effectiveness and value for money of its support.
III. Overall, we found that the Commission addressed the needs of Member States, but there were some shortfalls in coordination and evaluation."
News on a study undertaken in the UK: Vast majority of deradicalisation programmes ‘ineffective’ (The Week, link). For more on the EU's role in counter-radicalisation, see: New report: The Globalisation of Countering Violent Extremism Policies: Undermining human rights, instrumentalising civil society (Statewatch News Online, 8 March 2018)
"What information is made available to users on their Facebook newsfeeds? On what basis is a person’s risk profile determined and what profiles provide best chances for obtaining health insurance, or employment, or for being regarded a potential criminal or terrorist? Automated data processing techniques, such as algorithms, do not only enable internet users to seek and access information, they are also increasingly used in decision-making processes, that were previously entirely in the remit of human beings. Algorithms may be used to prepare human decisions or to take them immediately through automated means. In fact, boundaries between human and automated decision-making are often blurred, resulting in the notion of ‘quasi- or semi-automated decision-making’.
The use of algorithms raises considerable challenges not only for the specific policy area in which they are operated, but also for society as a whole. How to safeguard human rights and human dignity in the face of rapidly changing technologies? The right to life, the right to fair trial and the presumption of innocence, the right to privacy and freedom of expression, workers’ rights, the right to free elections, even the rule of law itself are all impacted. Responding to challenges associated with ‘algorithms’ used by the public and private sector, in particular by internet platforms is currently one of the most hotly debated questions."
EU: How we all colluded in Fortress Europe (The Guardian, link) by Kenan Malik:
"That mass drowning off Lampedusa in 2013 is an apposite place from which to start a discussion on the dehumanising of the Other. Too often when we discuss hateful portrayals of migrants or Muslims or other minorities, we focus on the far right, or on groups such as Pegida, or on countries such as Hungary and politicians such as Viktor Orbán. It is certainly important that we call out such organisations and politicians and eviscerate their arguments.
But we need also to recognise that the truth about dehumanisation is far more uncomfortable and far closer to home. The ideas and policies promoted by the far right and by populist anti-immigration figures have not come out of nowhere. They have become acceptable because the groundwork has already been laid, and continues to be maintained, by mainstream politicians and commentators.
There is a tendency among liberals to see a great divide on immigration between the mainstream and the populists and between a more liberal western Europe and a more reactionary east. That is to distort reality. For, while differences clearly exist, the divisions are not nearly as sharp as often suggested. It is the rhetoric and the policies emerging from the mainstream and from western Europe that have helped legitimise the hostility to immigration expressed by the populists and in eastern Europe."
"The Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018 poses several significant threats to civil liberties and human rights, symptomatic of a poorly conceived strategy that mistakes blind expansion of government power for evidence-driven responses to national security concerns. The Bill:
• Creates new offences that criminalise information-seeking and the expression of opinion, divorced from intention to harm or any act in pursuit of actual terrorism, and expands penalties for those crimes.
• Extends the time period for which invasive biometric data, including fingerprints and DNA, can be retained – including biometric data of people who have never been convicted of any crime. This is proposed despite an ongoing, unresolved controversy over the Government’s abject failure to comply with court declarations that existing police databases of custody images violate human rights laws.
• Extends the PREVENT strategy by allowing local authorities, as well as police, to refer individuals to Channel panels.
• Expands the power for suspicionless detentions, interrogations and searches of people crossing the UK border or taking a domestic or international flight —as well as the seizure of “biometric samples,” private papers, and personal data — adding a broad, new rationale for invasions of privacy unconnected to any individualised suspicion of wrongdoing."
UK: Restraint and race: it’s time we listened to the evidence (Progress, link):
"We are suffering from decades-old problems when it comes to the use of excessive restraint in mental health services and police custody
This year marks 20 years since the death of David ‘Rocky’ Bennett, who died following prolonged face down restraint whilst a patient in a mental health unit. His death sparked an independent inquiry, which was hailed by many as the Macpherson report of the mental health services. Concluding in 2004, the inquiry highlighted the institutional racism that had been present in mental health services, both NHS and private, for many years.
It was hoped that the inquiry would mark a turning point for mental health services, and go some way to addressing a pervasive view amongst many health professionals that black men with mental ill health were ‘big, black and dangerous’. However, numerous deaths since Rocky’s have confirmed that there is still a very long way to go."
USA: Gitmo commanders make pitch for new prison with hospice-care wing for ex-CIA captives (Miami Herald, link):
"GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba - The U.S. military's mission at Guantánamo is shifting to permanent detention for al-Qaida and other war-on-terror detainees, commanders told reporters this week in a rare public pitch for Congress to fund a new $69 million, wheelchair-accessible prison — complete with a hospice-care cellblock — for the five accused 9/11 plotters and 10 other captives who were in some instances tortured in secret overseas CIA prisons.
"Picture in your mind elderly detainees, brothers taking care of one another. That is the humane way ahead," said prison spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Anne Leanos.
Guantánamo detention center leaders said Tuesday that they are shifting their mission because President Donald Trump's January executive order canceled President Barack Obama's mandate to close the prison. During the Obama administration, the prison camp made few building improvements, "putting a Band-Aid" on structural problems, said prison operations commander Rear Adm. John Ring."
NORTHERN IRELAND: Political delays on dealing with the Troubles force legal move to protect evidence (The Detail, link):
"VICTIMS and human rights representatives have called for greater clarity on the retention of fingerprint and DNA records from the Troubles for future examination by the long-awaited Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).
The calls by WAVE Trauma Centre and the Human Rights Commission follow moves by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to extend temporary protections for Troubles-related fingerprint and DNA records up until October 2020.
The NIO has confirmed it laid legislation before Westminster on Monday to extend special protections preventing the destruction of biometric material – fingerprint and DNA records – that could prove vital in future investigations into Troubles-related killings.
The temporary protections put a stay on the roll out of the Protection of Freedoms Act (PoFA) in Northern Ireland. The 2012 Act no longer allows police to retain biometric material indefinitely and introduced strict rules on the retention or destruction of such material."
Norway to spend 700 million kroner on new national ID cards (The Local, link):
"In 2007, it was estimated that providing new national ID cards to residents of Norway would cost 14 million kroner ($1.7 million, €1.5 million). Today, the price tag has ballooned to over 700 million kroner ($86 million, €73 million).
According to Aftenposten, new figures in the government’s national budget estimated the cost of the project at 596 million kroner. On top of that, converting passport offices nationwide to handle the new cards will cost an additional 120 million kroner.
The national identification cards are expected to be ready by 2020 at the earliest. They were originally supposed to be completed by December 2016 but the project has been delayed five times. According to Aftenposten’s report, the costs have steadily increased along the way due to a variety of problems and an increased project scope. "
European Parliament: EU-US Privacy Shield data exchange deal: US must comply by 1 September, say MEPs (link):
" EU-US deal on transfer of personal data does not provide enough protection
- MEPs say deal must be suspended if US fails to comply in full by 1 September 2018
- The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach showed limits in the protection
The Civil Liberties Committee calls on the Commission to suspend the EU-US Privacy Shield since it fails to provide enough data protection for EU citizens."
See: Draft EP report (link)
BREXIT: European Commission: Infographic on the EU's 'backstop' proposal on the Norther Ireland border (pdf):
"This infographic presents a visual summary of the 'Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland', which is part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement published on 19 March 2018."
"Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's new "migration master plan" for Germany was set to be published on Tuesday. At the last moment, apparently amid disagreement with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it has been postponed."
MED: Agence Europe reports that: "Greens/EFA group, Philippe Lamberts, called for an addition to be made to Wednesday’s agenda for a debate with representatives from the Commission and Council on the “closing of Italian and Maltese ports to migrants on the Aquarius ship” (see other article). His proposal for a debate, without resolution, was approved by 212 votes in favour to 62 against, with 18 abstentions, but with a different debate title, “humanitarian emergencies in Mediterranean and solidarity in European Union”."
Aquarius standoff: MSF calls for people's safety to come before politics (Malta Today, link):
"MSF Sea said the best option for the rescued migrants would be to disembark at the nearest port and be transferred to a safe country. (...) .
MSF said that they rescued parties were receiving supplies onboard the Aquarius. The Italian Rescue Authorities would then transfer some people from the Aquarius to Italian ships and will head to Valencia, Spain.
“MSF calls for people’s safety to come before politics.”
EU: Council of the European Union: Schengen: Schengen information system: agreement between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament (Press release, pdf):
"On 12 June 2018, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached an informal agreement on three regulations on the use of the Schengen Information System:
- in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
- in the field of border checks
- for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals" (...)
The Schengen Information System is the most widely used and efficient IT system of the EU in the area of freedom, security and justice. The system contains more than 76 million alerts. In 2017 it was accessed more than 5.1 billion times by member states, triggering more than 240 000 hits on foreign alerts (alerts issued by another country)."
And see: SIS II - 2017 Statistics (pdf)
Spain 'will accept' disputed Aquarius migrant ship (BBC News, link):
"Spain's prime minister has said the country will take in a rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean, to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.
Pedro Sánchez said he would give "safe harbour" to the Aquarius and the 629 people on board, after Italy and Malta both refused to let the ship dock.
The UN refugee agency and the EU had both called for a swift end to the stand-off between the two countries.
Mr Sánchez has said the ship will dock in Valencia.
The migrants aboard the Aquarius were picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast, according to the German charity SOS Méditerranée."
See: Migrant rescue boat waits to dock as Italy and Malta refuse to grant entry (Deutsche Welle, link)
Proposals for mandatory fingerprints in national ID cards to "facilitate free movement" will affect 370 million people
London, UK, 11 June 2018 - The European Commission has published a proposal calling for the mandatory inclusion of biometrics (two fingerprints and a facial image) in all EU Member States' identity cards. The demands to include fingerprints are an unnecessary and unjustified infringement on the right to privacy of almost 85% of EU citizens, as explained in a new analysis published today by civil liberties organisation Statewatch.
Message to the Togolese Presidency of the Central Group for the Negotiations of ACP countries
"The lack of coherence between the policies deployed by European Union countries and their commitments in relation to development aid within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have led to an exacerbation of inequalities within and between ACP countries. Inclusive political dialogue, egalitarian partnership, respect for human rights, for the rule of law and for democracy, presented as the fundamental values of the Cotonou Agreements, have hardly enabled a change in the relations of dependence between ACP countries and their former colonising powers."
Migrant rescue boat waits to dock as Italy and Malta refuse to grant entry (Deutsche Welle, link):
"With 629 people on board, NGO rescue ship Aquarius has been waiting for a secure place to dock. Italy and Malta have refused to allow the migrant vessel into its ports.
A French NGO's rescue ship, the Aquarius, was waiting for a port to dock at on Monday as a diplomatic standoff played out over where it should go next. On Sunday, Italy had refused to allow the vessel to dock in its ports, demanding that Malta should take it in. Malta refused, and when Italy instructed the ship to stay at sea, Malta accused Italy of violating international norms.
The French organization SOS Mediterranee said the ship was carrying 629 migrants picked up in the Mediterranean on Saturday, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women. Among those on board are 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius."
And see: Southern mayors defy Italian coalition to offer safe port to migrants (The Guardian, link): "Mayors across the south of Italy have pledged to defy a move by the new Italian government – an alliance of the far right and populists – to prevent a rescue boat with 629 people on board from docking in the Sicilian capital.
But the mayors’ defiance appears unlikely to serve any practical purpose without the direct support of the Italian coastguard."
UK: After assessing MI5’s files on my father, it’s clear that not all facts are created equal (The Independent, link) by Patrick Cockburn:
"MI5 had been much interested in my father’s activities in the 1930s, when he ran a newsletter similar to Private Eye. The security men had many sources of information, several of them well-informed and accurate (such as his former boss, the bureau chief of The Times in Berlin), but others were conspiracy theorists and crackpots.
One man was convinced that my father was the head of a Comintern sabotage ring in Western Europe, its counterpart in the US being The Time magazine office in New York.
Claud told one woman he had met at dinner (as a joke) that revolution was imminent, and would begin with a mutiny by the Brigade of Guards. She immediately wrote to MI5 in extreme alarm, warning them about the plot.
Looking through the MI5 reports, it becomes clear that their usefulness, like that of the great quantities of information transmitted by the internet, depended entirely on the quality of the person (in this case an MI5 officer) who reviewed them."
UK-EU: Britain must commit to upholding civil liberties if the EU is to agree on security co-operation after Brexit (The Conversation, link):
"...the government has repeatedly expressed its wish to retain many of the security measures that the EU offers which limit people’s freedoms, such as the European arrest warrant, Europol, European Criminal Records Information System. It is safe to say that the government is more interested in security than freedom.
The UK should now be doing its best to recover the trust of its EU partners by showing a strong and consistent position that human rights will be protected. To do this, the UK government should demonstrate an eagerness to retain all the EU measures which are protective of civil liberties."
"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data on citizens and foreigners in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people. It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments. And yet, we still know very little about it.
The records DHS plans to include in HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate. Data like face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings. Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships. These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias."
"This document provides an overview of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) regarding the ne bis in idem principle in criminal matters, and explains how this case law has helped shaping the scope and main features of the ne bis in idem principle in the EU legal order. It is aimed at providing guidance in the application of the ne bis in idem principle in a transnational context.
The table of contents and summaries of judgments have been prepared by Eurojust and do not bind the CJEU.1 They are not exhaustive and are meant to be used only for reference and as a supplementary tool for practitioners.
The text of the judgments of the CJEU can be found in all official languages of the EU at the CJEU’s website here.
This document is updated until September 2017."
Denmark swings right on immigration – and Muslims feel besieged (The Guardian, link):
"“It’s a lovely place,” says Jens Kramer, as he gazes across the harbour from his seat outside the wooden shed that serves as Holbæk’s boat club. “But I think people here are becoming more and more hostile to foreigners and I’m not proud of it. It’s not the Holbæk I love.”
Kramer is not alone in thinking that the tone of Denmark’s immigration debate has changed. In recent years, the rise of the rightwing anti-migrant Danish People’s party has led to previously radical positions becoming mainstream. And the country’s Muslim population in particular feels under siege. Earlier this month Danish MPs passed a law that, in effect, bans the burqa. It imposes a penalty of 10,000 kroner (£1,200) for repeat offenders.
In another move greeted with dismay by Denmark’s Muslims, a citizen’s proposal to ban the circumcision of children got the 50,000 signatures it needed to go to a parliamentary vote.
In Holbæk, an attractive small town in Zealand, the latest legislation has had a mixed reception."
UK: Vast majority of deradicalisation programmes ‘ineffective’ (The Week, link):
"The vast majority of deradicalisation programmes are ineffective and even counterproductive, a damning report commissioned by the Home Office has found.
Of the 33 government-funded programmes designed to safeguard vulnerable people from far-right and religious extremist threats which were analysed, only two were found to be effective, The Times reports.
The study by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), identified failures in approach to deradicalisation in schools, youth centres, sports clubs and English-language classes.
Participants in the study felt their freedom of expression had been restricted and teachers would refuse to engage in topics over fears of bringing up matters of race and religion without appearing discriminatory."
HUNGARY: Victory for freedom of information: police must release data on police-appointed lawyers (Atlatszo, link):
"Freedom of information won in an important case in Hungary at the end of May. A private citizen, József Dankó, wanted to know details about the court-appointed lawyers working in Budapest’s 19th district, but the local police said that compiling the data is a lot of work and wanted to charge 38,000 euros for the service. A Budapest court ruled that the 19th district police are obliged to give the data to the citizen for free."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (5.6.18-10.6.18) including Lesvos, Greece: Persecuted Kurdish People in Lesvos Release Statement to Authorities and Danish PM proposes asylum camps outside the EU
Sir Tim Barrow, Head of UK Representation to the EU in Brussels has sent a letter to the Council Presidency saying that the UK wants to opt into the proposed Regulation establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration): Letter to the Council (LIMITE doc no: 9238-18, pdf).
Lesvos, Greece: Persecuted Kurdish People in Lesvos Release Statement to Authorities (link);
"The Kurdish individuals who are temporarily living in Pikpa Camp in Lesvos have released a statement demanding that Greek and European authorities protect their rights. These individuals fled war and persecution in Syria and Turkey and on 25 May 2018 they faced further violence in Moria Camp. The extreme violence they have fled and that they continue to face in Lesvos, Greece has left several injured and traumatized. Their trauma has not ended however, as Moria camp administration have this week threatened them with deportation to Turkey if they do not return to Moria Camp, which would subject them to collective expulsion and persecution in Turkey, in violation of human rights and refugee law.
Their statement and demands are here in Greek and English."
"A major inquiry investigating the activities of a controversial covert British police unit that infiltrated republican groups heard one member had an “intimate relationship” with a woman while working under cover.
The officer, who used the cover name ‘Rick Gibson’ and is now dead, operated inside the Troop’s Out Movement and a socialist feminist organisation known as Big Flame between 1974 and 1976."
See also: #spycops info (Facebook, link)
Turkey suspends ‘migrant readmission’ deal with Greece (hurriyetdailynews.com, link):
"Turkey has suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece in response to a decision by a Greek court to release eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on June 6.
“We have a migrant deal with the EU. It is being implemented. We have a bilateral readmission deal with Greece. We have now suspended this agreement. The process is not fully over but our works towards Greece will continue,” Çavusoglu told reporters in Antalya."
See: EU Council of the European Union: Council Decision of 23 March 2016 establishing the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the Joint Readmission Committee on a Decision of the Joint Readmission Committee on implementing arrangements for the application of Articles 4 and 6 of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation from 1 June 2016 (pdf)
This Decision brings forward the starting date on the main Agreement adopted in 2014: AGREEMENT between the European Union and the Republic of Turkey on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation (pdf) (Statewatch database)
See: Migrant deal with Turkey not having much effect anyway (ekathimerini.com, link) and Turkey's suspension of migrant deal with Greece doesn't affect EU, says Germany (ekathimerini.com, link).
Danish PM proposes asylum camps outside the EU (infomigrants.net, link):
"The Danish Prime Minister has proposed camps for processing asylum seekers to be set up outside EU borders. The idea reportedly has support from several European countries - including Austria.
The Danish government's latest policy move to tighten immigration came during a speech this week marking Denmark's Constitution Day: Prime Minister Rasmussen said he wanted to set up centers for the reception of migrants and camps for rejected asylum seekers in a European country outside the EU. He said that Germany, the Netherlands and Austria had been included in discussions about the project, which could get underway within months." [emphasis added]
European Parliament Study: Cross-Border Exchange and Comparison of Forensic DNA Data in the Context of the Prüm Decision (pdf):
"It first considers the background of the Prüm Convention and Prüm Decision. The subsequent two chapters summarize the Prüm regime in relation mainly to DNA data looking at value and shortcomings; and ethical, legal and social implications of forensic DNA typing and databasing in relation to the Prüm regime. Finally, based on the analysis, it provides the policy recommendations."
The Study finds that in DNA database sizes of England and Wales, the USA and China: China has 2.85% of its population, the USA has 4.97% and the UK has 9.14%.
Wire Taps on Your Apps? ePrivacy and Security: Striking a Balance (euractiv, link):
"Does the ePrivacy Regulation set a high standard for the confidentiality of electronic communications, or is it a far-reaching expansion of government surveillance authority?
While the ePR is intended to protect the confidentiality of calls, emails, texts and chats, the ePR’s article 11 provides a public interest exception (the “wiretap provisions”) that allows member states to pass laws giving government investigators access to these communications.
EURACTIV and Microsoft organised a lively debate to discuss how to connect the dots of ePrivacy Regulation, government surveillance, encryption and e-Evidence." See: Conference (link) [emphasis added]
See: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC (Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications) - Progress report/Policy debate (LIMITE doc no: 9079-18, pdf): Council working on its negotiating position creates a massive loophole:
"Based on delegations comments, the Presidency has introduced several changes. The new text excludes activities concerning national security and defence from the scope of the Proposal. The proposed text adds new general public interests allowing for national or Union laws to restrict the rights and obligations laid down in the Proposal for the purpose of protecting data subjects or the rights and freedoms of others and the enforcement of civil law claims. Furthermore the Presidency has included a specific reference to safeguards offered by the GDPR." [emphasis added]
"The executive director of the EU’s asylum agency stepped down Wednesday amid allegations of staff harassment, including “psychological violence” and an investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office."
"Greek authorities are routinely confining asylum-seeking women with unrelated men in the northern Evros region, at the land-border with Turkey, putting them at grave risk of sexual violence and harassment. Authorities should immediately stop holding asylum-seeking women and girls in closed facilities with unrelated men.
Human Rights Watch research in Northern Greece in late May 2018 found women and girls housed with unrelated men in sites for reception and/or detention of asylum seekers. Twelve women and two girls interviewed said they had been locked in cells or enclosures for weeks, and in one case for nearly five months, with men and boys they did not know. Four said they were the sole females confined with dozens of men, in some cases with at least one male partner or relative.
“Women and girls should not be confined with men who are complete strangers, even for a day,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These women and girls came to Greece seeking security and protection, and instead they are living in fear.”"
Refugee numbers surge to 1% of the world’s population (New Europe, link):
"According to the 2018 Global Peace Index approximately 1% of the world’s population – or 65,6 million people – were refugees at the end of 2016.
The number of refugees is comparable to the population of France or the UK.
More than half of the world’s refugees (55%) are from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. The flow of refugees is not likely to subside as conflict remains at its highest level in a decade.
The surge in refugee flows has also become a major political theme with anti-migrant parties gaining ground across Europe."
UK: Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land (IRR news, link):
Seventy years since the Empire Windrush carried hundreds of migrants to London, hear the Caribbean voices behind the 1940s headlines. Why did people come? What did they leave behind? And how did they shape Britain?
Friday 1 June – Sunday 21 October 2018 - Entrance Hall, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
EU: Joint press release of the Public Prosecutor's Office Hamburg and the Police Hamburg: Enforcement measures of the special police unit Black Block in European countries (30 May 2018, pdf):
Pan-European police operation in connection with Hamburg G20 riots: "Since the early morning investigators of the special police unit “Black Block”, supported by numerous police stations and judicial authorities as well as EUROJUST located in The Hague, conducted enforcement measures in four European countries. They involved, in particular, the execution of search warrants issued by the district court of Hamburg, inter alia regarding the set of facts on the Elbchaussee. The measures were addressed to all in all seven male persons at the age of 22-32 who are suspected of having committed a variety of serious criminal offences acting from among a group."
European Parliament briefing: European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) (pdf):
"The European Union is facing new security threats amid growing uncertainty about the reliability of some of its allies. As a consequence, it has embarked on a general scaling-up of its defence capabilities. A European defence action plan has been agreed and a European Defence Fund created to provide financial support, ranging from the research phase to the acquisition phase of military equipment and technologies. The present legislative proposal for EDIDP, which would be part of that fund, is destined to provide the European defence industry with financial support during the development phase of new products and technologies in areas selected at European level. Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) decided to open trilogue negotiations; these have been ongoing since 15 March 2018."
The Council and EP reached agreement on the EDIDP on 23 May. See: EU offers up cash infusion to European defense industry (Defense News, link)
EU: Freedoms Fund: The EU Commission's Half-Hearted Plans to Support Civil Society Groups (Liberties, link):
"The Commission paid considerable lip service to better supporting rights and democracy groups in the next EU budget. But its proposed funding programme falls short on every count.
If approved in its current form, the Commission's proposed Justice, Rights and Values Fund will disappoint anyone hoping for a new cash injection to support NGOs fighting at national level for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
The EU Commission is promising a total of €947 million over the 2020-2027 period: €642 million for a 'Rights and Values' programme and €305 million for a 'Justice' programme. This represents a drop of over €50 million compared the three existing funding programmes that the new proposal will replace. While some of these funds will reach rights groups, they are also destined for a variety of organisations, such as national justice programs, public bodies, think tanks, universities and even private companies. As such, the budget falls far short of the 2 billion euros that Liberties and the European Parliament previously called to be dedicated to NGOs working to protect rights, democracy and the rule of law."
The government has published a new Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill that would criminalise a number of acts concerning expressions of support for banned organisations; extend the maximum sentences for a number of existing terrorist offences to 15 years; extending "notification requirements" so that individuals convicted of terrorist offences are subject to a regime similar to convicted sex offenders; and give local authorities - not just the police - the power to refer individuals to the counter-radicalisation Channel programme, amongst other proposals.
"Despite the political instability which ensued the two civil wars in Libya in 2011 and 2014 persists, more than 700,000 refugees and migrants are in Libya today. They are among the most vulnerable population groups in the country with grave protection concerns reported both in detention and in urban areas. Some of these include arbitrary detention, systematic exploitation and kidnapping by militia groups. In this context, and in the backdrop of a rise in arrivals from Libya through the Central Mediterranean Sea route to Italy since 2016, the European Union and its member states have put in place a number of measures with the United Nations backed Government of National Accord in Libya in order to stem the flow of refugees and migrants towards Italy.
As a result of these measures, the number of refugees and migrants reaching Italy from Libya has drastically decreased. Yet, it is not clear how these measures impacted refugees’ and migrants’ lives in Libya. REACH conducted this study, in partnership with UNHCR, to provide an understanding of the impact of migration measures implemented in Libya since early 2017 on mixed migration routes, smuggling hubs, and the lives of refugees and migrants in the country. It is based on 75 in-depth semi structured individual interviews with refugees and migrants in urban areas across the country and 32 key informant interviews with smugglers, law enforcement officials and civil society activists, conducted from 21st March to 2nd of April 2018.
The assessment finds that migration routes to and within Libya have diversified since early 2017. It finds an increase in arrivals from Algeria and Chad and a multiplication of smuggling hubs along the eastern coast of the country. In the face of increased coastguard controls along the Libyan coast, the numbers of refugees and migrants held for long periods of time with limited freedom of movement in warehouses and unsafe accommodations along the coast have increased."
Spain: Ombudsman calls for access to asylum in detention (AIDA, link):
"The Spanish Ombudsman has recently urged the authorities to set up a system of immediate registration of asylum applications in Detention Centres for Foreigners (CIE). As the adoption of an Implementing Regulation for the Asylum Act has been pending since 2009, Spain has no rules in place to instruct CIE on the handling of claims made in detention.
At the CIE of Madrid, persons seeking protection are instructed to put their written intention to apply for asylum in a mailbox and to wait until the mailbox has been opened for the asylum procedure to start. According to the Ombudsman, this has resulted in a number of asylum seekers being deported before the authorities have opened the mailbox to find their applications."
UK: Ex-wives of undercover police defend Lush 'spycops' campaign (The Guardian, link):
"Two former wives of undercover police officers who deceived other women into intimate relationships have defended the campaign by cosmetics retailer Lush to highlight the misconduct of the police spies.
While married with children, their husbands had sexual relationships with campaigners when they infiltrated political groups. The husbands kept these relationships secret from their wives, who say they now feel betrayed.
It is the first time the two wives have spoken out. Also coming to the defence of Lush is the son of an undercover police officer who abandoned him as a child. The officer kept his true identity secret from him and his mother for years."
See: Outrage over Lush ad campaign as cosmetics firm claims police are 'paid to lie' (Sky News, link) and: New campaign goes live at Lush (Police Spies Out of Lives, link)
EU: In battle for ePrivacy, Council of EU set to side with advertisers, telecoms and Big Data (Corporate Europe Observatory, link):
"Since the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into force, ePrivacy is now the new online data security frontier in the European Union. Corporate Europe Observatory’s new research shows how proposed rules are being watered down by EU member state governments in the Council of the European Union, following a deluge of industry lobbying.
On the one side of the privacy rift there are citizens, the European Commission and Parliament, all in favour of tougher rules to protect people’s online privacy by default, rather than on request. On the other side are the telecoms industry, advertisers, publishers, Big Data companies and many others in the digital economy - as well as EU governments who appear to be caving in to coordinated industry lobbying efforts in Brussels and national capitals."
Libya signs borders control agreement with southern neighboring countries (The Libya Observer, link):
"Libya’s Foreign Ministry announced that Libya had signed an agreement with its southern neighboring countries Niger, Chad and Sudan to secure the joint borders against human trafficking and weapons smuggling.
The Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala signed on Thursday in the capital of Chad N'Djamena the agreement which will help jointly secure the borders, according to the ministry’s statement.
“Libya is working on supporting joint relations between the four countries and is keen to support all efforts to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime, smuggling of all kinds, illegal migration, mercenaries, arms smuggling, and smuggling of all kinds of subsidized commodities and petroleum derivatives." Sayala said, according to the statement."
US companies also affected: EU to discuss direct access to all telecommunications (Matthias Monroy, link):
"A planned EU regulation on police investigations into cloud data should now include direct access and real-time interception. This would include user, traffic and content data. All companies offering "interpersonal communication services“ in the European Union would be concerned. The Austrian Presidency wants an agreement by the end of the year.
The European Union is planning to extend a planned legislation to allow direct access to data held by Internet service providers. This is stated in a document distributed by the Bulgarian Presidency to the representations of the Member States. The regulation is aimed in particular at US companies. EU Justice Ministers should give the green light as soon as possible to start negotiations with the US administration. They will also discuss whether the act could also apply to intercepted calls."
FRANCE: Macron Pushes Bill Aimed at ‘Fake News’ as Critics Warn of Dangers (New York Times, link):
"Taking aim at so-called fake news, France’s Parliament on Thursday is set to begin debating a tough bill aimed at repressing phony news items, one pushed by President Emmanuel Macron amid criticism that it poses a potential threat to press freedom.
The measure would allow judges to block content deemed false during a three-month period preceding an election.
Mr. Macron, stung last year by a phony internet-spread story claiming he had an offshore account in the Bahamas, has made fighting “fake news” a priority. His opponent, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, brought up the Bahamas story during a critical presidential debate. Now, she is attacking the proposed law as a “liberty killer.”"
EU: Love wins in the CJEU: Same Sex Marriages and EU free movement law (EU Law Analysis, link):
"Today’s CJEU judgment in Coman was the Court’s first ruling on same-sex marriages for the purposes of EU free movement law. (For a discussion of the background, see the earlier blog post by Alina Tryfonidou). Mr Coman, a Romanian citizen, had married his husband, a US citizen, in Belgium while residing there. He tried to return to Romania with his husband, but Romania refused residence to the latter, as (like about half of the EU Member States) it does not recognise same-sex marriage. But did EU free movement law give Mr Coman the right to family reunion with his spouse nonetheless?
In the Court’s view, which took a subtly different approach than the Advocate-General’s opinion, the answer was yes."
See: Judgment (Case C-673/16, pdf)
HUNGARY: The seventh amendment: Further restrictions on individual freedom and the rule of law (Hungarian Spectrum, link):
"The second part of “legislative package” is quite independent of the “Stop Soros” bill, which deals exclusively with NGOs and activists aiding “illegal migrants in any way.” Its official title is “The Seventh Amendment of Hungary’s Fundamental Laws.” It was submitted to parliament today by Minister of Justice László Trócsányi. It is a typical “omnibus bill” in which several measures, quite independent of one another, are addressed. If the “Stop Soros” bill was a “peace offering” to the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, the seventh amendment to the constitution is a declaration of war on the freedom of Hungarians."
EU: Abolish Dublin Regulation for a humane asylum system built on solidarity (EurActiv, link) by Cornelia Ernst MEP:
"The European Parliament and the Council will soon negotiate a revision of the Dublin regulation, concerning the EU’s asylum system. This is an opportunity for the EU to develop a more humane system based on objective criteria, and for every member state to take its share of responsibility, writes Cornelia Ernst."
UK: Police use of biometric technologies 'running ahead of the law' (Sky News, link):
"The police use of biometric technologies is "running ahead of the law", according to an independent commissioner.
Biometrics are any measurable biological feature which can be used to identity individuals, including the shape of people's fingerprints and the code of their DNA.
Scientific advancements mean that computers can now also differentiate the unique qualities in people's voices, their irises, their faces and even their gait.
There is a "worrying vacuum" of regulation covering how police are using new technologies to identify members of the public, biometrics commissioner Professor Paul Wiles has warned."
German Cabinet approves new refugee family reunification law (Deutsche Welle, link)
"Beginning August 1, the new migrant family reunification law will:
- Expand the right to family reunification to refugees living in Germany with lower-level "subsidiary" protection, a status that falls short of full asylum and doesn't grant indefinite stay.
- Grant an additional 1,000 refugees per month the right to settle in Germany, provided they have relatives with subsidiary status already living in the country.
- Allow only refugees' spouses, unmarried minors and the parents of minors already in Germany qualify for the scheme.
- Give priority to humanitarian cases, such as those affecting young children, the seriously ill or people facing political persecution.
- Carry over unfulfilled quotas from one month to the next, although only for the first five months.
- Under exceptional circumstances, even allow migrants in Germany flagged as potential Islamists to apply for family reunification, provided they can prove to authorities that neither they nor their relatives will pose a threat."
Dutch CDA and Hungary’s Fidesz in war of words over ‘lies’ and Europe (Dutch News, link):
"The Dutch Christian Democratic party is involved in a war or words with its Hungarian counterpart after passing a motion at the weekend to have the party of Viktor Orbán potentially expelled from the EPP European parliamentary grouping.
Nationalist Orbán, who won a third term in office in April election, has a populist, anti-immigration and Eurosceptic message and has been criticised for his attacks on Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros.
The CDA conference in Den Bosch has now voted to throw the Fidesz party out of the EPP if it crosses ‘red lines’ – in other words, does not abide by European norms and values, Dutch media reported."
"The disclosure of vital evidence could mean the difference between someone being jailed or walking free.
An urgent review into disclosure this week revealed that nearly 50 rape cases went to court without vital evidence being given to defence lawyers in January and February.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said 47 rape and serious sexual assault cases were dropped during the first six weeks of the year because of police or prosecutors failing to disclose evidence.
Of those, 14 people were kept in prison awaiting trial before their cases were dropped.
The review was called after a string of rape cases collapsed in January when it emerged vital evidence had not been passed to defence lawyers."
HUNGARY: Stand Against the Destruction of the Georg Lukács Archives (Verso, link):
"On 24 May 2018 the last research associate of the Georg Lukács Archives of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was banned from the Archives after twenty-eight years of employment. Despite local and international protest, the Academy, with the assistance of its own library, closed the archives of the only world-renowned Hungarian philosopher, which has existed since 1972. The Archives ceased to exist as a resource for international researchers, by replacing the locks on its doors.
The Lukács Archives International Foundation (LANA) is working to preserve the philosopher’s legacy. We who have had the opportunity to work at the Archive, and/or who have enjoyed the support and help of the Archive in our research, and for whom access to the Archive’s holdings is essential to our future work, stand with them.
We therefore call on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and its library to reverse this decision, which will have a destructive impact on our work, and on the work of countless other researchers in many academic disciplines."
"The confinement of asylum seekers arriving at the borders in France in order to decide on their right to enter the territory for the purpose of examining their asylum application has been an integral and controversial part of France’s asylum system. The European Court of Human Rights held already in the 1996 landmark judgment of Amuur v. France that the placement of individuals in hotel accommodation near Orly airport constituted deprivation of liberty and therefore needed to comply with the safeguards set out in Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
At the same time, the creation of waiting zones is not limited to the country’s airports or ports. More recently, informal zones have emerged as spaces allowing the de facto detention without any formal decision of migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Italy. Parallel to counter-terrorism measures, culminating in the permanent anti-terrorism legislation adopted in October 2017,1 the French government has stepped up controls at its internal Schengen borders, as well as the use of asylum and immigration detention, thereby suggesting a policy link between migration and counter-terrorism, without such a connection being substantiated by evidence on the ground."
On the link between visa policy and readmission, "most delegations expressed a preference for the negative incentives approach" - just the stick, as opposed to a combination of the carrot and the stick - while the Council also adopted conclusions on the development of European Integrated Border Management (EUIBM) and the use of the Schengen Information System for tracking suspected foreign fighters.
EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework and amending Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 of the European Parliament and the Council (First reading) (LIMITE doc no: 9596-18, 4 June 2018, pdf):
Comment: This doc shows European Parliament backtracking on resettlement of refugees from non-EU countries in light of Council red lines
EU: Europe and nationalism: A country-by-country guide (BBC News, link):
"Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains.
Some have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt.
In part, this can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises, but the wave of discontent also taps into long-standing fears about globalisation and a dilution of national identity.
Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism.
So where does this leave Europe's political landscape?"
"Today the Council approved the Commission's proposal to strengthen Europol's cooperation with third countries and fight terrorism and other serious transnational crime more effectively – an important deliverable under the anti-terrorism package presented by the Commission in October 2017.
The negotiating mandates approved by the Council will allow the Commission to start talks with eight countries on behalf of the EU – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey – on the exchange of information, including personal data, with Europol.(...)
The agreements will establish adequate safeguards with respect to the protection of privacy and fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. The Commission recommended the Council authorise the opening of negotiations for these eight agreements on 20 December 2017."
See: Warnings over proposed new Europol partners in Middle East and North Africa (14 May 2018)
Czech PM rejects Merkel’s European border guard proposal (New Europe, link):
"The Czech Republic rejected on Monday a proposal by Angela Merkel for a pan-European border police force.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis has opposed the policy for the distribution of asylum seekers, in line with the common position of the Visegrad group: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In this context, the German proposal of pooling EU-wide resources undermines the fundamental position of the group that migration policy is the preserve of the nation-state."
Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures and Visas
• ASYLUM: 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: 9560-18 , pdf): Council working on it negotiating position: 43 detailed Footnotes with Member State positions:
"This document contains compromise proposals suggested by the Presidency in relation to Articles 43a-50."
• VISAS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) - Presidency revised text (LIMITE doc no: 9540-18, pdf):
"With a view to the meeting of the JHA Counsellors (Visa) of 8 June 2018, delegations will find in the Annex a Presidency compromise suggestion on the abovementioned proposal."
UK: Home Office: CONTEST: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism (90 pages, pdf)
See also: Terror strategy: MI5 to share information on UK suspects (Guardian, link):"Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed plans for MI5 to declassify and share information on UK citizens suspected of having terrorist sympathies. "Key" biographical data will be given to neighbourhood police, councils and the charity commission in London, Midlands and Manchester trial schemes."
Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.5.18-4.6.18)
Italy cannot be ‘Europe’s refugee camp’, Salvini says (euractiv, link):
"Italy’s new hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini said Sunday that “common sense” was needed to stop the country from being “Europe’s refugee camp” as he visited a migrant centre in the south.
The newly minted deputy prime minister in Italy’s populist coalition government travelled to Sicily, one of the country’s main refugee landing points, to push the anti-immigration platform that propelled him to power.
“Italy and Sicily cannot be Europe’s refugee camp,” he told a crowd of supporters under the blazing sun in the southern Sicilian town of Pozzallo, a migration hotspot."
And see: Italy Sends a Jolt Through Europe (Der Spiegel, link): "Euro-skeptic Italian populists are posing a serious threat to the European Union. Following the drama over Greece and Brexit, the political situation in Rome could throw Europe into its next major existential crisis."
"Conservative Janez Jansa and his anti-immigration SDS party came out on top in Slovenia's election, winning nearly 25 percent — but not enough to rule alone. Second-placed is comedian-turned-politician Marjan Sarec."
Migrant workers in southern Italy strike after Malian man shot dead (The Local.it, link):
"Migrant farm workers in Calabria were on strike on Monday to protest the death of one of their fellow labourers, a West African man shot dead at the weekend as he gathered scrap metal.
Soumaila Sacko, 29 and from Mali, was killed on Saturday night in a shooting that also injured two other migrants who, like him, lived in the tent city of San Ferdinando in Reggio Calabria, a sprawling encampment in that houses around 1,000 people who pick the southern region's crops, often for little pay."
No entry: Hungary's crackdown on helping refugees (Guardian, link):
"Parliament debates bill that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time.
Hungarian authorities plan to go after the few people trying to help asylum seekers to navigate the system. This week parliament will debate a proposed law that could lead to activists and lawyers facing jail time for advising asylum seekers on their rights."
At least 46 migrants drown off the coasts of Tunisia (AOL News, link):
"At least 46 migrants have drowned in two separate incidents after their boats sank off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey on Sunday.
- In a third incident, one migrant drowned and at least 240 more were rescued from 11 small boats by Spain's maritime rescue service.
- At least 1,178 migrants have died worldwide in 2018 through May 28, with at least 660 of the deaths occurring in the Mediterranean."
Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture: Report on Greece reveals truly shameful situation
"The delegation received several consistent and credible allegations of informal forcible removals (push-backs) of foreign nationals by boat from Greece to Turkey at the Evros River border by masked Greek police and border guards or (para-)military commandos.""
Are You Syrious (2.6.18, link):
Greece - NE Lesvos
"Philippa Kempson recorded a video, saying Frontex “used aggressive tactics to try to stop” a boat from landing despite a rough sea. However, the boat landed safely and everyone was okay, she said. More videos of the incident can be found on her facebook profile. According to volunteers, 35 people were on the boat.(...)
Frontex aggressively trying to stop a boat of refugees landing on the beach. This tactic went on for over half an hour forcing the boat repeatedly away from the beach in rough seas. Welcome to FortressEroupe! There were tourists on the beach watching and filming this also. This is wha t"protecting" the holiday-makers looks like. It is lucky they didn't sink them, there are six children and three babies on this boat.i.f this is the behaviour of frontex in daylight when people are watching what are they doing during the night?"
"One Happy Family on Lesvos released a newsletter, summarizing the previous weeks and giving an update of the current situation. “With (again) more than 7,000 people residing in Moria, it is clear that medical and psychological services are hardly available”, the group says, criticizing the camp management to not provide protection and safety for the people stuck there. In 2018, their community center has an average of around 660 people."
“Numbers in Velika Kladuša are growing non stop, push backs from Croatia plus people coming from Sarajevo in order to try the game”, No Name Kitchen reports from the ground. Recently, a van with blankets and tents arrived from Sarajevo to cover the first needs. Also, NNK got a bigger water tank and is now able to provide showers for around 80 people a day."
EU: Interoperability: BIg Brother database: Latest documents from the European Parliament and the Council
• European Parliament: Draft repport: Draft report on the proposal for a regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending... (29 May 2018, pdf)
• Council: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) - Presidency revised text of provisions specific to this Regulation (LIMITE doc no: 9505-18, 1 June 2018, pdf):
"Changes to the Commission proposal are marked in bold italics and strikethrough.
- New changes to the Commission proposal compared to ST 7652/18 are marked in bold italics underline and strikethrough underline.
Delegations are invited to note that only provisions highlighted in yellow have been amended in this document. The provisions which are common to both interoperability Regulations and which have already been amended in the Regulation relating to borders and visa will be reproduced in this Regulation at a later stage."
• Council: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (LIMITE doc no: 9504-18, 86 pages, 1 June 2018, pdf):
"Delegations will find hereafter the text of the proposal for the aforementioned Regulation, as revised by the Presidency, based on the outcome of discussions at the JHA Counsellors meeting on interoperability of EU information systems on 28 May 2018, as well as on delegations' written comments."
BREXIT: UK government: Technical Note: Exchange and Protection of Classified Information (pdf)
The UK wants to build a new, deep and special partnership with the EU. Both the UK and the EU agree that arrangements allowing the exchange of classified information will be key to building this partnership.(...)
When the EU needs to exchange classified information with Third Countries on a regular basis they negotiate and conclude arrangements for exchanging and protecting classified information with the EU through a Security of Information Agreement (SoIA). SoIAs are legally binding agreements between the EU and the Third Country."
And see: UK-EU SECURITY Partnership (39 pages, pdf)
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